CHEAP EATS I had pretty much settled on spending a quiet night at home with a big bowl of popcorn and my new dehumidifier, but then I accidentally called Earl Butter and he said, in effect, "Do you know what time it is? What are you doing home? Get the hell in your pickup truck and get here."
"OK, yes," I said. "Bye."
It was Friday night. Almost all our friends in the world were playing at the Make-Out Room, for the Mission Creek Festival. Everyone was going to be there. I don’t know what I had been thinking, but I stopped thinking it, grabbed my toothbrush, patted Weirdo the Cat on the head, turned the dehumidifier all the way up, kissed the chickens on their beaks, and drove to the city with a big bowl of popcorn in my lap.
It’s an hour-and-a-half ride. I tried to think of it as a movie, an expensive and dark movie. About traffic. That may sound dull, but if you think of it in comparison to a date with a dehumidifier … well, it’s still pretty dull.
Anyway, I’m not a movie reviewer. I made it to the Mission in time to catch the back half of the show and to hug everybody and smile a lot and talk too much until my face hurt and I was losing my voice again.
And then when the live music ended (early), we all went to Little Him’s house and called it a party, and there were more songs, and tacos for me, from 24th Street, because I was all done drinking. When I can’t drink anymore, I start eating tacos. And in this way the party in my mind never stops.
It got late, Jolly Boy carted me and Earl back to 611, and I made me a cozy little nest in the closet and slept like a little baby bird, my dreams all a-flit with flowers and trees, butterflies, and other enchanted forestry. I’m going to tell you something: Love was in the air. At the Make-Out Room, at the after party, in the darkness in this closet. It had nothing to do with me, but it did have to do with my dearest friend in the whole wide world and my new favorite old friend, and the whole evening, in the songs, in the beer, in the blah blah blah — even in the tacos — there had been this sort of sizzle.
Compare that to dehumidification.
I was on Cloud 8. Still am, and I would like to tip my bandanna to Bikkets and the Neverneverboy, bless their big big goofy grins, tired eyes, and infecting electricity.
But I’m not a gossip columnist, so I woke up with an oniony tacover, extricated myself from the closet, and mumbled to Earl Butter, who was in the big room watching cartoons, "Coffee."
He turned off the TV.
We knocked on Jolly Boy’s door on our way out and he joined us at Java Supreme (Coffee: still a buck. Still!) Well, you can only leaf through a newspaper for so long on a Saturday morning in the Mission before you start thinking of Chava’s.
Jolly Boy broached the subject: "Whatever happened to Chava’s?"
Burnt down. Reopened between 24th and 25th on Mission, Earl and I answered in little bits and pieces. Disastrous atmosphere, basically a taquer??a, still great food. Almost in unison, we all stood up and started walking in that direction, with the understanding that it was a long way to walk and we would keep our eyes open for any better ideas along the way.
A better idea: La Quinta, my new favorite Mexican restaurant, on Mission between 20th and 21th. It has the feel of what Chava’s used to feel like. Family, old-school, everybody’s smiling, huge plates of food, cool, colorful, fruity paintings on the wall, a counter … A counter!
We sat at a table and fell in love with the place. I got birria ($7.50), and the goats were tender and less gristly than usual — not that I have anything against gristle. But I know you do. Jolly Boy got huevos rancheros ($6.50), and Earl ordered some kind of thing with softened tortilla chips all scrambled up with eggs and stuff. I got to taste everything and everything was great. The tabletop chips were fresh and the salsa was delicious.
You know what, I think it’s cheaper than most places this day and age too. Check this out: Weekdays, between 7 and 11 a.m., you can get huevos rancheros, or other egg dishes, for $4.75. That’s with rice, beans, and homemade tortillas, and that’s just freakin’ beautiful. SFBG
Daily, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
2425 Mission, SF