The Red Fox Steakhouse and Piano Bar, San Diego
This spot can claim bragging rights to what may be the longest history of any restaurant in California. The Red Fox’s bar, Tudor paneling, fireplace and trim are all reconstructed from a 450-year-old inn in England. First dismantled in 1926 and shipped to the U.S. for actress Marion Davies, the Red Fox Room found its eventual home in San Diego’s iconic Lafayette Hotel. Groups staying at the hotel often take advantage of the restaurant’s private dining room, which can hold up to 36 people. After dinner, many diners linger for The Red Fox’s signature cocktails and a set of live jazz or lounge music.
Park Tavern, San Francisco
Though it’s the newest restaurant on the list, the Park Tavern, established in 2011, is steeped in rich history. Located in historic Washington Square Park, the building has been home to a wood and coal yard, fur-niture store, maple shop and the beloved Moose’s restaurant. “We’re in a very well-known building,” says Montana Luchsinger, private dining director. “With a facelift and fun new cocktails and food, we’ve really found a niche in the neighborhood.” The tavern pays tribute to its history with a bar stool and portrait dedicated to local leg-end Ed Moose, as well as appropriately dim lighting and mosaic tile flooring that add an old-school ambiance to the contempo-rary restaurant. Groups of 300 can rent out the entire Park Tavern; groups of up to 80 can reserve the 900-square-foot Eden Room, a tech-savvy venue with elegant magnolia-print wallpaper and a crystal chandelier.
Buckeye Roadhouse, Mill Valley
With high vaulted ceilings, a river-rock fire-place and a moose head adorning the wall, the Buckeye Roadhouse brings ski country coziness to Marin County. Companies like Bio Marin, Coldwell Bankers and General Steamship host events at the lodge-like road-house, which can accommodate groups of 15 to 150. Open since 1937, the restaurant features a staircase and cocktail tables made from left-over scrap from the Golden Gate Bridge. The staff is also historic in its own right. “Most of the kitchen staff has been here for 20 years,” says in-house event coordinator Connie Bishop. Buckeye menu favorites include the famous oysters Bingo and s’more pie.
Far Western Tavern, Santa Maria
Featuring an antique mahogany bar, cowhide curtains and its signature Santa Maria-style barbecue, it’s easy to see why ranchers have been hanging their hats at the Far Western Tavern for over five decades. Two years ago the restaurant moved 10 miles down the road to a new location in Old Town Orcutt, and while beloved dishes like the cowboy cut top sirloin and baby back ribs are still on the menu, Far Western has added some contemporary twists, like craft beer and winemaker dinners. “We are following the same blueprint established by my grandparents,” says co-owner Renee Righetti-Fowler. “When it comes to food and hospitality, they set a remarkable example that guides us to this day.” Above the restaurant is Graciosa Hall, a private event space for up to 180, with its own bar and patio and a full complement of A/V equipment.
Taylor’s Steakhouse, Los Angeles
Serving prime beef since 1953, Taylor’s Steakhouse began life as Taylor’s Tavern, “the biggest little bar in Los Angeles.” In 1970 it moved to slightly larger digs just a few blocks from the original location. (A second location in La Canada-Flintridge opened in 1996.) Its red-leather banquettes are a great place to settle in for a Maker’s Mark martini and the acclaimed “culotte,” the tenderest cut of the top sirloin. The restaurant is still family-run— Bruce Taylor took the reins from his parents in 1978—and is practiced in catering to groups; the private dining room accommodates 30. “We’re really close to the convention center,” says Taylor, “so when there are conventions in town, we’re popular with corporate groups.”