Celebrate Fair Trade

Temple San Francisco is kicking off Fair Trade Month with a party to raise awareness and funds to support the Fair Trade movement. Taste appetizers made with Fair Trade certified ingredients, get a sneak peak at Fair Trade certified clothing, try cocktails made with FAIR vodka, a Fair Trade spirit made with quinoa, and mingle with other ethical consumers.

8 p.m., $15

Temple San Francisco

540 Howard, SF


Earth Made of Glass

Attend this screening of director Deborah Scranton’s documentary about the wounds that remain after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The films chronicles the continuing struggles of an ordinary citizen and head of state as they try to uncover the past and face the future. The film will be followed by a panel discussion on the functions, roles, and processes of documentary film as a form of investigative journalism featuring Deborah Scranton; Robert Rosenthal, executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting; Mathilde Mukantabana, president of Friends of Rwanda; and moderator Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large for the San Francisco Chronicle.

7 p.m., $12.50

Embarcadero Center Cinema

1 Embarcadero Center, SF

(415) 561-5000


"Emerging Autonomous Movements in Cuba"

Learn about some of the challenges facing Cubans today as they try to form new movements using horizontal organizing models that seek alternatives to a bureaucratic centralized state and include autonomy and creative and political freedom. The panel, videos, and discussion include a history of Cuban anarchism. Come early at 6 p.m. for a vegan Cuban dinner. Proceeds support autonomous and antiauthoritarian collectives in Cuba.

7 p.m., $20–$100 donation

Modern Times Bookstore

888 Valencia, SF

(415) 282-9246


Bunny Art Show

Browse and buy bunny art, inspired by rescued bunnies, to benefit East Bay rabbit rescue shelters. All art was created by well-known and young Bay Area artists. You can also meet and adopt a bunny from East Bay Rabbit Rescue, Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary, House Rabbit Society, and more local shelters and rescues. Bring your bunny for bunny speed-dating or for a free nail trim.

11 a.m.–4 p.m., free

East Bay SPCA Tri-Valley Adoption Center

4651 Gleason, Dublin


Take a Kid Mountain Biking

Kids 8 to 16 and their families are invited to participate in this day of free mountain biking activities in McLaren Park. The event offers skill instruction, guided short and long loop rides, bike maintenance, helmet fitting, information about urban bike routes, a raffle, photo booth, free Clif Bar snacks, and more. Bring your own bikes. Sponsored by SPUR, Specialized Bicycles, Clif Bar, IMBA, and the YMCA.

9 a.m.–12:30 p.m., free

McLaren Park

Mansell at Visitacion, SF

Mail items for Alerts to the Guardian Building, 135 Mississippi St., SF, CA 94107; fax to (415) 437-3658; or e-mail Please include a contact telephone number. Items must be received at least one week prior to the publication date.

Hot sluts!


SEX ISSUE Forget those uptight pricks: sluts are awesome. There’s no shame in harboring a voracious appetite for sexiness in all its myriad expressions. Combined with a well-developed ethical stance and safe practices, it’s one of the joys of being human. In honor of the enormous, charitable Folsom Street leather and fetish fair (Sun/26, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., donations requested., we wanted to honor some of our favorite local sluts with the pervy attention they want and deserve. 



You’ve always wanted to watch your neighbors bang, right? Well moan enthusiastically in honor of the Good Vibrations Indie Erotic Film Festival, which every year puts the call out for the cream of the amateur blue filmmaker crop, then assembles the spunkiest for your viewing pleasure at the Castro Theatre. You too can be in the audience, which will ooh and aah its approval to choose the sexiest, steamiest home-screw, the lucky winner receiving a $1,500 money shot. So how does SF get it on? This year’s 12 finalists include preggo smut (Jeannie Roshar’s “Bun in the Oven”), good old-fashioned wordplay like Benjamin Williams’ “The Filth Element,” and sci-fi sexin’ (“Orgasm Raygun” by Martin Gooch). The fest precedes a range of specialty nights around town coordinated by Good Vibes, including Lebso Retro: A Dyke Porn Retrospective (Wed/22 at the Women’s Building). It’s gonna be a hot ticket, so grab a seat, relax your rear, and revel in the sight of sexy San Francisco.

Thurs/23 pre party: 7 p.m., $10; screening: 8 p.m., $10. Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF. (415) 621-6120,



“I’m so honored to be named Sluttiest Queen,” inimitable alternative drag goddess Suppositori Spelling tells us. “It’s nice to see that my work hasn’t gone unnoticed. I have so many performances that require nudity that when I drop my skirt lately it’s often met with a wave of yawns from my audience. I think they’re more shocked by the presence of panties nowadays.” (Her audience, found at her raucous weekly drag show Cocktailgate — Sundays, 9 p.m., $5. Truck, 1900 Folsom St., SF. — sheds a few panties themselves when she’s on stage.) “I could tell you stories so dirty hot that this paper would burn like a Koran in Florida” she continues, “but I’m so shy and reserved. I will say this, though: as far as the queer sex scene in San Francisco goes, we seem to be in the flush of a renaissance. I keep stumbling upon things that even make me blush — like the gentleman who preferred a visible handjob on public transportation during rush hour as foreplay. But I encourage whatever floats your boat or creams your Twinkie. I just want to clarify, however, that “ouch” is not a safe word!”

Suppositori emcees the Seventh Street stage at Folsom Street Fair from 11 a.m.–2 p.m., followed by a special performance at 2:30 p.m., and then a “hanky code” themed Cocktailgate at its regular time.



Dan and JD, a.k.a. Two Knotty Boys, are no strangers to the twists and loops of BDSM performance. Native San Franciscans both, they not only create mesmerizing stage shows in which they bind nubile flesh to their will, but also produce end results so visionary that you’d be excused for leaving off the “fetish” and dubbing it merely “fashion.” A ever-so-tightly cinched halter top of gleaming white cord, a barely there cobweb bikini that requires an expert hand to remove, overlays of skirts and dresses that hobble the wearer seductively and at the same time, show off the contours of the female body. It’s neat, it’s adjustable, it’s sexily professional work. It’s easy to see why the duo has filmed more than 100 video tutorials and taught countless workshops in the Bay and beyond for their eager fans: the Boys have tied up hundreds of women but, unlike some humiliation artists, they have never tied down their subjects’ beauty and comfort.



Was it written on the rock hard abs of some San Franciscan sex god that all coital gatherings in this city have to be stark and stoic? Thankfully, the colorful gang over at Kinky Salon never got that memo. Creators Polly and Scott have created a swinger’s playland party in the pink and purple rooms of Mission Control whose focus is flair: playful costume themes have focused on everything from kitty cats (the upcoming Pussyfest) to undersea adventure and fairy tale characters. You’ve never lived, it would seem, until your Snow White costume has been peeled off on the couch in the Harem Room by Tinkerbell and Captain Hook. More recently, the team has created a new magazine to celebrate the vast array of sexualities that their partygoers lay claim to: San Fran Sexy. The rag includes erotic history lessons from sexologist Dr. Carol Queen, memoir pieces from Bawdy Storytelling’s Dixie De La Tour, photos from recent Kinky Salon soirees, and news of sensual events to come.



“If the Meat Sluts were a Pink Lady, we’d be Rizzo! We ain’t no prudes like Sandy!” says BB Rumproast of rockin’ band the Meat Sluts ( In a world of vegan dogs, her XXX-chromosomed trash rock-punk explosion is an all-beef foot long. The four women are cookin’ on stage — literally. In addition to the occasional back up steak dancing alongside their guitar licks and growls, the Meat Sluts have shared space at shows with a live hot dog-maker and a meat grinder flinging sausage and baloney onto hungry fans. It’s messy, carnivorous fun — the perfect expression of the group’s embrace of hedonistic appetite that could care less about what’s considered “ladylike” at the table of the musical establishment. “We are loose and crazy and not ashamed of it! We love man meat! We love weenies! Beef baloney, Slim Jims, T-bones, bring it ON!” says Rumproast. To quote the Sluts’ rager rally cry “Johnny Con Carne,” that’s what we call makin’ bacon.

The Meat Sluts play Dodgyfest 3, Oct 2, 7 p.m., $10. Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St., SF.



Fleur De Lis SF has a bone to pick with the way hot and horny females are portrayed. “Women are just as sexual as men and they should own it,” the blogger tells us. Need proof? Check out the blog she started this summer — just make sure your hands are free and you’ve got a little privacy while you do so. Her posts are missives from a professional woman’s enthusiastic exploration of sensual subcultures in “one of the sexiest cities in the world.” Though her identity is clad in secrecy, Fleur De Lis SF’s escapades with Craig’s List Casual Encounters, BDSM clubs, and randy run-ins at the grocery store will leave you slicker than a Slip ‘N Slide in 90 percent humidity. Erotic inspiration notwithstanding, what we love about this new It slut is her candor and assertiveness. “Mainly, I want to educate people to embrace sex and sexuality,” she says. “I want people to accept who they are, and who are we are sexually is a huge part of who we are as people.”



For the past few years, hunky leatherman cruisers have been blessed with the return of a SoMa bar crawl, which, while hardly rivaling the infamous Miracle Mile of the 1970s and ’80s, at least offers hide-lusting bar-hoppers an array of options. Truck, Hole in the Wall, Powerhouse, the Eagle, Lone Star — all make for a daisy chain of fellow cock-seekers. But the piece de resistance is surely Chaps II, which gives itself wholly over to man-action bliss. The original Chaps, owned by Chuck Slaton and Ron Morrison, was notorious for its Crisco-minded shenanigans, and Chaps II, opened in 2008 by David Morgan, continues the proudly perverse tradition, with parties devoted to rope play, piss play, fisting, and sports gear aficionados, as well as regular nights simply dedicated to the Holy Grail of slutty manhood: cheap ass. (For those unfamiliar — cheap ass tastes like chicken parmesan.) Kudos to you, Chaps II, for keeping the BDSM spirit alive — and serving a healthy round of Jäger shots to boot.

1225 Folsom, SF. (415) 255-2427,



Drilldo, Intruder MK II, the Satisfyher, Scorpion, the Little Guy, Annihilator, the Octapussy — these are some of the friendly, dripping sex robots you’ll meet at, part of the kingdom. The machines put a bevy of heaving beauties through the motions with their dildo-studded fingers and pulsating hacksaw thrusts. Designed by lucky site users, who submit their moving-parts fantasies, and the fiendishly clever sex-elves at the Fucking Machines workshop (with many of the machines fabricated on site at Kink’s HQ in the Mission Armory), these fascinating thingamabobs range from devilishly dirty to actually kind of cute. There’s even one modeled on Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, albeit renamed Fuckzilla and outfitted with a huge silicone phallus. The whole shebang is overseen by the enthusiastic Tomcat, who drives the point home that, yes, a chainsaw outfitted with 20 fake tongues “challenges the whole idea that women need someone to buy them dinner to get pleasure.” Fucking machines themselves have been around since the 1960s, he notes, “but when we started in 2001, we wanted to capitalize on the tech wave, while approaching the machine construction like sculpture.” Good thing the Fucking Machine bubble didn’t burst.



Burlesque heroine Baroness Eva Von Slüt knows what she’s got, and she’s happy to show it to you. The inked, buxom platinum blonde dove into burlesque in 2002, but she’s never been afraid of flaunting her dangerous curves onstage. “Whatever the thing is that women have that they hate their bodies, I just don’t have it. I don’t compare myself to other people because I know I look good.” Von Slüt produces her own burlesque shows, plays party-jumping jams with partner DJ Mod Days, and heads up the vocals for no less than two sexy bands — Thee Merry Widows, an all-girl psychobilly explosion of fishnets, red lipstick, and leather dresses, at whose shows Von Slüt will bust out in pasties and sequined panties, and the White Barons, a stripped down, hard-edged punk outfit in which Von Slüt lets her rebel growl loose. So what gets this freight train whistling? Purrs the lady, “Self-confidence and kindness. Also, I am a bit of a cougar, so gentlemen 10 years younger. I’m not opposed to men my age or older, but gosh they’re just so sweet when they’re young!”

Catch Von Slüt’s DJ session on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at Butter, 354 11th St., SF.



There are a lot of gay musclemen at the Folsom Street Fair, and there are a lot of steamy, shirtless gay man-parties surrounding the event (causing quite a few Monday morning tragedies). But what about everyone else? “I was talking to my friends at Kink,” says Folsom organizer Demetri Moshoyannis, “and they said that once the fair ended, all the leathermen had a place to go, but everyone at the Kink booth just had to go home. So this year we teamed up with them to change that.” The result? A glorious-sounding omnisexual dance party called Deviants that’s open to everyone. The acknowledgment that gay muscle men aren’t the only ones who can get down and dirty into the wee hours is refreshing. But so is the musical lineup — the Juan Maclean, Zach Moore from Space Cowboys, Australia’s Stereogamous — which offers something beyond the carnival circuit-music at many of the other parties. Musclemen are welcome, too, of course, as long as they’re willing to shake their chains on the dance floor.

Sun/26, 6 p.m.–2 a.m., $30 advance. 525 Harrison, SF.



It’s not too many harems that offer you 40 different ways to satisfy your cravings. But hot, lip-smacking loving can be yours — in three different locations or for delivery, no less! — whenever that urge to do something naughty hits, whether you like it on your lunch hour or for a post-bar dirty stopover. Oh, Pizza Orgasmica, you sure do know what gets us going. The local chain has umpteen big, salacious pies with nookie-themed names for your perusing. And although the Ménage à Trois, with it’s cuddle puddle of five salty cheeses, will leave you panting, and the Latin Lover’s barbeque sauce, chicken, zucchini, onions, and cilantro make for a meaty, spicy affair, the sluttiest pie award has got to go to the Farmer’s Daughter. She looks like a demure little milkmaid (after all, you can find her on the vegetarian menu) — but once her drizzles of creamy bianca cheese hit your tongue, and her fresh corn and broccoli fill your mouth … it’s a tumble in the hay you won’t soon forget. Old MacDonald would be scandalized.

Various locations,



When it comes gender-bending sexual escapades, we landlubbing bipeds tend to give short shrift to our finned, feathered, and multi-legged Earthmates. That’s why we’re giving a hearty bottoms up to the California Academy of Science’s Amphiprion ocellaris. The showy orange and white striped fish, whose common name is clownfish, is best known as the aquatic brat in Finding Nemo. But we don’t care about Nemo’s celebrity — or his billions. We salute him for his ability to shift from male to female when needed, giving her access to the entire spectrum of fishy sexuality. One of the planet’s rare sequential hermaphrodites, all clownfish are born male (protandrous hermaphrodites) but become female when the female in a breeding pair dies. You may never look at a clownfish the same way again — and you should certainly go and look at them at the Cal Academy aquarium (, where the San Franciscan clownfish ride tiny fixies, design websites, and sip Blue Bottle. Kidding! But maybe we should rethink always calling them “Nemo.” How about Nema for a change? Or Nemo-ma. Or, oh goddess of LGBT fish love, Nemaphrodite.



It’s lunchtime Friday and you need a juicy thigh in your mouth: Gold Club is there. And no, we’re not talking about the lovely ladies popping, dropping, and locking it all over the SoMa strip club’s pleasure poles. Carnal urges take on new meaning when it comes to the joint’s $5 all you can eat Friday buffet, an omnivorous affair stuffed with roast beef, lasagna, fresh veggies, hummus, brownies, and their signature breasts (or as one Yelper so memorably dubbed them, “fried chicken tit-tays!”) The spread attracts a diverse crowd of office workers and lap-dance connoisseurs of all genders, endowed with an appetite for crispy skin and jiggling glutei maximi alike. So pair your plate with a $4 happy hour cocktail — available until 7 p.m. — and don’t forget to share your savings with the working women up front.

Gold Club’s all you can eat buffet Fridays 11 a.m.– 2 p.m., $5. 650 Howard, SF. (415) 536-0300,

Slutty profiles written by Marke B., Caitlin Donohue, Johnny Ray Huston, and Diane Sussman.

Carne, carnival


CHEAP EATS I fell in with some bad people. One was a clown. You don’t expect to even like clowns, let alone fall in with them, but this one was brilliant, in a Charlie Chaplinish way. Or early Woody Allen, meaning: all you have to do is look at him and you pee your pants.

And that’s when he’s out of character. In character, on stage, forget it! You’re going down. This actually funny clown works with a couple of other actually funny clowns, one of whom I talked to for a long time about food because she lives — like me — in San Francisco.

We were sitting around a campfire in front of the stage, after the show. Behind us, a lot of musicians were playing a lot of songs, but not me. I didn’t feel like jamming. I felt like making new friends. Fun, fucked up, and circus-y friends.

They call it a chautauqua, but in addition to the music, storytelling, and political humor, there were these clowns, a contortionist, a slack-rope walker, and a one-ball contact juggler — which, if you’ve never seen contact juggling, you should probably go see you some.

It’s beautiful.

My own role among this talented riff-raff was very, very background. I played bass in a three-piece band for a 25-minute micromusical about sea monkeys. Still, everyone hugged me backstage, or at least patted me on the back, and admired my hot water bottle.

The third night was more than sold out. More than a couple hundred people huddled together in the west-county, wine-country redwoods, oohing and ahhing and laughing our asses off, and afterward the resident pyro lit another careful bonfire. The musicians and nonmusicians among us jammed. I stayed until at least 1 a.m., talking mostly to the girlfriend of one of the sea monkeys. Or I guess technically she was the tank aerator. I hadn’t actually had the pleasure of seeing much of the play from the orchestra pit. Which wasn’t a pit so much as a platform or tree house.

Meat, was what me and the tank aerator’s girlfriend talked about. Her girlfriend, the tank aerator, was a vegan. A lot of the people were vegetarians. The two meals a day they made us in the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center kitchen were always delicious, but in a meatless, meatfree, where’s-the-meat kind of way. So we missed it, me and the tank aerator’s girlfriend, and we discussed this missing, our preference for meat over dessert in general, and where one might could find bacon cheeseburgers, for example, at 1 a.m., in Occidental.

"Rohnert Park," she said. She was thinking of an In-N-Out Burger, but that was 30 minutes away.

Which is, admittedly, closer than Brazil.

My own personal new favorite restaurant is in El Cerrito. Has anyone ever been to Rafael’s Shutter Café? You have to go way up San Pablo, past the Hotsy Totsy, past Albany Bowl, and then, I don’t know: keep going. It’s on your right.

They have live jazz on weekends, but when I was there, on something like a Wednesday, there was opera playing on the stereo. Which went perfectly with my sausage omelet, potatoes, toast, coffee, coffee, and more coffee.

I was sitting at the counter, waiting for the traffic outside to die down so I could cross the Richmond Bridge and go up and fall in with bad people, such as clowns and meat-eating girlfriends of tank aerators.

After I drank too much coffee there was nothing left to do but chat up the guy who runs the joint. "Where do you put your musicians?" I asked him.

He said I reminded him of his sister-in-law. He said, "Are you French or Spanish?"

"Italian," I said.

He said he was married to a French woman.

"Me, I’m waiting," I said. His phone rang. I said: "Traffic."


Mon.–Thu. 9 a.m.–4 p.m.;

Fri.–Sat. 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

10064 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito

(510) 525-4227


Beer and wine

Eating Jonathan Safran Foer’s words


Well, hell, I thought, shutting Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals after reading its last page. There goes that. I have been a vegetarian (careful omnivore, pescatarian) off and on for fifteen years now. But having read the author of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close‘s latest offering, Safran Foer’s exploration of the horrific world and consequences of our current addiction to factory farming, I realized I could no straddle the fence. There would be, I realized, no more salmon on my plate, or “cage-free” eggs, or cheddar cheese. Why? Well besides the whole institutionalized torture thing in most slaughterhouses-dairy farms-egg factories today, here’s a fact to chew on: omnivores generate seven times more carbon emissions than vegan. And I can live without eggs and bacon. Call me Natalie Portman if you must. I chatted with Safran Foer over the phone about his lyrical horror story in anticipation of his SF appearances next week, including a benefit for 826 Valencia (Weds/22). He’s no activist, but I like him.


San Francisco Bay Guardian: This book made me reconsider the way I eat in a major way. But I felt like a lot of the arguments could be extended past meat to dairy products and eggs as well. Are you a vegan?

Jonathan Safran Foer: No, not exactly. I’m pretty close. I try to eat as little as possible and also only from sources that I know. I’m not by definition a vegan. I don’t think there’s any one line, I think that this is an important thing to acknowledge. There are certain things that come down to instincts that we have, how we were raised. There are people in this country that don’t have access to anything but fast food, not even a supermarket. The line for me will been shifting for the next couple years. I won’t eat meat, that’s a line that I’ve drawn.


SFBG: What do you think was the hardest part about quitting meat?

JSF: It’s a habit, it tastes good and you’re used to doing it. Habits are hard to change, especially since they’re so fundamental to your lifestyle. Anything you do twice a day is hard to change, especially when they’re so tied to your culture. 


SFBG: So what’s the good word for people that are considering going cold turkey [or rather, cold no-turkey]?

JSF: Be forgiving of yourself. If you slip up, it doesn’t have to signify the end of your experiment. I recommend to people that they phase it in. If I had done that from the beginning I would have had a much easier time with it. 


SFBG: The book has, understandably stirred up some healthy debate. Do you read your critics? Has anyone offered criticism that’s caused you to revisit your findings?

JSF: Not exactly. I was surprised by the responses, mostly that they were very generous. When I was writing the book, I couldn’t envision the person that would defend factory farming. Whenever I do a reading I always say that if you have a defense that I haven’t heard of, please, share it. I guess I’ve been surprised by the strange consensus on the subject. Obviously there are a lot of people that think eating meat is a fine thing to do. But I’ve never met the person that, once exposed to factory farming, thinks that factory farming is a good thing to do.


SFBG: The scenes you describe in the factory farms you visit, as well as their environmental impact that you describe, are horrifying. How is it that the facts about this topic aren’t more well-known?

JSF: For one thing, there are incentives for it not to be. We would just as soon not think about it. It makes our lives easier not to think about. Also the meat lobby is incredibly strong, incredibly powerful, and good at keeping information from consumers. Finally, we don’t have much exposure to what farming is really like. Most of the exposure that we have is stories that are told to us from the industry, labeling on packages. They encourage us to think of farms as places wheres there’s animals on the grass. For a lot of people, the problem is that there’s a distance between what we hold in our mind and the reality. And it’s hard to close that distance. 


SFBG: You say the impetus for writing Eating Animals was to figure out whether or not you should serve your newborn son meat. The book focuses mainly on animal welfare though, with a smattering of environmental concern. Were there other books you could have written on this subject focusing on labor issues or nutritional concerns, say?

JSF: I don’t think of the book as being about animal welfare, actually. It’s not comprehensive but it is as comprehensive as I could be in a book thats only 300 pages. 


SFBG: How many farms did you visit throughout the course of your research?

JSF: A lot. It depends on what you mean by visits. Some you could drive up and see by the side of the road, some I had to go to in the middle of the night. I don’t know – a dozen?


SFBG: You talk a lot in this book about the importance of meat in “table fellowship.” You focus, in particular on eating turkey at Thanksgiving. How should one approach the subject of vegetarianism with family that eats meat in those types of situations?

JSF: I think one of the most important things is to feel out the answer that the person wants. Some people are genuinely curious, some are just asking out of politeness. It can be a kind of vanity that makes you feel good to say it, but it’s not helping anything. I have found actually that conversations about this don’t really work. I don’t really try to persuade people in person, I mostly go about my business and do my thing. I think we’ve made a mistake, the people who care about this thinking that argument will win. I think conversation will. We have to be more humble. 


SFBG: Do you consider yourself an animal rights activist?

JSF: No. I don’t even think about animal rights. I think about animal welfare. It’s a piece of a puzzle.


SFBG: What’s the next project? Will your next book be back to fiction?

JSF: Yeah it is.


SFBG: Was it a strange process researching a non-fiction book?

JSF: It was very strange and at times difficult. I don’t know if I would do it again


SFBG: Why not?

JSF: I found it frustrating. The thing I value most about fiction is freedom, being able to pursue my imagination. Basically having nowhere to go is what I like about writing fiction, there is no referring to anything. But in this book, I’m referring to the world. I found it at times very difficult.


Jonathan Safran Foer’s upcoming SF appearances:


Q&A and Book Signing

Tues/21 1 p.m., free

Rosa Parks Room, Student Center

San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway, SF

(415) 338-1111


In conversation with Vendela Vida

City Arts & Lectures Fall Literary Series

Weds/22 8 p.m., $20

Herbst Theater

401 Van Ness, SF




Benefits: Sept 8-Sept 14


Ways to have fun while giving back this week

Thursday, Sept. 9

Coalition on Homelessness Auction
Attend this live and silent art auction featuring works by Bay Area artists, live music by Perranosperous, food by the California Culinary Academy, desserts from Kingdom Cake, and a raffle. Proceeds to benefit the Coalition on Homelessness.
5:30 p.m., $25
934 Brannan, SF
(415) 346-3740, ext. 307

Faubourg Tremé

Watch this documentary film about the history of the radical roots of one New Orleans community, where during slavery, Black people could earn their freedom and purchase a house. The film, fully titled Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, concludes with new challenges facing the Black community after the Katrina disaster.
7:30 p.m., $6 donation
ATA Theater
992 Valencia, SF
(415) 821-6545

Free Community Health Programs
Support two free community health programs at this benefit concert featuring Embers, Speed of Darkness, Somnolence, and Crucifixion. One of the programs, the Street Level Health Project, offers medical screenings, a lunch program, mental health support, herbal medicine and nutrition, and more services for urban immigrant communities in the Bay Area. The other program, Casa Besu, aims to bring alternative, holistic treatments to the people of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.
8 p.m., $5-$10
El Rio
3158 Mission, SF
(510) 533-9906

Saturday, Sept. 11

A’s Firefighter Appreciation Night

Local firefighters from around the Bay Area and Northern California will be honored at the Oakland A’s vs. Red Socks game. A portion of the ticket proceeds will be donated to charitable organizations that support burn foundations, fire safety, educational programs, and other community organizations when you buy them through the webpage, passcode: HERO.
Oakland Coliseum
7000 Coliseum, Oakl.
(510) 563-2336

Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
Enjoy San Francisco’s signature chocolate delicacies, sip wine, and take part in family activities. Proceeds benefit Project Open Hand.
Sat. – Sun. Noon-5 p.m., $20 for 15 samples
Ghirardelli Square
900 North Point, SF

Sunday, Sept. 12

True Blood Party

Watch the Season 3 finale of HBO’s True Blood series and enjoy a night of entertainment with host comic Marcella Arguello, a live blues performance by I See Read, a lesbian firedancer show, live tattooing with SkinFiend, a look-a-like contest, Creole food, and more. Proceeds to benefit the Red Cross.
6 p.m., $25-$50
The New Parish
579 18th St., Oakl.

Wild Salmon BBQ
Enjoy a BBQ dinner featuring sustainably harvested wild Alaskan salmon, fine California wine, live music by the Bay, and a silent auction in celebration of the sustainable marine life of Pacific Rim and the work of Pacific Environment. Proceeds to support Pacific Environment. Vegetarian and vegan options available.
3 p.m., $60
Olympic Circle Sailing Club
1 Spinnaker, Berk.
(415) 388-8850, ext. 309

Listen to the animals


MUSIC Moira Scar is from the Bay Area, but it would be better to put it this way: from a time and space at the edge of one of Jack Smith’s 15-hour performances in a crustacean imaginative nethersphere, the musical entity that is Moira Scar has arrived. The duo’s self-released vinyl debut Slink to Intensity is made up of seven songs. Some manifest in frenetic outer space garage sounds. Others conjure sprawling free-jazz fantasy lands just beyond the negative space of a film frame. Slink to Intensity also features three photos of the group’s LuLu Gamma Ray and Roxy Monoxide in nakedly wild attire. The spirit of Mary Daly would approve. I recently asked Moira Scar about itself.

SFBG Moira Scar moves, but not in a typical running or walking way. it meanders or sallies forth, wiggles like a wildebeest, dances or slinks to intensity. What kind of human or animal actions do you find inspiring, and what reactions do you want people to have to your music?

Roxy Monoxide To become your own mystical beast. Still influenced by the made-up animal friends of childhood, along with the ideal that we can somehow stand up with the wild animals of the world and learn to coexist as animals again. But then again, stuck between predator and prey, the tiger mouth chews on her own zebra hinds, kind of like ouroboros.

LuLu Gamma Ray Haunting tones of the waddell seals inspire, along with loud boomings of the Lyrebird, which has two sound sources and can produce a far greater variety of sounds than human beings. Animals and plants have wide ranges of emotions, vast intelligence, and can impart important information if only we’d listen.

SFBG Can you tell me a bit about the vintage-horror film analog sounds in "You Make Me Scream" and how you made them?

LLGR The eerie entrancing sounds are made with a CAT SRM2 70’s analog synth’s pulse width modulation. I play electronic music and musique concrete in the lineage of Delia Derbyshire, Ruth White, Sun Ra, and David Tudor, as well as other courageous musical astronauts.

SFBG What is Moira Scar’s favorite Nino Rota score? For me, you also bring to mind the organ sounds in the movie Carnival of Souls.

LLGR Nina Rota’s cut-up method in Juliette of the Spirits is influential, and also the camp and beauty of organists Korla Pandit and Anton LaVey. Many spirits passed and future possess the vessel’s Pelvis and Saphoid, and are warped and distorted through our lens to create the Muse-ick

SFBG What do you like about Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante?

RM The bittersweet realism with poetic montage, the slacker anarchy and feebleness of our lives expressed through human and cat coexistence aboard barge on 1930s Seine and Paris backdrops, with antagonistic relationships and the wise drunken fool; Moira Scar can’t help but being romantic in spite of our psycho-depressive tendencies, or maybe because of them.

SFBG What drug is most recommended for listening to Moira Scar?

RM Moira is the drug. We have been told that we are like watching Forbidden Zone on acid, and some fans enjoy their lubricants while dancing to Scar. But for us the muse possession is the best high.

SFBG What is Moira Scar’s vision of the future?

RM A show with Bambi Lake, M. Lamar, the Deepthroats, and Omnivourous Sinsillium; and us as vegan witches in a world of cannibal zombies.

LLGR To wake the audience from corporate hypnosis with insect and alien soundscapes. Realign nutrinos and journey through the wormhole with us!

RM and LLGR Transmogrify!


With Tongue and Teeth, Deep Teens

Aug. 26, 9 p.m., 21 and over

The Stud Bar

399 Ninth St., SF

Aug. 31, 10 p.m., all ages


2183 Mission, SF





Celebrating Young Activists

Mingle with environmental activists and community group members of all ages at the networking event Celebrating Young Activists: Building a Green Movement and Changing the World. The event features talks by inspirational young leaders, winners of the Brower Youth Awards, environmental and social justice organization information tables, and live jazz.

6:30 p.m., $10–$20

Richard and Rhoda Goldman Theater

David Brower Center

2150 Allston, Berk.

(510) 859-9100



Shoot Hoops, Not Guns

Commemorate the 25th birthday of Elliot Jemar Noble, who was killed by an Oakland police officer in 2005, at this combination march, basketball tournament, and gospel concert. The event is a benefit for the Elliot J. Noble Multiservice Family Organization, a nonprofit that provides support for families affected by violence. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Eldridge and Darien streets, progresses to a 1 p.m. basketball tournament where players assume the names of slain or incarcerated loved ones, and ends with a gospel concert at 6 p.m.

10 a.m., $5–$10 for the concert

Ira Jinkins Recreation Center

9175 Ededs, Oakl.

(510) 895-5234



Tour Alameda Naval Air Station

Find out more about Alameda’s Naval Air Station, which closed in 1997 and remains the subject of much controversy and public debate over what to do with this prime piece of real estate. This guided tour combines a two-hour bus tour followed by a self-guided walking tour of the businesses engaged in adaptive reuse of the buildings. Reservations required.

1 p.m., 3 p.m.; $10

Meet in front of Alameda Naval Air Museum

2151 Ferry Point Road, Alameda

(510) 479-6489


Mobilization for Climate Justice

Get involved in the effort to stand up to big oil companies by attending this public action planning meeting for an Aug. 30 march and protest on the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The protests will target the offices of BP and Chevron for their roles in environmental and community destruction in the gulf, the Bay Area, and around the world.

Noon, free

Mission Cultural Center

2868 Mission, SF


Nuevos Horizontes

Attend a benefit dinner and show for Nuevos Horizontes, a domestic violence shelter in Guatemala that provides long-term housing, psychological counseling, legal advice, job training, and health care for women and children. There will be vegan and vegetarian options for dinner, bands, and speakers.

6 p.m., $8–$10

Call (510) 878-8879 or e-mail for Oakland location


Street Food Conference

Following the San Francisco Street Food Fest, attend this conference dedicated to the exploration of food, policy and economics. Participants will engage in discussions about the creation of viable economic models that allow small-scale food entrepreneurs to bring the foods they love to the cities in which they live.

Sat. Noon-5pm, Sun. 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m., $20–$50

Hotel Vitale

8 Mission, SF

Mail items for Alerts to the Guardian Building, 135 Mississippi St., SF, CA 94107; fax to (415) 437-3658; or e-mail Please include a contact telephone number. Items must be received at least one week prior to the publication date.


Jamie Stewart on orange juice, armpits, bird calls, and ambient music


On Friday 8/13, Berkeley Art Museum is hosting a project that is threefold: the visual art of David Wilson, short films curated by Max Goldberg, and the music of Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu). To find out more about this unusual collaboration, I spoke to Mr. Stewart on the phone about his contribution and how he anticipates the night will go down.

SFBG The BAM website says that you’re debuting a “new composition in field recording inspired by the night, animal calls, and quietness.” This is a little vague, so could you tell me more about what your performance is going to be?
Jamie Stewart I’ve always been really impressed with people who went to art school but I’ve never had any opportunity. Probably in the past six or seven years I’ve become a really avid birdwatcher and one of the things that I initially, having been so involved in music, enjoyed about birdwatching is that it was something completely visual for me. Most bird calls are completely bizarre so I had since become almost focused on listening to bird calls but almost in a way that’s detached from the birds itself. In the middle of this increased interest I find myself inexplicably in North Carolina and a big part of the recreational culture here is hunting. There’s a lot of hunting stores and being a vegan obviously, I’m not totally interested in hunting. In these stores there were rows and rows of different animal calls and a lot of these are really horrifying-sounding. If you blow into them, you hear some of the most harsh noise music ever imaginable. A lot of the hunting bird calls sound like the environment completely exploding. So I’ve racked up a pretty hardy collection of these.

SFBG How might you categorize this work into a genre?
JS It’s an ambient piece. I have a really extensive collection of gongs and animal calls and I will be using these together but with long periods of silence. It’s an attempt to incorporate ideas of 1950s minimalist composition insofar as focusing on the pauses in sound, animal sounds, and a certain amount of physicality.

SFBG How are you going to do it?
JS I think I’ll be running mostly. It will end up utilizing a fair amount of space. So far, there will be gongs placed on two different sides of the room and I have these two gongs I got in Korea recently, and various bird calls will be placed throughout the room. Part of the idea is to have [the piece] be in relative darkness and move as quickly as possible at predetermined intervals with each of the items that can make sound, to have a combination of intense rustling and physicality, and intense sounds, in addition to certain electronica. Short periods of super intense activity and miserable, intense sound, and then no source of sound.

SFBG How is this similar or different to Xiu Xiu?
JS It has absolutely nothing to do with Xiu Xiu at all. That has a specific aesthetic and philosophy, whereas this is more about being less defined, about subconscious experiences, and to be more experiential, whereas Xiu Xiu is an attempt to be about something that is very linear. I can feel what it is about but it is difficult to say what it is about. I think it will be emotionally clear but I think to put it into words will be more difficult, which is something I appreciate because usually I have to be as clear as possible.

SFBG Is this your first venture into museums and visual art?
JS When I was growing up, I used to do a lot of disruptive performance art –– we would shave our armpits into orange juice, the dumbest things possible. It wasnt a performance, I think we were just trying to irritate people. I’ve played the Gameboy occasionally. I’ve composed a fair amount of ambient music. I recorded a 13-disc series [available with a subscription]. I didn’t put it online, so I guess it was available to 50 people on Earth. This piece is probably more minimalist than some of that.

SFBG Who are some ambient artists that have inspired you in the making of this work?
JS A couple (like Rhys Chatham) but it was really inspired by natural sounds and more of a coming to terms with different ways in how people regionally deal with ideas of nature. [Being from California] I have a hippie-ized idea of what nature is for. Rhys Chatham is so preposterously minimalist. Chestnut and I saw how long we could endure listening to it. It’s called “Two Gongs” but my piece plays differently. Two gongs for an hour, very limited changes in the tonal shading. A lot of ambient music that I find difficult to endure or that is unpleasant I find particularly fascinating. It ends up being less of a musical experience and more of a psychological and physical experience. Its a combination of being inspired by the sonic tools that people use to destroy nature. Hopefully it’s just interesting. I don’t think Rhys Chatham was trying to do anything unpleasant either.

Best of the Bay 2010 Editors Picks: Food and Drink



Best of the Bay 2010 Editors Picks: Food and Drink


A Web search for every cafe, a cafe for every Web search? All well and good, but what if your search is for the best goldarn double-sided dildo there is — and you’re sick of that uptight suit over there eyeing your Googles? Proudly pervy surf-and-sippers, you officially have a kick-it spot. Kink café and boutique Wicked Grounds not only brews steamy cups of Ritual coffee, but hosts regular meet-and-munches where you can warm up to your next dom, sub, or whatever you’re into these days. The welcoming staff can be easily convinced to serve coffee from a dog bowl for the right slave. (Caution: contents may be hot!) They might also be able to help out with that just-right vibe hunt: shelves by the front counter stock all the finest gear in Super Sexy Toyland.

289 Eighth St., SF. (415) 503-0405,



When it comes to sardines, you have to think outside the earthquake shelter. On the flavor-ometer, the tinned food of last resort (served on tarps in the shelter with Saltines and stale water) bears no resemblance to its freshly grilled or roasted self. Not only are the little silver herrings tasty, they pack a megadose of essential fatty acids, the stuff nutritionists keep nagging us to eat more of. But no one needs to tell this to the Italian-inspired chefs who created the sardine sandwich at Barbacco Eno Trattoria, the more casual relation of Perbacco in the Financial District. Unlike restaurants that play it safe with sardines by smothering them in mayonnaise and lemon juice, Barbacco tops its sardines with seared calamari. Not most people’s first choice, perhaps, but the two get along swimmingly, especially when served on an Acme torpedo roll and slathered with arugula and “roasted tomatoe condimento.”

220 California, SF. (415) 955-1919,



When people start trash-talking donuts, it’s hard not to imagine a life in which the person was weaned on Hostess or Entenmann’s and maybe stepped up to Dunkin’ or Krispy Kreme on special occasions. In other words, we’re talking a lifetime of mass production, where the only donuts these people have encountered spent their nasty, brutish, and short lives being callously blended in giant vats and stuffed into huge ovens, untouched — nay, unkneaded! — by human hands. Not so at Dynamo Donuts & Coffee, the small, open-air stand in the Mission that is diligently working to give donuts a good name. Each day the artisanal bakery makes seven to 10 types of donuts, all by hand. Standouts include the maple-glazed bacon apple, spiced chocolate, and lemon Sichuan filled with lemon curd and Dynamo’s incomparable “dredge.”

2670 24th St., SF. (415) 920-1978,



Which came first: the chickens or the eggs? At Stable Cafe, what probably came first was a commitment to fresh, local, sustainable food, which led to its farm in Santa Rosa, which led to its chickens, which led to its eggs, which led to its egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, which is a savory, molten marvel of scrambled egg and cheddar on thick, toasted Acme bread. But this light, airy Mission District cafe, beautifully renovated by architect Malcolm Davis in one of SF’s original carriage houses, brings that kind of integrity to everything it does. Its credo seems to be, do a small number of things well (know thy chickens; bake thy own muffins) — and adhere it does. And if you want to pay homage to the laying lovelies who created your eggs, Stable has their photos on the wall.

2128 Folsom, SF. (415) 552-1199,



For a city with such a strong bohemian reputation, San Francisco has surprisingly few spaces that capture some of the flavor of the actual place. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Bohemia — and its capital is Prague. (One prefers the emphatic German spelling: PRAG. No lazy French vowels trailing behind, doing nothing!) And, speaking of nothing, nothing says Prague quite like a mug of the beer known to the Czechs as Budvar but to us, we of the North American market — perhaps because of a potential conflict with Budweiser — as Czechvar. A splendid place to enjoy said beer, whatever its name, is at the aptly named Café Prague. The feel inside is wonderfully Mitteleuropean, while the calorie-rich food emphasizes such basics as starch, meat, and fat. You probably won’t leave hungry, or sober.

2140 Mission, SF. (415) 986-0269



Photo by Ben Hopfer

Don’t be deceived; Red Crawfish isn’t some kind of Red Lobster knockoff. The name is (we guess) a sly joke, and the restaurant does offer crawfish. But neither the jokey name nor the serving of crawfish is what makes the restaurant special. No, the reason you’ll remember Red Crawfish is because of its split personality. And although in human beings, split personalities are generally problem personalities, it’s different — and better — with restaurants (in this case, all Jeckyll and no Hyde). By day, Red Crawfish is an ordinary-looking Tenderloin restaurant that lays out an agreeable east Asian menu. But when the sun goes down, the place morphs smoothly into a Cajun spot whose gumbo is superb. Good gumbo doesn’t exactly grow on trees in these parts, so for this dish alone, let us all give thanks to Red Crawfish, whichever one it may be.

611 Larkin, SF. (415) 771-1388



If Mexican cooking is underrated in this country, part of the reason must be that we’ve been exposed to fast-food chain tacos and, even in our very own Mission District, overexposed to the burrito — which isn’t even authentically Mexican. God save the burrito anyway; it gives a lot of bang for the buck, and that’s important in these shriveled times for starving students and plenty of others. But there’s a real education to be had as well in the foods of Mexico, and a good place to audit the class is Nopalito, an offshoot of the highly regarded Nopa. The care taken about ingredients matches that of the nearby mothership, and the menu ranges nimbly across regional specialties, many of which are unfamiliar. The carnitas are recognizable, but they are also spectacular. It will be as if you’ve never had them before.

306 Broderick, SF. (415) 437-0303,



Football and food take on more global connotations at Balompié, and that’s just bueno. The restaurant is well-hung with huge flat-screen televisions showing soccer matches from around the world, and the food is splendidly Salvadorian at a modest cost. This means lots of pupusas and pasteles, along with exotica like pacaya (pickled date palm blossoms), and — to rinse down all this bounty — the Salvadorian beer Regia, which comes in bottles that resemble howitzer munitions. But the best thing about Balompié is that at its heart it’s a sports bar. Men like to watch sports on big TVs while drinking beer, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re speaking Spanish, drinking Regia, or pulling for Costa Rica, pupusas in hand.

3349 18th St. (also at 525 Seventh St. and 3801 Mission), SF. (415) 648-9199 (558-9668, 647-4000)



What do we miss most about Paris in the spring? The hip-hop boys with their gold chains and exposed biceps, the gamine girls in strappy heels, the constant elusive threat of rain, the crowds at Paris-Plages, laden with beer bottles, acoustic guitars, and joie de vivre. But above all, we can’t help reminiscing about those street crepes, fresh off the griddle, just the ticket for staving off those inopportune late-night hunger pangs, and great for soaking up any excess vin ordinaire in the bargain. Hooray! The 11th Street corridor’s Crepes A Go Go serves up the best street crepes this far side of the Maginot line. Starting at just $2.50, each crepe is made to order, and filled to oozing point with a decidedly Californian array of savory or sweet options. Open until 4 a.m. on weekends, with complimentary French hip-hop and comfy street-side sofa seating in the bargain. Take that, bacon-wrapped hotdog cart.

350 11th St. and other locations, SF. (415) 503-1294



Do you remember when the venerable coffee shop was a place people gathered to hang out instead of network? Where gamers would shuffle their Magic decks, writers would swap paragraphs, readers would sit quietly for hours with a good book and a pot of tea, and caffeine-fueled college kids would cram like the dickens? Welcome to Borderlands Café, the newest darling of the Valencia Street corridor. An offshoot of the classic Borderlands Books sci-fi bookstore, it’s already attracted quite a cross-section of trend-spotting caffiends and café nostalgists who just want to converse without being shushed by perfectly-coiffed app-oholics. And with a huge selection of magazines, comfy chairs, and scrumptious cheddar cheese and onion scones, Borderlands has a lot to offer even the solo café dweller. Except for Wi-Fi, which is actually our favorite perk of the place.

Borderlands Café, 870 Valencia, SF. (415) 970-6998,



It’s not situated in a chic location, unless you’re looking for snazzy new rims or a car wash. But Poc Chuc is well worth a trip down a less-bustling stretch of 16th Street for its unique Spanish-Mayan fusion cuisine. Open for lunch and dinner five days a week, the small, unadorned restaurant offers an array of dishes that inject an ancient, mouthwatering twist into standard Latin American fare. (Think plenty of smoked turkey, grilled tomatoes, pickled onions, and, of course, maize in several iterations.) A platillo Maya appetizer platter combines some of its tastiest, bite-sized creations, with plenty to share among a group — but no fighting over the pork empanadas or turkey salbutes! Main dishes include the signature Poc Chuc — grilled citrus-marinated pork topped with grilled tomatoes — and a reliable daily specials menu. Go for the mole!

2886 16th St, SF. (415) 558-1853,



If you don’t like cookies, feel free to skip ahead. But if you were born with taste buds and an appreciation for delicious gooeyness, you’d do well to hit up Anthony’s Cookies. There is indeed an Anthony — likely you’ll see the man himself when you stumble into his Valencia Street shop, lured by the prospect of fresh, hot, calories-be-damned treats. And if Anthony looks like the happiest guy on planet Earth, he probably is — he bakes cookies for a living, after all — using only natural ingredients. Who’s magical now, Keebler Elves? Flavors include the usual suspects, plus variations on chocolate chip (semisweet, with walnut, using white chocolate … ) done to soft-meets-crisp perfection, plus inspired creations like cookies and cream and whole wheat oatmeal.

1417 Valencia, SF. (415) 655-9834,



Sink happily into the dark brown booths at Baker and Banker for a memorable Cal cuisine dinner — sweet corn bisque with a plump lobster hush puppy, maybe, or sausage-stuffed quail in a coffee-molasses glaze. Husband and wife chef duo Jeff Banker and Lori Baker get it right with each dish. But you could visit for dessert alone with Lori’s ever-changing wonderland of a dessert menu. In fall, dessert might be pumpkin cobbler, steaming hot with a crunchy top and cooled with candied pumpkin seed ice cream. In summer, a cherry tarte tatin accented by salted caramel and amaretti rules. Awesomely, the Baker and Banker’s XXX triple-dark chocolate layer cake is a constant. This orgiastic slice stands tall with a bottom layer of dark, dense flourless chocolate. Not to be outdone, the middle is a tangy chocolate cheesecake, while the top finally gives you a density break with traditional chocolate cake. One of the more satisfying threesomes in town.

1701 Octavia, SF. (415) 351-2500,



Sandbox Bakery is a pocket-sized cafe in Bernal Heights serving Ritual Roasters and De La Paz coffee with classic pastries like Valhrona chocolate croissants or orange currant scones. But it doesn’t end there. Owner and pastry chef Mutsumi Takehara’s background ranges from Slanted Door to La Farine, and her creations span a world of taste. Sandbox’s Japanese sweet bread, or kashi pan, is a lightly sweet brioche filled with the likes of melon or yuzu marmalade with sage. Or, in its savory form, it comes challah-like with negi-miso, curry or red bean paste filling. Daily special sandwiches often express a fusion of cuisines: Thai chicken croque-monsieur; an apple, smoked gouda, and rosemary spread over fresh baguette, or a teriyaki chicken rice burger with sticky rice as bun. A Zen-like experience with Parisian spirit.

833 Cortland, SF. (415) 642-8580 ,



Not familiar with Hakka cuisine, the regional cooking style of Southeast China that’s got food bloggers in a hot lather? It’s time you became acquainted. Head to the Outer Richmond and get schooled at Hakka Restaurant. Hakka looks like any other nearby Chinese joint, but there’s a legitimate pride in the service and an uncommon freshness to the food. Dishes include salt-baked chicken, fried strips of pumpkin coated in salted egg, crisp Chinese broccoli sautéed in rice wine, and ngiong tew foo, or stuffed tofu cubes. Kiu nyuk, a beloved Hakka dish, has two known versions, the more common served here: fatty pork belly layered over preserved mustard greens and mushrooms in a dark and complexly herbal sugar-soy sauce. Slice through layers of skin and fat to the tender anise-scented meat and you’ll be hooked on Hakka.

4401-A Cabrillo, SF. (415) 876-6898 BEST FRIENDLY YEMENI

This spring, on the western edge of the Tenderloin, a humble little restaurant opened quietly: Yemeni’s. Owner Ali Abu Baker and his staff convey a warmth almost equal to that of the piping Yemeni bread coming from the oven (useful for sopping up hummus with strip steak). Shawerma, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, and other Middle Eastern favorites are available. But the real draws are traditional Yemeni dishes like salteh, the country’s national dish: a meat stew topped with hilbeh — a tomato-based, chutney-like dip spiced with fenugreek, garlic, and cardamom — and zhug/sahaweq, a hot pepper sauce. Sip Yemeni coffee accented with a spice mix called hawayij. Baker shares his passion for his native country’s food at prices that encourage feasting for mere dollars. Stop into neighboring Queen of Sheba market for Middle Eastern groceries to complete your culinary journey.

1098 Sutter, SF. (415) 441-8832,



Rhea’s Deli is an unassuming, even demure, counter hidden inside a Mission District convenience store. But then the bad-ass $8 Korean steak sandwiches come out and the gloves come off. You’ll be fighting for — or at least gladly waiting up to 30 minutes in line for — a chance to sink your teeth into one of these babies. (Smart steakers call ahead and preorder). Once you’ve scored, it’s tempting to wolf down this mountain of tender, spicy Korean beef, shredded cabbage, red onions, and cheddar cheese on a crunchy baguette. Avoid this animal urge and take it slow, allowing the pleasure to last. Rhea’s offers an array of other savory lunchables as well, from a katsu sandwich with pork loin fried in Japanese breadcrumbs to a 19 Street sandwich with roast beef, Vermont cheddar, pepper jack, avocado, and pickled jalapenos. But, you know, steak.

800 Valencia, SF. (415) 282-5255



The appropriately named Coffee Bar offers a double whammy of appeal: it occupies an impeccably cool industrial-looking space for laptop workaholics and serves some truly eye-opening coffee. Mr. Espresso coffee beans provide the kick in bracing espressos and cappuccinos; an ultra-expensive, ultra-shiny Clover machine dispenses perfect single cups. Unlike chain-like offerings of watered-down, cloyingly sweet mochas and “specialty” coffees, the additional drink menu items here are crafted with punch. Vietnamese or Havana coffees (conveniently hot or iced for those variable summer days) are sure things. But our taste buds go up in flames for Coffee Bar’s El Diablo. A devilishly smooth mix of espresso, chipotle-infused milk, and Guittard chocolate, the robust brew marries a hint of cocoa sweetness to subtle heat. Yes, we’re probably going to hell for worshipping El Diablo. But at least we’ll be awake for it.

1890 Bryant, SF. (415) 551-8100,



Trek to a mellow stretch of Clement Street and enter the “five-star dive” environs of Tee Off Bar & Grill. You might assume it’s all right for a beer and little else — but you’d be wrong. The place is comfortably worn, sure. But regulars and staff soon feel like old friends, often sharing one of their spare Bronx Bombers (fiery BBQ chicken wings) or beer-battered mushrooms. The next surprise comes when you exit the dim interior to a sunny back patio with picnic tables and random paraphernalia from popular pirate parties (ask your bartender). A chalkboard reveals weekend specials. Wait! Is that a $20 kangaroo burger? After you’ve balked at the price, you can’t pass up this adventurous challenge, especially when the burger is plumped up with fried onions and kiwi relish. Make sure you call ahead, since Tee Off only serves it on occasional weekends and until supplies run out. If the roo’s already hopped, other worthy eats like ostrich burgers or Paul’s Crafty mac ‘n’ cheese, a four-cheese blend with pancetta blessed by Guy Fieri himself, will satisfy.

3129 Clement, SF. (415) 752-5439,



When the rustic-chic Marlowe first opened, it offered a seemingly straightforward menu of bistro staples like steak frites and cheesy cauliflower gratin that seemed anticlimactic. But chef Jennifer Puccio’s faith in the classics and elegant marshaling of simple ingredients soon paid off: raves began to roll in — especially for the jaw-widening burger loaded with caramelized onions, horseradish aioli, and bacon. But the burger isn’t the only star on the lunch menu. Diving into Marlowe’s deviled egg sandwich is not settling for second best. Simple in presentation, it’s one of the finest egg sandwiches out there, an open-faced beauty with a layer of crisp, meaty bacon, aged provolone, pickled chilis, and horseradish aioli on the side (perfect for accompanying fries). Order addictive brussels sprout chips and let the office know you won’t be back for a while. The only proper way to wrap up such a heartwarming lunch is to take a nap.

330 Townsend, SF. (415) 974-5599,



One expects to shell out a pretty penny to partake of gourmet cooking techniques like sous-vide, or vacuum-packed slow cooking. But Berkeley’s eVe defies such expectations with a palate-tickling, surprisingly filling two-course prix fixe menu for $25 that includes several sous-vide items. The set menu offerings change often (additional items are steadfastly priced at $11 each), but husband-and-wife chef team Christopher and Veronica Laramie always keep it lively, highlighting the tastes of Veronica’s native Peru. Grilled squid ink risotto gets a tart kick from candied kumquats and yuzu. Diver scallops are brightened by lime leaf, edamame, mint, and delicate salmon roe. A sizable piece of fatty-licious pork belly pairs with a warm watermelon radish, chive flower, and a paper-thin slice of candied Buddha’s hand. Dessert might be goat brie sweetened with apricot, red wine, and a welcome contrast of shallots and flax seeds. In other words, world-class gastronomie d’avant-garde priced to appeal to ramen-weary students.

1960 University, Berk. (510) 868-0735,



It is with humor and reverence that one dines at Three Papayas, a pop-up Sunday brunch from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. at Doc’s Clock bar. Mismatched Michael Jackson placemats abound, and Bibles and porn-laced comic books act as menu-holders. Creative chef Ta-Wei Lin emphasizes fresh and funky Vietnamese and Thai flavors. His menu of four or five changing items per week (everything is $8) might include pan-fried rabbit, Filipino sisig, chicken or vegan Vietnamese crepes, or viet banh canh with clams and coconut sauce. If it’s available, hop on the unusual Bunny Chao, a hollowed-out loaf of bread — filling piled neatly on the side — overflowing with green lentils, veggies, and cardamom pods. Chef Lin garnishes with seasonal fruits like figs, passion fruit, and, of course, papayas, making his plates fun to behold, but even better to eat. In the lovably grungy Doc’s setting, pair your food with a peppery bloody mary, and join your fellow dive-tastic brunchers in a round of hallelujahs.

2575 Mission, SF. (415) 824-3627,



Morning at Brenda’s French Soul Food: where to start? Grillades and grits or crawfish beignets? Fried shrimp po’boy or sloppy Josephine? Eggs and andouille? Oui, Oui! This wee spot on Polk Street — open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch — is a showcase of the strikingly huge flavors of New Orleans-style French and Creole cuisines. The portions are big, the atmosphere strikes a note between quaint and cosmopolitan, and wonderfully named Filipino-Creole chef (and New Orleans native) Brenda Buenviaje keeps the flavor flowing. The only drawback, besides having to brave the tiny curbside riots to get in, is having to choose among the many dreamy menu items on offer. Make sure, however, to wash down Brenda’s must-try gumbo with a glass of sweet watermelon iced tea before proceeding to the next steaming dish.

652 Polk, SF. (415) 345-8100,



From slammin’ New Mexican resto Green Chile Kitchen comes Chile Pies, a low-key dessert café offering a spicy paradise of crave-inducing organic sweets. Seriously, if you thought Southwestern desserts were frozen in a sticky Bimbo-landia of saturated fats, this joint will blow your buds. Blue corn waffle cones, Straus Family soft-serve, Café Gratitude raw vegan ice cream, and fantastic floats (ginger ale with cardamom ice cream, anyone?) are just a few of the tasty treats at the Panhandle hot spot. The main draw is the rotating cast of daily pie specials, from the simple, like banana cream, to the sophisticated, like a tangy green chile apple with walnuts and red chile honey drizzle. Can’t decide between a scoop of Three Twins Ice Cream or a slice of chocolate peanut butter pie? No problem, have both in the form of a frosty pie shake. And then there’s Chile’s piece de resistance: a classic Frito Pie, with organic Niman Ranch beef and Mexican red chile. You can have pie for dinner and dessert.

601 Baker, SF. (415) 614-9411,



Do thoughts of those wallet-demolishing $9 beers at AT&T Park leave you with a sinking feeling in your stomach? There’s no need to get shut out of lunch or dinner plans around game time — hightail it to nearby Hard Knox Café for a true meal steal. Heaping soul food plates of smothered pork chops, Cajun meatloaf, barbecued spare ribs, and chicken and waffles, available at super-affordable prices, will last you all 54 outs and then some. Hard Knox’s no-nonsense shrimp po’boys and hot link sandwiches to go will keep you doing the wave through extra innings at a fraction of ballpark prices. Better yet, order a perfectly battered pile of fried chicken, settle into one of the comfy booths, and watch the entire game on the flat screen. You can order round after round from Hard Knox’s stellar selection of microbrews without missing a minute of the action.

2526 Third St., SF. (415) 648-3770,



Don’t know about you, but we periodically have these Jack Nicholson Five Easy Pieces chicken salad sandwich moments at oyster bars, where we want to say, “We’ll have an order of oysters with lemon, cocktail sauce, and horseradish. Now hold the oysters — and bring me the lemon, cocktail sauce, and horseradish.” That’s why whenever we order a virgin Mary at Rose Pistola in North Beach, we get the spooky feeling that the bartenders have read our mind. The secret of their piquant housemade mix is, according to several staff members, secret (although one staffer did divulge that the bartenders add horseradish to the traditional tomato juice-Tabasco-Worcestershire combo). On top of this, Rose Pistola adds a green olive, pickled onion, and slice of lemon. You won’t even miss the vodka — or the oysters.

532 Columbus, SF. (415) 399-0499,



Photo by Ben Hopfer

A tucked away, speakeasy-like space on the second floor of the Crescent Hotel, minus the masses and snobbery: that’s where you’ll find the Burritt Room and its founder, master mixologist Kevin Diedrich. In the brick-walled space accented with sparkly chandeliers, black and red couches, and white piano, Diedrich shakes and stirs from a reasonably-sized menu of 18 rotating cocktails. He doesn’t just craft the classics, though there are plenty of those. Diedrich also creates inventive new drinks — often featuring marmalade — like the sparkling Hitachino Sour with bourbon, orange marmalade, lemon, sugar, and orange bitters, topped with Hitachino White beer. His experience lies in some of the country’s greatest bars from East to West. Diedrich sets a welcoming, unpretentious tone, has assembled a tight team of bartenders, and will take you on tasteful journeys nostalgic and new.

417 Stockton, SF. (415) 400-0500,



Oh, if all our utopias were this dreamily delish. Ideally situated on green perch of reclaimed woodland on the edge of the UC Berkeley campus, halcyon eatery Gather offers seasonally minded, meticulously sourced food (complete with a sizable, possibly TMI volume, available to diners, detailing all providers and particulars). Vegetarians and vegans will be pleased to know that former Millennium sous chef Sean Baker has given much thought to its selections: the menu is 50 percent vegetarian, the star of which is undoubtedly the artisanal vegan “charcuterie” platter, which might include the most delicate tofu-skin tower or an Tuscan Rose eggplant with cashew “ricotta” and fennel-top pesto. Expect biodynamic and organic California wines, as well as piquant cocktails like the Secret Breakfast, composed of smoked peach scotch, bacon cello, spicy honey, and egg whites.

2200 Oxford, Berk. (510) 809-0400,



With or without you, we’re set to indulge our love of refined yet pleasure-minded Catalan cooking — and the pitch-perfect Contigo, which translates as “with you,” has us murmuring “Bon profit!” like a native of the land of Gaudi and Dali. The crowds have made this industrial-moderne Noe Valley restaurant the most popular spot in the hood for its wonderfully authentic Catalan tapas, artisanal Spanish and stateside hams, and fresh Catalan flatbreads — studded with wild nettles and porcinis (add a farm egg, anchovies, or Fatted Calf bacon). Aficionados of whole-critter eating won’t shy away from the tripe and chorizo and chickpeas or the oxtail-stuffed piquillo peppers, all sourced from local organic providers. And everyone, including the finicky ankle-biters, will want the albondigas, or pork and ham meatballs. For here the pig reigns supreme, even on the cookie plate, which includes a piglet-shaped peanut butter and bacon number.

1320 Castro, SF. (415) 285-0250,



Moist and addictive, this blood-red baby is so tiny it’s totally OK to sink your fangs into a foursome and not break the Eternal Oath of Your Diet. Sure, his type wasn’t born yesterday, but damn, the way he stares at you, his skinny jeans, that whipped topping that glistens in the sun … the Rich Red Velvet cupcake at Cups and Cakes Bakery, named for its deep, vampire-luring color and smooth, timeless flavor is enough to blow our Team Edward minds. (Jacobites can tear into other flavors on offer, like Pretty Pretty Princess and Rainbow Bright. Just sayin’.) Did we mention the rich swirl of cream cheese and the crimson sprinkles? Que bella! Step into Jennifer Emerson’s beckoning SoMa bakery and drool over the perfectly constructed cuppies therein. And don’t worry, these beauties won’t make you wait three sequels for your first bite.

451 Ninth St., SF. (415) 437-2877,



Nestled amid boxy-lofty tech startups and the frenetic energy of AT&T Park lies the small green courtyard wonderland of Crossroads Cafe. The sprightly enterprise is a component of the Delancey Street Foundation, one of the country’s most innovative self-help organizations for the homeless, which has filled up this quiet little SoMa block with 370,000 square feet of housing, vocational schools, and the well-regarded Delancey Street Restaurant. But at Crossroads, all that is readily apparent of this commendable social enterprise is the distinct impression that the staff — composed mostly of Delancey residents learning workforce skills — wants to create the best darn cafe ever. Proceeds from the large menu go toward resident education and support. Pass through the small bookstore and grab Michael Chabon’s new bestseller, order a housemade waffle or scoop of coconut ice cream, and settle into a seat on the garden patio for a little soul sunshine.

699 Delancey, SF. (415) 512-5111,



You’re always down for a 40 on the corner, a Bud on the stoop, or a PBR from your purse on Corona Heights. But sometimes you want an actual beer. You know, the kind that doesn’t taste like you wrung out a hipster’s legwarmers in your mouth. You’ve considered venturing into the labyrinth of microbrews, but microbrew culture turns you off — kind of snobby, kind of midlife-crisis-y, definitely confusing. Relax and revolt: Beer Revolution, downtown Oakland’s new grade-A beer store, will guide you into superlative suds with deep knowledge and just the right amount of edge. Staff connoisseurs offer tastes of recommended nectars, and a generous deck studded with picnic tables encourages kicking up your Doc Martens and glugging with abandon. Besides bottled bounty, there’s a spirited band of ever-rotating, ever-satisfying selections on tap, like Meantime Scotch Ale, Caracole Nostradamus, and Alagash Black. Slip on a balaclava and pop a few caps at bland brewskis.

464 3rd St., Oakl. (510) 452-2337,



You know those foodies (maybe you’re one) — so up on the blogs and culinary porn rags they think they’ve tasted everything under the sun. Well, unless these epicurean explorers have logged some serious hours at 100% Sweet Dessert Café in the Outer Richmond, they’ve surely left some sugary stones unturned. You simply will not find a menu that covers more enticing and bewildering acreage — at least 10 massive pages illustrated with a complex grid system that showcases a dazzling plethora of Asian desserts. Two you might want to sample: crystal rolls (clear rice paper sachets of sweet sugary goo and fresh mangos and strawberries) or a selection from the extensive jelly drink section of the menu. Sure, the many of the sample photos look like fairy tale versions of your saltwater aquarium’s decorative fauna, but your fish seem to lead delicious lives, right?

2512 Clement, SF. (415) 221-1628



Photo by Ben Hopfer

When Jamie Kasselman hands you a box on your birthday, you better be stoked. Presentation is key. Before opening her candy store in the Marina, she was famous for her impeccable flair for arranging sweets on designer dishes — a clear inspiration for the achingly sweet décor at Sweetdish. Kasselman has it well stocked with classic candies, designer chocolates hailing from mouth-wateringly diverse locales ranging from Colombia to Ghana, and even some treats made closer to home. (Kasselman makes her own line of fantastic homemade flavored marshmallows. Want-want-want!) It can be difficult to decide between all the fanciful bulk candy options — we’re naturally drawn to all the strawberry and lemon goodies — but the pretty salesgirls will feed you samples of from bags of irregulars behind the counter if you ask … sweetly.

2144 Chestnut, SF. (415) 563-2144,



Vegetarian goddess Heidi Swanson started her essential 101 Cookbooks blog way back in the ancient year of 2003. It was a way to start putting her massive cookbook collection to use, combining her love of cooking with her interest in photography. The result is a comprehensive vegetarian go-to guide for making simple, delicious recipes infused with her own San Francisco flair. Swanson focuses on natural, whole foods and ingredients, frequenting SF’s many farmers markets and organic foods stores. Then she tells readers how to whip up gems like chile blackberry syrup, Tuscan ribollita, and Rajasthani buttermilk curry. Each post walks you through her experiences with colorful photos and descriptions, substitution suggestions, and cooking tips. She’s since published two meat-free meatspace cookbooks of her own — mere amuses bouches to her blog, which contains reams of virtual veggie lore. If you ever wondered what the name of that funny squash is or what to do with halloumi cheese, give her a click.



Oh, pickled egg! Like your glass-jarred, vinegar-soaked, bar-top cousins the pig’s foot and the giant gherkin, you have for years endured the tipsy sneers and simulated gagging of drinkers who never gave you a chance. Once the prince of any bar worth its salt, an easy snack for barflies and hofbrauistas alike, you slipped into ovoid obscurity. Now one bar has resurrected your sweet purple form by giving it a gourmet spin. Who’d pass up a go at pickled quail eggs at the Alembic in this age of adventurous eating? It just goes to show that if you repackage something, provide the proper ambience, and price something at $2, you can get someone to eat just about anything. Perfect with Alembic’s saucy cocktails, you’re a hit with highbrow tipplers. Now please put in a good word for your forgotten cousins.

1725 Haight, SF. (415) 666-0822,



Any eatery can slap some pulled pork and pickles on a panini and call it a Cuban sandwich. But true Cuban food connoisseurs venture to Market Street’s upper climes to dig in at the tiny Chan Chan Café Cubano, a cute café by day that at night becomes a paradise of traditional dishes prepared with a gourmet touch. Entrees like ropa vieja and pollo en hoya are spectacular, but you may just pack them up to go after feasting your way through the well-priced tapas menu, which includes scrumptious croquetas, hongos, and camarones criollos. Plus, hello, a couple pitchers of sangria. With true Cuban flair — when the electricity goes out, as it sometimes does, a rewarding fever of culinary improvisation descends — and a laidback, handsome staff (yes, you may have to wait a bit for your order to come out of the one-stove kitchen, but you’ll have plenty to look at), Chan Chan is indeed one of those “hidden gems.”

4690 18th St., SF. (415) 864-4199



Photo by Ben Hopfer

Best cioppino? Them’s fightin’ words in San Francisco, where the thick, rich seafood stew originated. But we’re serious. As certified fish freaks always eager for a fix of this blues-obliviating local delicacy, we’ve tried our fair share. And we can safely say that the home-style cioppino at Sotto Mare is the best. The key — besides the incredible tang of the smoky tomato broth and flawlessly fresh crab and fish chunks, scallops, mussels, and shrimp loaded within — is the atmosphere. Run by beloved, no-nonsense North Beach legend Gigi Fiorucci (don’t squeeze that lemon wedge over your superbly grilled sand dabs or he’ll reprimand you), Sotto Mare has a true family feel, a bustling business of diverse diners, and a haphazard décor that recalls San Francisco’s ramshackle maritime past. When that steaming cioppino tureen, more than enough for two, is placed on the table by the gregarious waitstaff, you feel a delicious connection to SF history.

552 Green, SF. (415) 398-3181,



Never mind the ubiquitous fancy food carts or “third wave” coffee shops springing up in back alley garages — wieners were everywhere this past year. The explosion of gourmet and not-so-gourmet hot dog stands, joints, and full-on restaurants worked to balance all the epicurean exotica with some down-home comfort for those who were raised in a broke-down Chevy on televised baseball and McDonald’s apple pies. All were worthy, but one in particular consistently heated our buns: Showdogs. This “emporium of sausages” keeps it classy with a spotless, tin-tiled interior and organic ingredients like wild boar and merguez, while still appealing to the everyday eater with a sporty sense of humor — we’re suckers for the 49er, an all-beef Schwartz dog with housemade mustard, arugula, and, gasp, real sauerkraut. Add some barbecue fries and a Trumer Pils, and this hearty barker wins best in show.

1020 Market, SF. (415) 558-9560,



“I just ate half a chicken.” That declaration is written on a Post-it stuck to a cubicle at the Guardian offices. The sticky piece of pastel paper has since been signed by other people besides the original chicken lover. What can you say? Unless you’re the staunchest vegetarian, sometimes you just get the urge to eat half a chicken. Thai BarBQ in Potrero Hill was ideal for such moments, but it’s flown the coop. Luckily, Baby Blues BBQ is here to satisfy those extra-intense and voracious aviary cravings. The restaurant’s Marion County slow-smoked yard bird is served with a tangy barbeque sauce, but be sure to ask for the special Sassy Molassy molasses sauce. Add in corn bread and a choice of two fixins (sautéed okra, mac ‘n’ cheese and corn on the cob are some of the best options) and at a grand total of $15, you’ve got a deal only a fool would cluck-cluck at.

3149 Mission, SF. (415) 896-4250,



We all know about chicken soup for the soul, how about delicious soup for the skin? Because its pork bone broth contains collagen and calcium, tonkotsu ramen has a rep as the genuinely edible version of a spa facial. There are some delicious tonkotsu ramens in Vancouver and San Francisco, but they’re all matched and even superceded by the subtle one at Asuka Ramen, which manages to be rich and light within a single spoon-size sip. Ramen establishments have popped up all over the city in the last year or two, but Asuka steers clear of trendy trappings and delivers the low-priced goods. Tantanmen is Asuka’s go-to dish, but if you don’t confuse greasy strong flavor with deliciousness, its pork-and-egg laden tonkotsu is the type for you.

883 Bush, SF. (415) 567-3153



If life was little more than vodka and pastries (with no hangovers), we’d be in heaven, and the best place to shop would be Royal Market & Bakery. Even here on this mortal playground, Royal Market and Bakery is in the running for greatest shop. Why? Tasty marinated quail, excellent caviar, homemade hummus, fresh fruit, savory eggplant rolls with cheese, dark Russian chocolates, Turkish coffee, a tremendous selection of chilled vodkas and other liquor, an overflowing nook of flaky pastries, and last but not least, Beef Lulu. A special seasoned dish of ground meat, Beef Lulu is as enjoyable as its name is funny. At a time when the city is being overrun by generic chain supermarkets, Royal makes the case for individuality devoted to regional cuisine. And the prices are better, too.

5335 Geary, SF. (415) 221-5550



On a busy street south of San Francisco lies a little land of leavened love where all your Filipino baked goods needs are met with a sweet smile and an even sweeter pandecoco. We won’t require 20 questions to tell you where: the place is Bread Basket, a starkly outfitted bakery famed for its thrillas from Manila. The neighborhood favorite is BB’s pandesal, swiped fresh out of the ovens while the packs of the bun-like lovelies are still aromatically steamy. Need to bring home a little something for dessert? The joint has cornered the market on delights made from the meat of the ube, or purple yam, which Bread Basket magically transforms into the bun fillings and feathery, marzipan-like candies that sit alongside its more familiar cookies and breads.

7099 Mission, Daly City. (650) 994-7741,



Tucked in a sliver of a space in the West Portal commercial strip is the tantalizing Que Syrah wine bar, founded and presided over with skill and affection by the team of Stephanie and Keith McCardell. Que Syrah is the perfect place to savor a glass of wine in a friendly neighborhood setting: quiet, unpretentious, and specializing in unusual wines from small production wineries from all over the world. Stephanie and Keith serve by the glass or in intriguing flights and provide expert notes about the wine, the winemakers, and the regions involved. Every Thursday night, an array of delectable tapas enliven the tastings — chef Val Desuyo takes inspiration from his regular trips to the restaurants of Barcelona. Plus: quarterly paella parties! Seafood paella and a glass from Penedès? Sì, sì!

230 West Portal Ave., SF. (415) 731-7000,



Whatever queasy misgivings you may harbor about the phrase “mobile seafood shack” will instantly be dispelled once you’ve palmed (or tried to palm) a hefty Maine lobster roll from Sam’s Chowdermobile. We were turned on to this tender, brimming-over prize when one of our East Coast-native amigos texted “lobster roll = real deal” from Golden Gate Park, where you can find the edible aquarium on wheels most weekends. So we tried one for ourselves, and yep. Great lobster rolls at a reasonable price are surprisingly hard to come by ’round these Left Coast parts — we’re crabby that way. Luckily Sam’s, the mobile unit of Half Moon Bay resto Sam’s Chowder House delivers the goods. (The roll proper is enough to feed two — order a single-serving “shortie” if you want one all to yourself.) Prep yourself for crustacean heaven with a bowl of Sam’s New England chowder and a side of Old Bay fries for a true Eastern experience.


On the cheap listings


On the Cheap listings are compiled by Paula Connelly. Submit items for the listings at


“Misspelled” Robert Berman/E6 Gallery, 1632 Market, SF; (415) 558-9975. 7pm, free. Attend the opening reception for Victor Reyes’ public art installation turned gallery exhibition that explores Reyes’ unique approach to graffiti, by dissecting individual letters and exposing the anatomy and architecture found in the symbols we use to communicate. Inspired by San Francisco’s streets, these alphabets recontextualize abandoned city surfaces to raise questions about how we interpret these spaces and the content within them.


Japanese Superheroes Viz Cinema, New People, 1746 Post, SF; (415) 525-8600. 7pm, $10. Join hosts Patrick Macias, August Ragone, and Tomohiro Machiyama for a new talk in the TokyoScope Talk Series about the fascinating history and origins of Japanese superheroes featuring rare film clips and images from numerous tokusatsu, sentai, and henshin hero productions including Ultra Seven, Kikaida, Space Sheriff Gavan, and more.


Juggling and Unicycling Festival Berkeley High School, Jacket Gym, 1980 Allston, Berk.; Fri. 3pm-Midnight, Sat. 9am-Midnight, Sun. 9am-5pm; free. Vaudeville style variety show Sat. 7:30pm, $15. Meet and watch some of the best jugglers and unicyclists on the West Coast and learn some tricks of the trade for all skill levels at juggling, unicycle, and circus arts workshops.


Art Riot Space Gallery, 1141 Polk, SF; 7pm; $5, or $15 including a one year subscription to Hyphen Magazine. Featuring an exhibit by illustrators and painters from across the country, live painting, music by DJs B-Haul and Gordon Gartrell, and vegan cupcakes by Black Orchid Bakery. Featured artists include Danny Neece, Eve Skyler, Jon Stich, Jorge Mascarenhas, and more.

“Borders” Root Division, 3175 17th St., SF; (415) 863-7668?. 7pm, free. This exhibit about lines and how we cross them will feature work by artists from 9 different states, representing 9 different ethnicities, that explores how we define and interact with the borders that surround us. Mediums to include interactive sculpture, video, photography, installation, performance, and new media.

Hayes Valley Community Picnic Patricia’s Green Park, Hayes at Octavia, SF; RSVP at (415) 240-2433. 1pm, free. Join members of your community for a picnic brought to you by the Dean Clark Store, where revelers will share food, soft drinks, play games, and exchange gifts.

Strike Reenactment Hyde Street Pier, Jefferson at Hyde, SF; Noon and 3pm, free. See a live reenactment of the 1901 San Francisco Waterfront strike, when sailors, teamsters, and longshoremen went on strike for better pay and working conditions. Hear speeches and join the march to implore ships’ crews to join the ranks. Part of the 2010 LaborFest.

Summer Freedom School St. Francis Lutheran Church, 152 Church, SF; (415) 703-0465. Saturdays through Aug. 14; 10am, free. This six week seminar on the Civil Rights Movement (aka the Southern Freedom Movement) serves as a case study for how social movements happen and a tool for getting ready for the next one. Mornings will feature guest speakers, short films and discussions, followed by a pot luck lunch, and an afternoon portion of discussions and activities. For more information visit

A Voice for Justice in Honduras Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts Theater, 2868 Mission, SF; 415-643-5001. 7pm, donations encouraged. Hear Karla Lara sing from the classic “Nueva Trova” repertoire with added themes of love, motherhood, and human rights. Lara and other musicians formed Artists in Resistance, a group that performs to maintain an open public opposition to the de facto governments of Roberto Micheletti and Porfirio Lobo, which repress media and democracy. Proceeds benefit Artists in Resistencia in Honduras.


Treasure Island Triathlon 533 California, Treasure Island, San Francisco Bay; 5k-10k Run Race, Sat. 7am-Noon; Olympic Distance Triathlon, Sat. 7:30am-5pm; Sprint Distance Triathlon, Sun. 7am-Noon; Sports Expo, Sat. 7am-3pm, Sun. 7am-Noon. All events free for spectators. Enjoy views from the scenic looped course as you watch athletes compete, including 50 contestants from past seasons of the TV series The Biggest Losers. A Sports Expo will be going on all weekend featuring the latest triathlon gear, athlete services and food vendors.


Big Umbrella Open Studios Big Umbrella Studios, 906.5 Divisadero, SF; (415) 359-9211. 3:30pm; free, suggested donation for use of supplies. Join Big Umbrella artists in art making, art being, or art gazing at this participatory workshop for adults and children. Bring supplies, found objects, and works in progress. Art making supplies will also be available. Collaboration encouraged.

Jewish Music Festival Party Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission at 3rd. St., SF; (510) 848-0237 ext. 119. Noon, free. Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Jewish Music Festival at this picnic and party featuring performances, instrumental jams, a parade, and an instrument petting zoo for all ages. Instruments encouraged. Artists to include Eprhyme, Glenn Hartman and the Klezmer Playboys, Peter Jacques, Elana Jagoda, and more.

World Cup Finals Civic Center Plaza, Polk between McAllister and Grove, SF; (415) 831-2782. 11:30 a.m., free. Join fellow San Francisco soccer fans for a big screen broadcast of the World Cup finals featuring soccer-related activities for youth, food vendors, and valet bike parking. No glass bottles or alcohol permitted.


“What’s Cookin’ with Josh Kornbluth” Contemporary Jewish Museum Café, 736 Mission, SF; (415) 655-7800. Noon, free. Liven up your Mondays with an interactive improvised lunch performance by monologist Josh Kornbluth, who will entertain and engage you with lively lunchtime banter all summer long. Every Monday through August 30.


Hot Issues and vegan treats


By Sam Stander

Down a little side street branching off the Piedmont Ave. shopping area in northern Oakland, two locals have combined the fine art of the well-stocked newsstand with the high-class vibe of an artsy boutique. Just past its third birthday, Issues offers and expansive selection of magazines and periodicals, as well as an array of t-shirts, buttons, books, and music, all couched in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Events held at the store often incorporate other local businesses, and on Sat/26 they’ll play host to the East Bay Vegan Bakesale, with sure to be yummy goods on offer from various local purveryors, to benefit Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and the recently fire-ravaged Berkeley East Bay Humane Society. Details after the jump.


Sat/26, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.


20 Glen, Oakl

(510) 652-5700


The Daily Blurgh: Poisoned fruit cocktails, tipsy crafts


Curiosities, quirks, oddites, and items from around the Bay and beyond

The moral imperative of the BP oil spill: Drive 20 percent less.


Former gourmet chocolatier goes vegan.


The crafting potential of the mini bar is limited only by your imagination/liver.


Local punks clean up on Broadway’s big night


What makes that children’s juice drink so delicious? Lead!


Apple isn’t into (male) cartoon nudity or gay sexiness. What prudes.


Wanna be the Greyson Chance of the art world? Then get to work! The Guggenheim is scouting Youtube for the next Ryan Trecartin. How democratic.

Benefits: June 9-June 15


Ways to have fun while giving back this week

Wednesday, June 9

Friends of Saint Francis Childcare
Explore the local food and drink movement while helping to raise funds for Saint Francis Childcare Center at this Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) cocktail party featuring local wine and microbrews, local food, music, and a silent auction. Proceeds to benefit the Friends of Saint Francis Childcare Center, a non-profit preschool.
6:30 p.m., $50-$100
One Ferry Building, SF
(415) 861-1818

From the Ground Up
Celebrate grassroots action with IDEX as they recognize local partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America for building sustainable community solutions to poverty and developing livelihoods. With guest speakers, Rajasvini Bhansali, IDEX’s new Executive Director, and Prativa Subedi, Founder and President of IDEX’s Partner Women’s Awareness Center, Nepal and featuring a silent auction, appetizers, wine and beer, and music.
6:30 p.m., $60
The Solarium
55 2nd St., SF
(415) 824-8384

Got Kidney?
Hip Hop(e) for Healing kicks off their U.S. southwest tour for RasCue and Organ Donor Registration Awareness featuring an all star line up of underground hip hop artists, including Rasco, Big Pooh, Kam Moye aka Supastition, and local MCs Otayo Dubb and 7 Daize.
9 p.m., $12
119 Utah, SF

Friday, June 11

Hawaiian Luau Fundraiser
Hula for a good cause at this fundraiser for Connecting Point, Tenderloin Child Care Center, Positive Parenthood Project, Compass Family Center, and Clara House featuring live music, DJs, dancing, island food, and prizes for best Hawaiian costume and shirt, including 2010 tickets to Burning Man.
8 p.m., $25
Kelly’s Mission Rock
817 Terry Francois, SF

Saturday, June 12

Bikers for Barkers
Join the motorcycle and pet communities as they come together to help rescue dogs that are in danger of being euthanized at this fundraising party where proceeds will go to Rocket Dog Rescue and Hearts for Hounds. Bid on one of the many local items and services, including Teatro Zinzanni, Kabuki Hot Springs, tattoo time from several local artists, gift baskets, and more, while enjoying live entertainment, DJ music, refreshments, and vegan delights. Please leave your pets at home.
6:30 p.m.; $20 donation, includes one raffle ticket
Dainese D-Store
131 South Van Ness, SF

Hopalong Picnic and Bark-B-Que
Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon at this picnic lunch featuring a silent auction, music, and more to help raise funds for Hopalong and Second Chance Animal Rescue.
1 p.m.; $25 adult, $10 children
Miller Knox Regional Park
900 Dornan Dr., Point Richmond

Intersection for the Arts Anniversary Gala
Celebrate Intersection’s 45th anniversary and the launch of their new art space in partnership with the Hub Bay Area with the exhibition, “Let’s Talk of a System.” Featuring live art auction, live entertainment, wine and food, and an awards ceremony to honor artists and organizations that impact the world.
7 p.m., $60-$250
Intersection at 5M
The San Francisco Chronicle Building
901 Mission, SF
(415) 626-2787 ext. 110

Sunday, June 13

Radical History Bike Ride
Learn about the radical history of San Francisco from the 1800s through today on this bike ride and benefit for the National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco chapter. Tour led by Rai Sue Sussman will visit sites of protest and dissent relating to workers’ rights, immigrant rights, civil rights, women’s rights, environmental struggles, and more.
10:45 p.m., $15-$50 sliding scale donation
Meet at Harry Bridges Plaza
Front of Ferry Building along Embarcadero, SF

Golden Era


DINE When you step into Golden Era, you pass through a narrow door and descend a few steps, as if into a subterranean world of disrepute. But you land on a landing, instead of at a bar crowded with sooty Mafia dons, as you might have expected, and from the landing you descend another brief staircase to the dining room, which opens out expansively around you. The experience is a little like the one long offered at Postrio, Wolfgang Puck’s (now closed) restaurant near Union Square.

One difference is that while Postrio was very much about au courant glamour, Golden Era shimmers with a sense of lost glamour. The large dining room, with its high ceilings and wooden arches, is a little dowdy, but its bones are impressive. It’s like a beaten-up pair of good shoes. Local lore teaches that the building was once a residence hotel run by Swedes and the spacious dining room a space for the serving of a Swedish menu. And I can’t imagine a Swedish menu without meatballs.

You won’t find meatballs on the menu at Golden Era — in fact, you won’t find any meat at all, or dairy, since the restaurant is vegan. (Another huge difference from Postrio.) And you won’t find anything Swedish. But you will find wonderful Southeast Asian cuisine, including many dishes that traditionally include meat, with vegan artifice substituting for flesh. As a rule I don’t quite like this kind of vegetarian cooking — a "steak" concocted from a portobello mushroom or some such, often fails to convince. Menu cards that make liberal use of quote marks, as Golden Era’s does, also raise a flag or two.

Despite the quote marks, the food is splendid. It compares favorably to that of Millennium, the fancier and pricier (and worthy) spot in the Hotel California. While a vegetarian or vegan kitchen might seem limited at first blush, with so many fundamental ingredients off-limits, the best such kitchens respond with verve and innovation. Because they can’t rely on the innate impressiveness of a beautifully cooked steak or a fish roasted whole, they must redouble their attention to other details, like composition, color, and texture. This the Golden Era kitchen consistently does.

It would be hard to put together a dish that better demonstrates these attentions than crispy chow mein ($7.95), a bird’s nest of crunchy noodles filled like a savory pie with a wealth of vegetables, including broccoli, carrot, bok choy, and mushrooms, all steamed to a slight tenderness while retaining their resiliency. The miracle flavoring was (we thought) mushroom soy sauce, slightly thickened and glossy, almost as if butter had been added — but butter is a vegan no-no, so how was the transformation accomplished? If by corn starch, then the hands in the kitchen are skilled indeed.

The Vietnamese crepe ($7.50), a huge yellow mezzaluna, arrived with a bouquet of fresh herbs, cilantro, mint, and basil. We were given instructions on how to combine the two, but either we didn’t understand or just forgot, and we ended up just slicing the mezzaluna into strips (like a quesadilla) and scattering bits of the herb bouquet over the top. The crepe’s filling seemed to consist largely of underseasoned rice noodles, so the flavor boost from the herbs was important.

No flavor boost was needed for the potstickers ($5.50), which were filled with a ground substance very like pork (tofu?) along with plenty of ginger. Just to make sure, and for that last kiss of verisimilitude, the potstickers were served with a shallow dish of nuoc nam laced with carrot threads. We also found no flavor shortage in the seaweed salad ($7), a tangle of green filaments, like spinach vermicelli after a bad night of tossing and turning, dressed with crushed sesame seeds and plenty of sesame oil.

For sheer wallop — and proof that lively spicing goes a long way toward compensating for lack of flesh or dairy — there’s the spicy noodle soup ($7). The fat noodles and chunks of tofu offer attractive ballast, but the charge lies in the complex, incendiary vegetable broth. To alert the unwary, red sheets of chili oil shimmer on the surface, like rays of a summer sunset glinting from a pond.

"Vegan dessert" sounds like what the late Herb Caen used to call a "self-canceling phrase." But Golden Era’s desserts could pass at just about any restaurant in town. Both the blueberry cheesecake ($4.75), creamy and lemony with a liberal dribbling of blueberry coulis, and the mocha chocolate cake ($3.50), as velvety and rich as a cashmere greatcoat, were accomplishments any Swedish pastry chef would have been proud of.


Wed.–Mon., 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

572 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 673-3136

No alcohol


Muted noise

Difficult wheelchair access

Chile Lindo


DINE “Errata” is one of those delightful words with an undelightful meaning. It means, basically, “oops” — assuming we are in polite company. In less polite company, you would probably hear a number of variations on a plain Anglo-Saxon word beginning with f.

For a writer, there is scarcely a more mortifying experience than to realize — too late! as Othello says to Desdemona before snuffing her — that some hideous mistake or error has leaked into print. When I was in college, we used to type up our essays on erasable-bond paper, so if you messed up you just rubbed out the offending words and phrases and typed in the right ones. But newsprint does not offer this luxury, although the cheaper sorts of ink do sometimes smear your fingers.

In years past, I wrote a side column on this page in which, from time to time, I noted various blunders of my own. In part, these acknowledgements helped salve my own conscience (yes, I was wrong or wrote something stupid, but I admit it); but in larger part, they amounted to a small public service. Although an error printed in a newspaper is not erasable, at least it can be mooted by more accurate information.

Foul-ups are, along with death and taxes, an inevitable part of life. One’s fondest hope in this regard is not to reach the epic heights of Gerald Ford, who in a 1976 presidential debate claimed that Poland was not subject to Soviet domination, to audible groans from the audience. This writer is content to bungle much more modestly than that, as in (as once happened) getting the title of a book under review wrong. Or, more recently, in asserting that La Trappe (discussed in these pages on April 21), “could be” the only Belgian restaurant in town. Leaving aside the spongy equivocation, the claim overlooked the years-long (and spreading) presence of Frjtz, which the errant writer (i.e. me) had once reviewed. I would only add that, because in error as in myth there is often an element of truth, La Trappe is a full-service (i.e. full table service) restaurant, whereas Frjtz wasn’t, at least when I last went. (You ordered at a counter and carried a little number to your table so the food-bearers could find you later.)

Of more import was the granting (on May 5) of “wheelchair accessible” status to the Little Chihuahua on Divisadero Street when in fact (according to an irate reader) there is a blockading step at the entryway. Of less import was the misuse of the Japanese term “izakaya” (March 24), not a descriptor for a particular style of cooking but a noun for a place where that particular style of cooking is offered. I can’t imagine anyone was misled or otherwise inconvenienced by this (what in the law would be called “harmless error”), or by the misspelling (March 10) of “matcha,” the green-tea powder that has an unfortunate way of ending up as a flavoring for ice cream.

These are the recent boo-boos I know of. If there others (and how could there not be?), I would be glad to hear about them. Well, maybe not glad. Maybe grateful. Also mortified.

“Empanada,” the second of today’s E-words, means, basically, “embreaded” in Spanish. We in California tend to associate these calzone-like stuffed envelopes with various Latin American cuisines, but they were brought to the New World by the Spanish, and to Spain by the Moors, whose Muslim roots reached deep into the Middle East. So the heritage of empanadas is entangled with that of pita and lavash.

At Chile Lindo, a tiny empanada emporium on 16th Street near Theater Rhinoceros, the menu consists of three kinds of empanada, each $5. The traditional ground-beef stuffing is known, in Chile, at least (the owner is Chilean) as pino (made here with Niman Ranch beef), and there is also a vegan version made with soy. Each strikes a distinctive balance between savory and sweet. One is aware of the presence of both black olives and raisins — a signature combination of the eastern Mediterranean — and also of cumin and paprika. If you were served either of these in Turkey or Israel, you wouldn’t think twice about it. Only the cheese empanada, stuffed with melted jack and cheddar and lengths of japaleño pepper, strikes a note we might think of as Latin American.

Chile Lindo does offer limited seating on a line of barstools on the sidewalk under the window, but plenty of the traffic appears to be takeout. There is also a giant, gleaming espresso machine for morning people. Chocolate empanadas would be a nice touch in this regard — patience, my pretties! *


Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

2944 16th St., SF

(415) 621-6108

No alcohol

Cash only

Street noise

Problematic wheelchair access

May the tastiest critter-friendly cupcake win


Your chops sink into the rich, sweet fluff and your lips are left with a coat of luscious frosting; cupcakes are the things dreams are made of and especially the dozens that will be up for tasting this weekend at the Rock Paper Scissors Collective‘s 2nd Annual Vegan Cupcake Bake-off. No butter, no eggs people– all that delicious and they’re animal friendly…pretty sure that will be my excuse for chomping well over five cups.

This bake-off isn’t meant for observation– four bucks gets you a napkin, fork, plate, and a chance to nimble and snack on a the tantalizing entries of frosted vegan treats. Try them all and then vote for your poison. Will it be chocolate drizzle or peachy keen? Oh, the choices we must make.

vegan cupcakes

Last year’s winner, Laurie Ellen, dazzled taste buds with her vegan strawberry-lemonade cupcakes and earned not the typical loads of ridiculous fame and fortune, but a sweet sense of local pride and a good, sugary feeling on her insides. Yum! The taste testing, the baking and more taste testing– I’m guessing the labor of a baker is quite hard to bear and if only I were best friends with one of these candied cooks, I could surely help out.

This baker’s triumph needed to be further explained and luckily Ellen was up for hinting at a couple of her yummy secrets. 


SFBG: Tell me about the crafting of your Strawberry-Lemonade recipe? 

Laurie: The recipe last year came out of a last minute dinner at a friends house. I decided to make some cupcakes using lemons from the meyer lemon tree in my backyard that had been fruiting gloriously and some strawberries a coworker brought into work which I had recently made into preserves. It was a union between making something seasonally relevant and making something with items in my pantry.

SFBG: How many cupcakes did you eat in preparation?

Laurie: Well, I usually eat one from every batch and I made about 6 batches leading up to and including the competition, so 6, at least.

SFBG: Who else ate them?

Laurie: Friends, coworkers, strangers, anyone who wanted one, I was itching for feedback.

SFBG: What was the best part about your winning cupcake last year?

Laurie: The people that came up to me after the competition telling me it was the first vegan baked good they had eaten and that it really surprised and challenged the notion of what they thought a cupcake was or could be.

SFBG: What drink would pair best with the strawberry lemonade cakes? Vodka? Milk? 

Laurie: An icy cold Arnold Palmer.

SFBG: Do you always bake vegan?

Laurie: About half the time. Although I am not vegan I have friends and family in my life who have a variety of dietary differences and if I am making something, especially dessert, I want everyone to be able to enjoy it. I think it has come in pretty handy and people are surprised and excited when they realize that they can enjoy dessert too.

SFBG: Any hints as to what you’ve whipped up for this year’s contest?

Laurie: You’ll have to come out to RPSC to check it out, it is a refreshing summer cupcake, I hope people will enjoy it.


Besides the bake-sale itself, Paper Rock Scissors will have a bunch of crazy-cupcaked themed events, good for distracting sugar teeth from the pans of goodies. A cookbook of all the vegan treat recipes will be for sale, meaning you can attempt to replicate your favorites. Bring-Your-Own-Tee shirt/totebag or whatever and get it branded with a lovely screen printed cupcake or grin with your mouth full in the cupcake photo-booth. 


2nd Annual Vegan Cupcake Bake-off!

Sat/22, 2-5pm, $4

Rock Paper Scissors Collective

2278 Telegraph, Oakland


Hugs and kisses


CHEAP EATS We left space for The Attack at our table. She wasn’t dead or anything, just at work. Some people are dead. And some are only faking it. Still others of course are in line at Walgreens, or otherwise alive and well and just generally off doing something. So they can’t have breakfast with you at Rico’s Diner, damn!

My mind is boggled and my knees are buckled and rug-burned, but apparently I have a little prettiness left, according to an old-school pimpishly attired dude in a cape and fedora, downtown Oakland.

"You are beautiful ladies," he said to me and Pod, in passing. "You keep that up now!"

You keep that up now. Keep it up. Keep up the beauty.

Pod has a curling-iron burn on one of her cheeks.

When we saw the guy again he smiled even bigger, pumped his fist instead of tipping the fedora, and said pretty much the same things: "Beautiful" and "you keep that up now." I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, a few flakes of last night’s mascara, and chicken-fried steak flavored lip gloss.

You keep that up now.

Beauty is hard to define. Like wet soap, life, and a live fish, beauty — once defined — is also hard to hold on to. It requires concentration. Sometimes you need a coach. Sometimes you need a lover, and sometimes your lover sucks, strains, and presses the beauty right out of you and then you need coaches and cheerleaders again to get it back.

Thank you, pimpishly attired fedora-tipping and fist-pumping dude. Thank you Pod. Thank you The Attack. And thank you Rico’s, for supplying the chicken-fried steak flavored lip gloss.

And, oh, so many other kinds of hot sauce. It gave Pod and me the idea to have a "hot sauce tasting" instead of a "wine tasting" party. And this gives me the idea to have a "lip gloss tasting" party after that.

Which reminds me of a rainy day in La Rochelle, a beautiful port town on the west coast of France where, as a recent romantic refugee, I participated materially in this January’s humidity levels.

I was with my chicken farming comrade on her one day off, shopping for All Things Brown, when we saw a tall, cute man standing in a crowded square with a small sign saying, in English, "Free Hugs." And he didn’t seem to be collecting money or selling anything. And he didn’t look like he smelled bad. And I have never been more in need of hugs so I walked right up to him and hugged him. If nothing else, this gave my chicken farmer’s daughter, who is 11, something to giggle about for the rest of this year. Plus I got to learn my first French phrase, Lâchez moi, or "Let go of me."

Now I don’t need hugs anymore. I need kisses, and to learn how to say ne lâchez pas de moi, s’il vous plaît in English.

"Mmm," says the dreamy dreamboat of my dreams, "What’s that hot sauce you’re wearing?"

El Yucateca. Extra extra hot. Which goes very good with chicken-fried steak and gravy, by the way. Not that Rico’s needs the boost. It was one of my favorite chicken frieds that I can remember. And the over-easies were good, and the omelet I had the first time I went there was great.

I love this place. It’s simple, delicious, and cheap. They do standard American breakfast stuff, plus burgers (which I haven’t tried yet), and veggie and vegan things (which I never will). And it feels like you’re eating on a train, I think because the kitchen’s in the middle of the room, and you have to place your order at a counter there. Plus all the windows. Although, I have to admit that the corner of 15th and Franklin streets does tend to stay a little still.

One of the most beautiful things I ever saw: my curling-iron burnt pal Pod — who is a dot artist, after all — carefully dispensing drops of I-forget-which hot sauce around the breakfast sandwich on her plate. I don’t know exactly what she was going for, but it was a Goldsworthy worthy masterpiece.

You keep that up, now, Pod.


Mon.–Sat.: 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

400 15th St., Oakl.

(510) 444-8424

Cash only


Appetite: It’s Passover — so come on over


As Passover begins tonight through next Monday, here’s a few places where you know you can eat quite well and stay quite kosher:

4/5 – SLOW FOOD Seder at Mission Beach Cafe
Heeb magazine teams up with one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Mission Beach Café for a Slow Food Seder. Yes, that’s slow food principles, modern cooking sensibilities, traditional Jewish dishes. In fact, with each course, you have the choice of traditional or California-style dishes, each made with local ingredients. Will it be smoked black cod with potato kugel or matzo flatbread with haroset, balsamic reduction, basil scallion pesto and messo seco cheese?

Braised Prather Ranch lamb shank with butter beans, oyster mushrooms, baby carrots and red pearl onions or roasted duck with Israeli couscous, Jerusalem artichokes, pea shoots and orange sabayon? Thankfully, Mission Beach’s wonderful pastry chef, Alan Carter, has dessert in hand.
$55 for four courses, excluding tax and tip
Monday, April 5
Mission Beach Café
198 Guerrero Street

Firefly’s Eight Days of Passover menu
Right by my former home in Noe Valley, beloved Firefly does an “Eight Days of Passover” menu all week long, a bevy of Jewish greats made with Firefly’s usual homey, gourmet flair: chopped chicken livers, Grandma Rose’s matzo ball soup, owner, Brad’s housemade gefilte fish, vegetable matzo kugel, grilled lamb sirloin and beef brisket (or vegan brisket, if you so desire).
March 29–April 5
a la carte menu during regular hours
4288 24th Street, SF.

TAKE-OUT at Sweet Jo’s
Jo and her best-there-is biscuits  are always available at Sweet Jo’s in the Jewish Community Center, but she also knows Passover foods and has plenty for you to take home to suppliment or be your complete Passover meal. Maybe braised Kobe beef brisket, felfite fish, potato kugel, mashed potatoes, rosemary broccoli, and a side of horseradish cream?
Available for pick-up a la carte or to eat in the cafe through Passover
Sweet Jo’s, inside the Jewish Community Center
3200 California, SF.

John Ross: The damaged spine of America



I am on a low-rent book tour with my new cult classic El Monstruo – Dread & Redemption In Mexico City.  For the next three months, I will stumble across this land from sea to stinking sea probing the underbelly of Obama’s America.  The findings will be posted on these pages.

LAS CRUCES N.M. — The snow was already dusting the Organ Mountains fringing this high desert town, promising a hard winter further up the spine of Obama’s America. I ride the Mexican bus (officially doing business as the El Paso-L.A, Limousine Express) when I ply the back roads of the southwest. Greyhound, with its stern rules and regulations and surly drivers who threaten their cargos with summary expulsion for minor infractions, doesn’t much inspire me these days.  


With notable exceptions, Greyhound passengers are a harried and haunted bunch, riding the Big Dog from trouble to trouble, often with all their possessions stuffed into plastic garbage bags. In the cruelest of gestures, the Greyhound management has recently banned garbage bags as an instrument of luggage.  Zombie passengers on the Big Dog stare out at the distant horizon submerged in their worries or stab music into their ears to sever all human communication. No one talks to their fellow travelers anymore.

By way of contrast, the Mexican bus bubbles with chatter.  “Platicame!” (“Talk to me!”) my seatmates insist. The chitchat often gravitates towards work — where they have recently toiled, the job towards which they are headed. Wistful nostalgia for their families and pueblos down in Mexico are common ground. Rancheros belch from the speakers and the taste of tamales flavors the ride. It feels like going home.

Bus rides are an opportunity to reinvent oneself. I am usually the only gabacho on these long hauls through the rugged mountains and barren deserts of the southwest, but I speak colloquial, unaccented Mexican and who I really am excites curiosities. These days, my kuffiyah wrapped around my scrawny neck, I pass myself as an Arab from Mexico City hawking books from tank town to tank town, a plausible story — back home, Arabs are often stereotyped as itinerant peddlers.

North of Las Cruces, the Mexican bus is pulled into a Migra shed and the conversation modulates real quick. A blonde woman agent jumps on board and demands to see everyone’s documents. She studies the passports and green cards under the glare of her flashlight and then shines it into the eyes of the passengers to see who will blink first. One young man — he looks like a university student – is pulled off the bus and is never seen again. When the Mexican bus slides out of the shed, the chatter resumes — but with one less voice in the mix.

Clayton, a young Wobbly who used to run a bookshop down by the rail yards in Albuquerque that was mostly frequented by hobos looking for a little warmth in a cold winter world, is now teaching at a troubled middle school. Patrol cars are often parked out front and half the kids – 99.99% of who are “Hispanics” (read Mexicans) – have juvenile police records. Clayton asks me in to talk to the students, who have never seen a real author in the flesh.  

We hunker down in the library and I step into my Grandpa persona and tell tales of the Mexican revolution while Clayton projects portraits of the Great Zapata and Pancho Villa on the audio-visual screen. I recount how the two men met in a rural schoolhouse in Xochimilco, now a borough of Mexico City, in December 1914. For an hour the two sat in frozen silence until Zapata, unable to contain his bitterness, declares that Carranza, their rival, is “un hijo de puta!” The kids fall off their little library chairs in gales of Mexican mirth. Clayton frets for his job but the librarian apparently doesn’t understand Spanish.  

I show the kids my books. Helen, a boisterous tweener, grabs “Iraqigirl” from Clayton’s hand and announces she is taking it home. The next day, she returns it with a review: “this is the best book I have ever read.” Two boys sit at the round reading table with copies of “El Monstruo — Dread & Redemption In Mexico City” and “Murdered by Capitalism — 150 Years of Life & Death on the American Left” spread before them. They pour over the subversive pages all through the lunch hour. When we prompt them that we have to leave, they hide the books under their hoodies.

 “I don’t have it — check me out!” Salvador (not his real name) challenges. The librarian rushes over and promises the boys that she has just ordered the books on line for them. They will be here Monday morning.  “But this is only Thursday,” protests Manuel (not his real name.)  

Garfield middle school is the best stop so far on this monstrous book tour.

Attendance at public events in Albuquerque is sparse. A vegan spread at the Catholic Worker House drums up a dozen hungry souls, a presentation of “Iraqigirl” at the Peace & Justice Center eight, including an Iraqi woman who leaves early. I show “Corazon del Tiempo” (“Heart of Time”), the new Zapatista movie (it was previewed at Sundance) in a small room at the university – Weather veterano Mark Rudd and the remarkable investigator Nelson Valdez and a handful of starry-eyed students (“Corazon” is a love story) show up.  


I sorely miss my old pal Tilda Sosaya who fought doggedly for prisoners’ rights in the nearly wholly privatized New Mexico prison system for decades after her son was imprisoned for ten years for some dumb teenage caper. Last March, I wrote Tilda that I had been diagnosed with liver cancer and she wrote back that she had it too. The cancer took her quickly and now she is gone and her son is back in prison. We fight for justice but life in this lane is not very just.

I catch the day train up to Santa Fe to visit with the writer Chellis Glendinning. Chellis has lived for the past 18 years on a tiny plot in Chimayo, the land of miraculous dirt and a key distribution point for black tar heroin from Sinaloa and Nayarit — see her “Chiva – How One New Mexican Town Took On The Global Heroin Trade.” Now she is pulling up stakes and throwing in with Evo Morales. Her jeep flies a Bolivian flag and she is rushing to be in Cochabamba for the tenth anniversary of the landmark struggle against the privatization of that city’s water supply by the Bechtel Corporation. Adios companera — la lucha sigue y sigue y sigue!

I am back on the Mexican bus heading towards Denver. The riders get off at whistlestops like Las Vegas and Durango and Colorado Springs where they will do the dirty work of this country — walloping pots, washing cars, cleaning motel rooms, milking cows, shoveling their manure, keeping Obama’s America spic and span for the next paying customer at minimum wages if indeed they are not cheated out of them by unscrupulous contractors.  

When the guy across the aisle gets curious, I revive my new identity as an Arab peddler. “Donde esta tu mujer?” he asks (“Where is your wife?”) and I lie that she is in Iraq taking care of her people. “The Yanquis invaded her country and bombed her neighborhood…”  “Pobre gente,” he sympathizes.  Santiago (is that his real name?) is from Hidalgo de Parral, Chihuahua and says he is on his way to work the Colorado ski resorts where so many Mexicans slave for Senor Charlie these days. He knows all about exile.  

I am invited to deliver a pair of lectures at Denver University, Condoleezza Rice’s alma mater (her father was provost.)  Doug Vaughn, also a DU grad who went left at an early age, notices that I will be speaking at the same time as Cindy Courville, Condi’s roommate who followed her to the National Security Council and then became U.S. emissary to the African Union.

My talks are programmed for the Josef Korbel Center for International Studies. Josef Korbel was Madeline Albright’s father, to give you some assessment of my chances of winning converts here. Indeed, the students are polite and well-groomed, models of future CIA assets — in tracking down the announcement of Courville’s talk on a Korbel Center bulletin board, Doug encounters a CIA recruitment leaflet. The grad students have been forewarned they will be visited by a representative of the lunatic fringe and busy themselves with their e-mail under the pretext of taking notes.  

Academic acrimony flourishes in the Denver- Boulder axis.  Everywhere else in this land where my father croaked, the trials and tribulations of Ward Churchill and his ill-timed assault on the “little Eichmans” deconstructed in the Twin Towers conflagration went out with the fish wrap the next morning — but here in mile-high city, mention of Ward and Colorado AIM can still start a prairie fire. Although such Churchill accusers as the governor and the Colorado U president have long since resigned due, in fact, to other scandals after successfully silencing Ward, his detractors’ thirst for blood remains unsatiated.

Infused with the venom of the dearly departed Bellencourts (who Churchill once dissed as “Nebraska wigmakers”), Ernesto B. Vigil, author of an action-packed bio of Corky Gonzalez, the Denver-based Xicano founder of the Nation of Aztlan, is still brandishing the long knives. Ward Churchill is a fake Indian, Ernesto obsesses, a white guy whose claim to indigenousness is backed up by white people because white people only listen to white people.  White people think they know everything, he scoffs in a heated e-mail in which he disparages my whiteness a dozen times in as many lines.

Actually, I don’t give a rat’s ass if Ward Churchill is one/sixteenth Cherokee or not (the tribal government recently expelled all its black members) — Churchill remains the most lucid writer on American genocide in this benighted country.

Boulder is said to be the most over-regulated city in North America although white liberal enclaves like Madison Wisconsin and Arcata California could give Boulder a run for its money.  I accompany Joe Richey, a local alternative radio sleuth, to the Boulder dog pound to bail out his black lab “Yanqui” (as in “Yanqui! Go home!) “Yanqui” has been adjudged guilty of illicit dog-like behavior i.e. nuzzling a neighborhood garbage can.  

After Joe pays off the authorities and the mutt is released to his custody and properly admonished, we drive past a local dog park.  In a paroxysm of charitable intent, the Boulder City Council permits the homeless to encamp at night amidst the dog turds but they must be gone by daybreak when the pooches of the city’s housed residents take possession or risk a $100 fine. How the homeless, forced to bed down in dog shit nightly, can afford this astronomical sum is unclear. Such is what passes for compassion on the underbelly of Obama’s Amerikkka.


On my final day in Denver, Hank Lamport, a local schoolteacher who favorably reviewed “El Monstruo” for the Post, today the only daily in this formerly two-newspaper town, drives me out to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Rehabilitation Area. Until a few years ago, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal manufactured and stored deadly nerve gas, chiefly Serin — an occasional lost canister still spooks the wildlife.  The displays at the Visitors’ Center feature photos of workers filling “Honest John” missiles with the stuff. Napalm was also cooked up here. I study the glazed eyes of taxidermied foxes and coyotes and bald eagles and hastily bid adieu.

On the way out of town, we stop to worship the victuals in an Aurora, Colorado taco shop. Hank laments that when he first became a devotee of “Tacos y Salsas,” the clientele, uniformly Mexicanos, would greet him with a “buen provecho” (“good appetite” — a universal courtesy in the Spanish-speaking world) but now the customers have become so gringo-ized that the salutation is a lost art. Nonetheless, when we polish off our orders and head for the door, two working stiffs at the next table wish us each “buen provecho.”
It warms the cockles of my contused heart to know that such cultural resistance still percolates out here on the damaged spine of Obamalandia.

Next stop: the frozen, melancholy flatlands of the Great Midwest.  

John Ross and “El Monstruo – Dread & Redemption in Mexico City” (“gritty and pulsating” – NY Post) will be visiting Traverse City and Grand Rapids Michigan in the final week of March. You can catch them at the Headland Café in Chicago’s Rogers Park March 31st, Toronto’s Hoggtown April 1st-4th, and St. Louis Mo. April 7th.  




Cinnamon buns: your gateway drug to hardcore vegan sweets?


By Robyn Johnson

For all you vegan sweet snackum lovers — and curious crumb-lappers — the ladies behind Fat Bottom Bakery and Cinnaholic have a sale on Sat/20 that you just might egg-free love.

They’ll be hosting the second East Bay Vegan Bakesale, right outside of Issues (‘Magazines and More!”) on Glen Avenue in North Oakland. Personally, I’ve had a rocky relationship with vegan baked foods, but these Cinnaholic cinnamon buns might finally be the gateway pastry to bring me over to the animal product-free side, at least for frequent visits:

Proceeds go to the Haitian Emergency Relief Fund and Animal Place, a farm animal sanctuary.

Vegan Bake Sale
Sat/20, 11am-4pm
20 Glen Avenue, Oakl.

Events listings


Events listings are compiled by Paula Connelly. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Women in Publishing Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, SF; (415) 626-2787. 7pm, $5-15 sliding scale. Learn more about the history and current state of feminist publishing at this panel discussion with current and former publishers and editors from the Bay Area.


Claim the Block Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission, SF; (415) 252-4655. 7pm, free. Attend this reading by young Bay Area writers from Mission High School, Hilltop High School, and the San Francisco Public Library as part of a WritersCorps museum reading series. Visit for info on other readings.

Original Plumbing Books Inc., 2275 Market, SF; (415) 864-6777. 7:30pm, free. Celebrate the release of the second issue of Original Plumbing magazine, a trans male quarterly that gives trans men the opportunity to express themselves in words and images. Editors Amos Mac and Rocco Kayiatos will be present.


Celebrate Copwatch Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo, Berk; (510) 548-0425. 7:30pm, $10-20 sliding scale. Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Copwatch, founded by three women in 1990 to monitor police actions, at this Women’s Day event featuring a live performance by Sisters in the Pit, special guests, poets, and speakers.

Paper Politics Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck, Berk.; (510) 649-1320. 7:30pm, free. Attend this book release for Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today with editor Josh Macphee and others discussing politically and socially engaged printmaking and a book that showcases print art that uses themes of social justice and global equality.

Thrillville Forbidden Island, 1304 Lincoln, Alameda; (510) 749-0332. 8pm, free. Watch Forbidden Planet (1956) on Forbidden Island’s indoor drive-in at this retro pop culture cabaret featuring prizes, futuristic cocktails, and a live performance by the Tomorrowmen.



"State of Public Education" Education Public Library, UC Berkeley, 2600 Tolman Hall, Berk.;, registration requested. 8:15am, free. Take part in this day-long symposium bringing together scholars and policy-makers in education from across California to discuss economic, political, and social issues related to public education today.


Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair San Francisco County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park, Lincoln and 9th Ave., SF; (415) 431-8355. Sat. 10am-6pm, Sun. 11am-5pm; free. Featuring over 55 vendors and author events featuring San Francisco poet laureate Diane di Prima, John Zerzan, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, and many more.

Queericulum Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory, 1519 Mission, SF; 10am, $20. Attend this day-long educational , regenerative, homocentric retreat featuring homo-focused workshops, dinner theater cabaret, and a celebratory dance party with DJs Lord Kook, Samnation, and StudlyCaps. Dinner, refreshments, and raffle tickets available for purchase. Suggested attire is "fabulous comfortable pajamas."

St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade Festival at Civic Center Plaza, SF. 10am-5pm, free. Parade starts at 2nd St. at Market and proceeds to Civic Center Plaza, SF. 11am, free. Celebrate Irish history and culture with a full day of performances, live music, arts and crafts, food, drinks, and more. Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

Writers with Drinks Make Out Room, 3225 22nd. St., SF; 7:30pm, $5-10 sliding scale. Enjoy a spoken word variety show that helps raise money for local causes featuring Mary Gaitskill, Jerry Stahl, Michael Shea, Dylan Landis, and Alli Warren.


"Artist Residencies" Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut, Berk.; (510) 644-6893. 4pm, $5-10 sliding scale. Learn about the different types of artist residencies and how to research, locate, and apply for them at this panel discussion led by artist and CCA lecturer Susan Martin.

Empowering Women of Color Conference MLK Jr Student Union, UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph, Berk.; Sat. 9:30am-5:30pm, Sun. 9:30am-2:30pm; $25 one day, $45 both days. Honor the legacy of women of color in the U.S. at this conference titled, "Intergenerational Wisdom: Celebrating Our Past, Present, & Future," dedicated to issues affecting women at every stage of their lives with workshops, speakers, panels, performances, networking, and vendors of interest to all age groups.


Pi Day Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, SF; (415) EXP-LORE. 1pm, $15. Celebrate Pi, the never ending number, and Einstein’s birthday by creating Pi puns, taking part in activities, rituals, and Pi-related antics, and eating a slice of pie prepared by the museum staff.

Sex Furniture and Bedroom Olympics Good Vibrations Polk Street Gallery, 1620 Polk, SF; (415) 345-0400. 5:30pm, free. Let Dr. Carol Queen, PhD show you how to incorporate sex furniture into the bedroom including instructions on how to use "the Ramp" and "the Wedge" and a contest to win a new "Axis."

The Vegetarian Myth San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin, SF; (415) 557-4484. 12:30pm, free. Hear author Lierre Keith discuss her new book, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability, which examines the destructive history of agriculture, champions eating locally, and reveals the risk of a vegan diet.



Re:Imagining Change Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck, Berk.; (510) 649-1320. 7:30pm, free. Hear author Patrick Reinsborough discuss his new book that provides resources, theories, hand-on tools, and case studies which outline practical methods for amplifying progressive causes in popular culture.

"We Need a Total Revolution" Pacific Film Archive Theater, 2575 Bancroft, Berk.; (510) 848-1196. 4pm, $10-$20. Hear Sunsara Taylor, writer and activist, make the case for why there is no biological, god-given, or man made reason why the oppression of women throughout the world has to remain this way and how we can change things through communist revolution.


Persian New Year Persian Center, 2029 Durant, Berk.; (510) 548-5335. 6pm, free. Welcome spring by taking part in the Persian custom of jumping over a bonfire to welcome spring. Featuring Persian food, music, and dance.

Trash Lit: Grafton’s craft in ‘U is for Undertow’


U is for Undertow
Sue Grafton
Putnam. 403 pages, $27.95

I love the Sue Grafton books. I bought A is for Alibi in 1983, when it came out, and I’ve read every one of them since. Unlike, say, Patricia Cornwell, whose characters age (and get crabbier) as time passes, Kinsey Milhone is eternal, always young, always living in a town called Santa Teresa that’s a lot like Santa Barbara, always living with her old (but never dying) landlord, Henry, always eating at the foul Hungarian restaurant down the street. Milhone is a comfortable protagonist, never deeply tortured, but never exactly adjusted either, and even her OCD habits (locking her car – and telling us she locked her car – about 50 times a book) are endearing.

This one’s set in 1988, where Milhone is quite at home, and in 1963-1967, where Sue Grafton is less so. Grafton’s got a problem with hippie chicks – one of the central villains in U is for Undertow is a girl named Shelly who later changes her name to Destiny. She’s an almost embarrassing parody of how middle America saw flower children in the late 1960s – except that she appears in 1963, before there were a lot of real hippies about in the land. To make matters worse, she brags that she was part of the beat scene in San Francisco and slept with both Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg – which is fairly unlikely, even in fiction; I don’t know who Allen Ginsberg, a proudly gay poet, was fucking in 1963, but I don’t think there were many hippie chicks on the list.

The horror of the dirty girl is almost too much to believe! Destiny is living in a bus with the son of a respectable family who dropped out of college to join her – and she has a child by another man who’s left the picture! And she’s raising her child (gasp) a vegan! And he runs around naked! And she’s preggers again, this time with his kid, and she insists on natural childbirth! She is, of course, also a total beyotch, who doesn’t respect the mother of the once-nice-young-boy loser who is under her hippie-chick spell.

There’s other stuff I didn’t love in here – one young character, who hates his stepmom, gets in trouble at his fancy private school and is forced to transfer to the horrors of a public school, where he of course meets awful bad kids who corrupt him entirely and turn him into a druggie.

In and around all this, though, is a fascinating mystery. It involves two kidnappings from the ’60s, a guy who might or might not have fabricated repressed memories, a dead dog in a dead girls’ grave, and a tangled tale across three decades that weaves the lives of the good and the bad (and it’s deliciously hard to tell which is which) into a first-rate detective story.

We also along the way learn some new clues about Milhone’s past (great trivia about Aunt Gin for serious fans of the series) and get a couple of excellent Grafton comments about the important things in life:

“At the time, I’d introduced [cancer patient] Stacey to junk food, which he’d never eaten in his life. Thereafter, I tagged along with him as he went from McDonald’s to Wendy’s to Arby’s to Jack in the Box. My crowning achievement was introducing him to the In-N-Out Burger. His appetite increased, he regained some of the weight he’d lost during the cancer treatments, and his enthusiasm for life returned. Doctors were still scratching their heads.”

Hippie-chick sex. Hippie chick seduction of a high school kid. Sweet Kinsey-shoots-murderer scene. (“It’s only in the movies the bad guys keep firing. In real life, they sit down and behave.”) I almost gagged on the ’60s stuff, but I stayed up way past my bedtime to get to the end.