For those who only hear about the restaurant by name, it may seem old and out of step. And those who have visited can't quite put it into words why they keep coming back.
The charm has something to do with the sharp attention to small details: the clean crispness of the white tablecloths, the silver spark of the cutlery, the glossy cut of the wood on the bar.
There's no such thing as a small detail at Sam's — Photo courtesy of Sam's Grill
It all adds up to a quiet style and assuredness that lets patrons know they have walked into a place that has been doing something very well for a very long time. That type of confidence does not happen overnight, and this is the atmosphere you'll walk into when you walk into Sam's Grill.
One of the premier restaurants of San Francisco's charming Belden Place, Sam's has been know since 1867 not just for its solid style but also for its delectable oysters, started as an open-air stall run by Irishman Michael Molan Moraghan. Not even the devastation of the 1906 earthquake could stop Sam's.
Today, Sam's simple but excellent tradition of fine food is being continued by Owner/Partner Peter Quartaroli, whose enthusiasm and experience will bring Sam's classic style into the 21st century. As the restaurant's history is as rich and wonderful as its fine food, Quartaroli believes Sam's is a place worth preserving.
"Sam's has been important to San Franciscans since the Gold Rush," Quartaroli explains. "It's where San Franciscans come to eat."
Old school is in session at Sam's Restaurant — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
Indeed, for those visiting from out of town, Sam's comfortable but often crowded quarters might mean you'll rub elbows with Bay Area glitterati, from local politicians and actors to the tech giants that rule much of downtown. And there are plenty of regulars, as well – those who go to Sam's every day for lunch, even happy to stay standing at the bar to eat their meals as long as they can eat at Sam's.
With no blaring music and no service on the weekends, Sam's is one of the few restaurants in San Francisco where you can actually have a conversation and not have to wait for hours in line just to be seen instead of actually eating a thoughtful meal.
Indeed, if anything, the kind of elegance and lasting style that Sam's offers is a welcome relief from the many pop-up food trends that come and go so fast that you weren't even sure how the food tasted anyway.
Experience and style count behind the bar at Sam's — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy