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Get Your Steak On

At The Palace Steak House

We'd all been eyeing the place for years. What goes on in that old-school little corner building at Mission and Cesar Chavez, where the promise of a full steak dinner with salad, baked potato and garlic bread beckons at only $8.95 per person?

Indeed, the salad is of the iceberg lettuce variety, with your choice of chunky American dressings like blue cheese laced with herbs, and the baked potato is a fluffy starch canvas for all of your sour cream fantasies come true. The steaks, we're happy to report, are absolutely fabulous and even better than the steaks on which we splurged at fancy-pants Fringale after winning big on horse number seven at the Bay Meadows Racetrack last Memorial Day.

The friendly staff at the Palace operate a small, cafeteria-style self-service line that is thankfully more tranquil than the steaming, roiling line at, say, Van Ness Avenue's Tommy's Joynt. Tranquil, that is, until the cook in the open kitchen starts pounding your huge New York Strip with a tenderizing block before throwing it onto a spitting hot grill. Other patrons in the red vinyl booths surrounding your table will eye the plate of All-American Glory that's placed before you, knowing full well what a d*mn fine meal you're about to enjoy. Many of them are regular customers, from the Samoan families who come in at 4pm for an early Saturday meal to the groups of blue-collar dudes enjoying cold beer and T-bones.

Especially terrific is the low-viscosity steak sauce that comes with dinner. It's a thinned-out, super-savory take on A-1 that takes the steak and potato experience to the next level. Should you require something served in between two pieces of grilled hoagie roll, the bbq chicken sandwich isn't half-bad either. Looking around the greenery-laden interior with a glazed, overfed look and a cold beer plastered to each of our right hands, we realized what we'd been missing all these years of driving past the Palace on the way to Highway 101. A satisfying, low-cost, steakalicious, neighborhoody alternative to the Ruth's Chris Steak House empire and other such corporate rip-off joints, the Palace Steak House is a true asset to the San Francisco dining scene.