The Van’s, Belmont, California – CLOSED

I’m trying to catch up here on some Bay Area restaurants that I’ve dined at in the last two or three years. The Van’s (yes, it’s The Van’s, not Van’s) was a very pleasant surprise on my first visit with friends a couple of years ago.



image by The Jab

image by The Jab


The Van’s is located in an Asian style house, so you would expect it to be a Chinese or Japanese restaurant, but it’s not. The house was originally the Formosa Tea House in the Japan Garden at San Francisco’s Panama Pacific Exposition on 1915. When the expo ended the house was moved to a barge and shipped across the bay to Belmont, California, down the Peninsula south of San Francisco.


Formosa Tea House at Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915

Formosa Tea House at Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915


Ge Van's 2


For years it was a private residence, until 1933 when it became Elsie’s saloon. In 1947 Gene Sowle and Ivan Sawyer purchased it, calling it Ge Van’s restaurant from their first names. In 1957 Ivan Sawyer took full ownership, shortening the name to The Van’s. It was sold to the current owner, Loring Di Martini in 1973.



The Van’s is on a hill so offers gorgeous views of the peninsula down the the bay, especially at night. When you enter the front door on your right is the bar and to your left is the main dining room surrounded by windows. There are two smaller dining rooms on the first floor, also with views. Upstairs is a large dining room for private events. There are some historic photos on the walls and some vintage wallpaper in an Asian motif, but otherwise the rooms are fairly simple, with dark wood walls and tables covered with white tablecloths. The view and the food are the stars here.


image by The Jab

beef rib steak ‘cowboy style’ – image by The Jab


The Van’s specializes in Prime Rib and mesquite broiled meats, including several steak cuts, rack of lamb, pork chops, and local chicken. I went for the signature steak, a USDA prime, aged bone-in rib eye they call ‘cowboy style’ (almost one and half pounds of delicious beef). They take their steaks seriously here, so they even have a detailed guide on the menu on how they cook your steak to your specifications, which I think is great because it takes the worry out of ordering. I prefer my steaks medium rare to rare, depending on the restaurant. Some places cook medium rare a bit too much for me but I don’t like to order rare because sometimes the meat is a little too raw. But at Van’s medium rare is “mostly warm red, surrounded by a little pink to the crust” – just perfect for me. They can even do your steak ‘black and blue’ – charred exterior, cool raw center! You will get a good crust on your steak from the mesquite broiler, as you can see in the picture above. With your meat you get a choice of potato or rice, vegetables, and crunchy onion strings. They also offer many other dishes on the menu, including eight to ten choices each of appetizers, salads, pastas, and main courses. You have plenty to choose from at The Van’s. I found the food excellent on my visit, from the appetizers to the dessert. Dishes range a lot in price so you can spend a little to a lot, with many entrees in the $10-$20 range and steaks in the mid $20s to mid $40s (dinner menu). The also have daily specials posted on their web site that change often.


image by The Jab

image by The Jab


Currently there is a deal on Living Social of $75 towards dinner for two at The Van’s on Sunday through Thursday for $45.


The Van’s
815 Belmont Ave, Belmont, CA
Phone: 650-591-6525
Open for lunch Mon – Fri 11:30am – 3:00pm, dinner Mon – Thu 3:00pm – 11:00pm, Fri 3:00pm – midnight, Sat – Sun 4:00pm – 11:00pm


Val’s Restaurant, Daly City, California

With the recent closure of Joe’s of Westlake for renovation, where does one go in Daly City? Val’s is the place!

image by The Jab

image by The Jab

Opened in 1950 as Val’s Redwood RoomVal's matches by Val and Lena Connolly, it was taken over in 1975 by Ed Taylor and Jerry Fex, who also owned the Red Chimney restaurant in the Stonestown Shopping Center in San Francisco (now Stonestown Galleria, but the Red Chimney is gone). Val’s current owners are Ed’s sons Jeff and Greg Taylor, who started their restaurant career back in the 1960s working at their dad’s Red Chimney restaurant.

image by The Jab

image by The Jab

Val’s has a bar and lounge with some original Naugahyde bar stools and chairs and some vintage nudes on the walls, but unfortunately there are also several TVs in the room and there is karaoke in the bar after 9pm on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (karaoke is not Le Continental’s cup of tea). However, the dining room is TV-free and looks mostly original still, with a lot of dark wood, Naugahyde booths, and oil paintings. The only fairly recent additions that I recall are the lamps and etched glass booth dividers, neither of which look too modern to detract much from the classic feel of the room. Does the nude look familiar? Yes, I’m pretty sure it’s by the same artist, Larry ‘Vincent’ Garrison, that painted the nudes in the cocktail lounge at Albie’s Beef Inn.

Val’s is a steakhouse (“charcoal broiled steaks” is right on the sign), offering a menu of prime rib and six cuts of steak, as well as lamb and veal. They also make southern fried chicken with a pressure fryer and they specialize in french dip, which is very popular and offered during lunch Mon-Fri and brunch on weekends. Pasta and seafood dishes round out the extensive menu. All dinners are reasonably priced; the steak dinners ranging from $20.95 for top sirloin to $27.95 for a 20 oz. porterhouse (subject to change), including potato and vegetable (steak prices drop below $20 during lunch and include soup or salad). I love their shoestring fries, much preferable with a steak than thick fries, in my opinion. I need to go back and try the rack of lamb – only $27.95 for a full one-pound rack! Their meat and bread are sourced locally, with their produce coming from California growers. If you want to see some delectable pictures of their food (better than I could ever take) check out their website. They are open for dinner early (4:00pm) and have early dinner specials (call for details).

image by a somewhat inebriated Jab

image by an inebriated Jab

Val’s is a true Bay Area local’s place, family owned for almost 40 years. The chef has been with the restaurant for 25 years; the bartender for 15 years. And many of their loyal customers have been going there far longer. Don’t you think it’s time you joined them?

Val’s Restaurant
2468 Junipero Serra Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 755-3448
Open 364 days a year, lunch/weekend brunch 11:00am-3:00pm, dinner 4:00pm-10:00pm, the bar is open until midnight Sun-Wed and until 2am Thu-Sat. Closed on Christmas.

Joe’s of Westlake, Daly City, California

UPDATE: Joe’s of Westlake was purchased by the owners of Original Joe’s in San Francisco and reopened in February 2016 after an extensive two year renovation / remodel. The post that follows was published in January of 2014 soon after the sale of the restaurant so it describes the old restaurant before the Original Joe’s family (the Duggans) took it over.

Previously on Le Continental we toured three of the remaining five “Joe’s” restaurants in the Bay Area, Original Joe’s in San Francisco, Original Joe’s in San Jose, and Marin Joe’s in Marin County. Today we are going to visit Joe’s of Westlake, an old favorite I used to visit often starting in the late 90s as some friends lived nearby. (I’ve dined there less often in the last ten years – after a couple of experiences with mediocre food and bad service – so I waited to post about it until I could revisit and get a more current perspective).


image by The Jab

image by The Jab


First a bit of news. You may have already heard that Joe’s of Westlake was recently purchased by the Duggan family, owners of Original Joe’s in San Francisco, and it will be closing later this month for an extensive renovation that may take as long as a year. Joe’s of Westlake, which was built in 1956 in the modern planned community of Westlake, is a wonderful building frozen in the mid-century, with most of it’s original modern architecture intact, inside and out. So, understandably, people are worried about the building and the restaurant, which is still very popular with local residents, many of whom have been eating and drinking there for over 50 years.

Yet another classic restaurant closure (of many in the last year) is surely bad news, right? Actually, Le Continental thinks it is great news. Please let me explain why:

  • The owner, Melinda Scatena, daughter of the original owner Bruno Scatena, decided to sell the restaurant after recent health problems to “focus on her health” without the pressures of running a restaurant. She started working at the restaurant at 14 years old – she surely deserves a break!
  • In almost every case when a 50+ year-old restaurant is sold on a large lot (about one square block) in a prime commercial location it is either demolished for a Walgreens, Starbucks, or other chain store, or vastly remodeled into a new restaurant (usually a chain) unrecognizable from its original form. There typically aren’t many restaurant investors besides the large chains that have the capital and are willing to take a chance on such a risky venture. What has happened to Joe’s of Westlake is a rare ocurrance!
  • The clientele of Joe’s of Westlake reflects much of the neighborhood’s demographics: older, long-term homeowners and renters who prefer classic American and Italian food. The problem is that most of Joe’s customers are getting older, passing away, and there simply aren’t many new customers to fill the void. There are a few people, such as myself, who appreciate Joe’s for its time-warp dining, but we are not enough to keep such a large restaurant profitable. Also, there are not a lot of younger people in the area, probably due to a lack of affordable housing and because it’s a suburban area some distance from the heart of San Francisco. So, not a lot of middle-to-upper-class urban professionals who make up most of the city’s diners are flocking to Joe’s of Westlake. Sure, some may come out of curiosity, but they generally don’t like the food because it’s old-fashioned and sometimes pretty bland (check out all the negative reviews on the admittedly flawed Yelp). Yet the ‘new’ Original Joe’s has not had a problem attracting new customers – it’s almost always crowded. I predict the “new” Westlake Joe’s will also be popular and develop a new customer base the old restaurant needed.
  • The Duggan family have been owners in Original Joe’s in San Francisco since its founding in 1937 (in 1983 Marie Duggan took over ownership of Original Joe’s from her father, founder Tony Rodin), so they are the perfect owners of Joe’s of Westlake. The restaurant will remain a Joe’s, with the signature Joe’s elements of an exhibition kitchen and its traditional menu of Italian food, steaks, and chops. That, to me, is key! Joe’s is a historical landmark of the Westlake neighborhood, and it will remain so.
  • The Duggans did a wonderful job on the new Original Joe’s in North Beach (since the original was damaged in a fire in 2007), incorporating several items from the old OJs in the new space, which has a classic feel, thanks to architect & designer Anthony Fish, who has also been hired as the architect for the renovation of Joe’s of Westlake. The family has stated that they are going to do an “architectural restoration” with “great respect” of the building’s architecture and the restaurant’s history. Le Continental has also heard that a historic preservation specialist will be a consultant on the renovation.
  • We don’t often give negative reviews of restaurants on Le Continental, but I have had a few experiences at Joe’s of Westlake when I thought the food and service needed improvement. At first when i experienced this in the 1990s I thought I just ordered the wrong thing or our waiter had a bad day, but it has happened on more than one occasion in the last 15 years since I’ve been eating there. So, I am looking forward to having the same excellent food and service at Joe’s of Westlake that I have experienced when dining at Original Joe’s (both the old one and the new one in North Beach).


Joe'sOfWestlake 024

Joe’s once-fabulous signage needs some TLC – image by The Jab

For all these reasons Le Continental believes it is a very positive change for old favorite Joe’s of Westlake. I am sad for the staff, many of whom have worked at Joe’s for many years, but I can’t even imagine what was the likely alternative: destruction or vast remodeling. I’m guessing some things me and my friends like may not stay because not everyone has the same taste (bad clown paintings and plastic grapes aren’t appreciated by everyone). But personally I would rather have the trade off of better food and service than worry about every detail. The design of the building is the most important thing, and I’m confident it will be restored and even improved from its somewhat worn, partly modified appearance.



A Brief History


Joe's of Westlake under construction, 1956

Joe’s of Westlake under construction, looking north at the back of the restaurant from John Daly Blvd, 1956


Way back in 1939 Bruno Scatena, Tony Rodin, owner of Original Joe’s, and Adolph Della Santina opened Original Joe’s II in the Marina district of San Francisco. In 1953 Adolph left to open Marin Joe’s. Three years later Bruno Scatena opened Joe’s of Westlake in the newly planned community of Westlake, developed by Henry Doelger. The principal designer of the modern post & beam restaurant (and the interiors of many of the houses built in Westlake) was Chester Dolphin.



Tour The Restaurant



entrance and porte-cochere – image by Joe’s of Westlake’s facebook page


The entrance of the restaurant is beneath a marvelous ovoid porte-cochere next to the parking lot (there is an overflow parking lot up the hill).


fireplace in Chianti Room - image by The Jab

fireplace in Chianti Room – image by The Jab



The bar, the Chianti Room, is on your left after you enter, and has featured such entertainers in the past as Louie Prima & Keely Smith and Cal Tjader. Nowadays there are some sports items among the wine themed art, and there remains a marvelous modern black fireplace.






Joe'sOfWestlake 017

grape arbor behind bar – image by The Jab



Main Dining Room


Joe'sOfWestlake 014


The main dining room is a spectacular space with a high open beamed ceiling of cork tiles painted in a gloss dark red (I hope the new owners return it to a flat dark color, which would look more appropriate), the signature exhibition kitchen and counter, and the tables, which are all booths, just like at every other Joe’s including the original one. In fact the layout is quite similar to Marin Joe’s, with the large windows opposite the kitchen. San Jose’s layout is also similar, but reversed. Everything is still almost the same as in the vintage photo below, including the gold vinyl upholstery and wood grain Formica tops. The main difference is the lamps have been changed to cylindrical ones.


original interior

original interior


new pic with similar viewpoint as vintage photo - notice the red ceiling - image by The Jab

recent pic, same view (notice the red painted cork ceiling) – image by The Jab


There are large plate-glass windows with views of the major streets in back of the restaurant. They don’t show in my interior pics, but they are visible in this exterior night shot:


Joe'sOfWestlake 028

image by The Jab


There is also a large banquet room off the lobby called the Cascade Room, which should be avoided at all costs. It’s bland and ugly. They may try to seat you in there if it’s busy, which is all the time lately since its closure was announced. You’re better off going home than sitting in there.




The menu is similar to those at all the Joe’s – an extensive choice of Italian-American food, including the Joe’s Special, charbroiled burgers, steaks, and chops, ravioli or spaghetti as side dishes, and daily specials. Le Continental recommends the Steak a la Bruno, a tender top sirloin (not to be confused with the tough sirloin sold in the supermarket), with ravioli on the side please, and the chicken parmigiana.





Joe'sOfWestlake 005A gripe: Last Monday night I took this photo in the main dining room at Joe’s of Westlake. Right above us was a security camera! Was this placed there to watch the customers so they don’t steal sugar? Or was it placed there to watch staff so they don’t make mistakes? Whatever the reasons, none justifies this kind of invasion of privacy in a restaurant. I don’t want someone watching me with a camera while I’m eating out. Bad move, Joe’s, and any restaurant owner that may be reading this: Le Continental does not approve of this and will not recommend restaurants that spy on their customers or staff!


If you still want to visit Joe’s of Westlake before it closes for renovation you better go soon. It is due to close on January 26th. I went yesterday (on a Monday), arriving at 5:45pm and put my name on the waiting list (they no longer take reservations), specifying the main dining room. After about an hour they called me but said for the “Cascade Room”, which I refused so there was an even longer wait. They open daily at 11:00am for lunch (some items on the dinner menu are not on the lunch menu) and I expect they will be busy all day and night until the closing. From my visit last night it appeared to be about half old regulars and half the curious who wanted to visit the place for the first time after hearing it will close.



Joe’s of Westlake
11 Glenwood Ave, Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 755-7400
Open Sun-Th 11:00am – 11:00pm, Fir-Sat 11:00am – 12:00am

Marin Joe’s, Corte Madera, California

Part three in Le Continental’s tour of the Bay Area’s restaurants named after Joe.

Previously on Le Continental we posted about Original Joe’s in San Francisco and San Jose. Today we travel to the north bay to one of my favorite restaurants in California, Marin Joe’s. I love the building, I love the space, I love the food, I love the people who work there, and I love the late hours. Need I say more? Well, before you jump in your car and head over there, read on, please.


The Jab at Marin Joe's

The Jab at Marin Joe’s


Joe's Matchcover Marin

image by Heather David on Flickr

In 1954 Marin Joe’s was opened by Adolph Della Santina, who was a partner in Original Joe’s II in the Marina District of San Francisco from 1939 to 1953 (it closed a long time ago). To design the restaurant Adolph hired noted bay area architect Mario Gaidano, who also designed many San Francisco landmarks, including the Fairmont Hotel tower (1961, still standing), the House of Prime Rib (1949, still open), the original Mel’s Drive-In (1947-1973, in the movie American Graffiti – it was demolished after the filming), and Fior d’Italia restaurant’s fifth location at Union and Stockton Streets (1953, damaged by fire in 2005, now Original Joe’s). For Marin Joe’s Mario built a modern single-story building with a long peaked roof, wood siding on the left front, large plate glass windows in the restaurant section in the middle, and stone facing in front of the bar with a sign reading “marin Joes” in a jaunty cursive style. Very modern, so just right for U.S. highway 101 in Marin County, which was a hot spot in the mid-20th century for modern architecture. In the 1950s the restaurant was right on four-lane highway 101, so it looked like a classic road house (later the highway was widened and now the restaurant is on a frontage road).


Marin Joe's in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Jason Lewis' and Marin Joe's

Marin Joe’s in the 1950s. Photo by Marin Joe’s & Jason Lewis’


Adolph’s nephew, Romano Della Santina, from Lucca, Italy, was a waiter at the Original Joe’s II in the Marina of San Francisco. He went with Adolph in 1954 to Marin Joe’s, first working as a waiter, then as an owner the following year. Romano’s oldest son Paul became a partner in 1984. In 1997 Romano’s other son Ralph joined the restaurant.


Adolph (R) and Paul (L) Della Santina in Marin Joe's

Adolph (R) and Romano (L) Della Santina in Marin Joe’s. Photo by Marin Joe’s & Jason Lewis’


Marin Joe’s is still owned by Paul and Ralph Della Santina. Romano Della Santina, who was bestowed with the highest honor of ‘Cavaliere’ by the Italian Government for his involvement in many Italian civic organizations, was an owner until his death in 2015. Many celebrities have dined at Marin Joe’s in the past, including John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio, and Clint Eastwood. The place is always humming, usually packed every night of the week. Some people have been regular customers since the 1950s and 1960s.


L - R: Paul, unknown, Adoplh, Romano. Photo by Marin Joe's & Jason Lewis'

Romano and Adolph seated at bar. Photo by Marin Joe’s & Jason Lewis’


Marin Joe's matchcover  image

matchbook image by Heather David on Flickr

On the interior Gaidano kept the dining room open, with a cathedral open beam ceiling that extends beyond the plate-glass windows along the front of the room, as in many modern homes, to soften the gradient between the inside and outside spaces. The layout is very similar to the old Original Joe’s in San Francisco and San Jose, with three rows of naugahyde banquettes of different sizes and a long counter in front of an exhibition kitchen (a signature of all the Joe’s restaurants). In the middle of the room are posts with clusters of cylindrical lamps (original and still in use). The room is almost completely original with the exception of the heat lamps over a waiter station in the center of the counter (added some time in the 1960s I presume), small contemporary hanging lamps over the front booths, and some vases which may have been added more recently (but in brown tones that fit in with the restaurant’s overall look). It’s almost a miracle that it has been so well-preserved! There are some wonderful old photographs on the walls so make sure to check those out when you visit.


Marin Joe's in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Jason Lewis' and Marin Joe's.

Marin Joe’s in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Jason Lewis’ and Marin Joe’s.



Marin Joe's in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Jason Lewis' and Marin Joe's.

Marin Joe’s in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Jason Lewis’ and Marin Joe’s.



Marin Joe's today. Photo by The Jab, October, 2013.

Marin Joe’s today. Photo by The Jab, October, 2013.



The extensive menu is pretty typical of all the Joe’s restaurants: steaks & chops, Italian dishes, seafood, and of course the Joe’s specialties: a charbroiled cheeseburger on sourdough and the Joe’s Special of hamburger, spinach, and onion (optional mushrooms). But there are many dishes unique to this location, including a spinach w/vinaigrette and cheese dish that is prepared tableside, and specials each day during lunch Monday through Friday. The sourdough bread is fresh and good. In my post on Original Joe’s I forgot to mention that sourdough bread is a signature item at all the Joe’s restaurants.


Marin Joe's special cheeseburger. Photo by The Jab.

Marin Joe’s special cheeseburger. Photo by The Jab.


Mesquite grill in action. Photo by The Jab.

Mesquite grill in action. Photo by The Jab.


Since I work nearby I often come to Marin Joe’s for lunch, usually sitting at the counter. In the winter I like to warm up in front of the mesquite broiler (the same one from the 1950s) and watch the grill chef hand carve steaks to order and prepare the special cheeseburger, which he patties by hand after vigorously mixing the freshly ground beef with diced onions (an identical scene as in the following photo from 1972).


MJ Chef 1972

Grill chef in action, 1972. Photo courtesy of Jason Lewis’ and Marin Joe’s.


The menu is massive. It would probably take you a year to try everything on it if you went there every day! Previously I mentioned the daily specials. Here are a few of them.


Beef tongue Wednesday lunch special. Photo by The Jab.

Beef tongue Wednesday lunch special. Photo by The Jab.


Lamb stew Tuesday lunch special. Photo by The Jab.

Lamb stew Tuesday lunch special. Photo by The Jab.


Mesquite grilled catch of the day Friday lunch special (trout). Photo by The Jab.

Mesquite grilled catch of the day Friday lunch special (trout). Photo by The Jab.


Osso Buco with rice Wednesday lunch special. Photo by The Jab.

Osso Buco with rice Wednesday lunch special. Photo by The Jab.


The cocktail lounge has nice original rock walls, a fireplace, an L-shaped bar, a piano, framed historic photos, and, unfortunately, a large TV. On most evenings there is a piano player and delicious complimentary cheese spread and crackers (with a jazz trio on Sundays). The bartenders are all veteran pros that know their craft.


Image by


Thanks to Jason Lewis for generously allowing me to use his historic digital photos of Marin Joe’s that he obtained from the restaurant. I love seeing old photos of places like this, especially when you can see how little they have changed. Check out his website Marin Nostalgia for more historic photos of Marin.


Marin Joe’s
1585 Casa Buena Drive, Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 924-2081
Open Mon-Thu 11am-11:45pm, Fri 11am-12:45am, Sat 5pm-12:45am, Sun 4pm-11:30pm

It can be a little tricky to reach it after you drive by it on 101 and see smoke coming out of the chimney and the parking lot packed with cars. You need to exit 101 at Tamalpais Drive and take it north towards the town of Corte Madera, then turn left at the first light (Madera Blvd) and immediately turn left again on the first street (Casa Buena, the freeway frontage road that it’s on). You can leave your car at the valet stand or continue past the restaurant to a parking lot on the right on a hill above the restaurant (or park on the street just before the restaurant).

Original Joe’s, San Jose, California

Part two in Le Continental’s tour of the Bay Area’s restaurants named after Joe.

A couple of weeks ago we featured Original Joe’s relatively new location in San Francisco and learned a bit about the history of Joe’s restaurants.Today we’ll be visiting the second of the still-open Bay Area Joe’s to open, Original Joe’s in San Jose, which was opened in downtown in 1956 by Louis J. Rocca, one of the partners in the San Francisco Original Joe’s, along with his son, Louis J. Rocca Jr. (Babe), Arthur Tortore (Otto) and Anthony Caramagno (Nino). To this day the restaurant is still owned and operated by the Rocca family, namely Brad and Matt Rocca.

San Jose Joe's

photo by The Jab, 2009

The first time I visited Original Joe’s San Jose in the late 1990s I was in awe of the frozen-in-time look of the place, not only on the outside, but on the inside too. Along with the San Francisco Original Joe’s in its original location, this was one of the best preserved mid-century restaurants in the entire Bay Area. Much of the decor was still the same as in the 1960s postcard below. Look closely at the background of the photo for a peek into the bar (view it at full size in the link) and you can get a bit of an idea of how spectacular that 1956 modern bar was (wall of Roman brick veneer with fireplace, vertical wood-paneled sections, freeform padded bar with low-back bar stools, backlit copper wall art, planter divider).

Original Joe's San Jose 1960s

Original Joe’s, San Jose, 1960s – postcard image by Heather David on Flickr

The restaurant was still almost the same inside in 2006, when the following pictures were taken (the only additions seem to be carpeting, glass partitions on the middle room divider, and different plants).

Original Joe's Interior

Original Joe’s SJ Interior, 2006, image by Thomas Hawk on Flickr

Joe's Counter

Original Joe’s SJ counter and exhibition kitchen, 2006, image by Thomas Hawk on Flickr

In the summer of 2007 the restaurant closed for a few months for an extensive retrofit and remodel. Thankfully, they didn’t ruin the old atmosphere in the restaurant. On the other hand, the bar didn’t fare so well. Sadly, it was remodeled beyond recognition. I do have a few quibbles with the restaurant remodel, namely the granite counters, which to me don’t look right in a classic restaurant. But I’m glad it’s still open and has some original features still present, such as the textured ceiling with indirect lighting, Roman brick wall veneer, wood paneling with copper decorations, planters, and even the original vases that you saw in the previous postcard from the 1960s!

Original Joe’s SJ dining room today, image by Eating and Loving San Francisco blog

Original Joe’s SJ dining room today, image by Eating and Loving San Francisco blog

Original Joe’s SJ counter, image by Jason Perlow, Off The Broiler blog

As you probably gathered from the photo above the waiters still wear tuxedo dinner jackets and bow ties and many are veterans at the restaurant, with the proper level of professional, non-nonsense service. Sometimes people complain online about this kind of old-fashioned service because it may seem unfriendly, but the way I look at it they are almost always very busy and want to give you quick service so they dispense with the chit-chat and get down to business. That’s fine with me.

A definite plus is their night owl friendly hours: they are open until 1:00am every night!

Dusk in San Jose

image by Thomas Hawk on Flickr

The menu is similar to the other Joe’s restaurants, featuring Mesquite grilled steaks, chops, and seafood, Italian dishes, and of course the Joe’s Special and charbroiled cheeseburger served on a French roll. The portions are enormous so the prices are reasonable. If you get spaghetti and meatballs for example, and I recommend it, you get a huge oblong plate covered with spaghetti, sauce, and a gigantic meatball that’s as big as a softball! I also recommend the steaks, which are aged Angus beef. Dinner entrees come with choice of French fries, baked potato, spaghetti, ravioli, or vegetables (also large portions).

Dinner at Joe's!

The Jab at Original Joe’s San Jose, 2009. Image by Carrie Swing on Flickr.

Original Joe’s, San Jose
301 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 292-7030
Open daily, 11:00am-1:00am