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 don’t know why I keep winding up in bars that remind me of high school, but here we are.
The Folsom Street Foundry is not so much a bar as an enormous rec room at which alcohol is served. There are three distinct permanent video game areas and at least two mobile ones with coordinating small TVs. Board games are abundant and the menu is surprisingly allergy-friendly: I ordered and consumed unmodified (and delightfully overstuffed) tacos without a hitch. Bring your friends who like Smash and Rock Band- it’s an excellent place to break the ice. 11th and Van Ness, low cover charge.
Relax. No, seriously. I’m trying to but without much success.
If you feel like giving your liver a break, groove on over to fellow blogger Cooking Without Limits’ drinks page. Some of them are specifically designed for detox, others look so healthy that there’s no way they couldn’t help. (Thanks for the likes, friend!)
If you feel like shutting off your brain completely, video game TV shows might prove to be a great choice- and boy, does Netflix cover the bases. The laughably bad Super Mario Bros. Super Show! is sitting there just waiting for your attention. It distinctly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test and has very awkward slapstick and Italian American humor- worthy of study as a product of the time but not much else. Combine the two to cleanse your body and ease your mind.
This is a simple one, but sometimes it’s the little things.
Cliff’s Variety is a home goods/hardware store smack in the middle of Castro St. There are two entrances and two registers (accidentally?) representing the right and left brains: art supplies and gifts on one side, minor home repair, appliances, and toys on the other. I can look at embroidery stuff while bae looks at fixtures, neither of us bored with having to focus on the other’s dull interests. It’s also ideal for just-because presents: Cliff’s is probably the only place in town where you can walk out with both a feather boa and a French press. Castro at 18th.
I came to Cliff’s last to find an ingredient for handmade laundry soap. (They’re a little too hip to carry such crunchy stock, but pointed me to a variety of organic soaps instead.) I like it because about $15 will last a couple three months and you can scent it however you want; Boyfriend likes it because the smell doesn’t linger and it lifts pit stains better than anything else he’s tried. The only downside to it I see- we haven’t even touched on bucking corporate interests and minimal chemical processing- is that because it’s a powder, you can only use it on hot loads. But boy does it do its job well.
If you’re so inclined, this is the recipe I use. You can find borax and bar soap pretty much anywhere; I eventually found the washing soda at the Ace Hardware just down the street from Cliff’s. Happy washing and enjoy smelling neutral! Again, sometimes it’s the little things.
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!