I am constantly annoyed by the out of towners who visit San Francisco and chatter non-stop about its European style cafes and bistros. Like many people from Oakland, while fed up with how San Franciscans always seem so full of themselves, I feel compelled to defend San Francisco from the yuppie barbarians. The appearance of the chi chi restaurants and fragile bars in San Francisco spelled the beginning of the end to an era of cheap eats and easy going camaraderie.
San Francisco has its own culinary traditions. Hofbraus are popular cafeterias where a working person can enjoy an inexpensive but hearty sandwich with a refreshing draft beer. My favorite has always been Lefty O'Doul's on Geary across from the St. Francis hotel. Also on Geary, but on the other side of the Tenderloin (in the evening, don't walk there , take a cab) is the Edinburgh Castle, which was a fine place to relax and unwind after a night's fencing down the block, next to the peep show bookstore, at the old Pannonia Fencing Club.
More upscale, but still part of the San Francisco food scene are the cold day restaurants, the original being, of course, Tadich's Grill on California in the financial district. John's Grill, also in the financial district, while technically not a cold day saloon, still has that same reassuring feeling of old dark wood, brass, and a staff of flinty waiters to match. The cold day name comes from obscure 19th century politicians swearing that it would be a cold day if they weren't re-elected. However, well until the late 20th century, bartenders in respectable San Francisco establishments could still be heard to tell ignorant newcomers and tourists that it would be a cold day in hell when they would ever serve a drink from a blender.