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Just Like Us

I’ll admit that one of my guilty pleasures is reading bad celebrity magazines. I usually restrict my reading to airplanes and at the dentist’s office (where no magazine, no matter how trashy, will distract me from my fate). But I’ve never really understood Us Weekly’s “Just Like Us” bit, where they catch celebs jogging, say, or buying toothpaste, then slug it with “Stars! They’re Just Like Us!” Yeah, just like us, save for the million-dollar paychecks, throngs of paparazzi and houses in Beverly Hills. Well, like somebody’s mother once said, we all put our pants on one leg at a time. And, apparently, like Crest.

But the point of that lead-in is this: Oftentimes people assume that I get lots of special treatment because of my job. Swimming pools, you know, and movie stars. And while there are undoubtedly a whole host of great perks, sometimes, well—I’m just like you. And on Saturday night, that meant that I waited with three of my friends for 1 ½ hours for a table at the one-week-old S.P.Q.R., finally slipping into our four-top right around 10:30. I actually didn’t mind—knowing that they didn’t take reservations (more on that trend in another post), that they were just a week old, and that anything the A16 folks touch seems to turn to gold, I made sure to have a granola bar before heading out.


Hurry up and wait: A16 chef Nate Appleman's got a new project
Photo from A16sf.com

But here’s the silver lining, for those of you who will, in upcoming weeks, certainly be waiting for a table. The food here is delicious. Going with 3 friends is a good plan if you’re hoping to try a lot of items off the menu, but a bad plan if you fall in love with a dish (like the cacio e pepe pasta, thick bucatini coated with coarsely ground black pepper and Pecorino cheese), only to realize that your—ahem—friend has scooped up the last of it. We tried a whole host of cold and hot and fried antipasti, among them a housemade pork sausage served with a date and pancetta salad (pork + pork = whoopie!), fried new potatoes with fried garlic, cherry tomatoes and parsley and the eggplant and peppers sott’olio, a kind of meltingly tender ragout. Good stuff, people. Oh, and the beef shortribs? I was mopping my bowl, literally, as the clock neared midnight.

So here’s the game plan. Eat a snack before you leave home, have a drink at Harry’s across the street, and prepare for a wait. But know that in the end it’ll be worth it.

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