If Houston’s, Bandera, Gulfstream, Rutherford Grill, West Beverly Grill, R&D Cafe etc. etc. are part of a chain, then chain me up! I will tell you that none of these restaurants belong to a “chain”, but in fact, a privately held restaurant group. Hillstone aint no Applebee’s. Fans would shudder at the comparison and rightly so.

Houston’s, now Hillstone, is one of my top 5 favorite restaurants. Stop gasping food snobs. Eat there and you will know why. I am going to share a few pics from Hillstone in San Francisco, followed by a list of reasons why I heart Hillstone.

Famous grilled artichoke!

A prominent cook book editor said that the grilled artichoke at Houston’s was the best he has ever had.

The famous baby back ribs!

The ribs are dreamy, even dreamier than mine. They offer a plethora of other amazing dishes that are not meat, but I love meat.

Artisanal hot fudge trough — What ribs? — The space

The hot fudge is heavenly. The source of the chocolate will depend on the location of the restaurant and the taste of the chef. In LA it was Scharffen Berger and in San Francisco it is currently Tcho.

The famous French Dip with Cous Cous salad instead of fries.

Again, meat. Yum. Thinly sliced prime rib on a lovely toasted home made bun. Cous Cous with mint, lemon, olive oil, almonds, radishes and tomatoes, oh my.

Music and a sugar-eating martian

A live band? Why, yes it is. Lovely music too. Fireplace to the left, not shown here. I love the little martian-looking sugar dispenser. May I have one please?

The artichokes get double billing

This remoulade inspires poetry and enlarges waistlines simultaneously.


  • CONSISTENCY: Food, service and atmosphere are amazing whether you are at the Rutherford Grill in Napa or Gulfstream in Newport Beach. If I am in a major city in the US that is not known for their food, I know I can probably find a Hillstone restaurant and have a great meal.
  • QUALITY: You can taste the quality of the meat, fish, poultry and produce in every bite. Sounds like a commercial, but its true. I have never bitten into a sinewy steak or limp salad, not to mention a limp hot fudge.
  • ATMOSPHERE: I eat out a lot and at some pretty hip and she-she-fru-fru restaurants just don’t cut the mustard in the ambiance department. I have found many restaurants to be poorly lit, loud and uncomfortable. Many restaurants, even some of the new “boutiqe” restaurants, put generic art on their walls. All of the art in every Hillstone restaurant is original and “curated” out of the Beverly Hills office and no matter where you sit, you will always have a view of something pleasant.
  • VALUE: I would not call the price point “affordable”, but I have paid much more for the same quality food at other restaurants. None of the restaurants charge corkage and they state it right on the door. Taking wine to a restaurant anywhere, but San Francsico and wine country is not very common. I love that I can bring a bottle of my favorite wine to eat with my favorite ribs and not get stink eye or a $25 corkage fee. If you don’t sport your own wine, they have a thoughtfully chosen wine list and a wine expert on staff.
  • CRAVE FACTOR: I love a restaurant that makes me crave the food. Once a month (insert joke here) I say, I NEED the French Dip!

GRIPE: My main gripe with Hillstone is that they don’t list their menus online. I am sure they have their reasons, but it is a bummer when I am trying to tell the world what wonderful and varied menus they have. You can see pretty pictures of some of their food on their web site and find locations for the varying Hillstone restaurants, but no menus. I will have to say that this doesn’t keep people from eating there. I have never been to an empty Houstons or Gulfstream during lunch or dinner. Never.

By |2018-10-03T16:32:43-04:00July 21st, 2010|


  1. Christin July 21, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    I love Houston’s! The food is always good, and I also enjoy the comfortable atmosphere. Thanks for showcasing them!

  2. shannon July 21, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    LOVE the double Billing for the Artichoke, and the smiley was a nice touch. I’ve been waiting for this post and it didn’t disapoint. Hungry now!

  3. Mary Gilbert July 21, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    Hey Claudia,

    What a great write up. I’ve always loved Houstons and Rutherford Grill and knew nothing of this chain. Now I know. Now I’ll check out their other restaurants. And, must try the hot fudge at “Hillstone.”

    Looking forward to more girl. Keep it coming!

  4. Carrie Gray July 22, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Rutherford Grill is our absolute favorite! Smoked salmon, deviled eggs, rotisserie chicken, Hacked Chicken Salad, Chicken Enchiladas, and excellent cocktails! Beautiful outdoor bar and patio. Excellent service. They bring out water and bones for our dogs. I could go on and on and on….

  5. Anna Garay July 29, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    Thank you for the generous compliments! I’d love to meet you the next time you’re in. (I’ll be in a chef coat 😉
    Bon appetit
    Anna Garay

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