Joe's of Westlake: Reviews

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Boiled BeefSpaghetti al PestoChicken Picatta with Ravioli
Boiled Beef, Spaghetti al Pesto, Chicken Piccata with Ravioli


George Habit
Name: George
Occupation: Retired Journalist
Location: Redwood City
Favorite Restaurant: Joe’s of Westlake
Reviewed Joe’s of Westlake: Sunday, December 7, 2008


There is a wonderful old-time atmosphere to Joe’s of Westlake. Joe’s was built in 1956 and has been satisfying customers and packing ‘em in ever since. The cocktail lounge, in true 50s fashion, occupies a separate room. The pianist Darrel “Hutch” Hutchinson and drummer Eddie Valencia have been entertaining patrons Wednesday through Sunday for more than 22 years. This is the only lounge in the Bay Area with performers five nights a week. They have a repertoire of over 1000 songs. Joe’s of Westlake is open seven days a week, starting at 11am.

The emphasis is on freshly prepared foods with no preservatives. No packaged meats are used. The restaurant cuts its own steak and breaks down veal from sirloins. Salad dressings are house-made. Popular lunch dishes are filet of sole and chicken scaloppini with choice of mixed vegetables, spaghetti or ravioli.

The roast beef and pot roast sandwiches are popular. The burgers are made from nine ounces of ground chuck with onions pressed into the patty and cooked on the charcoal broiler. Steak a la Bruno is a signature dish. The 10-ounce steak is marinated with garlic, olive oil, and a secret blend of spices, and then broiled. The 11-ounce New York-cut Minute Steak is also very popular. The traditional Joe’s specials are: veal scaloppine with mushrooms, roast prime rib, roast lamb, calf’s liver, and steak with onions, bacon, or mushrooms.

There’s always roast chicken or broiled, and boneless skinless marinated breast of chicken. Wines, predominantly from California are available. Desserts are available. A house special is house-made fried cream in blue flambé, which is fried, soaked in brandy and brought to the table flambéed. The recipe is a secret.

Every morning before the place opens at 11PM, a line forms. Three generations of Peninsulans have enjoyed the fact that Joe’s of Westlake relies on true value, not trends.


Duncan Cook
Name: Duncan
Occupation: Handyman and Wedding Officiator
Location: Berkeley
Favorite Restaurant: La Mediterranee
Reviewed Joe’s of Westlake: Monday, December 8, 2008


My three favorite epicurean buddies and I strolled in, ready to enjoy the fare. The menu was pretty direct, but we needed some information on what “Joe’s special chicken” was like. Our server seemed a bit perplexed and had no idea of how to advise us, so we ordered blindly. Hungry as a bunch of hoboes, we dove into the bread and butter while we pondered our choices. We all decided on entrees and awaited the meal. Water service was lacking, and we had to ask for it twice. If I went back, I would ask for a pitcher for the table.

I did not want to eat a five-dollar salad, so we asked for small side salads, which were sad and spare, and which ended up being five bucks. I ordered the Monday Special, which was Swiss Italian steak with steamed veggies. I was hoping it included mashed potatoes, but left it to chance. When my food arrived, there was a lovely mound of savory spuds right on the side of my plate.

The steak was tender, juicy, and everything I had hoped for. The potatoes were rich, delicious and had a satisfying consistency. The “steamed veggies,” however, were obviously from a frozen bag. My dinner guests noticed the signature crinkle cut of the carrots as standard frozen fare.

Overall, it was a bit disappointing, considering the price. The servers could be more concerned about guest experience, but in no way were they rude or dismissive. This seems like a place that might be riding on its position as a community mainstay, but could do better by seeking excellence. There seemed to be a lot of locals and regulars, several birthday parties actually. The dining area was large and accommodating. Padded tables and very, very soft napkins.

It is a bit out of my way, but I would go back. The menu and website tantalizes me with the basic spaghetti with Joe’s signature meat sauce. I would love to try that. There is some good shopping nearby, so if one were to be in Daly City doing some gift purchases, this is a great place to meet and eat. However, if you are looking for well-crafted food with enthusiastic service, seek elsewhere. A few suggestions my pals and I would make are fresh ground pepper and cheese service, fresh herbs, and maybe look into getting excited about the side dishes. The best thing on our table was a chicken dish with lemon, capers, and ravioli. Last word: go with someone who loves this place so they can tell you what gets cooked with love, not duty.


Patricia Muniosguren
Name: Patricia
Occupation: Montessori Pre-School Teacher
Location: Redwood City
Favorite Restaurant: Roy’s Restaurant
Reviewed Joe’s of Westlake: Friday, November 28, 2008


We decided to go to Joe’s of Westlake to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The restaurant itself has this kitschy, other era vibe. I felt like I stepped onto a set of That 70’s Show. At the front of the restaurant they had a bar room cordoned off to the left. The room is immense with a great, old-fashioned fireplace to one side. I wished we had stopped in for a drink first just to get a feel of the ambience.

It didn’t take us long to get a table, and I realized that majority of the clientele were older couples and families. I thought it took us awhile to put in our order.

Sadly, everything about the restaurant was brown — the carpet was brown, the tables were brown, the chairs were brown, the walls were brown, and the food was brown. I personally had a hard time choosing something on the menu, as everything was meat, meat, and more meat. The few vegetable options that I found were the salad selection and mixed vegetable side dish. I was looking for something heartier, so I opted for the Spaghetti al Pesto.

My friends ordered tea and were given a pot of tepid water to steep their tea bags in. The second pot was much hotter, but the first was such a disappointment. The bread on the table was substantial but cold, always a drawback in my book.

The plates were huge when they arrived. In general, everyone who ordered a meat dish was pretty satisfied. I couldn’t believe I was paying $13.25 for a plate of spaghetti with pesto sauce! It was tasty, but certainly over priced. Overall, we were pretty underwhelmed by the dishes. It felt like something we could easily cooked at home. The hamburger steak was dry, but the chicken parmigiana was well received. It came with fries, which were fat and tasty. They must have been cooked in beef tallow because they had that greasy McDonald’s flavor to them.

Because the portions were so sizeable, we did not have a lot of space (or enthusiasm) for dessert. We ordered the most unusual dessert on the menu — Fried Cream in Blue Flame. It was two slabs of fried cream in a small flaming small dish and floating in rum. Usually when a restaurant serves a flaming dish, the waiters make a big deal. We weren’t warned that the dish would be flaming or when to blow out the flame. We must have blown it out too early because it tasted distinctly of alcohol and didn’t go down the palate smoothly.

Overall, I would say Joe’s of Westlake is a kitschy, neighborhood meat place and is perfect if you like that sort of thing. The food is safe, familiar and hearty. A very average Joe’s.

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  • Adrienne Ellis

    I’ve been a fan of Westlake Joes for several years and found the food that I order to be delicious, filling and the service to be A+++..Patricia doesn’t state in her comments that she is a vegetarian but did state it on the TV production.Why would KQED send a vegetarian to an old style Italian restaurant that serves meat,chicken,fish,pasta with meat sauce,etc.Her review makes it seem to be Joes fault when, in fact, this is definitely not the type of restaurant for her.

  • D. Buxton

    I love old-style food, cocktails and jazz. Joes disappointed on every count. Seated in the “Cascade” room, the service, ambience and food was the quality of a third rate rest home. Completely inattentive server and bussers, salads drowning in bottled dressings, house wine direct from the box. Entrees like the sole were inedible fritters sitting in grease, partially reheated “prime rib” (dry, sad and tasteless), only our guest who had the meat sauce spaghetti had anything nice to say about it. Condiments came in their original supermarket containers, slapped on the table – sorry we asked. There was no music playing in the beige, featureless dining hall room which perfectly matched the unpleasant, beige food. Bulk portions and memories of better days do not make up for such a disappointing experience. We will never return.

  • Sandy

    I can honestly say this is one of the worst restaurants around, a friend of mine loved it (she’s since passed on) and I would go with her because it was her favorite, it was hard to choke down the food, my husband ordered the special spinach/egg thing, now my husband is NOT a picky eater, he thought it was disgusting. If I was starving I wouldn’t go to Westlake Joe’s, it’s way beyond it’s prime and need to come up to modern times. I’d go to McDonald’s before I’d go to Joes, and I detest McDonalds.

  • Slipmartin Fixe

    Hey whoa hey whoa hey hey HEY! Everybody needs to CHILL, daddio! 1. Don’t go to Joe’s looking for veggie fare. 2. If you need the waiter to explain something, stay home. 3, and this is most important, Joe’s down here in Westlake, like Joe’s in Marin and, God rest her soul, Original Joe’s, is a place that requires a bit of investigation, these days, but once you understand the spirit of the enterprise, you will be duly pleased. Until then, critics, I bid you good day, and will reach for my perfectly crafted Manhattan, right here in the bar at Westlake Joe’s.

  • John Stansfield

    I grew up in Park Merced about a mile away. We went to Westlake Joes’ at least once a week since the sixties, since the A&W was across the street. It was the counterpart of original Joes in the Marina, more affordable but the same great food. It was an absolute thrill to see this gem of west end San Francisco / Daly City still being vaunted as a great place to eat and a great experience.

  • Lesley Wood

    Westlake Joe’s…my family has been going there for 50 years and we still love it. The best chicken piccata with raviolis and the steak ala bruno is to die for. My folks would always sit at the counter so they could watch the cooks but I prefer a booth in the corner. The wait staff is quick and friendly without overdoing it. I just love that place. And did I mention the meat sauce? You could eat that stuff on white bread and it’d be great! Thanks Joe’s and keep it up!

  • http://www.theconsblog.com A. Gomez

    I go to Joe’s about once a month just for the delicious sweet breads. I’ve tried many of the dishes here, but that one always gets me. This place is a Bay Area institution and tends to be packed on the weekends. If you’re the kind of person who needs the waiter to hold your hand throughout the meal, then this is not the place for you. They can be cold &, at times, unfriendly, but it just adds to the old timey feel of the place. I’m not one who needs a pat on the back and constant attention as long as I can get a Manhattan as perfectly crafted as the one at Joe’s. If you’re the sort of person who loves great scotch and perfectly cooked meats, then this is your place. Perfect accompaniment to any dish: the raviolis. For those of you who are too persnickety to enjoy classic food with reasonable prices, then stay away. It’s hard enough to get a table without you mopes standing in my way.

    I loved George’s response to Patricia bizarre bellyaching over the “great and tasty” pesto spaghetti:

    “I thought I could have made it at home for less than $5.”

    “Not as good, though.”

    Word, George. Word.

  • Erica T.

    Joe’s of Westlake is one of my family’s favorite restaurants and I’ve been dining there since I was a child. If you’re a regular, you’ve had the calamari steak and steak a la Bruno before and know that these are two of the best dishes on the menu.
    I just read a negative review about Joe’s above and it didn’t disappoint me because the quality of Joe’s food speaks for itself and that’s why the restaurant has been around for 30+ years. My favorite dish is the chicken picatta with a side of rigatoni. I love Joe’s!!

  • Debbie2008

    The cocktail lounge is GREAT! The restaurant is AWFUL! An amazing exercise in contrasts, to say the least. Eat elsewhere, but have cocktails here.

    I agree with the poster above, expressing disappointment in the frozen vegetables that are obviously straight out of the bag. This, without adornment, was served atop my salad, probably the worst salad I’ve had in my life.

  • Vern Acular

    Joe’s, or Joe’s-type restaurants have been around for a long tmie. It sounds like a number of folks don’t understand the nature of these type of places. It’s not fancy, nor does it have the types of dishes you’ve never heard. But the food is really, really good.

  • Chantelle Mark

    Well I seen today’s show and the strangest thing is that I’ve been to not only Westlake Joe’s, but also Duncan’s pick La Medaterrain, I went to the two in San Francisco. And Patricia’s pick I never been to but I’ve been to Hawaii. Well, Patricia mentioned an issue with the flames in the dessert, the fried cream and how to put the flame out, it’s not by blowing. You are to spoon your alcohol and it puts the fire out. Westlake Joe’s did go down in quality recently, it had been consistantly perfect, and of course if it were too good and perfect KQED wouldn’t need to be there. Also you get used to the snobby waiters, reason is it’s too popular and some folks may come in unwanted that’s all; perhaps the waiters are trained to snob us. Also I’m linked to Anton Lavey through parents and his daughter I think knows my parents and someone said this place was his pick too. Spaghetti is great, also non meat eaters I would say the fried prawns only they went down in quality, in fact I’d ask that you guys go complain for me. The young waiter is at the counter. I am not a viewer, just flipping through the channels this morning.

  • TahoeRabbit

    You are 100% correct. The bar is a lot of fun and the restaurant is terrible. I never eat there anymore. It actually was pretty good back in the day but now it has gone to the dogs big time. Smart to advise people to eat elsewhere.