Tales from the road: San Fran one bite at a time

I know I shared my fantasy of daily updates, but, friends, Internet access has been an unkind stranger. So bear with me as I search for wireless and in the meantime plan stories and recipes to share in the future. For now I do not cook, but I present you with a peak at people in San Francisco who do.

Kelley, I owe you big-time, girl. Were it not for your love affair with the city of San Francisco and your current unemployment allowing you unbridled time to indulge your friends, I would nevereverever have discovered the food wonders you suggested I try.

Kelley is a brand-new friend who spent all of her twenty-some-odd years in California, but now resides in Brooklyn. She has only seen snow once, has - I've come to learn - artfully well-tuned taste buds, and knows all the hippest, most tasty places to tantalize them.

San Francisco is the one stop on my California road adventure where it seemed possible to avoid breaking out the bills every time hunger roars its mighty call. You see, Joe and I are staying in a friend's apartment, and that apartment so conveniently features a lovely yellow kitchen and the necessary appliances for creating a home-cooked meal. The ventures we've made outside of the kitchen, as per Kelley's wise word, have been positively phenomenal and very well worth the (usually small) fare we've doled out. The excerpts that follow are not intended as reviews, but are merely an opportunity to relay my delight of the few eateries I've sampled


This bar, supposedly a hot spot for bikers and their brethren, is featured in Lonely Planet. But I didn't know that before my visit. All I knew is that Zeitgeist's Bloody Mary's are apparently out of this world, and the bar was only blocks away from where I was when drinking one sounded really, really good.

Zeitgeist was my first blind visit to a Kelley Recommendation. Walking into the bar - dank and heavy with the fumes of darkness and stale beer - I feared I'd been talking the girl up. There was a light, though! And a door! And through that door was a beer garden of a patio, lined with picnic tables, bathed in sun, and packed with tattoo-covered beer drinkers. So this is where the cool kids go.

An impressive beer selection was all the rage, but that Bloody Mary, oh man. A peppery punch seemed to saturate the drink's thickness. Each sip delivered like a multi-course meal. The flavor lingered, and invited more. Words may only come close to describing; the olive and string bean garnish do a better job.

Humphry Slocombe

I spotted Humphry from a mile away (fine, it was the sign boasting an ice cream cone that ticked me off), and delayed my entrance only to check if this was indeed the many-flavored ice cream shop on my go-to list. Peanut Butter Curry was the hit. I'm only bummed that I missed Hibiscus Beet.

Weird Fish

The restaurant that made me famous. Pursuing Weird Fish's taco bike, which debuted my second day in town, it was really difficult not to notice the sea of camera men doing the same. Either the notion of a tacos cooked on two wheels was really so outrageous, or this place was a big deal. When I could finally squeeze my way to the front of line one journalist was kind enough not only to document my ordering, but also to capture my very first awkward taco bite. Mmm-mmm-good. Did anyone catch my close up on Channel 7?

Without ever having eaten a proper meal here I've fallen head over heals. Passing the tiny restaurant positively packed on Wednesday eve had me at hello, but ogling the menu and chasing after its cycling proprietor sealed the deal. Ingredients are fresh, the menu seasonal and flexible. But it's the innovation (grilled yams! cycling chefs!) that truly took my breath away.


In a sentence: eight stools, three ladies scampering behind a counter, one long, long line out the door. What I was told was a "Burmese hole in the wall" was, size-wise, precisely that, in addition to everything else a place dubbed a hole in the wall should be and more.

Peeking through steamy windows I watched the whole operation go down. One woman penned orders, then shouted them to the appropriate partner; one manned the fryer, the other, the stove. Yamo's menu boasts the basics - curry, noodles, and the like - which the stove master cooked, almost one at a time amidst flames and spitting oil.

Though our wait time was equal to our eating time, delivery of the dishes was jerky, the counter cramped, and my dining partners and I watched our mountain of potstickers steam enticingly from beside the stove for minutes before landing on the counter before us, with each bite we licked our lips in silent contentment. The icing on our greasy, noodley cake? Four of us ate, with appetizers no less, for a whopping 33 buckaroos.

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