Hannah Tepper

Summer fairs and festivals



Young At Art Festival de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 695-2441, www.youngatartsf.com. Through May 22, free. The creative achievements of our city’s youth are celebrated in this eight day event curated and hosted by the de Young Museum.

* Oakland Asian Cultural Center Asian Pacific Heritage Festival Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 Ninth St., Oakl. (510) 637-0462, www.oacc.cc. Through May 26. Times and prices vary. Music, lectures, performances, family-friendly events in honor of Asian and Pacific American culture and traditions.

DIVAfest Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF. (415) 931-2699, www.theexit.org. Through May 28. Times and prices vary. Bastion of the alternative, EXIT Theatre showcases its 10th annual buffet of fierce women writers, performers, and directors. This year features two plays, beat poetry, musical exploration, and more.

* Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission and Third St., SF. (415) 543-1718, www.ybgf.org. Through Oct. 31. Times vary, free. A series of cultural events, performances, activities, music, and children and family programs to highlight the green goodness of SoMa’s landscaped oasis.


May 18-June 5

San Francisco International Arts Festival Various venues. (415) 399-9554, www.sfiaf.org. Times and prices vary. Celebrate the arts through with this mish-mash of artistic collaborations dedicated to increasing human awareness. Artists included hail from around the world and right here in the Bay Area.


May 21

* A La Carte & Art Castro St. between Church and Evelyn, Mountain View. (650) 964-3395, www.miramarevents.com. 10am-6pm, free. With vendors selling handmade crafts, microbrewed beers, fresh foods, a farmers market, and even a fun zone for kids, there’s little you won’t find at this all-in-one fun fair. Asian Heritage Street Celebration Larkin and McAllister, SF. www.asianfairsf.com. 11am-6pm, free. This year’s at the country’s largest gathering of APA’s promises a Muay Thai kickboxing ring, DJs, and the latest in Asian pop culture fanfare — as well as tasty bites to keep your strength up.

Freestone Fermentation Festival Salmon Creek School, 1935 Bohemian Hwy, Sonoma. (707) 479-3557, www.freestonefermentationfestival.com. Noon-5pm, $12. Learn about the magical wonders of fermentation with hands-on and mouth-on demonstrations, exhibits, and tasty live food nibbles.

Uncorked! San Francisco Wine Festival Ghirardelli Square, SF. (415) 775-5500, www.ghirardellisq.com. 1-6pm, $45-50 for tasting tickets, free for other activities. Uncorked! brings you the real California wine experience with tastings, cooking demonstrations, and even a wine 101 class for those who are feeling not quite wine-refined.


May 20-29

SF Sex Worker Film and Art Festival Various venues, SF. (415) 751-1659, www.sexworkerfest.com. Times and prices vary. Webcam workshops, empowering film screenings, shared dialogues on plant healing to sex work in the age of HIV: this fest has everything to offer sex workers and the people who love ’em.


May 22

Lagunitas Beer Circus Lagunitas Brewing Co., 1280 N McDowell, Petaluma. (303) 447-0816, www.craftbeer.com. Noon-6pm, $40. All the wonders of a live circus — snake charmers, plate spinners, and sword swallowers — doing their thing inside of a brewery!


May 21-22

* Maker Faire San Mateo County Event Center, 2495 South Delaware, San Mateo. www.makerfaire.com. Sat, 10am- 8pm; Sun, 10am-6pm, $5-25. Make Magazine’s annual showcase of all things DIY is a tribute to human craftiness. This is where the making minds meet. Castroville Artichoke Festival Castroville, Calif. (831) 633-0485, www.artichokefestival.org. Sat., 10am- 6pm; Sun., 11 am- 4:30 p.m., free. Pay homage to the only vegetable with a heart: the artichoke. This fest does just that, with music, parades, and camping.


May 28-29 

San Francisco Carnaval Harrison between 16th and 22nd St., SF. 10am-6pm, free. The theme of this year’s showcase of Latin and Caribbean culture is “Live Your Fantasy” — bound to bring dreams alive on the streets of the Mission.


June 3-12

Healdsburg Jazz Festival Various venues, Healdsburg. (707) 433-463, www.healdsburgjazzfestival.org. Times and prices vary. Bask in the lounge-lit glow of all things jazz-related at this celebration in Sonoma’s wine county.


June 3-July 3 

SF Ethnic Dance Festival Zellerbach Hall, Berk. and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF. www.worldartswest.org. Times and prices vary. A powerful display of world dance and music taking to the stage over the course of five weekends.


June 4

* Berkeley World Music Festival Telegraph, Berk. www.berkeleyworldmusicfestival.org. Noon-9pm, free. Fourteen world music artists serenade the streets and stores of Telegraph Avenue and al fresco admirers in People’s Park.

Huicha Music Festival Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma. (707) 938-5277, www.gunbun.com/hmfevent. 2-11pm, $55. Indie music in the fields of a wine country: Fruit Bats, J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, Sonny and the Sunsets, and more.


June 4-5

Union Street Eco-Urban Festival Union from Gough to Steiner and parts of Octavia, SF. (800) 310-6563, www.unionstreetfestival.com. 10am-6pm, free. Festival goers will have traffic-free access to Cow Hollow merchants and restaurant booths. The eco-urban theme highlights progressive, green-minded advocates and products.

The Great San Francisco Crystal Fair Fort Mason Center, Building A., SF. (415) 383-7837, home.earthlink.net/~sfxtl/index.html. Sat., 10am-6pm; Sun., 10am-4pm, $6. Gems and all they have to offer: beauty, fashion, and mysterious healing powers.


June 5

* Israel in the Gardens Yerba Buena Gardens, SF. (415) 512-6420, www.sfjcf.org. 11am-5pm, free. One full day of food, music, film, family activities, and ceremonies celebrating the Bay Area’s Jewish community and Israel’s 63rd birthday.


June 10-12

Harmony Festival Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley, Santa Rosa. www.harmonyfestival.com. 10am-10pm, $45 one day, $120 for three day passes. This is where your love for tea, The Flaming Lips, goddess culture, techno, eco-living, spirituality, and getting drunk with your fellow hippies come together in one wild weekend.

Queer Women of Color Film Festival Brava Theater. 2789 24th St., SF. (415) 752-0868, www.qwocmap.org. Times vary, free. A panel discussion called “Thinkers and Trouble Makers,” bisects three days of screenings from up-and-coming filmmakers with stories all their own.


June 11-12

* Live Oak Park Fair 1301 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 227-7110, www.liveoakparkfair.com. 10am-6pm, free. This festival’s 41st year brings the latest handmade treasures from Berkeley’s vibrant arts and crafts community. With food, face-paint, and entertainment, this fair is perfect for a weekend activity with the family.


June 11-19 

San Mateo County Fair San Mateo County Fairgrounds. 2495 S. Delaware, San Mateo. www.sanmateocountyfair.com. June 11, 14, 18, and 19, 11am-10pm; all other days, noon-10pm, $10 for adults. It features competitive exhibits from farmers, foodies, and even technological developers — but let’s face it, we’re going to see the pig races.


June 12

Haight Ashbury Street Fair Haight between Stanyan and Ashbury, SF. www.haightashburystreetfair.org. 11am-5:30pm, free. Make your way down to the grooviest corner in history and celebrate the long-standing diversity and color of the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, featuring the annual battle of the bands.


June 16-26

Frameline Film Festival Various venues, SF. www.frameline.org. Times and prices vary. This unique LGBT film festival comes back for its 35th year showcasing queer documentaries, shorts, and features.


June 17-19 Sierra Nevada World Music Festival Mendocino County Fairgrounds. 14400 CA-128, Boonville. (916) 777-5550, www.snwmf.com. Fri, 6pm-midnight; Sat, 11am-midnight; Sun, 11am-10pm, $60 for Friday and Sunday day pass; $70 for Saturday day pass, $150 three day pass. Featuring Rebulution, Toots and the Maytals, and Jah Love Sound System, this fest comes with a message of peace, unity, and love through music.


June 18 

Summer SAILstice Encinal Yacht Club, 1251 Pacific Marina, Alameda. (415) 412-6961, www.summersailstice.com. 8am-8pm, free. Boat building, sailboat rides, sailing seminars, informational booths, music, a kid zone, and of course, wind, sun, and water.

Pinot Days Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, SF. (415) 382-8663, www.pinotdays.com. 1-5pm, $50. Break out your corkscrews and head over to this unique event. With 220 artisan winemakers pouring up tastes of their one-of-a-kind vino, you better make sure you’ve got a DD for the ride home.


June 18-19

North Beach Festival Washington Square Park, SF. (800) 310-6563, www.northbeachchamber.com. Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-6pm, free. Make your way down to the spaghetti capital of SF and enjoy food, music, arts and crafts booths, and the traditional blessing of the animals.

Marin Art Festival Marin Civic Center, San Rafael. (415) 388-0151, www.marinartfestival.com. 10am-6pm, $10. A city center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright plays host to this idyllic art festival. Strolling through pavilions, sampling wines, eating grilled oysters, and viewing the work of hundreds of creative types.


June 20-Aug 21

Stern Grove Music Festival Stern Grove. Sloat and 19th Ave., SF. (415) 252-6252, www.sterngrove.org. Sundays 2pm, free. This free outdoor concert series is a must-do for San Francisco summers. This year’s lineup includes Neko Case, the SF Symphony, Sharon Jones, and much more.


June 25-26

San Francisco Pride Celebration Civic Center Plaza, SF; Parade starts at Market and Beale. (415) 864-FREE, www.sfpride.org. Parade starts at 10:30am, free. Gays, trannies, queers, and the rest of the rainbow waits all year for this grand-scale celebration of diversity, love, and being fabulous. San Francisco Free Folk Festival Presidio Middle School. 450 30th Ave., SF. (415) 661-2217, www.sffolkfest.org. Noon-10pm, free. Folk-y times for the whole family — not just music but crafts, dance workshops, crafts, and food vendors too.


June 29-July 3

International Queer Tango Festival La Pista. 768 Brannan, SF. www.queertango.freehosting.net. Times vary, $10-35. Spice up your Pride (and Frameline film fest) week with some queer positive tango lessons in culturally diverse, welcoming groups of same sex couples.


June 30-July 3

High Sierra Music Festival Plumas-Sierra Fairgrounds, Quincy. www.highsierramusic.com. Gates open at 8am Thursday. $205 weekend pass, $90 parking fee. Yonder Mountain String Band, My Morning Jacket, and most importantly, Ween. Bring out your sleeping bags for this four day mountaintop grassroots festival.


July 2

Vans Warped Tour Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.vanswarpedtour.com. 11am, $46-72. Skating, pop punk, hardcore, screamo, and a whole lot of emo fun.


July 2-3

Fillmore Jazz Festival Fillmore between Jackson and Eddy, SF, 1-800-310-6563, www.fillmorejazzfestival.com. 10am-6pm, free. Thousands of people get jazzed-up every year for this musical feast in a historically soulful neighborhood.


July 4

City of San Francisco Fourth of July waterfront celebration Pier 39, Embarcadero and Beach, SF. (415) 709-5500, www.pier39.com. Noon-9:30pm, free. Ring in the USA’s birthday on the water, with a day full of music and end up at in the city’s front row when the fireworks take to the sky.


July 9-10

Renegade Craft Fair Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. Buchanan and Marina, SF. (312) 496-3215, www.renegadecraft.com. 11am-7pm, free. Put a bird on it at this craft fair for the particularly indie at heart.


July 14-24

Midsummer Mozart Festival Various Bay Area venues. (415) 627-9141, www.midsummermozart.org. Prices vary. You won’t be hearing any Beethoven or Schubert at this midsummer series — the name of the day is Mr. Mozart alone.


July 16-17

Connoisseur’s Marketplace Santa Cruz between Camino and Johnson, Menlo Park. (650) 325-2818, www.miramarevents.com. 10am-6pm, free. Let the artisans do what they do best — you’ll polish off the fruits of their labor at this outdoor expo of artisan food, wine, and craft.


July 21-Aug 8

SF Jewish Film Festival Various Bay Area venues. www.sfjff.org. Times and prices vary. A three week smorgasbord of world premiere Jewish films at theaters in SF, Berkeley, the Peninsula, and Marin County.


July 22-Aug 13

Music@Menlo Chamber Music Festival Menlo School, 50 Valparaiso, Atherton. (650) 330-2030, www.musicatmenlo.org. Classical chamber music at its best: this year’s theme “Through Brahms,” will take you on a journey through Johannes’ most notable works.


July 23-Sept 25

 SF Shakespeare Festival Various Bay Area venues. www.sfshakes.org. Various times, free. Picnic with Princess Innogen and her crew with dropping a dime at this year’s production of Cymbeline. It’s by that playwriter guy… what’s his name again?


July 30

Oakland A’s Beer Festival Eastside Club at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakl. www.oakland.athletics.mlb.com. 4:05-6:05pm, free with game ticket. Booze your way through the Oakland A’s vs. Minnesota Twins game while the coliseum is filled with brewskies from over 30 microbreweries, there for the chugging in your souvenir A’s beer mug.


July 30-31

 Berkeley Kite Festival Cesar Chavez Park, 11 Spinnaker, Berk. www.highlinekites.com. 10am-5pm, free. A joyous selection of Berkeley’s coolest kites, all in one easy location.


July 31

Up Your Alley Dore between Folsom and Howard, SF. www.folsomstreetfair.com. 11am-6pm, $7-10 suggested donation. Whether you are into BDSM, leather, paddles, nipple clamps, hardcore — or don’t know what any of the above means, this Dore Alley stroll is surprisingly friendly and cute once you get past all the whips!


Aug 1-7

SF Chefs Various venues, SF. www.sfchefs2011.com. Times and prices vary. Those that love to taste test will rejoice during this foodie’s paradise of culinary stars sharing their latest bites. Best of all, the goal for 2011’s event is tons of taste with zero waste.


Aug 7

SF Theater Festival Fort Mason Center. Buchanan and Marina, SF. www.sftheaterfestival.org. 11am-5pm, free. Think you can face about 100 live theater acts in one day? Set a personal record at this indoor and outdoor celebration of thespians.


Aug 13

San Rafael Food and Wine Festival Falkirk Cultural Center, 1408 Mission, San Rafael. 1-800-310-6563, www.sresproductions.com. Noon-6pm, $25 food and wine tasting, $15 food tasting only. A sampler’s paradise, this festival features an array of tastes from the Bay’s best wineries and restaurants.


Aug 13-14

Nihonmachi Street Fair Post and Webster, SF. www.nihonmachistreetfair.org. 11am-6pm, free. Founded by Asian Pacific American youths, this Japantown tradition is a yearly tribute to the difficult history and prevailing spirit of Asian American culture in this SF neighborhood.


Aug 20-21

Oakland Art and Soul Festival Entrances at 14th St. and Broadway, 16th St. and San Pablo, Oakl. (510) 444-CITY, www.artandsouloakland.com. $15. A musical entertainment tribute to downtown Oakland’s art and soul, this festival features nationally-known R&B, jazz, gospel, and rock artists.


Aug 20-22

* SF Street Food Festival Folsom St from Twenty Sixth to Twenty Second, SF. www.sfstreetfoodfest.com. 11am-7pm, free. All of the city’s best food, available without having to go indoors — or sit down. 2011 brings a bigger and better Street Food Fest, perfect for SF’s burgeoning addiction to pavement meals.


Aug 29-Sept 5

Burning Man Black Rock City, Nev. (415) TO-FLAME, www.burningman.com. $320. This year’s theme, “Rites of Passage,” is set to explore transitional spaces and feelings. Gather with the best of the burned-out at one of the world’s weirdest, most renowned parties.


Sep 10-11

* Autumn Moon Festival Street Fair Grant between California and Broadway, SF. (415) 982-6306, www.moonfestival.org. 11am-6pm, free. A time to celebrate the summer harvest and the end of summer full-moon, rejoice in bounty with the moon goddess.


Sept 17-18

SF International Dragon Boat Festival California and Avenue D, Treasure Island. www.sfdragonboat.com. 10am-5pm, free. The country’s largest dragon boat festival sees beautiful man-powered boats take to the water in 300 and 500 meter competitive races.


Sept 23-25

SF Greek Food Festival Annunciation Cathedral. 245 Valencia, SF. www.sfgreekfoodfestival.org. Fri.-Sat., 11am-10pm; Sun., noon-9pm, free with advance ticket. Get your baba ghanoush on during this late summer festival, complete with traditional Greek dancing, music, and wine.


Sept 25

Folsom Street Fair Folsom between 7th and 12th St., SF. www.folsomstreetfair.org. 11am-6pm, free. The urban Burning Man equivalent for leather enthusiasts, going to this expansive SoMa celebration of kink and fetish culture is the surest way to see a penis in public (you dirty dog!).


Sept 30-Oct 2

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.strictlybluegrass.com. 11am-7pm, free. Pack some whiskey and shoulder your banjo: this free three day festival draws record-breaking crowds — and top names in a variety of twangy genres — each year.


Items with asterisks note family-fun activities.
















No animals were harmed in the making of this sandwich


Last week long-time SF vegan restaurant and gathering place, Café Gratitude reopened after a short closure due to remodeling, unveiling not only their spruced-up interior but a new menu that includes old favorites as well as some new creations. 

Included in the new menu is a vegan BLT sandwich. Sounded great, so I promptly traipsed down last weekend. Of course on the restaurant’s New-Age, posi-vibes menu this BLT is called “I Am Extraordinary,” with sautéed maple bacon, romaine, tomato, spicy aioli, and avocado on an organic wheat bun. It was only the second day after its reopening, and the restaurant was packed with happy diners, whom I noticed were mostly of the older variety the day I visited. All of the tables are communal, but even so, I could barely find a seat. I felt that familiar Café Gratitude feeling: that of leaving planet Earth behind. 

If you’ve never been to Café Gratitude, then some background information is in order. The place is much like walking on board a spaceship manned by a fleet of friendly and encouraging aliens. The ship is decorated with trippy pictures of deliriously pleased humans farming, sharing, floating on rivers of love, etc. 

Once aboard, you will be expected to no longer use regular English, but instead a vocabulary relating only to epic self love. When you want something like food or water, you will have to utter phrases like, “I am pure,” and “I am luscious,” in order to procure them. 

The flight crew will bring you the healthiest of vegan food and drinks, some raw, or “alive,” referring to their probiotic qualities. All will come at a high price, usually somewhere around $15, but this is because of the local, organic, meticulously-crafted quality of the menu. While you eat, crew members will periodically come by your table and ask strange questions like, “what inspires you?” and “how do you show love?” After paying you will be released from the ship feeling great, your aura slightly aglow with an alien love light. 

I took my seat on the spaceship announced, “I am extraordinary,” and waited for my BLT to arrive, which it eventually did, with a bed of greens. Although I haven’t had a real BLT in years, I can safely say that this sandwich was not one – but it did make serious strides to honor the title. The coconut bacon was crunchy, salty and sweet, much like the “oink oink” variety. 

Vegan bacon, revealed

The interesting thing about good vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan things is that these substitutes will often take on a light of their own. This was certainly the case with Café Gratitude’s aioli. It’s cashew-based and has a hummus-like quality, so they pile it on with much more vigor and less restraint than one would conventional aioli. 

It was different, not that there’s anything wrong with that. My sandwich was hearty, flavorful, and fresh. I scarfed it down in minutes and felt satisfied – and, I guess you could say, extraordinary. “I am extraordinary” does have a nice ring to it, but still, if I had to rename it, I would call it, “nut hummus sandwich with coconut flakes.”


Cafe Gratitude 

2400 Harrison, SF

(415) 824-4652

(And other Bay Area locations)


Superlist 2011: Bottomless mimosas



DRINKS In the murky depths of our foggy past (the ’80s!), the Guardian regularly featured Superlists — as-close-as-it-gets-to-comprehensive guides to a small facet of our beloved city. We were feeling a little dry and reporter-y on a recent Sunday, so we’re bringing the tradition back with bottomless mimosas.

Mimosa. Just the saying the word can bring to light that hard rock inside us whose glitter only catches the light on those sunny, breezy, weekend brunch occasions. Refreshing, sparkling, citrus bastions of happiness, those mimosas — the gift(s) one gives to oneself as a reward for having nothing to do. But where there is one mimosa, we are of the opinion that there should be many mimosas. Here’s our citywide list of the wheres and whens of finding a bottomless mimosa special near you, prices and hours of availability thoughtfully provided. Drink up, and drink often. (Hannah Tepper)


Luna Park Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.–3 p.m., $13. 694 Valencia, SF. (415) 553-8584, www.lunaparksf.com

Lime Sat. 11a.m.–3 p.m.; Sun. 10:30 a.m.-3p.m., $8 with purchase of meal. 2247 Market, SF. (415) 621-5256, www.lime-sf.com

Circa Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., $8 with purchase of meal. 2001 Chestnut, SF. (415) 351-0175, www.circasf.com

Bisou Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., $8 with purchase of meal. 2367 Market, SF. (415) 556-6200, www.bisoubistro.com

Paul K Sat.-Sun. 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., $13. 199 Gough, SF. (415) 552-7132, www.paulkrestaurant.com

Nickies Sat. 10 a.m.–2 p.m., $8 with purchase of entrée. 466 Haight, SF. (415) 255-0300,


Moussy’s Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.–2 p.m., $15. 1345 Bush, SF. (415) 346-7029, www.moussys.com

Mercury Lounge Sun. 10 a.m.–3 p.m., $11. 1582 Folsom, SF. (415) 551-1582, www.mercurysf.com

Axis Café and Gallery Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. — 3 p.m., $12 with purchase of entree. 1201 Eighth St., SF. (415) 437-2947, www.axis-cafe.com

Dell’Uva Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m. — 3 p.m., $15. 565 Green, SF. (415) 393-9930


El Patio Espanol Sun. 11:30 a.m. — 3 p.m., $24 includes set brunch. 2850 Alemany, SF. (415) 587-5117, www.patioespanol.com

Tangerine Wed.-Sun. 10 a.m. — 3 p.m., $33 per pitcher. 3499 16th St., SF. (415) 626-1700 www.tangerinesf.com

The Sycamore Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m. — 3 p.m., $10. 2140 Mission, SF. (415) 252-7704, www.thesycamoresf.com

Mayes Oyster House Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. — 3 p.m., $9. 1233 Polk, SF. (415) 885-1233, www.mayessf.com

Café Taboo Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m. — 3 p.m., $10. 600 York, SF. (415) 341-1188,


Park Chalet Sun. 10 a.m. — 3 p.m., $25 includes brunch buffet. 1000 Great Highway, SF. (415) 386-8439, www.parkchalet.com

Stable Café Sun. 10 a.m. — 2 p.m., $15. 2128 Folsom, SF. (415) 552-1199, www.stablecafe.com

Oola Sun. 10:30 a.m. — 3 p.m., $10. 860 Folsom, SF. (415) 995-2061, www.oola-sf.com

Don Pisto’s Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m. — 3 p.m., $12. 510 Union, SF. (415) 395-0939, www.donpistos.com

Sugar Sat.-Sun. 8 a.m. — 4 p.m., $10. 679 Sutter, SF. (415) 441-5678, www.sugarcafesf.com

Fresca Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. — 3 p.m., $12. 3945 24th St., SF. (415) 695-0549, www.frescasf.com

The Republic Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m. — 3 p.m., $14. 3213 Scott, SF. (415) 817-1337, www.republicsf.com

Farmerbrown Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. — 2:30 p.m., $15. 25 Mason, SF. (415) 409-3276


Darla’s Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. — 3 p.m., $8. 822 Irving, SF. (415) 753-3275

Triptych Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. — 3:30 p.m., $30 includes entree. 1555 Folsom, SF. (415) 703-0557, www.triptychsf.com

Nova Bar and Restaurant Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. — 3 p.m., $9.50. 555 Second St., SF. (415) 543-2282, www.novabar.com

Ironside Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m. — 2 p.m., $10. 680 Second St., SF. (415) 896-1127, www.ironsidesf.com

Dunya Sat.-Sun. 11:30 a.m. — 3 p.m., $12. 1609 Polk, SF. (415) 400-5770,


Eastside West Sat. 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. — 3 p.m., $25 includes entree. 3154 Fillmore, SF. (415) 885-4000, www.eswsf.com

Colibri Mexican Bistro Sat.-Sun. 10:30 a.m. — 2:30 p.m., $10. 438 Geary, SF. (415) 440-2737, www.colibrimexicanbistro.com Spire Sun. 11 a.m. — 2 p.m., $10. 685 Third St., SF. (415) 947-0000


Andalu Sat.-Sun. 10:30 a.m. — 2:30 p.m., $15. 3198 16th St., SF. (415) 621-2211, www.andalusf.com

1300 Fillmore Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m. — 1 p.m., $12. 1300 Fillmore, SF. (415) 771-7100 www.1300fillmore.com 

FEAST: 9 meat-free marvels



The sandwich, like the wheel, is an timeless invention that keeps us rolling. But if you be a vegetable lover, or just someone who fantasizes about two pieces of bread cradling things other than animal carcass, you must plan ahead — or risk finding yourself stuck with a woefully dull cheese and lettuce number. Lucky for us, here in the Bay we celebrate all sandwich orientations — some with brassy beets, others laced with sweet and spicy barbeque sauce, all ample reasons to raise our veggie flags high as we chow down.



Best. Sandwich. This Mission District locale constructs an incomparable veggie BBQ sandwich. Somewhere in this combination of spicy, moist, toasty tastes full of coleslaw and some mysterious sort of thrillingly breaded veggie “chicken” is an addictive chemical. I’m not willing to rule out crack. I love this sandwich. The end.

800 Valencia, SF (415) 282-5255



The veggie hoagie sandwich here is well worth the longish wait that can ensue after ordering at the tent-covered backyard grill. This monster mouth-filler is boldly served with multiple small Morningstar veggie patties. But fear not the brand-name base — the Lounge stakes a proprietary note on this sandwich with its own pesto mayo, sautéed mushrooms, and degree of toasted perfection. The two beers you’ll drink while waiting will not make this hoagie any less delicious.

2600 San Pablo, Berkeley. (510) 548-2080 www.missourilounge.com



I challenge you to find someone in this city without a sworn affection for banh mi — with snazzy purveyors of the Vietnamese sandwich nuggets opening up on the swanky section of Fillmore Street, they’re all the rage these days. But the Tenderloin’s Saigon Sandwich makes a down-to-earth yet killer tofu chay banh mi. Crunchy, sweet, and spicy, it’ll leave first-timers and experienced banh mi handlers sparkling — but the best thing reason to twinkle? The price — $3.25!?!

560 Larkin, SF. (415) 474-5698



Don’t be fooled by the name — Jay’s is not your everyday cheesesteak dealer. The Mission and Western Addition locations carry a variety of seitan sandwiches that will dazzle your palate no matter how you (mis)pronounce the meat substitute therein. Those unfamiliar with seitan might be interested to note that this wheat gluten-based product has the meat-like qualities of chewiness and savoriness — all without the killing animal guilt. Jay’s is saucy, so prepare with napkins along with your appetite.

3285 21st St., SF. (415) 285-5200; 553 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-5104, www.jayscheesesteak.com



Hummus is like the Benjamin Franklin of vegetarian sandwich ingredients. It has humble chickpea roots, yet it’s prolific and given to illustrious ideas and inventions. Of these, let us focus on Cafe Mattina (formerly Cafe Intermezzo)’s hummus sandwich. If you can get past the flocks of university-style chaos on Telegraph Avenue, this very Berkeley sandwich will be waiting for you in all its honey-wheat-and-sprouts glory, the respected founders of meat-free sandwiches.

2442 Telegraph, Berk. (510) 849-4592, www.cafemattina.com



Sun-dried tomato pesto, artichoke spread, fresh basil, lettuce, tomato, red onion, carrots, cucumber, and pea sprouts, all drizzled with lemon-oregano vinaigrette on telera bread. Estela, we thank you for your veggie muffelatta.

250 Fillmore, SF. (415) 864-1850



This unassuming Potrero Hill joint makes its own amazing falafel — crunchy and crisp on the outside with a soft herbaceous center. Folded into JB’s warm pita wrap, the falafel balls are supported by the tang and crunch of tahini and lettuce. This Middle Eastern lunch is big enough to satisfy even the hungriest of veggie-sauri.

1435 17th St., SF. (415) 626-7973



You can find a lot of great food here. Eggs, hashes, and good old diner fare are among the specialties, but Bette’s simple veggie sandwich hits the mark with its simplicity and freshness. With avocado, roasted red bell peppers, marinated cucumbers, baby greens, and vinaigrette on a baguette, you’ll be enchanted by this no-frills knockout.

1807 Fourth St., Berk. (510) 644-3230



There are times when even I, an ardent vegetarian, mourn the loss of ruebens. Chewy, hearty, a gut punch of protein and sauce — thank Gaia, then, for Plant Cafe’s veggie rueben. Who cares what it’s made of — the zinger is smothered in sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and that creamy cure-all: thousand island dressing.

Various locations, SF. www.theplantcafe.com



The super-healthy beet sandwich here will tolerate no beet phobia. Accented by kale and vinaigrette on chunky whole wheat bread, its heft and fuchsia weight promise health and happiness. But you have to go to great lengths to procure one: namely, braving the Atlas Cafe’s roomful of smarmy hipster-people staring at laptops (maybe you — quit spilling beets on your shirt, dammit).

3049 20th St., SF. (415) 648-1047, www.atlascafe.net


FEAST: 7 brunch cocktails



It’s noon on a Saturday — for you, we envision two possible scenarios. One: you’re covered in glitter, you smell like a wet poodle, and you’re on your way to brunch. Two: you’re well-rested after last night’s sobering yoga, feeling fly, and on your way to brunch. Hey booze breath, forget the three Advil, coffee, and a Xanax — you know there’s no better way to kick a hangover (or forge the path toward one) than to cocktail your way through the early afternoon. And Miss Fresh-As-A-Daisy? Have a drink already. Always helpful, never hurtful, here is our list of the tastiest brunch libations of the moment.



There is a stretch of Market Street that catches us unawares: one minute you’re surrounded by city, the next you’re in front of a magical garden filled with people downing bloody marys and eating eggs benedict. Ah, Café Flore, your lush patio makes us feel guilty for not drinking at breakfast. But we resolve not to live our life in shame. The ginger lemon drop, a Café Flore original, is the perfect way to kick off a day of leisure. Ginger liqueur and fresh lemon juice will have you feeling like you’re drinking pure, unadulterated sunshine, while the Ketel One vodka buzz reminds you that you’re actually just drunk.

2298 Market, SF. (415) 621-8579, www.cafeflore.com



You’re already on a mission to brunch, why not indulge in a meal amid the ocean breezes? Salty winds plus brunch treats and cocktails equals living large at The Ramp, which sits all the way at the end of Dogpatch’s Mariposa Street, perched on the pier of a boatyard. Grab a table inside the funky dining room or outside on the water and make sure to order one of the fresh mint mojitos. Two sips in, and you’ll be feeling like a brunch pirate. Day drunk ahoy!

855 Terry Francois, SF. (415) 621-2378, www.ramprestaurant.com



The standard Alexander cocktail is made with gin, chocolate liqueur, and cream, a mature take on chocolate milk. The spiced Alexander at Axis Café, a lowkey but upscale café and art gallery at the base of Potrero Hill, is served hot and spiked with soju — great by itself or with one of the cafe’s whole wheat pancake and poached cranberry plates. A lesser-known brunch beverage, yes, but it pairs way better with waffles than a tequila shot. Like an old-fashioned hot cocoa, Axis’ is sweet, creamy, and warm — perfect for the seats by the joint’s roaring fireplace.

1201 Eighth St., SF. (415) 437-2947, www.axis-cafe.com



This sleek SoMa restaurant is known in some circles as the Chez Panisse of cocktails, so it’s no wonder that its brunch offerings include libations worth writing home about, once you’ve sobered up. One standout is the fog cutter, a complex citrus drink made with pisco, rum, gin, sherry, citrus juice, and orgeat (almond syrup) served on the rocks and with a taste that’s similar to a mai tai. Planning on catching up with your correspondence later that day? We suggest you stick to one, for clarity’s sake.

355 11th St., SF. (415) 355-9400, www.baragricole.com



While it’s true that you can build your own bloody mary in the comfort of your own home, doing it at Market and Church Street’s comfiest brunch spot is much more exciting. Home puts the world at your fingertips: pickled veggies, olives, and over 15 kinds of hot sauce. This, friends, is the art of taking bloody mary by the horns.

2100 Market, SF. (415) 503-0333, www.home-sf.com



This downtown Oakland breakfast spot has the brunch drink for when you’re looking to kick off your free day with some heat. As all those who have ventured south of the border will recall, the michelada is a bloody mary gone Mexican, the dreaded red beers (lager and tomato juice) of your college days gone festive. Crisp Corona, lime, and Cock-A-Doodle’s house bloody mary mix await you, served in a huge salt-and-chile-rimmed glass that’s ready to baila contigo.

719 Washington, Oakl. (510) 465-5400 www.cockadoodlecafe.com



The Buena Vista’s Irish coffee story is frequently repeated by a certain faction of Bay Area folks. It is said, usually after the storyteller has downed a few, that this Fisherman’s Wharf bar was the first to perfect the drink on this side of the Atlantic. The Buena Vista’s Irish coffee is a proprietary mix of Irish whiskey, hot joe, and frothy cream — and although a friend of ours once wisely told us never to mix our uppers with our downers, to her we say: welcome to brunch drinks.

2765 Hyde, SF. (415) 474-5044 www.thebuenavista.com


The Urban Eating League’s food activists with flair


Last Sunday I wore a slip, faked pregnancy, drenched myself in beer, and ate five brunches in four hours. Sure, behavior that doesn’t raise an eyebrow on those of us who have seen the dark side of a bottomless mimosa, but this time my bedlam brunch behavior was part of a carefully devised social eating event focused on community building and celebrating local food. Improbable, no? May I present to you: The Urban Eating League.

The league was born one night when Morgan Fitzgibbons and Rose Johnson, two of the neighborhood’s most inventive and resourceful characters, were sitting around a Panhandle table, tossing ideas back and forth. Johnson runs a one-woman bicycle delivery service named Apothocurious, through which she peddles hummus, salad, salsa, pesto, and the like around the city to hungry, green-minded customers. Fitzgibbons helped to found The Wigg Party, a neighborhood group dedicated to advocating for sustainability through local currency, strengthening strong businesses, and partying among neighbors. The two shared their mutual desire to eat more locally-sourced meals communally. Fitzgibbons knew they were on to something.

“At first our idea was just to have a progressive dinner where we could involve big groups of people, but then I started thinking that I wanted to have some element of fun competition to it,” he says, remarking that after the two hit on the idea for a league, he embarked upon outlining the basic structure and rules that would soon become the signature tenets of The Urban Eating League.

A UEL eater prove style and substance can go hand in hand. Photo by Hannah Tepper

Speaking of basic structure, here’s what they came up with: teams of three go from host house to host house, eating food that each group of cooks prepares for the event. The cooks are given a set amount from eaters’ $15 to $20 entry fees, and must make sure that their ingredients are 90 percent local.

The hosts at each house are competing against each other in three categories: “flavor slam,” creativity, and hospitality, titles determined by votes cast by each team of eaters. At day’s end, all participants regroup – often for a dessert potluck, or games in the park – and the winning hosts get prizes and informal awards.

The competition is further animated by the fact that every team of eaters and hosts must have a team name and theme, e.g. Team Snow Pants or No Pants (a popular moniker from a recent UEL). A general sense of wackiness works to make the event read more like a big, food-related costume party than stone-cold competition.

The first event took place in February, a dinner competition that involved three host sites and 18 eaters. Since then Johnson, Fitzgibbons, and a crew of dedicated friends have expanded the event and come up with new ideas to refine it. Last Sunday’s brunch event was the league’s third. It was composed of five hosts cooking for 30 eaters who were split into ten teams.

I showed up with my team, Shotgun Wedding, dressed in a slapshod manner as two brides and a priest, hauling a 30-rack of beer with which we planned to honor the spirit of the shotgun. We congregated with the other eating teams at a Fulton street Victorian affectionately dubbed the Sunshine Castle by Fitzgibbons and the others that call the place home. After some brief warm-ups and ice-breakers, our team took off, armed with a map showing us our meal plans.

At our first house we dined on edible flower-filled spring rolls in a sidewalk picnic. Next up, a home where hosts would speak only in French and Spanish and fed us delicious French toast in a meditative ceremony. Then, the hippie-neon-inspired meal: biscuits and “wavy gravy” made from vegetables grown in their garden. Our hippie hosts presented us with (unplugged) electric Kool-Aid and the 1970 UC Berkeley yearbook to peruse.

The fourth stop was a breezy, well-furnished Scott street apartment where we dined on mini-quiche and Meyer lemon-infused water, refreshments that gave us strength for our final brunch: another French toast plate, this time with a tomato salad and sweet potatoes. Our hosts, dressed from head to toe in orange, told us a Russian Easter parable (in Russian) as we ate.

It was exhausting – but well worth the shotgunning. I found that the Urban Eating League to be a creative way to bring sustainable eating and socializing under one auspice. And despite the silliness, these folks are passionate about sharing local foods. 

“I’ve participated in the event as an eater and chef,” said Rachel Caine, an ex-organic farmer and one of the hippies. “I love doing both actually. Being an eater is full of surprises – it’s really great to see people’s homes and meet new neighbors. But it’s been eye-opening to be able to feed 30 people with such a low budget.”

While the league has been limited to the Panhandle thus far, Johnson and Fitzgibbons say they are working towards expanding the event to other neighborhoods, and a wider group of participants. They are currently working with potential facilitators to stage Urban Eating League events in the Mission and Sunset.

The next Urban Eating League will take place on May 14. Sign ups take place on May 8 at the Divisadero farmer’s market, starting at 10 a.m. Visit www.wiggparty.org for more information

Green today, gone tomorrow



URBAN FARMING Green thumbs may soon be mourning the partial removal of Hayes Valley Farm. The urban agriculture education project is facing the prospect of condos being built on one of its two sections of city-issued property by Bay Area development company Build Inc., as early as February 2012. The company has been slated to build on the property since before the farm project began in January 2010, but was delayed by the recession of 2008 and its wet-blanket effects on new construction projects.

Today the farm sits on 2.2 shady acres near the heart of the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Visit on a typical day and you’ll find volunteers planting fava beans, school-age kids wandering through crops and trees on a school tour, perhaps a instructor teaching a beekeeping class, and on Sundays, a group of volunteers distributing free produce to anyone who stops by. All the while, plant and animal life buzz amid the fertile urban enclave.

But while volunteers have put hundreds of hours into making the farm what it is today — even going so far as to purify the car exhaust-infused soils to make the land arable — this green space was never intended for long-term use. Hayes Valley Farm is among a handful of ventures around the city — another one is interdisciplinary collective Rebar’s Showplace Triangle, a street at the base of Potrero Hill that has been turned into a pedestrian zone with repurposed benches and planter beds as part of the group’s Pavement to Parks project — that are aimed at making interim public space out of underutilized properties.

The current story of the land that the farm occupies starts with the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The quake’s damage to the Central Freeway resulted in the city acquiring major parcels of land where the thoroughfare once stood. Since then, the city has relied on sales of those properties — which it designated as Parcels A to V — to build Octavia Boulevard and redevelop the Hayes Valley-Market Street neighborhood. Half the land was to be made into affordable housing.

But at one point, the neighborhood noticed that some of the parcels awaiting sale were attracting crime, graffiti, dumping, and otherwise unsavory activities. The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association teamed up with the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to go looking for potential projects that could put these spaces to constructive use during the time that they awaiting development.

“We went out and actually sought a user for this. We got in contact with Jay Rosenberg and Chris Burley, who were interested in doing the farm, and we brought them here and asked them if this was doable,” says Rich Hillis of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We were 100 percent clear that it was going to be for interim use only, and they embraced that.” Hillis and colleague Ken Rich ensured that Hayes Valley Farm received a $50,000 grant from the Mayor’s Office to get started on the work of clearing the property and setting up community programming on the land.

While it’s clear that the farm project was meant from the get-go to be an interim use for Parcels O and P, some members of the community are upset to see Parcel P turned over so soon to Build Inc. “As a citizen, I have the freedom of being able to ask what’s better for the community, this farm or more developments?” says Morgan Fitzgibbons, head of the neighborhood sustainability group the Wigg Party and farm volunteer. “The farm is an anchor of a burgeoning sustainability movement, and after seeing all the good it can do, are we still going to go in there and build? I think the issue is bigger than one city block.”

But Booka Alon, who is part of the 10 core farm volunteers who manage and run the farm, says they will not be putting up a fight. “We are very grateful to the Mayor’s Office and we’re ready to leave when asked. That’s part of our agreement.”

Alon says that the farm gives a sense of hopefulness and accomplishment to many young volunteers who are otherwise underemployed during the economic downturn, but turning Hayes Valley Farm into a long-term career commitment is not something many volunteers are itching to take on. “Planting and farming are hopeful acts, but not very lucrative in an urban setting.”

Many community members who championed the farm in the first place hope that the transition of Parcel P to Build Inc. will go smoothly so that other interim-use projects will be supported in the future. “We love the farm,” says Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association member Jim Warshell. “What they’ve done has been spectacular and wonderful, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t honor your commitment. The way we respond to Parcel P will affect how people trust us with future deals.” And while the farm’s popularity among city residents can’t be denied, some look forward to the fruition of the city’s promise that the area will be converted into homes that residents can afford.

But the sun hasn’t set on the work of Hayes Valley Farm. The group is collaborating with the city on finding another location to continue planting and teaching. And the future of Parcel O appears to be some shade of green. For now, there are no imminent development plans for the space and, unlike Parcel P, Parcel O is under the auspices of the city’s Redevelopment Agency, not a private company.

Alon says that some of the plant beds and flowers on Parcel O might someday be incorporated into the mixed-income housing developments that will eventually stand around — and possibly on — it. As for the permaculture soil that the farm hands have diligently created, she hopes it can be recycled along with the knowledge that was shared through the project. “Maybe we’ll give the soil to neighbors when it’s over. They can use it in their own gardens.”

For more information on how to support the farm, visit www.hayesvalleyfarm.com.





CAREERS AND ED “Just to let you know, this class is different than other yoga classes,” warns the receptionist at the San Francisco Integral Yoga Institute. It’s Monday night and I’ve just shown up at the institute to try my first restorative yoga class. “You roll around on pillows …” he continues.

I get it — restorative yoga is not your typical barrage of sun salutations and yogic pretzel bends — so I nod reassuringly and head up the flights of stairs to the top floor of the institute’s Victorian-style mansion-cum-yoga-palace, emerging in the dark, candle-lit room where the class will be held. There are high wood ceilings and plenty of space on the carpeted floor, where a pile of pillows wait for each student.

Our instructor will be Divya Nanda, a guest teacher who has been affiliated with the institute for more than 40 years. Wearing silky orange garments from head to toe, she radiates a calming, peaceful presence.

Here we go. Let’s just get it out there. I’m not a yoga person. If I happen to take a break from Internet-beer time long enough to exercise, I prefer to do it alone with my iPod rather than in a room full of strangers.

But I’m a stressed-out soul, generally speaking, and restorative yoga’s smooth, centering movements sound appealing. This form of yoga is geared toward relaxation and uses slow-moving techniques to give students a sense of peacefulness, spiritual fulfillment, and mind-body connection — all things yours truly is 100 percent lacking. Most yoga studios in the city offer some form of restorative class, which can be perfect for those suffering from injuries or just in need of a little slow-paced nurturing.

“Restorative yoga is based in the philosophy of the whole yoga practice, which is to be peaceful,” Nanda says. “Peace is within you, so we go within.”

Within we go, starting with “oms,” “hari oms,” and simple warm-ups — downward dog pose interspersed with concentrated breathing exercises and stretches. All the while, Nanda circulates throughout the room, adjusting our positions and making sure that we’re completely relaxed and comfortable.

During one warm-up that involved sitting with our knees tucked under us, Nanda looked over at me and said, “Hannah, you might want to do this one in the cross-legged position, I don’t want you to hurt your ankles.” I was shocked. How did she know my ankles were aching — x-ray yogi vision?

After the deep breathing, we move on to poses that entailed lying in super-comfortable, unconventional asanas. They make me feel like a sleepy baby. Designed to place minimal pressure on joints, they include splaying out our legs and arms, every part of our bodies supported by soft pillows.

Along the way, Nanda shares soothing thoughts: “The future is a mystery. The past is history. What we have is now, the golden present.” “Beyond the thinking mind there is a great peacefulness,” and so on. We end the class with guided meditation and this Sanskrit chant: “From the unreal to the real, from the darkness to the light, from our fears to the knowledge of our immortal natures.”

Leaving Nanda’s world was bittersweet: I’m sad to go, realizing I’ve never given myself a sanctioned stretch of time to nurture my reflective side. But emerging from the institute, walking back out into the gentle buzz of Dolores Street, I feel so centered that I can almost hear my body whispering to me. Was that an “om shanti,” relaxed core of mine? I can’t be sure — but I know it won’t be my last time in restorative yoga. Below, a brief list of ways to learn to nurture yourself in the Bay.

Restorative yoga

Mondays 7:30 p.m. –9 p.m., $9 for first class, $12 for subsequent classes, Integral Yoga Institute, 770 Dolores, SF. www.integralyogasf.org



You may not have heard of the San Francisco Astrological Society, but as far as Bay Area star sign enthusiasts are concerned, it’s a big deal. This year it will be hosting astrology-focused lectures on topics like “The Cycle of Saturn,” “2012 and Beyond.” If you’re interested in what your dreams can tell you about the future, you’ll have to check out this upcoming talk. It promises to teach about the basic techniques needed to unlock your dreams for clues on what’s to come using ancient Greek dream interpretation methods and horary astrology, a sect of astrology based on creating a horoscope for the exact moment in which a question is asked.

May 26, 7:30 p.m., $7 for members, $12 for nonmembers. Building C, Fort Mason Center, SF., www.sfastrologicalsociety.com



If you’re not big on touching people, then this class is probably not for you — although it might have the power to change your mind on the subject. This one-time workshop with somatic therapist and intimacy coach Shara Ogin teaches you how to take physical contact to the next level. From intimacy to sex to sensual massage, Ogin plans to show students how to make each experience more intimate and cosmically close.

April 19, 6–8 p.m., $40/pair advance, $45 at door. Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk, SF. www.goodvibes.com



Medical herbalist, new age crusader, and self-proclaimed member of the herbal renaissance, David Hoffman teaches this class focusing on the history of herbalism in the United States and the world. The workshop ranges from discussions about herbs in science and medicine to ways herbs are used in the our country and the changing role of botanical medicine in a modern global context. Rolling papers not included.

Aug. 23, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., $100. Charlotte Maxwell Complimentary Clinic, 2601 Mission, SF. www.ohlonecenter.org


It’s not easy being green



A smattering of the phenomenal sustainability people and places you can plug into around the Bay.


Green your home


Yeah, yeah, you watched The Cove and try to keep up on the latest bycatch horror stories — but sometimes you’re out with friends and that petrale sole looks divine … eek, was it on the “good” list? Text 30644 with the word “FISH” and the name of the waterway inhabitant in question (or be fancy and use the iPhone app) and within minutes you’ll receive a text with its sustainability level — and the rationale behind it.




It has been said that the key to success is having good role models. And if your aim is growing your own meals inside city limits, you could do a lot worse than Novella Carpenter. Her book Urban Farmer gave a tantalizing primer on her life farming in West Oakland, and her blog provides inspiration, tips, and community farming news. Carpenter is currently sparring with Oakland city government over urban farming regulations, but we’re confident she’ll pull through in the end — and educate us all while doing so.




“Affordable” usually isn’t the first word that comes to mind when it comes to local, natural foods. The Alemany farmers market became the first to open in the Bay Area in 1943, and is affectionately referred to as “the people’s market.” It’s rumored to be one of the most affordable markets in the city, and is well-known for supporting small farmers.

Every Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. 100 Alemany, SF



Ever wonder if your favorite coffee shop or tapas bar is as green as you want it be? This website has user-generated sustainability ratings of hundreds of city eateries (not to mention helpful rankings of businesses from spas to furniture stores).


Cleaner commutin’


One of the hardest parts about being car-free are those days when you just want to get out of the city and into nature. Enter Post-Car Press, the website and guidebook assembled by East Bay couple Kelly Gregory and Justin Eichenlaub. The two give you the low-down on how to get to camp-hike spots in Marin County, Mount Diablo, even Big Sur without a motor vehicle.




Biking and BART don’t always mix, especially at peak commute hours. That’s why Caltrans has this smart, cheap shuttle to get you and your bike across the Bay Bridge during morning and afternoon rush hours for only $1. It will pick up you and your steed and drop the two of you off at the MacArthur BART Station and SF Transbay Terminal.




These green taxis and shuttles will take you where you need to go without increasing your carbon you-know-what-print. With a fleet of exclusively ultra fuel-efficient vehicles in the country, it’s the first taxi service to put fuel efficiency in the front seat. PlanetTran’s primary business is in green rides to and from the San Francisco and Oakland airports.



An association of biodiesel companies committed to providing fuel to those who already use it — and assistance for those who want to lead their diesel engines to greener fields. Go to any of the alliance’s locations to fill up on biofuel or get help converting your vehicle to biodiesel. Biofuel Oasis in Berkeley, Dogpatch Biofuels, and People’s Fuel Cooperative located in Rainbow Grocery are all part of this groovy green oil alternative. www.autopiabiofuels.com


Green your home


Partnering with the San Francisco Department of the Environment, SFCP is a nonprofit that helps small businesses and low-income residents save money and reduce environmental impact. SFCP recently launched a free Green Home Assessment Audit initiative available to all city residents that helps improve home safety, disaster-preparedness (how timely), efficiency, and ecofriendliness. It also distributes vouchers for home improvements.




This benevolent mulch-making company donated all the material needed for sheet-mulching the magnificent Hayes Valley Farm and has contributed, free, to dozens of other community projects. Even the small-time urban grower can pick up mulch, compost, or soil amendment from its SF or Redwood City sites. It also delivers (for a small fee), so go ahead and rip out those invasive, inedible weeds in front of your house. Your own patch of nature awaits.




Speaking of patches of nature … visit this group’s website for gardening tips, links, and a list of local nurseries that sell native plants.




Before you build, paint, remodel, or so much as hammer in a nail, it’s worth tripping to the Bay’s building resource centers — second-life sites for construction debris and used building supplies. The East Bay’s Urban Ore and The Reuse People host landscapes of pink toilets, claw foot tubs, and towering stacks of discontinued tile. Looking for some SF supplies? Try Building Resources in SF (www.buildingresources.org) or www.stopwaste.org.


Build your green community


Of course, being sustainable isn’t all heavy lifting and culinary vigilance — environmental friendliness can be a fertile way to meet your like-minded neighbors. This weekend, trek to the city’s largest green expo for more than 130 speakers, music, and exhibits featuring everything from Food Not Bombs to reclaimed redwood manufacturers.

Sat/9 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Sun/10 11 a.m.–6 p.m., $5–$25. SF Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St., SF. www.greenfestivals.org



A great online visual for people looking for the nearest community garden, recycling center, and so much more, this happy cartographic achievement documents our city by highlighting its bright green hubs of activity.




Gardening involves more than just a tub of dirt, seeds, and a healthy appetite. To really get your hands dirty, there is a body of knowledge you’d do well to tap into. At Garden for the Environment’s Inner Sunset one-acre farm, you can learn about leafy greens while meeting like-minded seed slaves. After all, it pays to have a buddy who can plant-sit.



A third space to call their own



EAT HANG LOVE Every neighborhood has its ups and downs, but when it comes to Sixth and Market streets, many shop owners and residents will tell you all about the downs — street crime, homelessness, and substance abuse, to name a few. But despite warnings of stormy weather, one café and community art space has dropped anchor to serve this neighborhood. With affordable food, superior coffee, and accessible seating areas for creativity and connection, Rancho Parnassus provides a living room for neighborhood characters stuffed into cramped apartments and dirty streetscapes. But it hasn’t been easy — the good guys behind the endeavor worry that it may come down to sink or swim.

Weary of the nautical analogies yet? It’s hard not to make them after setting foot in the cafe, whose interior resembles the inside of a ship at sea. With big wooden furniture sets, photographs from group art shows hanging from ropes — not to mention the sailing equipment, bright blue walls, wooden barrels, plastic fish, and ship wheel décor — even the tiny kitchen is modeled after the galley of a ship.

Owner Andy Harris says the nautical motif is no coincidence. From behind the kitchen counter on a slow weekday morning he tells us that “the idea is that when you come in here, you’re going somewhere. You are on a ship, you’re on a journey. I don’t like static spaces — I’m trying to give people that come in here a feeling of motion.”

A lot of the lingo that Harris uses when he talks about the ideology behind Rancho Parnassus comes from the new urbanism movement. “It’s about revitalizing America’s cities rather than encouraging people to flee to the suburbs. The café and corner store are really important — they’re examples of third space, a space that is neither home nor work. That’s what this community was missing: a casual, affordably priced all-day, all-ages hangout.”

Harris refers to Rancho Parnassus mostly as a “creative hub,” and emphasizes that the food and coffee come second. But it’s hard to ignore the high quality and low prices of the coffee and food. Harris makes every cup of joe fresh using an aeropress, which is similar to a French press but with an even smaller microfilter, resulting in a brew that’s strong and tasty.

And when it comes to the menu, Harris depends on Tony Thomas, his chef and right-hand man. Thomas, a musician and performer who says he grew up cooking in his family’s now-defunct SF restaurant, was a regular at Rancho Parnassus before he got his current gig. He says he came in to play the piano one day when he spied Harris, frazzled to get through a morning rush. “He was sweatin’,” Thomas recalls. Eager to help, the cook jumped behind the counter and started frying eggs and toasting bread. He never looked back.

As Thomas tells us his story, a regular comes in to order a brioche bun stuffed with sausage, gorgonzola, spinach, and bacon, which shows up on Rancho’s menu as “The Bird in the Hand.” In keeping with the rest of the sustenance on offer, the sandwich is affordably priced — $2.50.

Although Harris and Thomas say that food costs are low, Sixth Street isn’t a big money-making location. They worry that this free art and performance space — the dining room is regularly rented out to creative types from around the city — and café might not be open much longer. It’s a frustrating reality for Harris, who knows he will “never get rich off of this space” and is more interested in his cafe’s social mission.

A typical Rancho afternoon is enough proof that the cafe means a lot to its regulars. Most days you’ll find the street artist who goes by the name of Big Face using the space as his personal studio, constructing collages at the café tables or on an easel. Around him other patrons work on their laptops or use the café’s public Apple computer, talking, eating, or just sitting quietly. “I don’t make a big fuss about anyone buying anything,” Harris says. “I want people to hang out, and we are certainly never going to push anyone out as long as they are polite and not disturbing the creative environment.”

The community members familiar with Rancho Parnassus vouch that the space makes them feel welcome. “I kind of wandered in by accident,” says Adrien, a 20-year resident of the neighborhood who lives two blocks away. Adrien comes in every day for breakfast and to do work in the morning. “There’s really no other place around here like this. There is a more relaxed vibe here between the décor, the music, and the people who work here. Other places are similar but they get too crowded and it’s more ‘get in, get out.’ “

Harris says it will be up to the community and the economy to keep Rancho Parnassus open. Although the café has a community agenda, it’s still a business, which means it won’t be receiving grants or funding from outside organizations. “There’s no grant for ‘really wonderful café — let’s get them to stay open,’ ” Harris says. When he talks about the struggle to stay afloat, you can tell he thinks the stakes are high. “It’s such a great thing for this neighborhood. So many depend on us to be here.” 

RANCHO PARNASSUS Mon.–Sat. 6 a.m.–7 p.m. 505 Minna, SF (415) 503-0700 www.ranchoparnassus.com


Animal instinct


PETS A pet-free existence — who needs it? Creature comfort can’t be underestimated, whether you’re ready for a one-time volunteer session, a casual relationship, or some long-term lovin’.



In this country of serious pet overpopulation, there’s no need to buy your next animal companion from a pet store. Whatever you’re looking for — cats, dogs, parakeets, rabbits, mice, rats, chickens, snakes, lizards, even chinchillas — the odds are good that some local shelter or rescue group will have one waiting to be adopted.

Animal advocates (and even some pet stores) urge seekers of furry, scaly, or feathered companions to think adoption first. “That’s been our message for years,” said Jennifer Scarlett, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA.

In most cases adopted pets work out better for the animal and the human, notes Deb Campbell, spokesperson for the city’s Animal Control Commission. “People who impulsively buy pets tend to have more problems,” she said.

In this city alone, there are too many unwanted dogs and cats — many the result of backyard breeders and owners who fail to get their animals spayed or neutered. And with the recession, more people have been forced to give up their pets. So adoptable creatures abound.

If dogs are your thing, the SPCA (www.sfspca.org) and the city shelter (www.animalshelter.sfgov.org) have dozens waiting for the right home. So do several local rescue groups. Wonder Dog Rescue (www.wonderdogrescue.org), Rocket Dog Rescue (www.rocketdogrescue.org), Family Dog Rescue (www.norcalfamilydogrescue.org), and Grateful Dogs Rescue (www.gratefuldogsrescue.org) all offer large and small pups of all ages and breeds for adoption— you can even snag a ex-racer from Golden State Greyhound Rescue (www.goldengreyhounds.com).

Many adoption programs are able to give you the lowdown on your prospective pet’s personality. “Our dogs all live in foster homes, so we have a real sense of what they’re like and how they interact,” says Wonder Dog’s Linda Beenau.

Muttville (www.muttville.org) specializes in placing older dogs. “With a senior dog, you know exactly what you’re going to get,” said Sherri Franklin, the group’s founder. “We evaluate the people who are looking to adopt, evaluate the dogs, and try to fill everyone’s need. We’re matchmakers.”

Shelters and rescue groups spend a lot of money making sure the animals they adopt out are in good medical condition (and won’t reproduce).

Cats are the most popular pets in the city, and the SPCA and the city shelter both offer cat adoptions. “We adopt out about 4,000 animals a year, and two-thirds are cats,” said Scarlett. There’s even a working-cat program for feral cats that may not be cuddly but can offer businesses an organic solution to rodent problems.

But the list doesn’t stop there. The city shelter “adopts out small exotic animals, fish, birds, poultry — you name it,” Campbell said. “It’s illegal to buy a rabbit in San Francisco, but you can adopt one from us.”

“Chickens are very popular pets these days,” she added. “They can give you breakfast.” (Tim Redmond)



We don’t know about you, but seeing precious pets cooped up in cramped shelter cages — well, it makes us knock over garbage cans, spray urine on an expensive sofa, and caterwaul at the moon. And this is a country that euthanizes between 50 percent and 70 percent of its shelter animals. Sorry to be a bummer. But you can help, even if you’re not ready for a 10-year commitment. Really — you can!

Fostering a pet serves a lot of purposes. First, for us flighty city creatures, it provides a low-commitment avenue to pet ownership. Second, to foster is to play a vital role in the shelter system. Many of the city’s smaller animal rescue organizations and humane societies couldn’t exist without a network of caring foster homes to nurture pets while their shelter facilities are full. And for some, saving animals from shelter euthanasia wouldn’t be possible without temporary homes.

“We’re a grassroots organization that doesn’t have a brick and mortar location besides our three adoption sites,” says Lana Bajsel of Give Me Shelter cat rescue, a group that typically cares for 54 cats at a time. “The fosters serve as our safety net. Their role is crucial.”

Cats and dogs aren’t the only cuddly creatures that can join your family for a short period of time. Wonder Cat (wondercatrescue.petfinder.com), Pets in Need (www.petsinneed.org), Furry Friends Rescue (www.furryfriendsrescue.org), and Rocket Dog Rescue do concentrate on dogs and cats, but you can also foster a rabbit through Save A Bunny (www.saveabunny.org) or birds through Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue (www.mickaboo.org).

Foster systems provide a way for many shelters to save furry friends that are long-shot adoptees or would fare poorly in cages. The SPCA’s “fospice” program can match you with a chronically ill (but not contagious) pet that needs your love. As in most foster programs, the SPCA will pay for any medical care fospice animals need (although as a foster parent, you’re usually responsible for food and other daily needs).

Organizational requirements vary from group to group, but Bajsel says that most of the time all it takes to be a foster parent is a safe home (for example, no windows without screens that open onto busy streets), your landlord’s permission, and preferably, a little animal savvy. “But we’ve placed cats with fosters who have never had one before. In those cases, we can provide a little more hand holding” she says.

With such demonstrable need, most organizations will accept any help you can give — even if it means a little something before you leave on your summer vacation. It’s really contingent on you, the foster parent. “The time commitment can be as little as two weeks,” Bajsel says. (Caitlin Donohue)



Say your flea trap apartment or Scrooge-like landlord prohibits adopting or fostering — you can always volunteer at one of the many Bay Area organizations dedicated to animal welfare. Once you catch the scent of the needy pooches, cats, rats, and people dedicated to saving them, it’ll be tough not to volunteer.

Cat lovers will feel right at home at Give Me Shelter cat rescue, which can use your help with anything from petting a purr-er to cleaning cages to lending a hand at adoption events. If you’re more of a man’s best friend kind of gal or boy, lend a hand at one of the city’s incredible dog shelters. Muttville can hook you up with a variety of ways to get involved, including matching elderly dogs with lonely older folks as part of its heart-melting “seniors for seniors” program.

Rocket Dog Rescue is another all-breed dog rescue organization with a mission to save animals “at the speed of light.” Learn more at one of its volunteer orientations on second Sundays of the month.

Bad Rap (www.badrap.org) stands for Bay Area Dog Lovers Responsible About Pit Bulls, a group that’s serious about reeducating the public about pits, as well as getting perfectly adoptable pits placed with loving owners. Volunteers with the group will discover the secret world of big, barrel-headed sweethearts — and their ardent admirers. Bad Rap needs volunteers who can show up on Saturdays to train pits on leash skills at Berkeley Animal Care Service.

It doesn’t take an overly sappy soul to see the appeal in puppies and kitties, but can all our rodent people please stand up? Rattie Ratz (www.rattieratz.com) is a sweet-hearted organization in Woodside that rescues rats and treats these surprisingly amenable pets with respect. The group is all about rat rescue, resources, and referrals, and needs volunteers to help with animal therapy programs, adoption, fostering, and education.

Finally, we know that some of the sweetest creatures can’t be happily held — but they can still use your help! You can lend a hand at the Marine Mammal Center (www.marinemammalcenter.org) by getting trained to find and transport stranded animals and bring them to medical centers. Wild Care also (www.wildcarebayarea.org) has plenty of volunteer opportunities to help save Bay Area wildlife — it needs folks to work the hotline call center, do outreach education, and work directly with pet hospital staff. (Hannah Tepper)

March to the rainbow



IRISH Whether you live in Dallas or settle in SoMa, March is the month when Americans throw out their stale V-Day candy hearts and bring out the greens. Not the ones you smoke, silly, we’re talking St. Patrick’s Day here. Along with the rest of the country, San Franciscans will bite into green bagels, take a swig of something Irish, and head down to the St. Patrick’s Day parade (ours is early this year, Saturday, March 12) to join in the Celtic revelry. But — typical — there’s something about our Irish celebrations that set SF apart — our St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of few in the country to welcome the LGBT community to the party.

While it’s easy to forget over here at the end of the rainbow, most St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S.A. have a strict no-gays policy when it comes to who is allowed to march — which is sad and ironic considering that Irish Americans once faced the same discrimination that their parade associations now seem to be condoning when it comes to gay Americans.

Three cities in the country allow gay groups to participate in their St. Paddy’s parades: Queens, N.Y., SF, and Key West, Fla. (editor’s note: not exactly true, as it turns out — check out our correction for the other bergs around the country to welcome the queer community into the St. Paddy’s fold) The Queens parade was created as an all-inclusive alternative to the New York City parade, which still does not allow LGBT groups to participate despite years of protests — after Irish pride, these demonstrations may be NYC’s second highest profile St. Paddy’s Day tradition. This year the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, has refused to participate in the Big Apple’s march on account of the parade’s regrettable policy. She’s not the only one: Boston’s mayor has refused to march in his city’s parade for the past few years.

But here in the country’s queer mecca, we can shake our heads in smug, gay disapproval at the St. Patty’s wars of the rest of the country. SF has a history of hoisting our rainbow shamrock high: this city’s parade is all-inclusive, which the president of SF’s Irish Societies (the organization behind the parade and concurrent Civic Center Plaza festival), Dermot Philpot is glad about.

“We include everybody, and we look for them to be in the parade,” Philpot told us in a recent phone interview. “When we include LGBT groups and individuals in our parade, it shows that [the SF Irish community] is part of a larger community.” Although there are no nominally gay groups marching in the parade, unlike in years past, Philpot says he hopes “[the LGBT community] feels included and that they will be there.”

The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is one LGBT group that has high-stepped for Irish pride, making its most recent St. Patrick’s Day parade appearance in 2000. Doug Litwin, who is the secretary for the band’s board of directors, says the band had been participating in the parade even before he and his clarinet joined the group in 1985. Although marching on St. Paddy’s Day is a subject of contention for queer groups in other parts of the country, for the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band the parade is about as run-of-the-mill as any. “The bottom line is in San Francisco it’s just not that big of a deal to be openly gay anymore,” says Litwin. “Our band was declared the official band of San Francisco by two different mayors. Some of these parade organizers practically beg us to march.”

Openly gay senator Mark Leno is another familiar face on parade day. Leno is unable to attend the event this year because of an out-of-town speaking engagement, but says he’s been included in the parade as far back as 1998, when he was first elected to office. “I’ve always been proud of the fact that San Francisco’s parade is inclusive. And as long as I have been in office, I’ve always felt welcome in the parade.” Only once has he ever gotten negative reactions from the parade crowds. As Leno recalls, that year he had opted to ride through the parade in a Jaguar. “I heard booing and hissing right as I got up to Second Street.” At issue: red-blooded parade watchers were upset that Leno hadn’t chosen an American car for his cruise through the crowds.


Sat/12, 11:30 a.m., free

Begins at Market and Second streets, SF

(415) 203-1027


Comedian Amy Dresner talks sober comedy


Twelve-steppers say in order for an addict to get on the road to recovery, it’s essential that they accept their addiction. But for comics Amy Dresner, Ian Harvie, and Felon O’Reilly, successful recovery is not just about acceptance: it’s about turning addiction into one big, serious joke. It might sound like funny business, but standing onstage with the mic and some yuks has been the only way all three have been able to maintain their sobriety. Now, they’re bringing the laughs throughout the country on their “Laughs Without Liquor” comedy tour, donating proceeds to local “sober living” causes along the way. Lucky for us, March 5th brings the tour to SF.

The three comics kicked off their tour in January, performing at the New York Gay and Lesbian Center in a benefit for a drug and alcohol program. But although the comics now travel and tour together, they didn’t always have a lot in common. Ian Harvie is a trans guy who has toured with Margaret Cho, while Felon O’Reilly has been to rehab 17 times and to jail 50 times more than that.

The two met eight years ago while performing stand-up and working out their respective sobrieties in Maine. O’Reilly proposed the “Laughs without Liquor” concept to Harvie, and soon the two were doing sober stand-up together.  Last year the two found comedian Amy Dresner at the Downtown Comedy Club in Los Angeles. 

“I was onstage ranting about rehab and my drug-induced epilepsy or whatever,” says Dresner. She was quickly added to the tour roster. 

Dresner, originally from LA, grew up in a showbiz environment. Her father was a television comedy writer, with friends and connections to household name comics who Dresner met and knew as a child. But comedy was something she left unexplored until her addiction was kicked. “It’s always been my secret dream to be a comic but I didn’t have the balls to do it until a few years ago. It takes real commitment and prior to that, my commitment was to getting high and being depressed.”

Now that Dresner is both sober and leading the life of a full-time comedian, she is able to reflect on how her career and her sobriety inform each other. “I’ve found that for a lot of people struggling with addiction, there is a lot of shame involved. That is another big trigger for self-destructive behavior. So if I can make people laugh at things they feel ashamed of – well, it can be very healing.”

She can also attest to the ways in which sobriety has improved her stage presence. “When you’re a sober comic you are really present and connected to the audience.  You can see what jokes are working and which ones aren’t. There’s no deluding yourself that you killed when you really bombed.”

Dresner appreciates the positive reactions, understanding and support that she has received from her sober audience members. But she wants to be clear that she doesn’t condemn alcohol or the people that drink it. “I think there’s a big misconception that if you are making jokes about sobriety, you are somehow undermining it. Being sober is not the same as being Mormon. We aren’t trying to bring back Prohibition. I loved getting drunk and if I could do it and not crash my car, ruin all my relationships, lose my job and carry my liver around on a dolly, I would.”

But it’s probably best to leave your booze at home if you want to see Dresner in this tour specifically. While you don’t need to take a breathalyzer test to attend, all of the shows on the tour will take place at churches, sober clubhouses, amphitheaters, and other places that are not bars. Instead of spending too much on drinks, your entrance fee will go to support a local sober living facility or treatment center.

The Laughs Without Liquor SF show will take place at a local church with poet and author Bucky Sinister hosting. All proceeds will go to the Castro Club, a sober gathering place and home for queer folks in recovery. 

For Dresner, the upcoming show in SF will hold a particularly special meaning. “I got strung out on speed for the first time in SF, so it will be very ironic to come back and do a sober gig here.”


Laughs Without Liquor

Sat/5, 8 p.m., $20

Most Holy Redeemer Church

100 Diamond, SF

(818) 588-7390



Secret cajun kitchen discovered, evidence of gumbo


Those who enjoy strolling amidst a certain vibrant stretch of  24th Street in the Mission might be under a common misguided belief that the world is flat and ends east of Potrero Avenue. But just as Christopher Columbus proved the world was round by sailing west, I confirmed this is false by sailing east — one block east of Potrero, that is. What I found was Tasty’s Creole Cajun Kitchen, a new world filled with rare goods and spices. Among them, signature po’ boy sandwiches, southern brunch specialties, gumbo, red beans and rice, hush puppies, sweet tea, even French rolls flown in from Louisiana. What wonders the new world holds!

Although… perhaps Tasty’s seemed so exotic due to entirely different challenges to accessibility — it’s discretely tucked away inside a local bar, Jack’s. Jack’s Club has been operating on the corner of 24th and Utah for over 80 years. It is itself a relic from another time, its art deco interior, with stucco ceilings and wood paneling an homage to how little has changed inside of this building over time.

On a typical Tuesday afternoon Jack’s Club is dark and cave-like, acting as a refuge for a few regulars playing pool, drinking at the bar, and carrying on with bartender and current owner, Erma. Jack’s consists of a large front room that doubles as a dining room and a bar with counter seating, a pool room in the back, a pinball room in between, and a small kitchen alongside the bar. This kitchen, equipped with one stove and one deep fryer, is where all of Tasty’s cajun magic happens.

And it’s a lot of magic, for one stove. With over 10 kinds of po’ boy sandwiches, four authentic creole entrees, an assortment of bar appetizers and sides that range from oysters remoulade to sweet potato fries, and a Monday through Friday special of the day, it’s hard to imagine how this kitchen works. This is what I was pondering as I sat at a small table and read over the mouth-wateringly affordable menu. Most entrees are around 10 bucks, and all of the generously portioned sides are less than five. I finally decided on a fried oyster po’ boy with creole slaw on the side. 

Dive bar with a side of delicious. Photo by Hannah Tepper

It was promptly served on a modest tray. I took a bite of my first fried oyster with hesitation. Fried oysters are a tricky business—when they are good they are really good, and vice versa. But this time I was happy, and almost surprised to find that Tasty’s fried oysters were delicious, crispy, with a thin cornmeal crust on the outside, smooth and tender on the inside. How did this come out of that? I thought, looking back and forth between my oysters and the utterly modest kitchen with no door. My creole slaw was without a doubt one of the best coleslaw experiences of my life. Theirs is made in a sweet, mellow mustard-y dressing that you have to taste to truly understand, but take heed—this kind of slaw will leave a woman wanting more.

By the end of my meal I had questions and I wanted answers. Why here? Why so good? What is happening? Is life real? Luckily I found owner and bartender du jour, Erma, happily talking home-renovations with Tasty’s head chef, Cullen Quave. I interrupted them with a interrogative bombardment, and they kindly told me everything I wanted to know about Jack’s, Tasty’s, and the metaphysics of reality.

Erma, who would rather not disclose her last name, has owned Jack’s with her family for the last nine years. She is a self-identified “kid from the area,” and grew up only a few blocks away from Jack’s Club. It was her idea to run an authentic creole restaurant out of Jack’s small kitchen, but it took a few tries to get it right.

“The menu is all authentic and created by me. Before Tasty’s we had rented the kitchen to another party but I’ve always managed the restaurant,” she says. Then Erma met Quave, a like-minded home chef from New Orleans who wandered into Jack’s on his birthday looking for an authentic po’ boy sandwich to satisfy his creole cravings. “I was going to fly a po’ boy in from New Orleans,” Quave says, “but luckily my buddy told me about this place and so I came here and it was delicious.” The two got to talking and decided soon after to start Tasty’s with Quave as head cook and Erma providing her own recipes. I can attest that the result is delicious food, a big authentic menu, and a weird, cozy atmosphere. 

Five stars in my book, but Erma and Quave say that business on the Potrero side of 24th is slow at times. “This is a place where people just like to hang out. I enjoy the fact that there are a lot of locals and regulars that come in here. I enjoy seeing some of the people that I actually grew up with coming by,” Erma says. Meanwhile, newcomers—like myself—are always welcome to come by and eat some jambalaya. Some other great reasons to get over to Tasty’s Creole Cajun Kitchen at Jack’s Bar—live jazz every Friday night and a Mardi Gras shindig coming up on March 8th.  Their Mardi Gras celebration will be happening all afternoon, and will include a live jazz band, King Cake, Tasty’s serving up specialty dishes, and of course plenty of booze.

As I packed up my things to go, I had one last question for Quave—“How do you fry them oysters so good?” I asked. His answer: “You have to be a really good fryer.”


Tasty’s Creole Cajun Kitchen at Jack’s Bar

Mon. – Sun., 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Brunch: Sat.-Sun. 10:30 a.m.- 2 p.m.

2545 24th St., SF

(415) 641-5371


Full Bar


Moderately Noisy

Wheelchair Accessible



Lion dancer takes off his mask


Another year and another ferocious super-natural lion symbolically rips and spits out heads of lettuce along the storefronts of Kearny Avenue. This is the lion dance, a highly visceral and visually unique performance that is a centerpiece in the city’s Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year parade, a 150-year old event that draws the participation of over 100 community groups. 

Although each performance is different, one thing stays the same: the lion dancers’ faces are never revealed and their identity stays behind the mask. We were lucky enough to speak with one veteran lion dancer about growing up with the parade and his time inside the lion.

Wilson Mah is a native San Franciscan. He teaches lion dancing at Loong Mah Sing See Wui, or the Dragon Horse Lion and Dragon Dance Association, a non-profit dedicated to teaching the lion dance to its 100 young members between the ages of four and 19. Mah’s organization is one of the main lion dance troupes in this year’s Chinese New Year parade.

In his own youth, Mah was afforded an education about Chinese culture that he spends his adulthood passing on. “When I grew up, it was very common for kids to go to Chinese school right after our public elementary school let out,” Mah says. “The school that I went to was inside of a Methodist church called Hip Wo, I got involved in the parades through my school and the church while I was growing up.”

Mah remembers being affected by the lion dancers at an early age. “I was a baby and I remember being held by my father and watching the lions. I was terrified! For me, that was no paper-mâché symbolic lion. That was a lion that had made its way through heaven and down through the portals to Victory Hall on Stockton Street.”

Mah maintains that it is this unmatched, supernatural quality about the lions which makes them part of a rich Chinese cultural heritage worth holding onto. “When you see that lion and you watch it perform, you see how visceral and tenacious it is. That, contrasted with the idea that they bring good luck, is very powerful. I’m a fourth generation American and I can’t think of anything else equivalent to that.”

Nowadays, Mah uses the strength and tenacity of the lion to empower the youth in his group, encouraging them to manifest the best qualities of the lion both in and out of his class. Mah’s teaching experience dates way back. After dodging the Vietnam War, he set out to do community-based work and helped to establish The Kearny Street Workshop, a historic Asian American arts organization in SoMa. The road that eventually led Mah to teach the lion dance continued smoothly until the early ‘90s, when Mah and his family struggled after their house suffered significant damage from a fire. Mah decided to make something out of the rough situation. “While I was waiting for my house to be rebuilt I wanted to do something constructive.”

He’s been teaching the lion dance ever since. Although the group performs the lion dance at special events and celebrations throughout the year, he says the Chinese New Year Parade is an important opportunity for his dancers to showcase their hard work and cultural pride to the rest of the city. “We do it for the San Francisco community at large,” Mah says. “I still have cultural sensitivities, I’ve gone through racial intolerance growing up. I think it’s important to show the public the beauty of Chinese arts and culture. We want to bring a lot of these things to a positive light.”


SF Chinese New Year Parade

Sat/19, 5:30 p.m., free

Starts at Second Street and Market, SF

(415) 986-1370




All roads lead to tandoori: Lahore Karahi’s Zulfiqar Haider speaks


I spoke with Zulfiqar “Guddu” Haider, the man behind Lahore Karahi, late one Wednesday evening. The last customers were making their way out the door of his unassuming Tenderloin Pakistani restaurant after a busy night, the kitchen staff had begun to clean up and head home. Haider led me over to one side of his dining room, a wall lined with glowing Yelp and Zagat reviews, and newspaper features with pictures of Haider front and center, dramatically holding out a steaming sautee pan and smiling boldly.

A tall, mustached man with a smile that could melt your heart, Haider is the owner and head chef at Lahore. He prepares every dish that comes out of the kitchen. “You have to try the tandoori fish,” he gushes. “Nobody doesn’t like it!” It’s not just Haider’s cheerful demeanor and his smoky tandoori fish that brings the crowds to Lahore – eating here doesn’t leave a dent in your wallet. Most dishes are between $5 and $12 each, with naan and appetizers all under five dollars. Haider says he’s never felt pressure to raise prices.

Friends that know him well call him Guddu, a nickname that loosely translates to baby and was first given to him by his mother. His pet name seems fitting in the best sense of the word – even at the end of a long day in the kitchen, his face lights up with a youthful glee as talks shop at his Tenderloin mainstay. 

Born in Sahiwal Punjab in Pakistan, Haider says he was a goalie on his university’s soccer team. He came to the States in 1994 and after his first stint in the restaurant industry at a pizza and pasta shop, took a job as cook at Shalimar, another popular Indian and Pakistani restaurant in the TL. Soon he was opening Taj Mahal, his first restaurant, in 1996, and then a Fremont location in 2003 named Curry Palace before he left to return to the city. “I live on Gough and Oak,” he says. “I wanted to be able to work close to where I live.” 

That led Haider to his next project, the challenging space that was Lahore Karahi. “The previous owners of this restaurant left because the location was hard. I took over and kept the name the same.” But the cooking was all his own, recipes passed down to Haider from his family in Pakistan. “All of my dishes come from my mother. She’s always close to my heart. It’s like she’s in front of me when I’m cooking.” 

A fresh option from Lahore. Photo by Alex Fine

And while Haider struggled with his TL location to begin with, he was able to take his business to his current award-winning level. “At first, taxi drivers made this place run,” he remembers. “It was mostly all taxi drivers coming in and eating here — but soon more and more people came.” He smiles as if to reflect my own unspoken thought: and the rest is history. With a packed house late on a Wednesday, a wall full of good press, and a perma-smile, it’s not difficult to see how far Haider has come in the seven years that Lahore Karahi has been his own.

Lahore Karahi

Tue – Sun 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

612 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 567-8603


Beer and Wine


Moderately Noisy

Wheelchair Accessible


Butch blooms



V-DAY So you want to buy a nice little floral arrangement for that hot JD Samson look-alike who works behind the butcher counter — or perhaps you’re having a hard time picking out a rose for the tall, dark flannel-clad bear you met on  Fuzzy4Fuzzy.com. Does ze even like flowers? Hell, it can even be rough finding the right bloom for your beloved bio male. Anyone who has ever been romantically involved with a masculine-presenting honey bun knows that carnations, lingerie, and other frilly V-Day accoutrement just ain’t cuttin’ it. So what kind of bouquet can you give a butch? Something spiky? Flowers made from aged leather? Pieces of wood? We asked the city’s florists for their best bets for the rough and tumble.



Stephanie Foster is one of three owners at Church Street Flowers, a shop that does made-to-order arrangements featuring locally grown botanicals. “We do bouquets for masculine people all the time,” she tells us. “Guys love getting flowers too.” Foster recommends “brighter colors, like orange, yellow, green, or white.” And less is more when you want to impress a tough type. “As opposed to something very feminine and garden-y, we’d do something simpler. Plus, in our shop you’ll probably find things other places don’t carry, like seed pods that hold a structural quality instead of a flowery quality.”

212 Church, SF. (415) 553-7762, www.churchstflowers.com



We were sure that this Mission gem — SF’s O.G. go-to for fanciful taxidermy, flora, and low maintenance landscape design — would have the goods for area hombres, and it didn’t disappoint. Come V-Day, Paxton Gate will be selling special holiday arrangements fit for a butch, each complete with a shiny preserved beetle garnish. “We wanted the arrangements to be long-lasting, so we’ll incorporate some rugged South African plants like proteas, maybe succulents, and some dried components,” says floral designer Sean Quigley. The store will be bundling its buggy blooms in advance for lovers on the go. At $38 a bunch, they’ll be a little pricey — but think of what you’ll save on your butcher bill.

824 Valencia, SF. (415) 824-1872, www.paxtongate.com



“I’m from Eastern Europe,” says owner Andre Abramov in a phone interview. When asked what flowers he would recommend for a dude, Abramov immediately recommended orchids. “In Greek, ‘orchid’ translates to ‘testicle.’ That would be perfect for a man.” If you’re not sold on highlighting your valentine’s testicles (or lack thereof), Abramov also stands by roses, cala lilies, and anthurium lilies for the butch in your life. “They’re strong, colorful, and they make a very big statement.” Just like your lumberjack love.

3903 24th St., SF. (415) 647-8661, www.frenchtulip.com



Mieko Takahashi Obermuller has owned and operated this Inner Sunset neighborhood floral shop since 1978. She understands the butch bloom conundrum: “First of all, tropical flowers are very bold,” she says. “Birds of paradise would look nice with some interesting greens, and I love proteas.” Obermuller, who specializes in Eastern floral design, says arrangement is crucial. “You have to know how to put it together. One, two, or three orchids with some greens — it’s simple but it makes a statement. I can take feminine flowers like tiger lilies, blue irises, or curly willows but still design the arrangement for a masculine look.” It’s not quite studded leather, but it sounds like something that’d look great on that meat counter.

1127 Irving, SF. (415) 731-0230, www.flowergirlsf.com

Travels in a strange sushi


Tanuki Restaurant on California and Sixth Avenue was my first taste of the Richmond and my millionth of raw fish. On a quiet block in unfamiliar territory far from Mother Mission, I saw her “Open Sushi” neon sign and walked towards the light. But before I go on, I should admit that my heart belongs to another: We Be Sushi on 16th and Valencia. Theirs is simple, clean, casual, and delicious fish. But as every baby bird must one day leave its nest, so must I leave my small, insular universe to discover nourishment in new land.

The Richmond – what are you? I took the #33 past Golden Gate Park and – I know I am a ridiculous Mission idiot – entered the Twilight Zone. Where were all the people? Why are the streets so wide? Why is the sky so big? I guess there were some inhabitants, but they all seemed eerily calm, mustache-less. And there was so much space between them. There I was: a stranger in a strange land trying to get a spicy tuna roll.

The disconnect was heightened upon entering Tanuki, where my friend and I were faced with that awkward bad thing where you try to give the other tables space, but your server forces you to sit next to them anyway. I comforted myself with the thought that cultural immersion really is the best way of getting to know a place.


Counter attack. Photo by Alex Fine

And what a place! We were in a 1970s ski lodge. Well not literally, you’d have to ignore the long white counter and glassed-in fish with industrious chef behind — but with the low ceilings, suspicious wood paneling, and ESPN playing on the TV that hung over the small center dining room I caught a fresh-faced, schussing vibe. There were a few other tables near us: two hetero single lady couples complaining about men, one deliriously happy Midwestern-looking middle-aged duo, and a table of dudes desperately trying to make it known that they were a band. Everyone was white. But enough about the vibes, you crunchy Mission-ite. How was the food?

I am but a casual fisherperson. Virtually all I know about sushi is based on subtle inclination, hunch, and rumor that I can’t remember the origin of. I don’t think I’m alone there. But whether or not sushi is an ancient Japanese art or a conspiracy created by the US government, most of us can agree that it’s lovable fare (even when it’s not from We Be). 

But as far as I’m concerned, there are two kinds of sushi. One, a simple, minimal kind that allows you to fully taste its one or two ingredients. Two, the kind where the rolls are named things like Kamikaze and Oompa Loompa Sex Party and contain a million varieties of mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce, and what basically amounts to ketchup. 

I enjoy both — and I’m not making any sort of heady, stuck-up judgment about which is better (see my knowledge-of-sushi caveat above). But what I am saying is that Tanuki was inching towards the latter kind. And it was a little expensive — most menu items were between $10 and $20. 

On that menu: hot hamachi, oyster shooters, carpaccio, and clams in miso soup, to name but a few offerings. Everyone around us was ordering one oyster shooter after another – delicacies I still can’t categorically define, but “shooter” anything and I start to have my doubts. 

We started with a large green salad and a seaweed salad. The seaweed salad was good, but seaweed salad is hard to screw up. The green salad was huge and semi-warm with mushy tomatoes and watered-down miso dressing. It grossed me out, but you couldn’t tell from the way I wolfed it down. My friend got a huge bowl of shrimp tempura in udon noodle soup. Halfway through she exclaimed, “I want a beer and a peanut butter Snickers.” I tried it and thought the udon noodles were fun and chewy, the broth satisfying. But I agreed that Snickers might be in order. 

I had a house roll: crab, salmon, tuna, and avocado in a moat of spicy mayo and teriyaki sauce. It was great because it was huge, and spicy, and I was starving. I didn’t pay much attention to the fish — how could I? It was covered in creamy sauce. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does seem rather base to smother something expensive in sriracha mayo. 

I’m not whining. Much. I’m just saying that, as I finished the last droopy bites of my pal’s udon, the servers throwing me shade nearby, and the sound of show tune instrumentals playing softly overhead, it dawned on me that sometimes; it’s ok to stick with We Be Sushi.


Tanuki Restaurant

Mon- Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

4419 California, SF

(415) 752-5740

Beer and Wine


Moderately Noisy

Wheelchair Accessible


Daly City Burmese, please


We found it only a couple blocks away from the Daly City BART stop on the corner of John Daly Blvd and Mission St: Little Yangon. The Burmese restaurant was almost completely empty when we came in even though it was almost 9 p.m. on a Tuesday. A restaurant with one waitress, my plus one, and I. Here there was no next-door table conversation about non-profits, no street artist bros before me on the waiting list, no hipster babies crying, and no scary lesbians except for me and my dining companion — just deeply satisfying, affordable food.

The life of a Mission kid: it might start as something to brag home about, but living the dream isn’t always as all-fun-all-the-time as it sounds. When I first moved to the neighborhood, I delighted in the variety of cheap, amazing food. Cancun was what brought me here and Sunflower was why I stayed. But two years down the road, the places that once made me joyous have become sources of anxiety and malaise. I find myself making desperate choices, like going to We Be Sushi three nights in a row. And anywhere I go I fear that I will see my ex-girlfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, a previous employer, someone I spilled beer on the night before, or some combination of the three.

Time for a vacation. And just as the bridge-and-tunnelers feel that they must migrate to my neighborhood on the weekends, making it louder, dumber, and harder to live in, so too must I migrate to new restaurant territory. I ventured south and only a few BART stops away I found unexplored territory in Daly City.

Little Yangon’s dining room was lined with Southeast Asian tapestries, an electronic Buddha shrine with flashing neon lights rotating around its head, the soothing sound of Thai pop music swelling around us as we sipped Coronas and leisurely flipped through the menu. I already felt about a million times better. 

We ordered a feast: fried shrimp salad, prawn curry, biriyani, and the rainbow salad – noodles in a tamarind and yellow pea dressing. Most of the items on the menu are between $6.50 and $11. The rainbow salad arrived first and when I tasted it I knew I’d have to come back. The flavors in Burmese food are totally unique: a combination of citrus meets peanut meets warm spices – a variety that’s indicative of the fact that Burmese cuisine has roots in three different cultures.

Burma is bordered by Tibet, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India – anyone familiar with eating these countries’ different cuisines will be able to note the way that they all come together in Burmese dishes. Our curry and biryani were infused with traditional Indian spices like garam masala, along with a hint of tangy sweetness. 

My fellow gourmand and I agreed that the fried shrimp salad was by far the winning plate. It was the kind of thing you would never be able to replicate, or figure out how to make at home – a magical assortment of fried and whole shrimp, crispy noodles, onions, herbs, and a sweet-spicy dressing drawn from the kitchens of Vietnam, Thailand, and India in one fell swoop.


A rainbow salad, a waitress, and thee: recipe for a mellow evening at Little Yangon. Photo by Alex Fine

Our waitress and a few quiet cooks started closing up shop as my friend and I finished our meal. Does this sound snobby? I care about service. Not in a demanding way, I’m just saying that bad vibes can ruin a meal. But in this arena too, Little Yangon was perfect. The service was mellow, respectful, but attentive nonetheless. For someone used to being either totally ignored by restaurant waitstaff or obliged to engage in way too much overly-friendly chit-chat (and eye contact, shudder), Little Yangon was once again a welcome break.

As we left we thanked one of the cooks, who also turned out to be a sweet Burmese guy named Soe Naing, the owner of Little Yangon who does all the cooking and menu-planning with his wife and sister. Naing started out in the restaurant business immediately after moving to the States, washing dishes in a sushi restaurant. Soon enough, he was learning the art of sushi-making from his boss and moved on to start his own Daly City sushi business called Sunrise Sushi. Little Yangon is Naing’s newest restaurant, and he opened it to cook the food that he grew up eating in Burma. His spontaneous friendliness, kindness, and generosity shined through as he shared his hopes for the future of the business. “We’re getting busier!” he informed us excitedly, before walking us out and thanking us for coming in to eat. Try getting that kind of experience at Sunflower.

Walking back home from 16th and Mission, weaving between people with no pants on and pigeons covered in sludge, I was protected by my full-bellied shield, knowing that I had finally escaped the Mission, even just for one good meal.


Little Yangon

Mon 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Tues-Sun10 a.m. – 9 p.m. 

6318 Mission, Daly City

(650) 994-0111

Beer and Wine


Moderately noisy

Wheelchair accessible


MUNI gets beastly, in a nice way


A horde of salt marsh mice scurry down Market Street. Salmon leap across Divisadero traffic. Blue Mission butterflies cover your #22 Fillmore. If you haven’t been doing any wildlife-spotting recently, keep those binoculars close by. A new MUNI art program seeks to bring endangered species to the forefront of our transit consciousness — making our much-maligned buses prettier to look at, and bringing Bay nature back into our daily lives all in one fell swoop.

Visual artist Todd Gilens and an installation team wrapped four city buses with large-scale images of local endangered wildlife in their natural abodes as part of a project called “Endangered Species.” In a space normally reserved for advertisements for bail bondsmen or the new season of Real Housewives, you can now peep aforementioned mice broods and threatened fish and bugs. Gilens came up with the idea after the publication of a municipal transportation agency’s transit effectiveness project. The report used stats to measure the efficacy of SF public transit, but the visual artist felt that something was missing from the survey’s findings: namely, the community presence of our modes of public transportation. 

“I’m a ‘thing’ guy,” says Gilens. “Objects have lives and tell interesting stories. I wanted to think more about what buses are, beyond their technical character.” In the case of buses, Gilens thought it possible that they could be more than just people containers from here to there. “Endangered Species,” a project that took years for him to research and secure funding for, is his aesthetic reclamation of public space.

He eventually found a partner in The Bay Nature Institute, a Berkeley-based publication and project dedicated to celebrating and conserving nature and wildlife in the Bay Area. The group’s website is now the online home for  “Endangered Species,” and houses a bus tracker application that give fauna fans the current locations of all four Endanger buses.

It would stand to reason that the Endanger buses would have some direct conservationist agenda. But for Gilens, the moving art is only about calling attention to the natural beauty in and around the Bay Area. When asked if the project was meant to engage with the public on an ethical level, he said the Endanger buses purpose was really in the eyes of the beholder. “Art helps us to refine our noticing, and from there we can respond according to our capacities.” 

MUNI gets mousey. Photo by Todd Gilens

But Gilens choice to focus on the Bay’s circumscribed members of the animal kingdom might have another reading, one that strikes close to home for creative types being priced out of the city’s stubbornly sky-high rent prices. He made an interesting connection between art and endangered species: “Art is also not very ‘useful,’ perhaps in a similar way that a unique butterfly species or a marsh mouse is superfluous in their environment — But without them we have a flatter, duller, and certainly less robust world.”

Gilens hopes that seeing Endanger buses amongst the city hustle and bustle, will promote new ways of assessing personal experience – and one’s morning commute. “I hope that the beauty and unexpectedness of the images in different situations will invite playful associations. Perhaps the project will encourage a more connected and creative approach to everyday life,” he says. “Whether it’s allowing oneself to be moved by something beautiful, making room for another stranger on a bus, or becoming curious about even stranger life forms beyond urbanization.” Endangered artist or domesticated office rat, at least San Franciscans can agree that Endanger buses will be a refreshing sight to see amongst the city’s urban forest.

The Endanger buses will be out and about until April on different city lines each day. For more information on them – and how you can participate in MUNI’s bus-spotting game for prizes — go to www.baynature.org/endangerbus