Meals that were marvels were served in tumbledown little hotels. Most famous of all the restaurants was the Poodle Dog. There have been no less than four restaurants of this name, beginning with a frame shanty where, in the early days, a prince of French cooks used to exchange recipes for gold dust. Each succeeding restaurant of the name has moved farther downtown; and the recent Poodle Dog stands—or stood—on the edge of the Tenderloin in a modern five-story building. And it typified a certain spirit that there was in San Francisco.
On the ground floor was a public restaurant where there was served the best dollar dinner on earth. It ranked with the best and the others were in San Francisco. Here, especially on Sunday night, almost everybody went to vary the monotony of home cooking. Every one who was any one in the town could be seen there off and on. It was perfectly respectable. A man might take his wife and daughter there.
On the second floor there were private dining rooms, and to dine there, with one or more of the opposite sex, was risque but not especially terrible. But the third floor—and the fourth floor—and the fifth! The elevator man of the Poodle Dog, who had held the job for many years and never spoke unless spoken to, wore diamonds and was a heavy investor in real estate.
There were others as famous in their way—Zinkaud’s, where, at one time, every one went after the theatre, and Tate’s, which has lately bitten into that trade; the Palace Grill, much like the grills of Eastern hotels, except for the price; Delmonico’s, which ran the Poodle Dog neck and neck in its own line, and many others, humbler, but great at the price.
To the visitor who came to see the city and who put himself in the hands of one of its well-to-do citizens for the purpose, the few days that followed were apt to be a whirl of mirth and sight-seeing, made up of breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, drives, little trips across the bay, dashes down the peninsula to the polo and country clubs, hours spent in Bohemia, trips around the world among all the races of the habitable globe, all of whom had their colonies in this most cosmopolitan of American cities.
In club life the Bohemian stood first and foremost, the famous club whose meeting place, with all its art treasures, is now a heap of ashes, but which was formerly ’Frisco’s head-centre of mirth. Founded by Henry George, the world-famous single tax advocate, when he was an impecunious scribbler on the San Francisco Post, it grew to be the choicest place of resort in the Pacific metropolis.