6/11: Nijiya Market

Weekend Out:

Nijiya Market has an entire wall of bento.

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.

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Literally, a wall. C/o Yelp.

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.

Weekend In:

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!

6/4: Cliff’s Variety

Weekend Out:

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.

Protip: Make a date of it with some of Hot Cookie‘s excellent coffee, or maybe a trip to the Castro Theater next door!

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Shoutout to whoever took this Yelp photo; this is essentially all you need to know. Arty side, obvs.

Weekend In:

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.

4/2: Hot Licks

Weekend Out:

If hot sauce is your thing, you’re in for an excellent time at Hot Licks, offering both a tasting bar and a wide variety of local brands. I’d recommend Palo Alto Firefighters’: donates to a good cause and pairs with almost everything. And right downstairs is a perfect view of the sea lions! Pier 39, upper left.

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Photo c/o their Facebook page.

Pro tip: Pier 39 isn’t for everybody, but the slow, packed F line is definitely the worst thing about it. Catch the 8 or the 47 instead: both will drop you closer to Fisherman’s Wharf, only about four blocks away.

Weekend In:

The Hot Licks website is a little smaller in scope, but their customer service is excellent: I’ve never waited more than a week for a package and have never received a damaged bottle. Or why not try cooking something that compliments your hot sauce collection perfectly? This is my household’s go-to pulled pork recipe; the only catch is that you have to keep an eye on it for a solid eight hour stretch. Heaven forbid.

3/26: Aardvark Books

Weekend Out:

Aardvark Books was recently voted the best used bookstore within city limits by SF Weekly. The employees are accessible to the point that they’re generally willing to jive about your favorite author, and, though limited in space, it offers an extensive amount of genres. Buyback is a lucrative option to feed your addiction collection. Icing on the cake: Aardvark houses a sweet little ginger cat named Owen, who will occasionally throw himself at your feet and look at you expectantly. At Church and 15th.

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Photo c/o boyfriend.

Pro tip: Aardvark is about seven blocks west of Dolores Park- and Bi Rite. If you go, you’ll be in line for quite a while: why not read through it?

Weekend In:

City Lights Book Store, not surprisingly, has excerpts from several recent releases available in PDF format- generally just enough to get you hooked. While the store proper is renowned for a wide variety of lesser known work and, by extension, its heavy influence on the Beats, City Lights’ site maintains its high standards by offering diverse authors writing on diversity. It’s definitely a can’t miss.