Part of that dying breed of diner-cum-neighborhood gathering joints that has been disappearing from the streets of San Francisco, the Tennessee feels like it may have actually appeared in The Streets of San Francisco. It opened in the fifties and although it seems it may have fallen prey to the occasional paint job or Formica touch-up, it doesn’t really seem like much has changed here. Its almost like Patti Page should be heard from an old LP while you peruse the menu featuring what appears to be Carol Channing (photo) from Hello, Dolly! on the cover.
Curl up in one of the booths and let the fake flowers and flickering fluorescent lighting wash over you as you relish in such sturdy offerings as calf’s liver and onions, patty melts or an entire bounty of sea creatures fried beyond recognition, all served on steaming plastic resin plates. ¡Tres nursing home chic! Each dinner plate comes with a trip to the salad bar, which is a bit of an oddity in these parts. Don’t be expecting a fancy Soup Plantation spread, however- its pretty bare bones and actually features mayonnaise as a dressing choice.
Also, if you’re in a family way, this place can definitely be a bargain choice. The children’s menu features a sirloin steak for $4.95 in case you have a little Henry VIII at the table.
The Tennessee is not for everyone, but the portions are filling and the prices are pretty damn low. Besides, the people watching can’t be beat. Just ask one of the friendly waitresses for another $8($2.75 glass) decanter of Chablis, sit back and watch the old timers get rowdy with each other.
The Tennessee Grill
1128 Taravel St. btw 21st & 22nd Aves.