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Posts from the ‘California’ Category


It was pure coincidence that I was asked to write about food cooked with blood the week after I ate pig’s blood pappardelle in San Francisco. I’ve not found anything in NYC that really approaches that level of creativity; most preparations here are traditional, whether French or Filipino.

Incanto pig's blood papparadelle with foie gras & trotters

The chewy, crimson pappardelle strewn with trotter meat, hunks of foie gras and homemade raisins that were closer to grapes is hard to describe without sounding obscene. The few times I’ve brought it up, I’ve had to temper my words with, “No, it’s really good.” I’m not sure if it’s the blood or the multi-levels of decadence that’s off-putting to the uninitiated. This smaller portion we shared as a second course—many dishes are available in two sizes—was beyond rich, a glorious appetite-squelcher.

Incanto pork belly with watermelon & tomatoes

Really. We ended up taking most of the following course, pork belly with heirloom tomatoes and yellow and red watermelon to go (yes, I’m normally melon-averse but I discovered that the pork tempers the fruit’s cloying nature when I a tried a funkier take on this combo at Fatty Crab). It wasn’t half-bad room temperature for breakfast.

Incanto lamb heart

Our starter, while also meaty, was the lightest of the bunch. Just a little spicy lamb’s heart and shallots.

Incanto * 1550 Church St., San Francisco, CA


Taken separately, rice, eggs and cured meats aren’t particularly Filipino, but put them together and you have a classic Pinoy breakfast. Daly City’s Tselogs, specializes in just that: breakfast trios served all day long and till 3am on weekends.

Tselogs counter

Earth-toned with faux bricks and well, bric-a-brac like old books and metal vessels on wall-mounted shelves, the restaurant feels like a friend’s house (if you grew up in the ‘70s) mixed with a dash of pizza parlor. 

Ordering is simple; pick your meat from the list of ten dishes with mashed-up names. For instance, tapsilog is tapa (soft beef jerky) + sinagag (fried rice) + itlog (egg). Cornbisilog? Corned beef. You can probably guess what spamsilog contains.

Tselogs tocilog

I wanted tocilog for the sweet, fatty cured pork, glazed red. Interspersed with bites of chewy garlicky rice and a runny yolk, this was breakfast perfection. I like Sriricha with mine, though vinegar might be more traditional.

Tselogs longsilog

Longsilog with links of longganisa.

Tselogs chicken sisig

Their signature is the sisigsilog, but we just got an a la carte order on the side. I’ve never had chicken sisig, as the ears-and-snouts style is more common in NYC. I feared it would be boring in comparison, but what it lacked in gooey cartilage-y bits, it made up for in caramelized char.

Tselogs buko pie

I got a slice of buko pie to go. It fortified me on the not-that-long drive to Santa Cruz. 

My familiarity with the Bay Area is next to nil, but it seems like the East Bay is more like a Brooklyn (ha, “the Brooklyn of…” problem) and Daly City and the southern outskirts are the Queens, uncool with better food—assuming Burmese tea leaf salad or even puff pasty-topped balut is your idea of better than freshly plucked chervil and purslane. I would absolutely live in Daly City if I ever settled into that part of the country (I actually think I have a cousin and aunt who live there but it would be weird to look them up since I haven’t seen them in 30 years). One, because I’m fixated on the suburbs, and this barely qualifies—only seven miles and four stops on the BART to the Mission District?—and two, I love the rows of colorful boxy houses, so incongruously tropical in the chill and the fog.

Tselogs * 6055 Mission St., Daly City, CA

Bread Bowls ‘R’ Us

Like taco salads served in fried tortilla shells, it’s hard to take a bread bowl seriously.

The starchy serving device was the butt of a joke on Weeds a few weeks ago. In what will likely be the only amusing blip of the entire season, Andy remarked to his new boss, a snobby French hotel chef in Seattle, “I noticed you’re still serving things in bread bowls. That is so ‘80s.”

A few months ago on the JFK Airtrain, a loud man with a heavy Brooklyn accent discussing where to eat on the way home, described a chicken salad in a bread bowl as “bangin’.” I immediately wanted to know where they were going and swear I heard “Jordan’s.” The only Jordan’s I know is a lobster place, promisingly near the airport, but there’s no bread bowl on the menu that I can see.

In August I read Tao Lin’s Richard Yates (as part of the Rumpus Book Club, which has been some of the smartest money spent in recent history. I’ve read more fiction in 2010 than I have in over a decade, years lost to the internet. Don’t tell anyone, but I only thought to read anything by Richard Yates because of this title. Last night I finished The Easter Parade and am still processing it. I only watched Revolutionary Road on the flight from Bangkok in March because I was so bored and had so much time to kill—I had no idea the story was so bleak. I wonder if everything Yates wrote is full of the kind of loneliness and despair you shouldn’t curl up with on a 20-hour-flight) and liked the book more than I thought I would even though I probably wouldn’t like the author who seemed to be very much present in the protagonist, Haley Joel Osment. Uh, but he and Dakota Fanning refer to bougie, white trash types as “cheese beasts” initiated by Dakota Fanning’s mom bringing home crab Rangoon, pretty much my favorite junk food ever. Being a major cheese beast, I took offense. The shorthand could’ve easily been replaced with bread bowls.

But to the point, I had no idea that San Francisco is the epicenter of bread bowl culture. I knew better than to stroll around Fishermen’s Wharf, but it had to be done, if only to try and dredge up some tucked away nostalgia from barely remembered childhood visits.

Fishermen's wharf bread bowls

I don’t remember all of these hawker-type stalls with pre-scooped loaves of sourdough waiting to be filled with chowder and shrimp salads.

Bread bowl birds

The pigeons might love bread bowls even more than the tourists. 

Pigeon in a bread bowl

This bird was using a stale loaf as an edible perch.

Seafood salad bread bowls

One cheese beasty/bread bowl-esque activity I long grew out of is buying souvenir t-shirts on vacation. Then again, I just don’t wear t-shirts.

1983: I was bought a lavender sweatshirt that read San Francisco in an electric ’80s script and had geometric shapes floating in the background. I loved it so much that I completely over-wore it in sixth grade. A fact directly broadcast to me by Nathan, a biracial popular kid (his being the only black male student in our class raised his social standing) who punched me his first week as a new kid in third grade because I corrected him when he asked, “Where’s the libary?” No one likes a goodie two shoes (even my mom who replied, “that’s their business” when I told her that Nathan said his parents smoked pot—and they were cops!). “How many years have you been wearing that sweatshirt?!” he chided. It totally hadn’t been more than a year; it probably just seemed longer. Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I saw photos from my double-decade high school reunion earlier this month and he was the only youthful-looking, non-obese person in the bunch. I imagine he’s still popular.

1987: During a San Francisco pit stop on the way to Patterson that only involved my dad and sister, I bought an oversized Fido Dido t-shirt featuring the Coit Tower and some loopy text that ended with the line “sometimes I get lost but it’s ok.” That shirt never got made fun of (at least not to my face). Even though there isn’t a Wendy’s on the wharf now, I’m 90% sure that’s where we ate that afternoon. I skimmed through some local alt-newspaper and fixated on a photo of a man in a band called Pray for Rain that I’d never heard of (I suspect this is the same person) and thought San Francisco must have much cooler guys than Gresham, Oregon. My sister and I tried tracking down a postcard with a photo of Andy Warhol to mail to our friend who insisted she didn’t know who he was. He’d just died. Later, we got called “punkers” at a mall in Santa Rosa while eating See’s candy on a bench, which is kind of the opposite of punk.

Fishermen's grotto

On this bright and cool 2010 afternoon, I wasn’t planning on eating anything at Fishermen’s Wharf. We still had a late lunch planned for Tadich Grill and Laotian food in Oakland for dinner. Yet I couldn’t resist the lure of the festive, candy cane striped poles decorating Fisherman’s Grotto, standing out like little rainbow beacons among bread bowls. I remembered those carnival-esque, giant birthday candles from an earlier visit, when they already seemed of another time, as anachronistic as the “hamburger sandwich” still being served on the Little Fisherman’s section of their menu.

Fishermen's grotto bar

Fishermen's grotto beer First, we peeked upstairs at the enormous near-empty dining room. The adjoining bar is amazing with shiny, blue tufted chairs, but it wasn’t open. I’m certain nothing but the prices have changed since 1983, or even 1953, the date on the painting in the small ground floor bar where we settled into stools in the back and ordered two pints of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

A raucous crew of middle-aged men (truly middle aged, 59-61, give or take, not the current anyone-over-35 usage) ordering lunch and drinking red wine (wine is so not an elite thing on many pockets of the west coast) were hamming it up with the bartender, obviously a careerist, adept at engaging tourists as well as holding his own with locals. I never wanted to leave. The only thing missing was the presence of cigarettes, though the musty scent still lingered in the wood paneled pores of the narrow room, impossible to Febreeze away even 12 years after the 1998 ban decreed on a piece of paper tacked below the bowling trophies and above the busts of composers.

If I were unable to see the bay outside the open doors, I would’ve sworn we were in a classier Carroll Gardens social club. “Sicilian” was bandied about; some were Italian, some of their wives were from the Mediterranean island. Turns out that everyone including the bartender had grown up together in San Francisco and were having a reunion and seemed to be having a hell of a lot more fun that I would’ve at my high school meet-up that as going on this very same weekend.

Apparently, the wharf used be dominated by vendors with fresh crab. I did not ask about when bread bowls came on the scene.

Fishermen's grotto bread bowl clam chowder

We did order one, though. No disdain. Why was I feeling sheepish? It’s merely thick, starched up clam chowder surrounded by baked sourdough, not a foodie scarlet letter necessitating BB to be scrawled across my chest.

We spent so much time soaking up the scenery that we threw off our whole day’s schedule, barely making it in the door of Vientian Café before closing. I wouldn’t have said that a bread bowl was a fair culinary trade for a plastic container of tripe-filled beef larb with fermented fish sauce, but the experience would’ve been.

In-N-Out Burger

Maybe I’m influenced a bit by the mythical stature of In-N-Out, compounded by inaccessibility. And those hyphens? Chick-fil-A's sandwiches, too, loom large in things between bread lore. Clearly, the omission of full words creates devotion.


I can be easily influenced, but I still wouldn't describe an In-N-Out burger as "about as moist as an emery board and half as thick." Certainly, the meat matters but a Double-Double is about the overall harmony. No mainstream fast food burgers compare (even though James' coworker he'd dragged on the BART from Berkeley to Fisherman's Wharf to indoctrinate him complained, "Burger King is better."). Besides, I'm going to focus on the fries, which everyone says are crappy despite being handmade.

It could've been the Friday night clientele, mostly made up of teenagers (while revved up and tomcatting around, the kids didn't have that potential sociopath aura like their Brooklyn counterparts—must be the calming effect of the suburbs) but the fries took me back to "Grotto fries," a treat that was served at the diner across from my high school, officially named the Hi Fi Grotto, that was the domain of outdoor smokers safely away from school property. Grotto fries were crinkle cut and probably frozen, but the secret sauce made them awesome.

Animal-style fries are like Grotto fries times ten. Of course, there's the secret sauce/spread/Thousand Island dressing for creaminess and tang—there's definitely pickle relish in the condiment, fried onions for sweetness and the crowning glory, a gooey blanket of semi-melted American cheese. Not cheese sauce, which would be logical, but a pliable slice of salty goodness like when a nacho made with shredded cheese starts to cool and you can pick off solid blobs. This is how junk food was meant to be.


Did I mention that I'd been throwing up all afternoon on the plane? (I'm convinced it wasn't motion sickness but a guava pastry from the Juan Valdez café in Newark) This is how powerful animal-style fries are. I couldn't finish my burger (I saved it for breakfast) but there was no way I was going to let a little nausea stand in the way of this fried potato pileup.

In-N-Out Burger * 1417 Fitzgerald Dr., Pinole, CA

Napa Valley Sunday

The San Francisco trip was semi-impromptu so securing a French Laundry reservation just wasn’t going to happen. Besides, I’m not a “people who have BMWs or are looking at BMWs”.


After a few winery pit stops (photographic evidence) we did poke around Yountville and ate at Bouchon, instead. I didn’t feel inclined to blog my meal because I wrote about the Las Vegas location before, and I’ve been trying to wean myself from the practice. It’s like smoking; I technically quit in 2003 but you might see a cigarette in my hand a couple times a week.

Bouchon bakery macarons

However, I did photograph macarons from Bouchon Bakery. I could really take or leave the cupcake of the foodie world. It’s just a cookie, but I’m a sucker for rainbow hues.

Bouchon bakery blueberry macaron

And the blueberry wasn’t just pretty to look at—there’s no way the interior shade of azure is naturally derived—the texture and flavor was dazzling. Only a white cream layer is obvious at first glance, but there’s also a swipe of deep blue chunky jam in the center of the substantial macaron. The pistachio one was fine, but couldn’t compare to the boldness of the blueberry.

I’ve never been to the Napa Valley, and wasn’t sure what to expect. Yountville, a mini neighborhood constructed around the presence of the French Laundry, was peculiar in its manufactured quality. I wouldn’t say Disneyfied, if only because I loathe that shorthand, but intentional despite its nothingness like an outlet mall planted off a highway exit, a far flung Ikea on a street called Ikea Lane. It felt about 12 blocks long, which is about right if you look at the patch on a map.

French laundry garden

The rebellious suburbanite in me wanted to wreak havoc on the pseudo tiny town. For one, I couldn’t figure out how French Laundry’s garden, directly across the street from the storied restaurant, could be open to the public without people snatching produce. What’s to keep someone from pocketing a souvenir Jerusalem artichoke? “That’s so Brooklyn” James chided, even though he had the same thought. Humans are not that good. If they’re stealing serving vessels from Alinea, plundering gardens is a step down.

French laundry greenhouse

Greenhouse tomatoes and herbs begging to be picked.

French laundry melon patch

Melons being my most loathed food, it took restraint to not bop one of these cantaloupes lazing under foliage on its webby noggin.

After a charcuterie plate, black cod and lobster with accoutrements that reminded me a lot of this tete de cochon from Eleven Madison Park, a cheese course including a Fleur du Maquis that tasted like pee-soaked hay (not saying that’s a bad thing) and a few glasses of un-California riesling—oh, and a sherry—we set out to explore Yountvile after dark.

Yountville library

I rest secure knowing that while it’s not something I’d do in NYC, I appreciate that public libraries exist everywhere. When I get older and move away to become more hermitty, I’ll always be able to find work traumatizing the community from behind a reference desk. I wonder what kind of patrons use the Yountville public library?

Yountville mobile home park If you cross back over the main entry road from highway 29, the neighborhood tapers off into trees and half-standing houses in mid-construction.  The bad part of town? That’s where you could sneak off and get high if you were a teen. I wanted to nose around the new development but a security guard was on patrol.

Rancho twosome

Instead, we trespassed into the over 55 community. As someone who’s trying to escape the stroller-and-toy hegemony that plagues the foyers of every shared building in Brooklyn, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only place I could live in orderly peace would be in a complex of empty nesters.

Inside rancho de napa

And apparently, Rancho de Napa is a “grape place to live.” What I love about the west coast is the normalcy of trailer parks. I’ve spent much time in mobile homes of various family members over the years. It’s not trashy, it’s thrifty. And this collection was comprised of more polite manufactured homes, many tricked out with multiple stories, showy panels of windows and manicured yards. It was dark, however, and I didn’t want to use a flash lest we get run out of town. On a Sunday around 8pm, the whole village was practically in bed anyway, BMW-less visitors heading back from whence they came.


Burritos get all the attention in San Francisco (and I did get one the size of tube sock filled with al pastor at El Farolito, which served as midnight snack and substantial breakfast) but Cal-Mex is hardly the only regional style available in the Mission. 


Yucatecan food was on my agenda, so I was thrilled to hear that my friend Todd had moved from Portland to an apartment around the corner from Poc-Chuc. Actually, he just said, “a Mayan restaurant,” but because I am obsessive I knew which one he meant even though I haven’t been to San Francisco since 1995. He was raving about a black turkey dish that sometimes had a mystery meatball floating in it. I loved the idea of random spongy meat showing up with your poultry.

With that said, we went to Haltun, another restaurant in the Mission, to see if they too plopped Mayan meatballs into the mix. Yes, they do. I must admit that my knowledge of this Caribbean-influenced style of cooking only comes from one meal at Coox Hanal in Mexico City, perhaps the equivalent of trying Southern food in NYC (which we seem to have an awful lot of lately), and from an episode of One Plate at Time. Clearly, I’m not an expert.

Haltun relleno negro

I do know that this dark, brothy dish gets its spooky color from charred chiles, often a mix of arbol and ancho. Charred is putting it mildly; the chiles are burnt and even the ash is incorporated into the mole paste. The meatloaf—it’s much more than a ball—is made from pork. Apparently, Poc Chuc’s version is less oily and more inky than sienna.

Haltun relleno blanco

Relleno blanco is the good twin, similar ingredients minus the darkness.

Haltun poc-chuc de puerco

Me, I just wanted a big plate of grilled pork, the so-called poc-chuc de puerco. This wouldn’t be out of place in many parts of Mexico; the Yucatecan touches were present in the pickled onions and potent salsa—habanero-usage is exclusive to this cuisine—served in a small glass dish with the circumference of thumb and first finger making the OK sign. 

Haltun chips & salsa

I’m pretty sure that’s crumbled cheese in the red salsa even though it looks a little like Thai roasted rice powder.

While it’s no LA or Chicago, I’ll always defend NYC’s Mexican cuisine (I’d say San Francisco fits somewhere in the middle). Still, we rarely get thick and pliable corn tortillas fresh of the comal like this. Handmade tortillas make all the difference, which reminds me that it’s very neglectful of me to have not visited Corona’s Tortillería Nixtamal yet.

Haltun pol-can

A banner affixed to the exterior wall described a happy hour and “Mayan tapas,” my favorite abused word. We were outside this time frame, but tapas meant appetizers so we tried a few at full price. Pol-can was a lima bean and pumpkin seed fritter made out of corn-based dough. Very new world.

Haltun salbut'

Salbutes, or salbut’ as spelled at Haltun, are like tostadas. These fried tortillas were topped with chicken. I haven’t seen these in NYC, but panuchos, a close kin, are served at La Superior in Williamsburg.

Haltun * 2948 21st St., San Francisco, CA

Vientian Café

My final vacation meal was small and slapdash, a zero hour take out excursion I barely managed to squeeze in before Vientian Café closed at an early 9pm. Burmese (which I never got to), Mayan and Laotian are three cuisines lacking in NYC that the Bay Area has aplenty. (Only the latter made the recent Village Voice “Nine Cuisines Missing From NYC” list. Burmese is iffy here–I’m not even sure which restaurants if any are in business anymore. La Superior does serve panuchos, pavo escabeche and cochinita pibil, but it’s not strictly a Yucatecan restaurant. Laotian is completely absent.) I wanted to try them all.

Oakland, only a short car ride from our hotel in Berkeley, seemed to be the epicenter of Lao cooking. After a late lunch/early dinner at Tadich Grill and a nap induced by a few too many afternoon glasses of wine, it was already 8:30pm, too late for Green Papaya Deli, my first choice, but potentially ok for Vientian Café.

My only concern were the Yelp reviews, which I never take seriously for food quality but find useful for service quirks or issues not related to eating. Everyone mentioned how unsafe it was to park near the restaurant and how sketchy the neighborhood was. I don’t tend to take these cautions seriously; I read similar nonsense about places in Puerto Rico that were perfectly fine. Then again, I always think back to Vancouver, B.C. and getting everything stolen from our rental car because I didn’t take bad vibes seriously.

The door was locked when I ran up hoping for takeout. I was let in and the door was re-locked. I’m not sure if this was because it was the end of the night or if they always keep the door locked. The only other time I’ve seen this practice was at La Peniche in New Orleans where they also kept a machete near the door—if I’m correct, because there had a been a rash of robberies not because the Marigny is a particularly dangerous area. James insisted he heard gun shots while waiting in the car. Who knows? Maybe we’d just been in Berkeley too long and had gotten all soft and jumpy.

Vientian cafe beef larb

Knowing we were flying out in less than 12 hours, I only ordered two things from the menu, which was overwhelmingly Thai. The only thing I knew I had to try was the beef larb. Very different from the Thai style, the meat is raw, tripe is mixed in and there is nearly an equal amount of whole mint leaves and fat rings of green onions to irregularly chopped beef bits. Spicy for sure, herbal, and also bitter, much more so than the Thai style I’m accustomed to. I don’t know what that’s coming from, if it’s an unidentified herb or a side effect of the fermented fish sauce.

I almost never lame out on food, but after days of popping Pepto-Bismol tablets to keep the inexplicable nausea that started on the flight to San Francisco and lasted the entire trip under control I went with the counter woman’s suggestion of rare beef instead of raw. After reading up a bit, I don’t think cooked meat was the abomination I originally thought it was. Here’s a fancy version of the larb from a great blog I’d nearly forgotten about, written by a Laotian chef in Spain.

Vientian cafe lao papaya salad

There is no doubt where the papaya salad gets its predominant funk from, and that’s the above mentioned padaek. Thankfully, we were checking out the next morning. I can’t imagine our hotel’s housekeeper being pleased with the foul, dirty smelling Styrofoam container left in the garbage (wrapped in plastic). As is often the case, the taste is much milder than the smell, more of a robust saltiness you associate with the sea. “Five or six chiles?” the counterwoman asked. “How you would eat it,” was my response hoping she wasn’t a baby palate. The heat was sharp and forceful, but nothing that a blob of sticky rice couldn’t temper. The most unusual part of the Lao style salad was that it came with a separately bagged up pile of fresh rice noodles, which provided the same softening effect as the sticky rice. I liked the contrast between crunch and chew.

I only regret not being able to order more things like the duck salad and Lao sausages…and having to toss out the unfinished remains of this meal. I just couldn’t justify packing such messy food in our suitcases even though we did do just that with Sichuan leftovers from our last lunch in Hong Kong.

Vientian Café * 3801 Allendale Ave., Oakland, CA

Humphry Slocombe & Assorted Beverages

1/2 Two things I like about vacations are drinking in the middle of the day and eating lots of sweets. My dull workaday life is sugar-free, and cocktails are relegated to the weekends. I satisfied both loves my first day in San Francisco, a Saturday when good foodies are supposed to be at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, when instead, I met up with an old Portland friend who now lives in the Mission.

Humphry slocombe secret breakfast

He was already acquainted with popular ice creamery, Bi-Rite, so we chose to immerse ourselves in weirder flavors at Humphry Slocombe. We all were swayed by Secret Breakfast, a wink-wink blend of cornflakes and Jim Beam. Second scoops included Peanut Butter Curry for me, which tasted as advertised and had the bluntness of turmeric-heavy curry powder; Olive Oil for Todd, which he said was orangey, not olivey; and a mistaken Salt and Pepper for James (he’d ask for Cayenne Cantaloupe and I screwed up the order because my brain couldn’t retain three combos of two).

The unexpected thing was that the flavors weren’t wildly distinct. I don’t think I would’ve guessed either of the two ingredients in the Secret Breakfast, which was more creamy and vanilla-ish. The cracked pepper definitely stood out because I thought it was my bowl and not the curry flavor I’d been expecting. However, I didn’t taste any salt and would’ve liked the contrast. I don’t think we converted Todd from Bi Rite, but I’d give Humphry another chance if I lived nearby. Plus, the prosciutto flavor is back on the menu today.

Humphry slocombe exterior

Odd for someone who eats ice cream like never, I also had a scoop of nectarine at brand new Mission Hill Creamery in Santa Cruz, a company started by my boyfriend’s sister’s husband’s childhood friend. Apparently, he is of the same purist, seasonal school as Bi Rite and learned from the same master somewhere in the Northeast. I thought it was interesting that he claimed that Humphry Slocombe quirks wouldn’t fly in Santa Cruz. I was just reading about a place in Maine, which strikes me as a more conservative locale, doing flavors like Thai Chile and Chocolate Wasabi, so you never know. I did not take any photos because I tend to reserve food paparazzi behavior for company who is used to it.

Dirty thieves snack

I wasn’t sure if Dirty Thieves, around the corner from Humphry Slocombe, was a true dive or a facsimile, but the booths were ripped up enough and while PBR tallboys and a shot of whiskey are hip in their own way, it’s not like housemade horehound bitters and lavender-infused Plymouth Gin. In fact, my long list of to-try mixology dens (Albemic, Bar Agricole, Comstock Saloon, Smuggler’s Cove, Hogs & Rocks, Beretta, among others) completely got top shelved once I set foot in San Francisco.

Li po

Instead, we mingled with tourists swaying to Ray Charles covers banged out on the corner piano at Gold Dust Lounge, and nursed a few beers at Li Po on a Labor Day night in Chinatown so silent we tried not to disrupt the homeless man sleeping in the doorway next to where we parked. He continued his buzzsaw snoring, perhaps the only thing keeping Lo Pan, who we kept imagining would float by in the dark, at bay.

Eddie rickenbacker's bar

I also couldn’t pass up Eddie Rickenbacker’s, a prototypical fern bar of the let’s put crap and Tiffany lamps all over the place school of décor that only now Applebee’s and Ruby Tuesdays are trying to move away from. We really wanted to see Mr. Higgins, the obese, three-legged Katrina rescued cat who lives in the bar, but he’d died three weeks prior to the date we arrived to say hi. I drank a shot of Maker’s Mark in his honor, though he was probably more of a Harvey Wallbanger feline.

Dirty Thieves continued the refreshing San Francisco tradition of warm service, irony-rich PBR or not, an antidote to the dourness I’ve just come to expect as normal in Brooklyn. In fact, our bartender was so friendly he practically apologized for not offering us free peanut butter and banana sandwiches that he’d been grilling out back. Full of Mayan food (another post) and ice cream, we still couldn’t turn down such kindness—and enthusiasm—it was as if he’d invented the combination himself.

Humphry Slocombe * 2790 Harrison St., San Francisco, CA

Dirty Thieves * 3050 24th St., San Francisco, CA

Li Po * 916 Grant Ave., San Francisco, CA

Eddie Rickenbacker’s * 133 2nd St., San Francisco, CA

Why does no one in the Bay Area have webpages? 

In N Out

After recently reading the "New York Times" article on this cult-fave chain,
I had to check it out for myself. I didn't know they had them in the Bay
Area, but out of the corner of my eye I saw the bright sign beckoning off
the freeway on the way to San Francisco. In-N-Out would have to wait until
our return drive (a mere three hours later) en route to the airport.

On our way back, the problem was neither of us could remember where we'd
seen the sign and by the time I spotted it, it was too late and we'd missed
our exit. Taking the next exit, we did lots of winding, fighting (we were
cutting it way close to flight time) and weaving through what turned out to
be Daly City. I was sorry we didn't have more time, as I've been crazy for
Filipino food lately and I know this neighborhood has the largest population
outside the Philippines. (It was, and probably still is home to my aunt
Amelia that I haven't seen in like 25 years because she's got some issue
with my dad or something). Given a full day in Daly City I would've gone
nuts, totally non-East Coast chains like Jollibee (I've never eaten there, but
the Aloha Burger on their site inspired me to create my own burger with
pineapple and bacon. To my bafflement, it has since been removed from their
site.) and Goldilocks have set
up shop in town. Asian strip malls also called to me as we maniacally drove
past. Grand Opening banners graced a place cunningly called Porridge King.
Congee in a mall? So not New York.

We managed to park, run through the insane drive-through line and
quickly ordered a double double (for James) and a cheeseburger for myself
(damn, if I hadn't just eaten a huge bowl of duck wonton noodles minutes
earlier). I'd heard about this not being the fastest of fast food, and after
a few minutes that seemed like hours we got really nervous. Wouldn't it suck
to miss your flight for a burger?

It all worked out. We hightailed it out of there and made it the airport
just in time to face a fully booked flight with seats not together. Well, at
least we had our lukewarm burgers to keep us company. Actually, we were able
to swap seats with a kind man, but I was prepared to take solace in my

In-N-Out* 260 Washington St.,
Daly City, CA

Tacos Moreno

I heard this was the place to go for tacos, but they were closed every time
we passed by. Luckily, they were open our last day in town. I got carnitas
as usual, and they were good. I was nervous and in a rush so I couldn't
savor them as I might've liked to. They're the only place I encountered in
SC that used beans in their tacos. Is that all right to do?

Tacos Moreno * 1053 Water St., Santa Cruz, CA