Thursday, May 31, 2007

Houston's, Montgomery, The Emarcadero, San Francisco

Steak House Sublime

Apparently Houston's don't take reservations but I had them anyway when two friends dragged us there the other night. "You want to take us to a chain steak restaurant on The Embarcadero, close to Fisherman's Wharf that I've never even heard of", I thought, "Oh goody". As it turned out, everything about the night was just about perfect: The smiling, joking, hostess who showed us to our spot. The comfy, deep red booth we were seated in near the center of the restaurant. The fantastic decor built from solid, well-aged materials, cool 70s vibe reminiscent of a super-stylish ski-lodge you might find featured in Wallpaper magazine. The smart, quick-witted waiter who skillfully stopped me in tracks when I questioned his assertions... "...and corn are our seasonal vegetables tonight". "But corn isn't in season", I replied. He, without missing a beat - "Well, it's in season here at Houston's!" (I felt ashamed, later, when I found out that corn has actually come in to season early, so my bad, just as well he whipped my arse). A full view of the buzzing kitchen where all the staff could be seen, working and smiling at the same time (it looks like they have a lot of fun at Houston's). A perfectly cooked to medium-rare juicy, buttery flat iron steak special served with chimmichurri sauce and skinny fries. When the evening was over I checked out Houston's on Yelp and discovered the comments were overrun by food snobs like me who had all been unwittingly been forced there by friends, only to end up loving it. Do you think they run some kind of secret referral programme for their regulars - you know - convert a foodie, one meal free or something? If so, sign me up!

This review was a first impression.

1800 Montgomery St
San Francisco,
CA 94111
415 392-9280

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Houston's, Montgomery, The Emarcadero, San Francisco


  • At 31/5/07 09:03, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've been reading for awhile but this is my first post. I just had to comment when I saw that your post was about Houston's. I am not sure if you know this, but Houston's is the same restaurant as Rutherford Grill in Napa. An additional tidbit....if they they have the same practices as RG, then they do not have a corkage fee for ANY bottles of wine! Yep, that's right---you could bring 3 bottles and not pay a corkage. I love this place!!

  • At 31/5/07 11:45, Blogger foodette said…


    I have been to Houston's many times in LA, and they also own another restaurant here called Bandero's that I have frequented as well. It definitely doesn't feel like a chain, does it? My only problem is that the prices keep climbing - they have their own inflation - and every time I go, the bill gets bigger.

  • At 31/5/07 13:27, Blogger Ced said…

    No live jazz? They usually have a nice line-up. Also, free coffee in the morning, from what I hear.

  • At 31/5/07 14:11, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Next time you go, Sam, try the grilled artichokes. I didn't even know I liked artichokes until I tried theirs! So delicious.

  • At 31/5/07 14:19, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, I grew up in SoCal and have been to Houston's many times (and Gulfstream, another restaurant owned by the same group). I really enjoy the restaurant and had no idea there was one in the city. I will definitely be going, so thanks for the heads up. Really enjoy reading your blog!

  • At 31/5/07 14:51, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I used to work a few doors down from that Houstons and ate there quite a few times with co-workers.

    I agree their food is good...most chains stay in business for a reason, right? I always just think the food snob factor is more about supporting small, family owned businesses, and not the big chains...which is why I for one, don't go there anymore.

    That said, the food is terrif, and I say eat up.

  • At 31/5/07 20:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I wonder if this is the same Houston's we have in NY? I checked on the site and it looks like a different chain - its strange though - they're both steakhouses.

  • At 31/5/07 20:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I miss Houston's garlic fries. Although I also used to work a few doors away, I always loved it when the bosses treated us there.

    I had a chance to eat there a few weeks ago, but we decided on Fog City Diner, instead.

  • At 31/5/07 21:45, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    For a chain, they have decent food at decent prices. At just about every outlet, the service is cheerful and good. Someone is doing something right from the top down. Yes, it is the same Houston's as in New York (Citicorp Center and Park Ave South) and on the Peninsula (SF Bay Area) called "Los Altos Grill". Glad to see you were pleasantly surprised.

  • At 1/6/07 00:09, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    I'm not generally a big fan of chains, but their food is pretty good and they do a bang-up job on decor. They have several restaurants in LA and OC, not sure why we don't have one here in SD, but I'm sure if we did it would be mobbed! Gulfstream, Bandera, Rutherford Grill and R&D Cafe are all part of the same company.

  • At 1/6/07 05:35, Blogger ChrisB said…

    That sounds like to sort of steak I like so is that another restaurant on the list for me to visit when I next visit !!

  • At 1/6/07 09:03, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've eaten at Houston's many, many times (I work two blocks away). It's good. Better than you would expect, considering all the things you call out -- chain restaurant, Wharf-adjacent. But over the years I have noticed a slow, gentle downward slide as they've settled into a groove. Not that they've gone bad, just that they lack the sparkle they had at first. Still, I'm glad that they managed to impress a palate at least as jaded as mine. ;-)


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