L.E. Leone

Besting a star



CHEAP EATS Hedgehog goes and goes and goes to New York. For work — so they fly her and put her up in a nice hotel. This is what’s called (I believe) a business trip. But there’s more than that, of course, to it.

Examples include eating at WD-50 on my birthday (without me), and being at that Mets game (without me) when Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in team history, lucky duck. By which I mean Hedgehog. Santana’s a pretty good pitcher.

Me, I’m not a Mets fan or a foofy restaurant fan but, in a word, still… I like baseball. I like food. These are documented facts. Well, I must have whined and complained enough, because this time she said, “Wanna come with me?”

“No thanks,” I said. “I’d rather whine and complain.”

“Suit yourself,” she said, adding that there was a fitness center in the hotel, that she would take me to WD50 after work, and a Mets game the next night. Romanticness was insinuated. That, and hot dogs.

I thought and thought. And thought and thought. There was no guarantee that my new friend Shaya (from last week’s review) would be on this flight too. But Hedgehog would hold my hand real hard during takeoff and landing, she said, and sing my favorite songs into my ear.

I thought about how hot it was in New Orleans in June, how lonely it was in the air-conditioning without her, and I decided to go to New York.

She bought all the necessary tickets, made the necessary reservations, drove us to the necessary airport, and when I emerged from my necessary Valium haze I found myself in a nice, cozy room on Times Square, staring out the window at those scoreboardy ticker tape thingies with all the stupid stock statistics flying by. One of the most dizzyingly annoying events I have ever found outside of any window, anywhere…

Until early next morning, this morning, when I awoke abruptly to “Blister in the Sun” by Violent Femmes over a PA system in the street below. That’s a great song, but at 6:30am in the morning I think I might rather sleep, thank you.

At 7:30am in the morning it was yoga — loud, microphone yoga. This was the annual Mind over Madness yoga event, Solstice on Times Square, idea being “to find tranquility and transcendence in the midst of the world’s most commercial and frenetic place.” At an hour when sane, peaceful people are trying to sleep.

At least all the colorful mats and yogawear made a pretty picture when I finally got out of bed and opened the curtains to see what the flying fuck all the noise was about.

I need a nap.

Tonight, if all goes as planned, the normally entirely hittable Dillon Gee is going to pitch a no-hitter for the Mets! And I’ll be there, with Hedgehog and hot dogs.

Last night was more of a lobster roe duck egg chicken confit veal brisket crab toast lamb sweetbreads kind of a night, but even I know not to compare a Michelin-starred restaurant to stadium hot dogs. No. I’m going to compare it to a tiny takeout sushi place on Solano Avenue in Berkeley, where once I went with a Chunk de la Cooter and her dad to bring home the hamachi, as the saying goes, for the whole wide family.

Except there wasn’t much hamachi, as I recall. A lot of cucumber and avocado rolls, that sort of thing…

Mostly people get prepackaged sushi from the display case, which might explain the de la Cooter family’s preference for sushi-less sushi, but you can also order made-to-order items, and I got a lot of those.

All of them were awesome! I especially liked the unagi bowl and the nigiri saba.

Saba is my favorite sushi. Thus was I delighted to see something very much like it leading off the 13-thing tasting menu at WD-50 last night: nigiri’d mackerel on salsify, instead of rice, with seaweed and sesame. Many of the later dishes, especially the yuzu milk ice dessert, did indeed blow my mind. But this, the nigiri, wasn’t one of them. Ha! It’s better at:


Mon-Fri 11am-7:30pm; Sat-Sun 11am-6:30pm

1599 Solano Ave., Berk.

(510) 527-3288

Cash only

No alcohol


Are we real?



CHEAP EATS I took a cab from the airport to the football game and changed in the back seat without (I don’t think) leaving anything behind, not even the big bag of smaller bags of airline pretzels. Which came in handy because it was a 6:30 kickoff — an awkward time, whether you’re coming from work, like my teammates, or across the country.

How I came to come by said bag of bags of airline pretzels for entirely free is a restaurant review unto itself, starring a five-year-old girl named Shaya. She got on the plane in Los Angeles with a big bald doll named Jacob, a small Dora the Explorer backpack, and a clipped-on ticket.

“Are you my babysitter?” she said to the stewardessperson, who, as it happens, was standing right next to me while I waited to use the bathroom.

Seatwise, I’d just leapfrogged to an aisle seat in the front of the plane, which you can do on Southwest when it stops to re-passenger.

While I was in the bathroom, the stewardessperson ushered little Shaya to the window seat of my row. When I came out, she apologized. As if!!! “I hope you weren’t planning on having a quiet flight,” she said.

What she couldn’t have known: that I had just said goodbye to two of the many little loves of my life, age 4 and 5, and wasn’t going to see them for one more month, if ever, because — as you know — I have a horrible fear of flying. Every time I step in an airplane I have to assume I am climbing into my tomb.

What neurotic nutcases like me need most in life is a sense of purpose, and here was mine, the moment I’d been waiting for, my “is there a babysitter on board” moment.

“No worries,” I said to the stewardessperson. “I’m a pro.” And I moved my stuff from the aisle seat to the middle one, right next to the girl and her doll so that no one could possibly come between us.

“Is this his first time flying?” I asked, indicating the doll.

“This is my little brother. His name is Jacob. I didn’t have him last time, but mama got him for me. His eyes close when he lays down,” she said. “See?”

I did, and said so.

She leaned toward me conspiratorially and whispered over his head: “He’s not real.”

I whispered back: “Are we?”

She laughed and we introduced ourselves. She was on her way to her dad’s for the summer. Her dad had a new house. She was going to go swimming. I showed her pictures of the Chunks de la Cooter and told her how old they were, and she told me how old she was: Five, like I said. Almost six.

We were hitting it off. Then she got very thoughtful. “I feel awkward,” she said.


“I like you, but my mom told me not to talk to strangers.”

I got a little thoughtful myself. I thought: uh-oh. Was I encouraging unhealthy behavior in a five-going-on-six-year-old?

“Your mom is right,” I said. “You shouldn’t talk to strangers. But the person sitting next to you on an airplane, for as long as you are on that plane, is not a stranger. She is your airplane-only friend.”

This seemed to set Shaya’s mind at ease. In any case, she offered me a Chicken McNugget.

“No thanks,” I said. “I’m still full from last night.” (Comal, the trendy new downtown Berkeley joint with the fancy noise-reduction sound system and way overpriced, way underimpressive food, immediately after which I needed a snack at Phil’s next door: a completely awesome bacon cheeseburger slider with homemade tater tots and my favorite cookie ever, which was essentially a homemade Oreo. Ohmigod, new favorite restaurant ever!)

“What did you eat?” my airplane-only friend Shaya asked.

“Long story,” I said.

After we landed she looked up at me and said, out of the blue: “I was brave.”

“Me too,” I said. “Thank you.”

And the stewardessperson gave me pretzels.


Sun-Wed 11am-9pm; Thu-Sat 11am-midnight

2024 Shattuck, Berk.

(510) 845-5060



Beer and wine

Distant craving



CHEAP EATS After two days of eating nothing but barbecue, fried chickens, and cupcakes, we started actually craving health food. I speak for the whole de la Cooter household, of which I am a small but important satellite. When I’m there, the kids come and jump on my bed in the morning, and mom and dad get to sleep a little longer.

That’s my importance.

Oh, and I am the one who cleans the cellar — mostly so I can put things in it. But still.

It’s nice to feel like you are part of a family, maybe you’ve noticed. And I have had no shortage of family in my life, but the blood ones are mostly very far away, so I can’t very well bathe their kids and sing them to sleep, let alone play with them.

It was nice when I was a nanny and got paid for all of the above, but I think I like being “like family” even better.

For one thing, I can argue for fried chicken and barbecue, and win! That was how it went my first day back: Barbecue for lunch, fried chicken for dinner.

And the next day was K. Chunk’s birthday, so we made pancakes with almost everything in the world in them for breakfast, by request, and then had pretty much cupcakes for lunch.

Now, Crawdad de la Cooter’s mister, Mr. Crawdad de la Cooter, makes THE best cake I have ever had. That’s why I will always, no matter where in the world I am, come chugging home for his kids’s birthdays. That’s one reason.

And it’s not anything fancy, either. Chocolate cake with white frosting. But you wouldn’t believe how moist. You wouldn’t believe how perfectly iced. Your teeth crunch then cream through the sugary, buttery quarter-inch of heaven, which blends so beautifully with the cakey softness below . . . you want to cry. But you’re too busy licking your lips and angling for your next bite.

I don’t even like cake! I’m a pie girl, all the way.

But now I like cake, thanks to Mr. Crawdad.

Anyway, after the birthday party, when the dust and wrapping paper had cleared and the Chunks de la Cooter were playing with their toys and it was time to start thinking about dinner, Mr. Crawdad says what he almost always says, at such times: Nature’s Express.

And whereas normally I would counter with, “Barbecue,” or “Fried,” I was like, “Damn straight.” And he and me grabbed our jackets and headed down to Solano to pick up.

Nature’s Express is exactly like it sounds, only moreso. It’s not just health food fast food; it’s vegan. The last time I craved vegan food was in 1997. And to give you some idea how long ago that was, it was 15 years ago.

As I recall, I hated it, but that was out of sheer curmudgeonliness. Though I am not likely to crave specifically vegan fare for another 15 years, I loved Nature’s Express. Loved it.

As in: new favorite restaurant. For real, Chunks.

I mean, sure, at first when I saw the bookshelf of vegan propaganda and the coolers full of kombucha, I almost ran screaming from the bright, friendly little joint.

But I’m glad I didn’t. The avocado and quinoa wrap was delicious, especially when I got down to the pickled ginger and jalapenos. There was also hummus, lettuce, and cabbage slaw in there, and the nice thing about vegan is you don’t have to worry about mayonnaise!

I also got the 5-A-Day smoothie, with kale, cucumber, beets, and celery, plus fruit. In fact, I take back what I said about 15 years. I’m craving another one of these earthy, refreshing juices right now.

The Chunks de la Cooter split a Brazilian Super Model smoothie, which is apple, açai, mango, and flax seeds, and I tried this and liked it, but not as much as mine.

Loved the quinoa salad, the cumin-lime dressing, with corn, cilantro, peppers, and onion.

Crawdad got the “essential lentil” — lentils over greens with an avocado dressing, hot sauce, and more slaw — which I tried, and liked.

Her mister got the spicy chik-un taco, about which he was very excited, so I tried this too. It was fine. Fake meat, though.

That’s where I draw the line.


Daily 11:30am-8pm

1823 Solano, Berk.

(510) 527-5331

D, MC, V

No alcohol

So close



CHEAP EATS It’s birthday season! Me, yeah, but more importantly:

Happy birthday to C. Chunk, 5. Happy birthday to K. Chunk, 4. I took the train home for C. Chunk’s birthday, and now I’m taking it home for K. Chunk’s. That’s a lot of trains, in case you were wondering, and I’m starting to feel like I could write a Jimmie Rodgers song.

What rhymes with Amtrak?

Ah, nevermind. I think I’ll play with my laptop.

Hedgehog has one more month of work in New Orleans, and then we’ll be coming home by car, and for good. But since our new car is smaller than the one we went to New Orleans with, and that one was popping buttons as it was, I am traveling with roughly half of our crap, including an electric guitar.

Shit! It’s left-handed, and both me and Jimmie Rodgers are righty . . .

I got the wrong-hand blues

My baby’s got me all turned round

Got the wrong-hand blues

My baby’s got me all turned round

This guitar won’t listen to me

It says I’m sitting upside-down

yodel-eh-hee-oh d’eleh-hee-oh d’eleh-hee

Please forgive me. It’s the middle of the night in Texas. (And elsewhere, I imagine.)

One of the nice things about going away for months at a time is you come home and things are different. Give you an example, from my last time home: There’s barbecue in the Mission!

There’s barbecue in the Castro!

This review has nothing to do with barbecue.

Yesterday I barbecued a slab of ribs the size of a small table. We could have put our plates on top of the ribs — but then what would we have eaten?

And how would we have washed the sauce off our knees?

My barbecue sauce is blueberry-based, and stains. Bacon fat, garlic, onions, cayenne, rice vinegar, maple syrup, black pepper, celery seed . . .

But this isn’t about barbecue.

It’s about Thai. The Maze said he thought there was a new Thai restaurant on 16th and Guerrero, and I said I thought I saw one there too, let’s go.

Interestingly, he was thinking of Malai, which has been there for decades and decades. Which goes to show you how much Maze loves Pakwan. He eats there all the time, and just now notices the Thai place across the street?

But there really is a new one, too. New to me, anyway. I think it’s only been there for months and months, almost a year maybe.

And that’s what I like about coming home, I’m saying: Thai food. Which isn’t very good in New Orleans. Not to mention Texas, in the middle of the night.

So, yeah, Krua, kitty-corner from Malai, and first things first: they do have duck soup. In fact, it was one of the best I’ve had, brothwise: salty and rich. The celery was a nice touch, and the noodles were good; but the bowl could have used more ducks in it was all.

As for the gold bags . . .

Well, I don’t have anything to compare them to. I never had gold bags before. In fact, what the hell are gold bags?

All the rage, according to Maze. He keeps seeing them on menus, and now probably I will too. They are dumplingy collections of shrimps, chickens, water chestnuts, and corn, tied off at the top like . . . gold bags, apparently.

Were they good? Yeah. Sure.

I forget what else we had. Probably tofu, or else I would remember. In any case: new favorite restaurant. I just can’t get over the fact that there is duck noodle soup within two blocks of my apartment, and barbecue. Even ramen now, I’m pretty sure. Within two blocks of my apartment!

Our apartment.

All we have to do now is live in it.


Daily 11:30am-10:30pm

3214 16th St., SF

(415) 913-7886


Beer and wine


Fit as a fig



CHEAP EATS On my birthday I saw a lot of water. I took a bath. I drove over the longest continuous bridge over water in the world. It was 90 degrees on the North Shore. I drank a lot of water, used water to wash the fish sauce out of my skirt, and bought a new car.

The Honda Fit! It’s not only the best kind of car to have if you live in a city, it’s the best kind of car. Period. It’s such a good car, I have now bought one twice! And I’ve only ever bought two new cars in my life.

This time it’s a different kind of blue. Less subtle, less sexy, but intensely fun, and even more lickable — in a cotton-candy-y way — than my last Honda Fit.

I left our rental car behind and drove this very shade of blue back onto the Causeway, and back over Lake Pontchartrain. Nothing to look at. Nothing but water, and the road seems to just float on it for 25 miles. It’s like the Salt Flats: terrifyingly boring. And beautiful in its relentlessness, drive drive drive drive drive.

For my birthday, Hedgehog went to wd-50 without me. What the hell, she was in New York, spotting sessions or sessioning spots or some such, and she and her co-writer have to eat, too, don’t they? So while I was eating leftover bad North Shore Vietnamese for dinner, she was sending along pictures of plate after plate after plate of fancy high-falutin’ dishes. I never felt more like a chicken farmer than I did on my 49th birthday.

After dinner I made some popcorn and found Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich on TV. Mother fucking molecular tom-chef-ery, who needs it you got popcorn? Hot dogs …

Vietnamese leftovers.

Egg sandwich.

Oh, hey, this reminds me about Blue Fig, on Valencia Street. Well, technically it was my li’l friend Hoolibloo who reminded me. She and her even li’l’er sis are holding down our Mission digs while Hedgehog and me crash bang boom our way through the home stretch here in New Orleans.

Before I left this last time, Hooli and me dropped onto Blue Fig for lunch or some such. I don’t remember anything. I remember the coffee was good.

I remember we talked about Life, and Careers, how Hooli hoped to produce the theater one day, and I’m pretty sure I encouraged her in this. I’m pretty sure I said, Do what is in your heart, at all costs. Never mind rent.

She wasn’t asking for advice, but — for the record — people do. These days. Me being 49 and all. Maybe this is just the chicken shit talking, but I think I might even have an air of wisdom about me, when there isn’t hay in my hair.

But after the accident, all my memories got erased — except how to make frittatas, oddly enough, since I didn’t know I knew how to make them before the accident. Also worth noting: I didn’t hit my head. At all. So apparently my memories were being stored in my left arm.

Anyway, when wind got back to SF that we were hurting down here, and how, Hooli wrote and said, “Can I help?”

“You can write my review!” I said. “Remember that meal?”

“Blue Fig?” she said.

I said tell me.

“You got the egg sandwich,” she said.

She wrote: I like Blue Fig because the food is very fresh and flavorful. I’ve always been greeted by a smile, she wrote.

She wrote: they cook the food right there in the tiny kitchen behind the counter. It’s all open. It’s fun to watch them. They make the eggs for the egg sandwich on the little burner right behind the cash register.

The first time we went there, she wrote, they were sugaring the pecans for one of the salads, which made the whole restaurant smell so —

Thank you, I wrote. That’ll be enough. I have me a new favorite restaurant. *


Mon-Fri 7am-7pm; Sat-Sun 7:30am-7pm

990 Valencia St., SF

(415) 875-9622

Cash only

No alcohol


Whorls away



CHEAP EATS Way out in the water.

A severed head, a small treasure in gold, or drugs, my own death, fish, a baby in a basket, the murder weapon, the meaning of life, peace and quiet, a clue .. . A long time ago, when I was fearless, I swam toward something. That’s how curious I was. It could have been anything, but I had to know.

Now, I can float. I like to think I can float.

Then, I was a pretty good swimmer. I could swim, see me swimming?

My people on the shore, Moonpie, Baby Rae, and Moonpie’s now resting-in-peace sister, Sweetpee … they didn’t know where I was going, because the fearless don’t always say.

They watched. They worried. And they must have seen what I was seeing — this bobbing thing, way out on the horizon.

As the ocean floor sloped and sloped and sloped away from my kicking feet, they watched, helpless and wondering, and I suppose I got a rise out of this.

Good. Risings was what I needed then, maybe even more than treasure. What it was, though, that I risked my ass for all those years ago, was an Igloo cooler with a half a loaf of sliced white bread in it, an open package of lunch meat, and mustard. Or in other words: sandwiches.

I risked my life for sandwiches!

And I don’t even particularly like sandwiches, I thought, watching a matzoh ball bob in my bowl of matzoh ball soup. That is so David Copperfield.

And these were some hard-earned matzoh balls. Not only because Soup Freaks is off my beaten path (unless I happen to be BARTing to a ballgame), but also because the matzoh gods were not looking out for me, on this particular day.

“Matzoh ball soup!” I said.

And the serverwomanperson digged and dug and couldn’t find hardly no matzoh balls in that there silver thingie of soup. Just one, and some broken off pieces of a couple others.

“Hold on a second,” she said, stepping away from the counter and returning, many months later, with a bag of frozen ones. At least they looked like they were frozen.

At least it seemed like many months.

Anyway, she was fixing to pour them into the vat when, apparently, a thought occurred to her: Did I want to wait for them to warm up, or…

“I’ll just take it as is,” I said, and that was how I wound up with a bowl of matzoh ball soup without hardly any matzoh balls in it. My fault, let the record show.

Theirs: to compensate, probably, they gave me three big pieces of bread — which seemed pretty generous, but I would have rather had a bigger bowl of soup with more things in it. I mean, classically, matzoh ball soup is not the most populated bowl of soup in the world, but, really? No carrots? No celery?

What little chicken there was was really not very good. It was peppered, and dry. Very dry. And there’s nothing worse than dry chicken in soup. Well, except maybe dry chicken outside of soup.

So I’m afraid I’m going to have to break with tradition here and declare Soup Freaks “just another restaurant.”

Not my new favorite.

David Copperfield, on the other hand. On the other hand, the Pixies. I haven’t read or listened to it or them in quite a while, respectively; but at times like these, when everything starts going wrong and doesn’t seem to want to right itself, we will grab at books and songs, if not straws.

If not drinks.

If not lunch itself.

See me swimming? Between waves, a mile from shore … the skinny girl, kicking frantically, breathing hard, and holding on for dear buoyancy to flotsam, jetsam, to little coolers full of someone else’s sandwiches. That’s me.


Mon.-Fri. 7am-8pm; Sat.-Sun. 10am-6pm

667 Mission St., SF

(415) 543-7687


No alcohol


Deutch maneuver



CHEAP EATS “Berlin is awesome,” Kayday writes me, from Berlin. “We should all live here.”

Amazingly, I answer her in German. “Genau,” I write.

Berlin is awesome, true. But it’s one thing May through September, and something very much else the rest of the time. Is my opinion.

Kayday lives in Seattle, and complains about the weather there from September through July.

She doesn’t want to live in Germany, I feel certain.

When she was here, just a few weeks ago, she wanted to eat at Schmidt’s, maybe for practice. So we did. No complaints from me. Schmidt’s has the best wild boar sausage in all of San Francisco.

We also ate at my new favorite Chinese restaurant, in the Richmond, but I’m not going to tell you yet about that. Maybe next week. If you’re good.

Wild boar sausage, I’m pretty sure I already told you about. There’s Rice Broker though, in the Mission, which is another place where Kayday and me ciao’d down.

“Hi,” I said.



And she tried to answer — probably in German — but couldn’t, because something had gone down the wrong pipe. Maybe, I’m thinking, a sesame seed. Or a teeny tiny speck of almond?

Both things were in her rice bowl, which was the two skewers of lemongrass beef one, with whole orange slices, string beans, and, yeah, almonds and sesame seeds.

Now, I’ve seen people choking in restaurants before. I’ve even been the person choking in restaurants. It’s no big thing. You cough, you turn red, you hold up your finger to let your dining companions know that, no, in fact you don’t need the Heimlich. Yet. And then you drink some water, cough some more, tear up a little, feel like an idiot, and continue eating.

So happens, the wrong-pipe problem is a recurring theme for me, in life. I have lots and lots of sympathy and patience, and too am ready — if necessary — to spring into action. Ever the nanny, I am trained in CPR and so forth.

“Hello?” I said again. “Are you quite sure you don’t need the Heimlich?”

“I’m OK,” Kayday said. “I just need to go for a walk.” And she excused herself. “Be right back.” And left.

This was a first.

I digged into my own bowl, which was rice porridge with pork-and-ginger meatballs, bok choy, and cilantro. It was excellent, and went down very smoothly.

While I ate, though, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Kayday’s bowl, which was beautiful. The meat, as yet untouched, glistened on its skewers. The orange slices shone forth, like little sunsets. The beans — it was just a beautiful bowl of food. Calling to me.

Kayday is a dear and good friend. She’s an important part of my band. It occurred to me she could choke and die outside on the sidewalk. Still, I decided not to eat her food. When she came back, I would ask. And she would share.

Then, the hell with it, I reached across the table and tried a piece of meat from her skewer. Tough city, go figure!

But, like I says, mine was very good. The meatballs were almost as smooth as the porridge, and good and gingery. And I loved my edamame snack bowl, with dandelion and cane vinegar.

Come to think of it, she’d had a snack bowl appetizer too. Pickled daikon and carrots. And I can’t remember now if I even tasted it, but it sounds pretty good, no?

Of course, this isn’t Kentucky Fried Chicken. But to its credit it isn’t Spork either. And even though it choked my friend, I like that Rice Broker is there. Here in the hood.

And anyway, she survived. She came back.

“Hello,” I said.

She said, “Hi.”


Wed-Sun 6-10pm

1058 Valencia, SF.

(415) 643-5000

Cash only

Beer and wine


The Katz correlations



CHEAP EATS Bagels aren’t my favorite thing. Maybe you’ve noticed. I haven’t new-favorite-restauranted a lot of bagel places, if any, through the years. But then one day I was on my way to BART, very much in need of caffeination, and Cafe Petra was, to my surprise, all boarded up.

So the next possibility was Katz Bagels, around the corner on 16th Street. I stood outside, looking in, but had a hard time pulling the trigger. You know how it is, sometimes, when you are too uncaffeinated to make a decision — even a no-brainer, like whether or not to get a cup of coffee. Or pull the trigger.

Trouble was, I needed a bite, too, and bagels are not my thing. I mean, given butter and jam, or lox, or cheese, I like bagels fine. It’s just: If I am totally honest with myself, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive them for not being donuts.

But I was standing there trying to decide if now was the time to try, when a happyish fellow came caffeining out, noted my attitude of indecision and said, “They’re good. Good bagels.”

So, OK. Went in. And then was faced with a whole new problem: what to get.

What I really want (if I can’t have donuts), is a cinnamon-raisin bagel, or blueberry one, with butter and/or bacon all over it. But I’m too ashamed to order it because, what will the Jews think?

San Francisco is not New York. Go ahead, little hippie, and have your toasted cinnamon-raisin swirl, or your blueberry bonnet with bows of bacon, you rube.

I couldn’t. I can’t. Stop taunting me, me!

This sounded good: the number three sandwich on the menu board — egg with spinach, tomato, onion, and Swiss cheese. Yeah, I could do that, and live with myself, for breakfast. Probably.

And coffee.

“Small coffee,” I said, because it was my turn. And I still didn’t know. So I said small coffee real slow.

“And a sesame seed bagel,” I said, “with eggs,” I said, “spinach,” I said, “hmm, tomato, onion, and . . . yeah, Swiss.”

“Number 3?” the woman said.

“Yeah. A Number 3,” I said, “would be another way of looking at it.”

She laughed, hurried to get me my coffee, and from that point on whenever she looked at me she laughed again. I had made a friend behind the counter! Which helps, where bagels are concerned. Because now, I’m thinking, I can probably go in there any time and order my bagel with ham, pineapple, and sprinkles on top. It doesn’t matter. She’s going to laugh at me anyway. With me.

For coffee, they serve Rodger’s individually dripped brews. No idea who Rodger is, but I do like his work. One sip, sitting at the end of the counter there, and my head cleared all up.

But I still didn’t know why Petra was closed. Or when. I had taken it for a neighborhood mainstay. Not that I ever went there. I mean, I did, for meeting people, when I used to date, because — even though it was only a block and a bit from my place — I never saw anyone I knew in there. Unlike, say, Java Supreme.

Petra was a nice place to sit. A nice place to, you know, get to know someone, A little. Without any fear whatsoever that Earl Butter would show up with a wooden tennis racket and/or Tupperware.

Wow, maybe my dating days coming to an abrupt end, thanks to Hedgehog, contributed to the downfall of the second-closest coffeehouse to my house, I thought, while waiting for my bagel at Katz’s. And I didn’t care what he was carrying, if Earl Butter came in here, I thought, I would buy him a bagel. Now that I am “in” with the counter woman.

Then I had another sip of Rodger, bless him.

My bagel came, and required salt and pepper, but was otherwise what else the doctor ordered. Delicious. Nutritious. There . . .

My new favorite restaurant is Katz. It’s just a nice, comfy bagel bar, with good bagels. Great coffee. A fine place to stop, on your way to BART, and think stupid things.


Mon.-Fri. 6:30am-1pm; Sat.-Sun. 7am-2pm.

3147 16th St., SF.

(415) 552-9050

Cash only

No alcohol 


Playing Joe Cool



CHEAP EATS Last Straw Sullenger and me were walking. Just strolling around the corner, to Community Thrift, to see if they had some things. My list was long. But I was telling her, as we walked, about my football team — the “here” one — and how, after just three seasons, it was starting to come together for us. Two straight wins…

How a lot of our players who had never played football before are starting to really get it and kick ass, especially our quarterback.

“Great. That’s great. Great,” she was saying, and I looked up and saw Joe Montana walking toward us.

Now, I’m not one to generally even notice the presence of celebrity, let alone be moved by it; but in this case, I peed my pants.

Joe Montana, for you young, sports historyless ‘uns, is not celebrity. He’s Joe Montana. In the Mission, on the phone, jeans and a T-shirt, less balding and yes taller than I’d have figured, the oceanic eyes and that dimpled chin. In other words: swoon.

And .. . boom, he was past us, just like that, except Last Straw had to practically carry me the rest of the way to the thrift store.

Which isn’t to say I shopped.

I mean, I did. I bought a strainer. But my needs were so much more. So much more than that.

Seeing Joe Montana in the Mission is addictive, turns out. All I could think about while we were looking at desks was getting back outside and possibly — who knows — seeing him again.

We did!! Joe Montana! Again! Ten minutes later, still talking on the phone, just standing there next to a telephone poll outside the barber shop on 18th and Valencia, where Circus McGirkus used to work. Iss.

And we walked on by, trying to act casual while fainting and peeing our pants and shit. Anyway, I was. I’m not sure Last Straw is quite the historical (to say nothing of hysterical) 49ers fan that I am. I was in high school when Joe Montana started his career, changing everything. Seriously: seeing him, seeing us going from last place to first in two seasons, it changed the way I played football. And it changed the way I lived life.

As for him, he just wanted a haircut, probably. Anyway, as we were passing, he got off the phone and walked into the barber shop.

“You should get his autograph,” Last Straw said.

“On what? On my strainer?” I said.

I hate to bother people, let alone celebrities, let alone Joe Montana. But no one else was! Maybe no one else in the Mission is old enough or sporty enough to even know what Joe Montana looks like.

“Probably he’d get a kick out of it,” Last Straw said. “His age.”

I doubted this. But I said goodbye to her at her car, then ran to my apartment, changed my pants, swapped my strainer for a football and a Sharpie, and ran back out.

I had a better idea, I thought. I wouldn’t ask for his autograph. I would ask him to throw me a pass. I would tell him I play wide receiver for a women’s football team, imply that I had six months (or less) to live, and show him on my hand what I was going to do: Past the bus stop, fake left, and cut right toward the building. I’d look over my right shoulder as I made my turn, and the ball would be waiting for me.

I knew it would be there, having seen him play, many times, on TV and in person. It would be waiting for me. I would pull it in, and then, maybe, he would offer to sign it. Either way, I would live the rest of my life with a sense of having caught a pass from Joe Montana.

And, yeah, that would be enough.

Problem: He was gone. If it was a haircut he was after, his was the fastest one ever.

Ever since, I’m saying, I’ve been spending more time than usual on Valencia, with a football and a Sharpie in my bag. Did you notice that New Yorker Buffalo Wings is closed, and that signs on the windows point you toward Pizzeria, a few doors down? Earl Butter and I tried them. Meh.

But next week I’ve got a great wings place to tell you about, don’t worry.


Tue.-Thu., Sun. 3:30-10:30pm; Wed.-Thu., Sun: 11am-10pm; Fri.-Sat.: 3:30-11:30pm.

659 Valencia St., SF.

(415) 701-7492


No alcohol 





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Surprise me,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

Bite. Damn! Bite. Damn!

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

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

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

Good food, great place, amazing show.

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

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


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

1600 17th St., SF

(415) 252-1330

Cash only

Full bar


Kicky kitty



CHEAP EATS There was a soccer game on TV. There was a cat on the pitch. It was running around, stopping, staring, licking, looking not-at-all confused and very much in every way like a cat. Except that millions of people were watching it, tens of thousands of them right there: laughing, clapping, and carrying on.

And who were all these sweaty men in striped shirts and high socks?

None of the players tried to help with the corralling of the cat. They appreciated the chance to catch their breath, I guess, while stadium officials and trained cat-corralling professionals did their bit. Or tried to. Let the record show: in its own sweet time, the cat trotted off the field the same way it had trotted on: of its own volition. And play resumed.

The stadium was not in our country. The television was. It was in my new favorite restaurant, Haltun, which is on 21st and Treat, just around the corner from the Mission Rec Center, where Hedgehog and me play our racquetball.

I love cats. I love soccer. I am a drooling idiot in the glow of any television set no matter what’s on, no matter how far away. Thus, I found it hard to undividedly pay attention to my dining companions, but did manage to catch a conversation between Coach and Hedgehog in which it was posited (by Coach) that I was the least queer person in the world (because I move in mostly-straight circles) and counter-posited (by Hedgehog) that I was the most queer person in the world (because I move in straight circles, and queer ones, and have slept with every kind of person there is including both flavors of trans ones, including gay men and now straight ones, and straight women and now gay ones).

“Bisexual isn’t less queer than homosexual,” argued my homosexual girlfriend. “It’s arguably queerer.”

“Yeah, but declaring yourself bisexual plays into the binary. What about genderqueers?”

“Oh, I’ve slept with them too,” I interjected, without looking away from the TV because someone (a human being, not a cat) was making a beautiful run. And: “Goaaaaalllll!!!!”

Here’s my rant: You can’t even watch TV with just an antenna anymore! TV antennas are exactly as obsolete as black-and-white. But did you know that every program used to broadcast separate signals for black-and-white and color TVs?

As I understand it.

They had to do a color “Get Smart” and a black-and-white “Get Smart,” and sling them both out over the treetops, I guess, or twist them both through one cable at the same exact time — and that all ended just two, three years ago, so I could as easily have said “Cheers,” or “Friends,” or, I don’t know, “Arrested Development.” By the way.

Probably I have this wrong.

But there are seven colors in a rainbow flag. My skirt has more colors than that! And, though there are a gazillion shades of gray, there is also black, and there is white. No doubt, gender — even genitalia — is a spectrum. Yet: There would appear to be penises. And vaginas! And, as hormonally altered trans people (not-always-willing poster children for in-betweenitude) can attest without even opening our mouths, testosterone and estrogen are two different things.

If you can, without saying a word, both refute and support the exact same argument … I’m not saying it’s queerer or less queer. The word I would use is bacon. It’s bacon.

Now, cochinita pibil is pork — just pork! — in a greasy red broth, with a flap of banana leaf hanging over it. What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Well, it came with tortillas, which the server took great care to point out were “hand made” — and I’m sure they were, but they didn’t taste very special.

Hedgehog had something with turkey meat and a disk of pork meatloaf afloat, with an egg, in a nice broth. Simple, and exotic. At the same time!

Coach had a sampler plate of all things vegetarian. Come to think of it, her meal did have the most variety and color to it, so …

There’s that.



Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

2948 21st St., SF.

(415) 643-6411


Beer & Wine

Junk bonds


CHEAP EATS Yeah, ever since they shot Prop 8 tentatively down, I have had to hire grad students and interns to sift through all the marriage proposals. Their job is to weed out the ones with typos in them, suspected vegetarians, those that contain the words “growth” or “cicadas,” and most importantly any that aren’t from Hedgehog, the dyke of my dreams.

As you might imagine, it’s grueling work. And since Hedgehog is not one to repeat herself, the “slush pile” is rapidly taking over our apartment.

Recycling comes on Friday.

Meanwhile, I think I understand now why the queers I play flag football with in San Francisco hate the idea of ever playing co-ed. I’m always saying, at our under-if-at-all-attended practices out at Big Rec, “There’s some boys over there with a football. Let’s play them.” And my teamies look at me like I just suggested charades, or voting Republican.

Well, my New Orleans flag football team is co-ed. And very straight, at that. Although our team color is pink, and our name is Piggy and the Conch Shells, and we lost our first game 63-6. (I could go on and on: I play for us, blazzy blazzy blah.) Anyway, so, last night, en route to winning our second straight game, I found out why no one I know votes Republican.

I was rushing the quarterback, see, and I was getting to him. If it was football football, I would have wrapped him up around the legs or waist, toppled him or driven him to the turf, and then done a funky fuck-you-I-kicked-your-ass dance. But no. It’s flag football. So you have to reach for and pull off one of three flags we all wear on a belt around our waist: there’s one on each hip, and one on the butt.

So I’m reaching for his left hip, and, understand, please: there are alleged blockers trying to be in my way, one of my blitzing teammates reaching for the right hip, and (does anyone see where this is going?) as soon as I make my grab, the quarterback twists away from the other rusher, leaving me with a handful not of flag, but of man-junk. Yes, I missed the sack, but did yank me some penis. Note: accidentally. And shorts-enshrouded. Nevertheless, he threw an interception.

Which is of course an even better result than a sack. But I couldn’t find it in me to do a dance, or celebrate, or even smile. I just stood there and felt squirgly. And hoped he wouldn’t get his way with the ref, at whom he was screaming. In vain, thank God.

What would the penalty have been? … Holding?

Illegal use of hands?

Ruffling the quarterback?

Later in the game, I did get called for roughing the quarterback when I popped him in the face, trying to block his pass. That time (wisely) he didn’t let go of the ball, and I pulled his flag. And the ref threw his. Still, the dude was so mad he kicked the ball into the stands — at which my 15-yard penalty became offset by his, ha ha.

In summary: I now know first-hand (ha ha again) why my queers back home no like play football with the boys. It was a disturbing moment for me, and I’m theoretically bisexual! I’ve held that shit before — albeit not on a football field. Not to mention he was a complete stranger. I mean: eww.

I did apologize to him after the game, and hinted that if he didn’t like to play rough, he might consider a boys-only league. Sike. I just said I was sorry I hit him in the face, I was trying to block the pass.

“I know. That’s ok,” he said. “I was mad at the ref, not you.” And he asked me out. (So I guess it was better for him than me.)

“No, thanks. Prop 8 went down,” I explained. “I’m a betrothalled woman.”

In all possible seriousness, though, my new favorite restaurant for real (if not for long) is Pho 2000, in the ‘Loin. They pile all the steak up together so it’s bright-red raw when it comes to your table. You want it cooked, you have to push it into the broth.

I’m telling you: Fuck Turtle Tower. 

PHO 2000

Mon.-Sat. 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sun. 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

637 Larkin, SF.

(415) 474-1188

Cash only

No alcohol


The cat and the hedgehog



CHEAP EATS You know who I love? Hedgehog. One year ago today we had our first date, and now we are domestical partners. She calls me root beer eyes. I know it’s a compliment because her favorite drink is Abita root beer with bourbon in it, and sometimes she looks at me like that.

One year ago today, I was a tagalong nanny for a Tulane-S.F. State couple, and Hedgehog was supervising sound editor for an HBO show set in New Orleans. This year, she is also a writer for that show, and I am a tagalong housewife. Count em: two dreams come true!

For our anniversary, she’s on set all day, and I’m writing this then going to play flag football. Maybe we will see each other in bed.

What a difference a year makes! One year ago today, for example, it was Monday. I had the day off. She did too. For our first date we were going to go to the cemetery, but then we found out it was closed. In New Orleans, the dead do not receive visitors on Mondays. They have been partying too hard all weekend. They have hangovers, and couldn’t get out of bed, let alone a grave.

So we went to the French Canadian Quarter instead, ate lunch, walked along the river, looked at the water, drank at a gay bar, walked some more, and did not kiss.


Now, the big loser in all of this, of course, is Stoplight. The cat. Not only because I’ve been home a lot less, but — even sadlier than that — my domestical partner is allergic to my domesticated partner. So before we left for the Big Greasy this time, I had to have a little talk with my furry friend.

Well, but first I had to have a little talk with some cheese farmers from Petaluma. Which brings us (very very naturally) to the downtown Berkeley farmer’s market one Saturday.

As it happened — and we’ll never know why — Hedgehog was stricken on that particular day with a very bad stomachache, so all she could do while I sought out and talked with my cheese farmers was sit on a bench and watch some hippies play their guitars. Maybe she was moaning and groaning, too. I know I would have been, if I had to sit on a bench and watch hippies play their guitars.

In fact, I was sure she was going to puke. (The kids had it. It was going around.)

Now: my cheese farmers, on whose cheese farm Stoplight was born, had told me way back when that if things didn’t work out for him in the big city, they would take him back. This, they unflinchingly, un-guilt-trippingly agreed to do. So I bought some cheese.

The drop would be made the following Saturday. Meanwhile, I was surprised to learn upon fetching my li’l sicky, Hedgehog was hungry. So here’s to the curative powers of hippies! I take back everything I said about them.

The Berkeley farmer’s market has a lot of greasy looking and happy smelling food stands, but Hedgehog understandably wanted something healthy. Which to her means pho. Pho ga. (That’s chicken.)

We have a running argument about pho. Beef is best, I say. Whatever, says she. For sure, downtown Berkeley is not the best place to be when dying for Vietnamese food in a hurry.

But we saw Saigon Express there on the corner of Addison and Shattuck, went in, sat right next to the bathrooms (just in case), and ordered our pho.

And of course Hedgehog was yelping the place while we waited for it. Two people mentioned food poisoning.

Food poisoning doesn’t scare me. Stomach bugs do. But according to Hedgehog, it’s impossible to tell the difference. “Food poisoning takes three days to hit you, usually,” she said.


“Could be,” she said. Then she started Googling that. But the pho came and was surprisingly fantastically delicious. At least mine was. The beef broth, heavy on the star anise, was really very wonderful. And the rare beef was still pink.

The noodles had a good texture. A little bit of pull to them, not mushy. Basil, cilantro, jalapenos, sprouts. And nobody threw up. Not even Hedgehog. New favorite restaurant:


Mon.-Sat. 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

2045 Shattuck Ave., Berk.

(510) 486-1778


Beer & wine

An upside



CHEAP EATS I’ve been saving something for you. Something special. For a time just like this.

The 49ers have fizzled in the drizzle, and the spring season of dyke football is a long way off. Not to mention spring training. Not to mention Spring.

Sportswise we are left with the Warriors. And speaking of lose-lose situations, there’s the murky mess that our sheriff is in. Oh, and the Republican candidates for prez, whose collective aim is so untrue (also speaking of the Warriors) that even those of us who try and stay out of it are covered in mud and shit.

Is everyone sick and suicidal, or just sick?

Well, my dears, I have something for you, and it isn’t duck soup. It’s better. It’s butter corn ramen at Halu, which is my new favorite restaurant by 10 miles. Or at least thirty blocks.

Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones who know about it. Halu isn’t open for lunch and doesn’t accept reservations for dinner. It’s a hole in the wall. So, unless you get there at five, expect a line.

And expect that line to be worth waiting in. (I rarely say that.)

About a year ago or so I started hearing about this place from all sides. Alice Shaw the Person gave me its business card. Which I lost. But I still recall her rhapsodic description of skewered scallops wrapped in bacon. We were getting ready to play soccer. “One of the best things I ever ate,” she said. “The scallops …” Her eyes fluttered and started to roll back under their lids, until I thought she might lose consciousness. Which would have sucked because we’d have had to forfeit.

Then Papa, my butcher, started in on it. “Pork jowls,” she kept saying. At football practice. In the huddle. Every time I saw her: “Pork jowls.”

When people say pork jowls, I listen. They only need to say it once. After three or four times, I start to dream cheeky things. So, long before I ever ate there, Halu was on my mind and under my skin.

I tried to go once with a big group, but at least one of us was too hungry to stomach the wait, so we wound up at the Burmese place around the corner on Clement.

Then, finally, last summer while Hedgehog and me were house sitting in the Richmond one week, we walked over right at five and sat right down and ordered all the wrong things. Lava ramen, which was the best and second-spiciest bowl of ramen I had ever had, but it wasn’t spicy butter corn ramen. Or, as they inexplicably call it, spicy corn butter ramen. Which, I would have to wait three more months to learn, is even better.

Amazingly tender roast pork, crisp kernels of fresh corn, and pats of butter melting into it as they bring the bowl to your table. The noodles taste homemade, and the broth has an insane amount of flavor to it.

I must not have looked at the menu the first time I was there, or I would have become a Halu addict sooner. But the lava ramen was on the wall, with a lot of other yummy sounding dishes, and all the Beatles posters and ’60s stuff — including a cool old bass and an even cooler acoustic guitar.

The yakitori menu is on the wall too, and every time I get my butter corn butter ramen butter fix, I sample one or two of these, on the side. So far I’ve had mochi bacon, which was divine, and of course the pork jowls, which were even diviner. Chicken livers. Good. The boneless short ribs were a little dry.

Oddly, since it was what sold me on the place in the first place, I have yet to try the bacon-wrapped scallops. (Sorry, Alice Shaw the Person.) Other didn’t-get-yets include asparagus bacon, enoki bacon, and eringi bacon, because in my opinion two of those things are mushrooms. But I do love asparagus.

One time we had karaage (fried chicken), by way of an appetizer. It was nothing special.

Otherwise, though: worth the wait. Way. Go say hi to Baseball Mary across the corner at Clement Street Bar and Grill. The game’ll be on, if there is one.


Tue.-Thu. 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5-11 p.m.; closed Sun.-Mon.

312 8th Ave., SF.

(415) 221-9165


Beer and wine

A real SF tweet



CHEAP EATS I keep buying little plants and killing them. This makes me miss chickens, which are, in my experience, both easier to keep alive and more gratifying to kill. Now that they come from the grocery store, I cook more chickens than ever. Therefore, I would like to have fresh herbs in my kitchen. Therefore, I keep buying these little plants.

And killing them.

Luck would have it, I was in New Orleans when the 49ers beat the Saints. Did you see that? Both Coach and Wayway, with whom I was in constant textual contact that day, described hoots, honks, and general happiness in our neighborhood here. And that was before kick-off! I can imagine what it was like after.

Here there was dead-ass silence for a change. Except me and Hedgehog, who were writhing and screaming on our leather couch in front of our 50-inch flat screen plasmatic TV. Until we both wet our pants and had to jump in our Jacuzzi bathtub.

By our I mean someone else’s.

Except the pants.

Next day on KCBS John Madden called it the best game he ever saw — which is saying something, as he’s seen a lot of games. Me, I am not so prone to hyperbole. Either that or I am journalismically challenged by the old-fashionedest of lag times between my opinion of Things and publication. (Don’t worry; as we speak, Hedgehog is teaching me how to twit.)

Well, whatever happens(ed) with the rest of this football season, I want you to know where I’ll be watching the games next season, since in real life I don’t even own a TV, let alone a big flat plasmatic one .. .

At my new favorite restaurant: The Old Clam House!

Twenty-two years I’ve been living in and around this city, and for exactly that long have I been meaning to eat at The Old Clam House. It’s the oldest restaurant in San Francisco! In the same location! Since 1861!

To give you some idea of how long ago that is, think of it like this: 151 years.

Considering what all has gone down since then — the big earthquake, the other one, and Donte Whitner’s hit on Pierre Thomas — it’s amazing that even some of the Clam House is still standing. But the bar area is original, according to them. And from the photos you can tell that it is.

So that was where we sat. Checkerboard floor, wood trim, old-fangled ceiling tiles, and the Niners game on TV. Mind you, I had just played football, over at Crocker Amazon, so I probably didn’t smell very pretty. Or look nice.

In fact I was starving, cold, and frazzled. And my hamstring was gone, so I had to sit on ice. We ordered clams paella acini and Swiss chard with onions and bacon, and Hedgehog ordered something stiff to drink, because as hard as it is to play on my football team, I think it’s even harder to watch.

The paella was delicious, and in an unusual way: cioppino sauce, sausage, olives, cheddar cheese. And acini are little tiny pastas, between couscous and orzo. We’d have preferred rice, but it was good this way too. The clams were good, and plentiful, the sausage so-so, and the Swiss chard of course was great. (Bacon.)

As for the bread and butter, besides being pretty good breads and butters, I like it that they tell you on the menu not only where the bread comes from, but where the butter comes from: Acme and Strauss, respectively.

Butter does matter.

My favorite touch, however, was the little glass of warm clam broth with onions that they brought to our table first. That was a yummy, warming treat, and a very nice touch.

Plus I ordered a Coke and it came in a carafe.

But listen up, Mr. Madden: I totally agree. And for more up-to-date (and shorter) musings on sports, food, and Things, you can henceforth tweeter me at @lechickenfarmer. *


Daily: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

299 Bayshore Blvd., SF.

(415) 826-4880


Full bar