ORiginal’s Feature

Original Joe’s

My buddy, Paul, decided at the last minute to head out to San Francisco for New Year’s.  I hustled on back from Timber Cove to spend the day with him.  Paul’s a life-long Chicagoan and White Sox fan but recently moved to Nashville, so Original Joe’s sounded to me like the place he would enjoy most. 

Original Joe’s has a long San Francisco history, having opened in 1937, the same year as the Golden Gate Bridge opened its golden gates!  Original Joe’s was based in the Tenderloin forever until a fire gutted the building.  The Duggan family, owners since 1983, immediately began working on a rebuild, but the property owners wanted blood from a turnip. It took years to find the right place and then years to negotiate a lease.  Finally, Original Joe’s opened on Washington Square, the perfect place for them.  (There is also an Original Joe’s in San Jose and Westlake.)

The atmosphere is very much the same as the old place.  Historic pictures on the wall, dark woods, red banquettes, friendly and lively bar.  I just love Original Joe’s.  The menu’s been pretty much the same since 1937, too, although there are daily specials and special menus, the latter I will discuss in a few.

Pesto LinguiniPaul, aka Augie, ordered the Thursday special, Corned Beef and Cabbage.  The serving size was HUGE, but no so much that my skinny friend couldn’t polish it off.  It looked fabulous, and I’m going back some Thursday.  I had the pesto linguini which was really, really tasty, but unlike Augie, I wasn’t able to finish half of it.   I ended up leaving the remainder instead of taking it home in order for us to bar hop around North Beach for the rest of the day. 

My Italian friends and North Beach natives gave me the scoop on some bars I didn’t know about.  Turns out that most dive bars are closed during the day during the week.  We did make it to Gino and Carlo’s and to the devil place next to Tosca.  And then it was a cab to The Elks Lodge, also built the year of the Golden Gate Bridge.

But back to Original Joe’s and another wonderful experience.  We bought a dinner for 8 from The Guardsmen Celebrity Dinner and Auction.  We landed on a date to celebrate Dave’s birthday.  I’m told that the Original Joe’s chef, a staple there, likes to select his own menu since he’s spent years cooking the same things.  I am SO happy we didn’t mess with his creation!!!  Wine pairings and an amazing waiter made this meal so very special!

RavioliWe started with a Spinach di Ricotta Raviolo, one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had!!  A large ravioli was filled with an egg yolk and truffle butter smothered it. I could have eaten dozens.  Taittinger Champagne accompanied the ravioli.

The second course at our Original Joe’s tasting menu was a delightfully fresh Asian Pear Salad with arugula, toasted walnuts, gorgonzola and a champagne vinaigrette.  I had no idea I would enjoy the 2014 Damiliano, Arneis from Piedmont.  I was surprised that a dry red would match up so well, but the gorgonzola made it happen.


Scallops on Mash

Liver & Onions

There were two main courses to choose from – the Filet Mignon with pan fried fingerling potatoes and a red wine butter sauce.  I chose the Seared Day Boat Scallops, giant, perfectly cooked scallops on a bed of buttered mashed potatoes with butternut squash, king trumpet mushrooms and pomegranate seeds.  Absolutely unbelievable!!!  And, since it was Dave’s birthday celebration, the waiter kindly granted him his birthday wish of Liver and Onions.  Our waiter’s favorite wine, Thomas Fogarty’s 2012 Santa Cruz Pinot Noir was perfect with both the steak and the scallops.

As if we had room for more, out came a Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Gelato.  The chocolate delightfully oozed from the center.  A Taylor Fladgate 20 year Tawny was the perfect addition to this amazing dessert.

As you can see, Original Joe’s is a consistent, long-time San Francisco stand-out, where you go to see and be seen, and the food is excellent.  But every once in a while, they jump out of the box and show that there’s lots more under the hood at Original Joe’s.


The Breakdown


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