Pub date March 28, 2012
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap Eats

CHEAP EATS One of my favorite places to be is at the foot of Potrero Hill in Jackson Park, where I played pick-up baseball in the 1990s and soccer in the 2000s. It’s very unclaustrophobic around there, maybe you’ve noticed. Although: the air is thick with Anchor Steam hops and, for me, memories of athletic style glory such as grounding out to third.

Shit, I got old. Wait. Did I? I am sappy and nostalgic. My foot hurts and I have to “put it up.” I take fiber supplements. Loud music annoys me. I’m almost always cold. We are looking into getting a camper.

Very soon, if all goes as planned, I will be able to stick my hands in boiling water like Grandma Rubino did. And then I will know that I have made it.

Meanwhile, there’s laundry to do. I have a football game tonight and all my sports bras are stinky from playing soccer and soccer and racquetball and ping-pong, so — wait a minute — maybe I’m not old.

Yeah. Maybe loud music only annoys me when it isn’t the Verms. Which it was one time, at Thee Parkside. At the foot of Potrero Hill. Across from Jackson Park.

One of my favorite things about San Francisco these days is that bar food is stepping up — and in interesting ways such as crawfish grits and wedding soup at Broken Record, the whiskey-infused bacon burgers at Bender’s, and fried pickles and chili-cheese tater tots at Thee Parkside.

The burgers aren’t as good as the ones at Bender’s, though. Come to think of it, the tater tots aren’t either. But the music is better, especially on Twang Sundays. That must have been what it was when I saw the Verms there.

Now, the Verms. The Verms are by miles and miles my new favorite band. It’s Earl Butter! What this means is the songs are about underwear and pork sandwiches. In fact, as serendipity would have it, they played the pork sandwich song while we were eating ours.

We were me, Hedgehog, and Kayday, sitting and standing around a small, tall table near the door. Kayday wasn’t eating, and Hedgehog wouldn’t tell me what she wanted.

“Surprise me,” she said.

So I went out to the patio and stared at the menu for about a half hour. There were kids running around, people eating, people waiting to eat, people dancing.

It’s really nice, the indoor-outdoor layout of the place. You can adjust your volume, light, and air intakes simply by poking around the premises. In fact, there used to be a ping-pong table in the way-back, but I forgot to notice if it was still there.

Anyway: pork sandwich. Yes. And a bacon burger with barbecue sauce. Skinny fries. Tater tots. The idea being a 50-50 split.

This was before the goddamn gluten-free garbage, praise Jesus, or I’d have had to eat all the buns and none of the meat. As it was, I messed up anyway.

See, I love barbecue sauce on burgers. Hedgehog — surprise! — does not. Worse, when we halved the burger, luck would have it, she drew the slathered half and mine had next to none — just the first bite, so that I would know what I was missing for the rest of them.

Bite. Damn! Bite. Damn!

I wish we’d have worked it all out in advance, like communicative adults, but it’s hard in bars. The loud music. Lack of light.

By the time we even knew each other’s disappointment, it was too late: The burger was gone.

Ironically, while everyone loves barbecue sauce on barbecue, the pulled pork sandwich came without. Just coleslaw was on it, by which they mean pickled purple cabbage, and a special mayo-y mix, so… hold that.

Good food, great place, amazing show.

Hedgehog still has the set list. She takes it out sometimes, and looks at it.

Me, I’ve gotta go catch some footballs and pull some flags. Tomorrow, hopefully victorious, I set sail for Frisco — and will see you all in the flesh (or thereabouts) next week. At my new favorite restaurant!


Mon.-Fri. 2pm-2am; Fri.-Sat. 3pm-2am

1600 17th St., SF

(415) 252-1330

Cash only

Full bar