Literary mystery and chops
Though around since 1908, this downtown restaurant became a literary pilgrimage stop when Dashiel Hammett’s 1930 novel, The Maltese Falcon, published. His main character and lead gumshoe is Sam Spade who scours the city in search of a mysterious jewel-encrusted statuette known as the Maltese Falcon, and dines on a meal of chops, a potato, and sliced tomatoes at John’s Grill. Fans of the famous falcon have flocked (bird pun intended) to the wood-paneled restaurant ever since. Studded with black and white images of famous patrons, John's Grill is packed most week nights and serves standard steakhouse fare: clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, seafood, steak and potatoes, and of course lamb chops. Head upstairs to see a statuette of the Maltese Falcom, which, it turns out, is linked to another local caper. Taking advantage of the Maltese Falcon fame, John’s Grill owners tried to buy one of the original props used in the movie version of the book when it came up for auction in 1994. They failed to nab it but purchased a cheap plaster cast of the original prop, and had the Hammett family, along with the last remaining actor from the film, sign it, before caging it in its glass cabinet for all eternity. Or so they thought. In 2007 the statue was stolen and has been missing ever since. The one you see now is a 150-pound, larger lead and bronze replica, and much harder to stuff in your handbag. If you’re looking for a San Francisco
restaurant dipped in a little literary intrigue, John's Grill delivers it in, you guessed it, Sam Spades.