Eat + Drink
Just last night, while tending bar at Cantina (which I do most Mondays), I chatted with a lovely young couple on vacation from Tuscon. With plans already to see Alcatraz, etc, they asked me what I thought they should do while in town. "Get out and walk the neighborhoods," I told them. "That's where the heart and the identity of San Francisco is. And it's the most fun you can have to see what they're all about."
“Tracking down the perfect chicken korma became something like a vision quest for me. Honestly, I took out $100 from the bank and then went to nine Indian restaurants. In a row. My favorite place is Lahore Karahi—their korma is different than what I normally like. It’s a little less creamy than the usual, but the spicing is perfect. They don’t sell alcohol there, but you can buy Kirin at the corner store and it’s a perfect match for the korma—better even than [Indian lager] Taj Mahal. And it’s cheap—a plate of korma, with rice, is only $9.80 and it can easily feed two. My second favorite spot is Little Delhi, on Eddy. It’s like an old ’50’s diner converted to an Indian restaurant.
“I lived in the Mission for 9 years, right around the corner from El Tonayense taco truck parked on 22nd and Harrison. I’d go twice a week for the cabeza [head] and carne asado tacos, because they are cheap and the ingredients are in perfect proportions. Cancun is another favorite—I always overdue it, ordering enough for 3 people even if I’m alone. I usually get a few carnitas and carne asado tacos, a side of grilled onions and a quesadilla or two. I eat half and then take the other half for later—I have to stock up now that I no longer live in the Mission. Now I live in the Sunset, and Tommy’s has become my new local Mexican joint as a result of the Mission withdrawal. At Tommy’s my favorite is the panucho, which is offered only as a special.
One thing that will be left behind when all this recession nonsense is said and done, is the legacy of what we’ll deem the “fancy burger.” When we tell our grandkids that 2009 was the year we learned to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps—while, of course, maintaining some sense of luxury—we will have to include the fact that our strength was often fueled by a patty of house-ground, grass-fed beef.
Just in: Clock Bar, Michael Mina's gorgeous and sophisticated watering hole in the Westin St. Francis, is celebrating its first anniversary all week. (It hurts that its head barman and celebrated cocktail master Marco Dionysus just had his last day there.) But Clock Bar roars into year two with an impressive list of guest bartenders and high-octane sponsors this week. Here's the sched:
Franck Leclerc, owner of Café Claude and Gitane (and a Frenchman through and through), doesn’t have oysters on either of his menus, even though he’s obsessed with them. Instead, he prefers to slurp down a dozen after work at one of his neighborhood haunts.
“I’ve always loved onion rings. There is a majesty to them when they are done well. My ideal version are the ones we serve at [my new restaurant] Showdogs, sweet onions that we soak in buttermilk and then batter with rice flour. But when you need a fix, you need a fix: If we have meetings at Foreign Cinema, we’ll frequently indulge in a white paper bag of rings from Jay’s Cheesesteak. They are sort of the classic, overbreaded, super-crunchy style. Zuni puts out a good onion ring—Judy [Rodgers] and I are of the same school. There’s always a gorgeous onion under a lacy, crispy crust. In the late ’80s, before I had kids, I used to go to Edinburgh Castle. I’d order a lager-and-lime and onion rings and douse them with malt vinegar.
Dave McLean’s Magnolia Pub has been a fixture on Haight Street for 10 years, during which time it’s attracted a devoted following of brewpub aficionados. Of course, Dave’s obsessed with beer (and makes some of the best around) but, as befits a Pennsylvania native, he also enjoys a good cheesesteak.
Wondering where the chefs go for a bite on their days off? David “Baz” Bazirgan has a penchant for barbecue. Something about slow-cooked meats—tender, touched with smoke and eaten out of hand—makes him a little bit fanatical.