NB: I’m back! Legs are still tetchy (chronic tendinitis for the win!) and I’ve gotten a new job with a weird schedule. This is my weekend, but I’m guessing not yours, so, slight formatting change. I hope you all like planning ahead!
Caffe Terzetto offers a chai blend so spicy it’s transcendent. You can taste it over the cream in the latte; you can taste it over anything you choose to eat with it. Delicious, warming on several levels, and underadvertised (med students are pretty clearly there for stronger stuff), it’s a cinnamon/clove adventure definitely worth embarking on. Gene Friend Way on the UCSF campus; nearest cross streets: 3rd and South.
If you have a cinnamon stick and a bottle of maple syrup at hand, you’re set to make the best thing that’s ever happened to pancakes. Put the stick in the bottle, let it sit as long as you’d like, and enjoy the heat it lends to the sweetness. I bought a ready made infusion from World Market that’s so tasty it’s totally sold out (here’s a similar one on Amazon). It’s a spicy, tangy match made in heaven!
My mother’s family, first and foremost, is Finnish.
Though not recently emigrated (their moving timeline roughly corresponds with the rise of Bolshevism) and certainly not titled (our last name translates to “Andrews”) it’s the unique identifier that my grandparents, aunts, and uncles claim most proudly. Less than .2% of Americans are Finnish, and the fraction of Californian Finns is even smaller- odds are strong that I’m related to most, if not all, of them. If I’m not mistaken, my grandfather’s line was the only one in our family not to anglicize their last name. The few, the proud.
So naturally, when I passed this doorway on my way to meet my local cousin, I smiled so hard my face hurt.
Finn Town is set to open this fall, offering creative comfort food and cocktails. According to the press surrounding it, the Castro was the Scandinavian part of town around the same time our people came over. The name is a callback, but the menu appears to be distinctly American (and that’s almost verbatim how I’d describe myself and my cousin). I was obviously sold by the name, but I’m sure apps like “sweet tea brined fried chicken” would bring in anyone.
Strangely enough, within a few days of our rendezvous, both my cousin and I were offered jobs leaps and bounds better than our current ones. We joked that Finn Town is being made just for us, San Francisco finally recognizing the awesome power of American Finns, but now I’m beginning to wonder how seriously we ought to take it… 😉
Indecisive but trying to be healthy? The Myriad was made for you! It’s a tiny enclave with tinier food stalls, each of which seems to be run by a single person. Flanked by two bars, it also houses a cafe, sushi, a truly fantastic vegan juice bar with pun names (my pick), a bread vending machine, and a flower stand. Embrace your inner bohemian. Market and 15th.
Inner bohemian doesn’t feel like going out? I can definitely sympathize. Instead, please check out Imperfect Produce, an Emeryville farm box delivery service wiping out food waste one household at a time. Something like half of the vegetables grown in the US are thrown away before making it to market because they’re “too ugly” to turn a profit- people would pass them over in a store for not looking photo-perfect. Imperfect Produce collects the ugly food and markets it at a much lower rate to homes all over the bay area, preventing tons of food waste and saving you a weekly grocery step. This is also the most customizable farm-to-table box I’ve seen, no small potatoes if you’re allergic to citrus.
Fuji Japanese Restaurant offers the finest sushi lunch I’ve had in the city. I could write a glowing thousand word description, or I could just show you this. Happy birthday, me!
As with any other restaurant, dinner is a rush- ingredients disappear and customers turn up in numbers large enough to stress out the staff and other patrons. Fuji’s best variety and calmest atmosphere occurs before 5 PM. Definitely go, and for your own sake go early. 14th and West Portal.
The second finest sushi lunch I’ve had in the city can be found at Sushi Shoh. It’s close to Fuji- if you don’t mind hills, you can walk it- but it delivers far and wide, even to our almost-Daly-City apartment complex. Unmissable: negihama rolls, an underappreciated specialty.
I’m not necessarily what you would call a bento connoisseur, but my goodness: it’s the finest collection I’ve ever seen in terms of quality, quantity, and variety. Earlier this week they sold me my first ever plum onigiri (delicious), coupled with old reliables Ramune and Hi-Chew after a long, leisurely browse of Japanese edibles. Highlights include an aisle dedicated to different kinds of cooking oil (genius, tbh) and more kids’ branding than you could shake a stick at. Most interesting: seaweed sheets cut out in Pokémon shapes. Don’t miss it! Japan Center, Post at Geary.
Protip: There are a handful of nonfood markets in Japantown, too: Daiso, where almost everything is $1.50, has a gorgeous variety of tableware, and Ichi Ban Kan, immediately upstairs, is best for imported toiletries. It’s also really hard to miss as far as restaurants go- our pick is Mifune, which I’ll cover after our next meal there.
If you’re not into eating bento, I strongly recommend checking out the anime Ben-to, a quirky little action comedy about brawling for the meals as soon as they hit half-price. Strangely themed, yes, but well written and surprisingly relatable- and, of course, accessible from your bed. Have fun!
Don’t eat dairy? Hayes Valley has you covered! Patxi’s Pizza offers Daiya cheeze and allergen menus on request. (They do normie pizzas, too, including some impressive lasagna-deep deep dishes.) Smitten Ice Cream has somehow created dulce de leche popsicles from coconut milk that taste pretty close to the real thing. They pride themselves on a technique involving liquid nitrogen that minimizes ice crystals in the treats, and you can definitely taste the difference: they’re unbelievably thick. Hayes and Octavia.
The Valley’s honorable mention: Hayes Market, two blocks up on Buchanan, sells Earth Balance boxed macaroni (so does Amazon, never fear!). It’s about as close to Kraft as the nondairy population can get. Mix up a box and think about all the cows you’re helping!
No, really… that’s their aesthetic. Butter offers a variety of saucily named drinks consisting of hard liquor mixed with things you could pick up at Walgreens, generously offered free popcorn and jello shots, and two food menus: Microwave and Deep Fried. Ambiance includes the back end of an RV as decor, a live DJ (mostly mixing 80s standards while I was there), and two separate projections of extreme sports wipeouts. Sunday night karaoke is always on the calendar! Small cover charge; 11th between Folsom and Harrison.
For better or for worse, Butter is extremely open about their choice of ingredients; you can replicate the look and feel at home very easily. Simply throw out some luau lights, turn up the Oak Ridge Boys really loud, and buy drink ingredients that will make your paleo friends cringe! Or check out some slightly more dignified, probably better-for-you locally made booze: I can’t recommend Sonoma Hatchet highly enough.