Posted by: nancycurteman | May 26, 2010

San Francisco: Home of Sam Spade and the Maltese Falcon

Dashiell Hammett, San Francisco’s most renowned mystery and noir writer created an equally famous detective, Sam Spade. Both Dashiell Hammett and Sam Spade knew San Francisco well. One of their hangouts was the historic John’s Grill where they both dined on chops, baked potato and sliced tomatoes. John’s Grill an old-fashioned, 102-year-old San Francisco tradition situated on Ellis Street is featured in Hammett’s novel “The Maltese Falcon” as well as the 1941 Warner Bros. film of the same name which was based on novel. The movie screenplay was written and directed by John Huston, and starred Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. Hammett’s famous private investigator became the model for hard-boiled crime fiction. Inside John’s Grill, the dimly lit dark wall panels are covered with pictures of old San Francisco, photos of celebrities who frequented the restaurant and photo scenes from the Huston film. John’s Grill is still a gathering spot for local and national celebrities. The Mystery Writers of America meet upstairs in a room full of film props and memorabilia. For a taste of Sam Spade’s San Francisco, John’s Grill is the go-to place.

Photo: filminamerica


  1. I was astounded to learn that there was more than one Maltese Falcon movie made. I’ve collected four distinct versions. One was British, and one was a comedy. Imagine that.


  2. Oh, I’ve seen that upstairs room where the Mystery Writers meet . . . but I don’t know how or where.

    Maybe in a past life?


  3. Wow. When I return to SF I will be sure to visit this icon. It also begs the question -was it ever frequented by ‘The Emperor’?

    P.S. How is the bay bridge realignment shaping up?


  4. John’s Grill opened several years after Emperor Norton died (1819-1880). You gave me an idea for my next post. I love the Emperor Norton character.

    The bridge will be completed in about two and a half years—if all goes well.


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