I first went to this classic San Francisco restaurant in 1976 when I worked as a paralegal for a Los Angeles maritime law firm. Thinking back, I thought the place had been there for ages, but when we went last week for dinner, I was told that Le Central opened in 1974. This is a classic French bistro, and you will find zero deviations from tradition, at least that I can find. You’ll truly feel like you’re in a bistro in Paris. At lunch, you will see local celebrities, like our famous mayor, Willie Brown, who dines there with other local celebs regularly. Prices are reasonable for a San Francisco restaurant (on Bush near Grant) so close to the tourist action.
Le Central has happy hour oysters on the half shell for $1 each until 6pm. We arrived just before 6 to find the oysters sold out. So, we went with escargots, classically prepared but in a porcelain dish without the shells, and with lots of garlic. San Francisco’s classic sour dough bread insures that the accompanying escargot sauce is wiped clean. An endive salad, another French classic had a wonderful mustardy dressing with chopped endive surrounded by fresh spears.
For dinner, we shared a giant portion of steak tartare with pommes frites – what the French call french fries. Delicious. Turns out our bartender buddy, Baker, who we met at the Connecticut Yankee during a few Sunday NFL games, works here at Le Central three nights a week. He’s an artist, and it was our first opportunity to see his art adorning the walls of Le Central.
Le Central Wrap-Up
- Traditional French bistro food
- Good service
- A fixture in San Francisco for years
- Food varies