Category Archives: San Francisco

It’s Not a Cafe, It’s Tart to Tart

imageThere’s a place near me in the Inner Sunset called Tart to Tart. It’s a bakery/coffee place/Mexican food distributor (kind of.)

Nothing cool has happened here in years. Maybe nothing cool has ever happened here. I don’t know how long this place has been open, but I do remember seeing it the first time I came to San Francisco. I was walking along Irving street in January 2012 and I saw this place and I thought to myself, “That looks so cute.” But I didn’t know anything then, even about the things I thought I knew something. About those things I was especially ignorant.

Tart to Tart is not cute. It’s not adorable, or whimsical. All cuteness about it stops at the name. Keep in mind that I’m speaking only of the Inner Sunset location, and not about any other one. Nowadays I don’t talk so much about things I don’t know, or at least I try to avoid it.

Tart to Tart is a place of supreme function. It stretches out behind its windows into a dark, cave-like interior where all the furniture wobbles and has either been here a long time or was purchased second-hand. Students can camp out here safely. Old friends meet and talk and see other people they know. They say hello and describe the road trip they just took through Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and some other places.

There are no pretensions here. If you have pretensions, they will be ignored. Maybe that makes it a place where you’re safe from the person you pretend to be sometimes, and that’s kind of nice.

This is a place to come if you love coffee so much you don’t care what it tastes like, where you like looking at pastries almost as much as eating a pastry that actually tastes good, where you don’t mind a bathroom that reminds you of gas stations in middle America. Even the word cafe doesn’t really fit – it’s just Tart to Tart, a place you go when you need to go somewhere. That’s all.

Bring cash if you’re buying something that costs less than $3. Or maybe it’s $5. Just bring some cash. It’s the right thing to do.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , ,

San Francisco: Where the Bison Roam

image

I’m back in San Francisco for good (for now), and from hereon out, I will continue to do what I do most often/best, which is write about daily experiences in a way that is humorous and hopefully touching. Since I’m San Francisco based, I will most often write about the things I see and do in this city.

Speaking of which, there’s something you should know about. Some of you might already know about it. Others have heard but think it’s a false rumor. Still others of you will have no idea what I’m talking about. Most will have stopped reding altogether and are looking for new gifs to send their co-workers.

I’m talking about the bison that right now, at this very moment in time, no matter when you’re reading this even if it’s far into the future or even just tomorrow, that there are bison right now quietly grazing in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Some of them are lying down. One might be pooping or thinking about it. Another is standing looking out at the trees that are probably clouded in fog. I don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re there.

The rumors and park signage about bison in Golden Gate Park are true. They’re there and I have now seen them for myself, with my own eyes.

I was out for one of my now-regular morning jogs and it was almost time to turn around and go back to the house but I’d seen something recently about the bison and they were on my mind. Perhaps I would make my way to the famed Bison Paddock.

Besides, I thought to myself, I don’t really have anything to get back to, so I might as well explore the northwestern side of Golden Gate park which I believed was mostly a myth.

But it is myth no longer. I ventured farther and farther into the unknown regions of the park. I saw a sign for the Bison Paddock, so I knew I was close. I wondered what other scenarios would be appropriate to use the word paddock in. I got tired of running.

Then the road forked and went on a slight incline and all of the sudden I was above a field that spread out to my right and there they were, the giant shaggy beasts that used to roam the plains and make thunder with their hooves. There were about eight of them, gently grazing in the paddock like Twitter had never even been invented.

It was the essence of serenity, just watching these animals graze, totally absorbed in the ground right at their feet and unconcerned with anything else. It was beauty.

I reluctantly jogged on and at the next intersection, a man on a bike started yelling at a car just ahead of him, “Why the f***k are you sitting there?! Why the f***k are you just sitting there!?” The car was turning right and had a red light and a chance to turn but didn’t take it. I guess the biker was just in a hurry.

Maybe he could have learned a lesson from the bison on how to not be an asshole.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Hey You. Yeah, You. I Smell Your Sandwich.

imageSo it looks like we both got on the same MUNI stop – 4th and King, near AT&T Park in San Francisco. I don’t know about you, but I was just leeching off of Panera’s free wi-fi for a couple hours and enjoying the sunlight in SoMa before heading back into the fog that’s now spilling over Twin Peaks like a fleece blanket made of water droplets from hell.

It also appears that you sat directly behind me and that you brought a little snacky-poo. Because here’s what you don’t know: I’m starving right now and as a result, I have olfactory abilities that rival most predatory animals. In this moment, cheetah snouts ain’t got nothing on this nose. I can’t see you but I can smell you. I can smell you and that mesquite turkey sandwich on ciabatta bread and local provolone cheese with house-made chipotle aioli, crunchy romaine lettuce and thinly sliced red onion to boot. No tomatoes.

I can smell it all. I can smell that you’re wearing the hoodie your startup gave you, the human version of cattle branding, and I can smell your straight cut dark jeans, your thick-rimmed glasses and your sneakers – the popular kind. I smell your haircut, your five o’clock shadow, and the guilt you have for not keeping in better touch with your college roommates.

I smell your insecurity, your fear of failure, and your desire to be accepted. I smell the nervousness that you feel when you enter a room full of people who expect something from you and the fact you hit your snooze button twice this morning and that earlier this week, you cracked the screen of your iPhone when you dropped it on the sidewalk in front of Philz coffee.

I smell your doubt and the creeping sensation that you’re somehow missing the point of it all and the embarrassment you felt earlier today when you thought a cute girl was checking you out but it turned out she was just looking to see if the bus was coming. It wasn’t coming, but that didn’t matter because it wasn’t your bus. I know that because I can smell the numbers of the buses you usually ride wafting off your breath as you exhale the sweet scent of fresh bread and chipotle mayo, because that’s all aioli is. It’s mayonnaise.

And I can smell that you know that. You know that aioli is just mayo. You learned about aioli shortly after you moved here from Wisconsin, and shortly after that you learned the two condiments are essentially one in the same but you still say aioli whenever you can because you want to believe that you’re different now, and that despite the fact you might be missing the point of it all and despite the fact that girl didn’t even see you or your fancy haircut, despite all of it you want to believe that you’ve made something more of yourself.

So it’s aioli, not mayo, because this is San Francisco and this is the MUNI and this is your evening meal on your commute home.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Hey, My Weekend was Great. Thanks for Asking.

Ask about my weekend. I dare you.

Ask about my weekend. I dare you.

Hey, thanks for asking how my weekend was. I appreciate you thinking of me on a Monday morning when we’re all desperately crowding around the coffee like bison around a watering hole in a dusty, dry summer. I’m going to choose to believe that your question was sincere and not just a way to distract me so you could take the second-to-last cup of coffee and avoid having to make another pot. So, thanks again. It was great.

Oh, you want to hear about something cool that I did. Oh great. I did tons of cool stuff that I can tell you about and I’d love to do that right now. I’d love for you to know every single thing that I did this weekend just so you can know how cool and relaxing and fulfilling my life is and how it completely validates everything I do at this office for 50 hours a week.

Oh, what did I do? Great. I’m so glad you asked for details. I’d love to tell you all the things that I did, so I’ll go ahead and do that now I guess.

On Friday I went home at 8:30 after going to happy hour where I tried a drink that was hot pink and tasted like a scream. I got home and tried to watch an episode of Arrested Development but IT WOULDN’T LOAD. So like a baller I wrote in my journal by candlelight for a little bit before going to bed at 9:20.

But get this, on Saturday I woke up before dawn and did a whole morning of vision-casting, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I created mad google docs and made sure to update my mint.com account with my recent cash purchase of coffee ($2.00) and answer any personal emails from the week. I pounded down some peanut butter oatmeal and a calcium chew and futzed around before taking a leisurely walk around Stowe Lake where I saw a couple making out.

But wait, it gets better. On Saturday night, I did things with my friends – like eat food and see a show. And on Sunday, I slept in until 8 am and took a freaking walk in the park and talked to my sister who I love and then I went to West Oakland where I bought 8 candles and did improv and then came back and made a mother flipping lentil dish before going to eat dinner with a friend.

So are you happy now? Are you happy now that you know every detail of my weekend? Do you feel like you know me better? Do you think what I did was cool? Because it wasn’t. Nothing of what I did was cool, and it never will be. BECAUSE MY WEEKEND WAS JUST LIKE YOURS. WE DID THE EXACT SAME STUFF AND WE HUNG OUT WITH FRIENDS AND ATE FOOD AND OUR LIVES ARE NOT INTERESTING.

So thanks for asking how my weekend was. How was yours?

P.S. What’s the deal with mayonnaise. Why does everyone hate it?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The Weird, Offbeat and Wonderful Breakfasts in San Francisco

I ate breakfast at 78 different places in the Bay Area last year.* I’ve written about the best of them and the worst of them, but there are some that deserve to be mentioned for other reasons, ones with some special sauce. Check it out.

Wolfe's Lunch

Wolfe’s Lunch

Most Surreal

Wolfe’s Lunch – Portrero Hill – $

I ate at Wolfe’s Lunch – a name that sounds like something out of a Grimm fairy tale – on a day when the sky was a gunmetal gray and the restaurant was completely empty. I got my coffee, pancakes, eggs, meat and potatoes for less than $10. When my food was ready, the woman at the counter used a microphone to call me to the counter which was about 10 feet away. I obeyed the voice and retrieved my breakfast, which I ate while staring at the sky and noting that this part of town is very boxy. It was one of those days where reality seemed a little thinner than others.

Best Hidden Treasure
Bechelli’s Flower Market – $$ – SoMa

In this part of SoMa, the streets are lined with old warehouses and car shops. It’s not especially beautiful unless you’re into that sort of thing. I thought Bechelli’s Flower Market was just a cute name to attract patrons in this industrial area of town, but sure enough fresh flowers adorned every table. The food was good and right on par with expectations. On a whim, I exited out the back way and discovered an alley lined with flower shops – pinks and reds and oranges bursting into the street – and the name of the cafe made more sense.

Oldest Head Cook
Olympic Flame Cafe – Tenderloin – $ 

The day I ate here was the day a 90-yr-old Greek man made my breakfast. Despite the terrible reviews on Yelp, I loved this place, which goes to show that most people on the internet don’t know what I like.

Credit: Afar Media

It’s Tops

Most Dream-Like
It’s Tops Coffee Shop – Mission – $$ 

I wandered here in a dense angst haze after barely making it through the Upper Market area alive, assaulted on all sides by the worst of what people can become due to illness, abuse, and life on the streets. I walked into It’s Tops and felt like I was back in a perfect version of my childhood, wood walls and cozy booths and I sat down and ordered a breakfast feast to take away the pain of not knowing what I was doing or where I was going in life or how to get what I wanted. I ordered everything to help that pain go away and sat in a time capsule for a little bit while the world raged on outside. It was delicious.

Best Breakfast for a Sailor
Red’s Java House – Embarcadero / SoMa – $ 

An outpost of a time gone by, built out of cinderblocks and plywood and clinging to the pier while glassy office buildings rise up around it – Red’s is somewhere you can let your hair down and talk shop about how to get them ropes on your ship working properly. I got pancakes and other stuff and sat and looked out at the street and the water. They said I could come back for refills of coffee all day if I wanted to. I didn’t take them up on it, but maybe next time. Maybe next time.

Best story
Toast Eatery – Noe Valley – $ 

The food here was average, but as I was walking to BART after eating I saw two men carrying a mattress. One of them was very tall and this information was filed somewhere in my brain. But mostly I forgot all about this and months later, I’m going to get a drink at an event called Nerd Nite, and I see someone who’s very tall and we make eye contact and he says “You look familiar…” and I say “You look familiar!” And so we dig through our activities and where we live and our connections and he mentions he lives in Noe Valley and then it hits me, “Wait, were you recently moving a mattress on the street?

As it turns out, we didn’t know each other at all but had merely seen one another on the street early on a Friday morning. San Francisco is so small.

bashful-bull-tooMost heart and soul

The Bashful Bull Too – Parkside – $ 

This place is run by people who are not of midwestern descent, but they have made this restaurant into a veritable paragon of everything most midwestern eateries wish they could be. The amount of love they have for Americana of old is enough to grant them the Heart and Soul award plus the fact they have a dish that includes: hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, biscuits + gravy and pancakes. Amen, hallelujah and praise the Lord.

*Full list here: Breakfasts in the Bay Area

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: