Badass Block: Polk Street Between Bush and Pine
There are certain blocks in this city that seem like mini-universes. Each week, we'll highlight a stretch of pavement where you could spend an entire day and night. Next up? Polk Street between Bush and Pine.
Where to stretch your muscles and bones: La Biang Thai Massage is truly a little tranquil sanctuary in the middle of this 'hood. You get to kick your shoes off, change into a pair of soft pajamas, and get worked on by skilled ladies who will bend you this way and that to work out all your aches and pains. My good pal Annie can attest to their magic: "The appeal is that it hurts so good, even when they're grinding their elbows into muscles in your back you didn't know you had. It's a no-wuss environment." Funky Door Yoga is on the other end of the spectrum: You're bending your own body to work out all its kinks, and it's not exactly calming like La Biang. It's Bikram yoga, which entails a high level of intensity and concentration. Indeed, it ain't for the faint of heart. But you're at the hands of knowledgeable instructors who will guide your mind away from how many buckets of sweat you're emitting, so never fear.
Where to take a casual dinner date: For a dose of exoticism, take your sweetheart to Aicha Moroccan. There's no corkage fee, so take advantage and bring your own wine, and then dive into the food. If you've got questions about what all the different dishes entail, don't worry. The waitstaff will guide you through it. Almost everything, authentically prepared and cooked (it's also "halal," which means no pork. Sorry, pork lovers), is well under $20, and terrifically spiced. This means you might want to pop some gum before after-dinner kisses.
Lunchtime: Chai Yo is a solid bet when it comes to Thai food. Favorites are the duck noodle soup, waterfall beef salad, any of their supple curries, or their Thai pasta in green curry sauce. Sounds crazy, but it works. If your'e feeling like dessert, they make a ton of smoothies, slushies, milk teas, and cakes (Swedish princess!). We like their Thai coconut ice cream, served with palm seeds, coconut jello, and jackfruit.
Where to pick up stuff for your own refrigerator: Sure, there's a Whole Foods nearby, but who wants to fork over hard-earned cash to The Man, when you could give it to the little guy? Polk Street Produce has a highly-curated, highly-seasonal little shop perfect for stopping in on a daily basis for a few things here and there. Their fruits and veggies are organic and reasonably priced, and their dry goods section is thoughtfully put together and leaves nothing out. The owners are super friendly and helpful, too. If you live near PSP, you know how addictive this hole in the wall is.
Where to get a cocktail: R.I.P. Kimo's. We'll always remember you, but now it's time to move on. Enter Playland, which has taken Kimo's place on the corner of Polk and Pine. It takes its name from Ocean Beach's famed amusement park of yore, and is a slick upgrade from Kimo's divey ambiance (though how I loved it so). There aren't any carnival games inside, but you will find decent, fresh drinks that give not-so-subtle nods to amusement park culture (we heard tell of a cotton-candy Cosmo. Wow.). Bonus: There's a smoke-breathing bull's head imported from Guadalajara hanging on the wall.
Where to chow down after drinking: Fried stuff. It accurately describes both your brain after a night of drinking, and exactly what you want to fill your stomach with on top of all that whiskey. Piccadilly Fish & Chips, coincidentally, does fried stuff pretty well. Fish, prawns, crab, chicken, mushrooms, oysters, clams, fries, onion rings...you'll find it all on their no bullsh*t menu. They close at 11 pm, so a pit stop in between bars is a definite must.