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cheap eats

Beignets at Brenda’s

Last Wednesday morning was rainy to say the least, but a winter deluge wouldn’t stop this online team from trekking to the Tenderloin for our holiday breakfast. That’s right, we dined in the Tenderloin—but no need for pity here—there’s a little gem of a spot known as Brenda’s French Soul Food on Polk between Eddy and Turk.

To a Tea

There are so many things to love about Samovar Tea Lounge, especially during this dark, rainy, wintry time of year. Primarily, of course, there are the teas, virtually any kind you can think of: fair trade, organic, kosher, ancient (picked from trees more than a thousand years old!); green, white, black and even Pu-erh, a rare and extremely rich tea from China.

Let Us Now Praise the BLT

When the days get cold and dark like this, nothing quite does it like basic comfort food. My current kick is the BLT: a little genius of a sandwich that’s stellar when tomatoes are in season, bread is fresh and bacon is high-quality, but is even damn good when all its elements are merely mediocre.

My current three local BLT faves are each a little different in scope and genre:


Liverpool Lil's BLT with avocado.

1. Liverpool Lil’s version is simple and down-home, with basic sliced bread and the always-nice addition of avocado.

Fry Me a River (of Smelts)

Here are the things I dig about the new Bossa Nova on Eighth Street in SoMa.

1.    The supercool website, which will make you want to book a flight to Rio in about two minutes flat.
2.    The live music every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, courtesy of Brazilian hottie Antonio Guedes.
3.    The $7 caipirinhas, especially the classic.


Bossa Nova's fried smelts + caipirinhas.

Pauline’s, Wine and Art

Last Friday, my friend Arnold and I practically used up all of our minutes on the phone trying to decide where to eat dinner. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money, or get dressed up, and we wanted something yummy and relatively healthy, so we agreed on Pauline’s Pizza—their salads and pizza toppings are the freshest around, the dough for the thin-crust pizza is handmade daily and their wines are a steal.


These obviously aren't from Pauline's—I forgot my camera

Eating My Greens


The Dagwood to go.

Lettuce is my idea of rabbit food, not salad. Sure greens ought to be a major component, but, in my mind, a large, leafy salad just means a lot of chewing. If I’m looking to fill up on a meal-sized salad that brings together various layers of texture and tastes to make salad chewing worthwhile, I search no further than Mixt Greens.

Happy Meals

I love the idea of happy hour, but when I’m done with work—and not taking a boot camp class or teaching a class of my own—I’d rather eat than drink. That’s how my friend and I found ourselves at Sudachi last Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
 

Sandwiches, Then and Now

I am prone to food nostalgia. I tend to romanticize great meals of the past—and remember them in painstaking detail (Sara Deseran and I share this odd skill), and then wonder when I’ll get back to taste, say, the great cheeses at Benoit in Paris again, or a loaf of my mother’s Christmas stolen. There’s a particular sandwich that falls into this class—the Cuban sandwich at Chez Henri in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It has the perfect bread, the perfect ham and roast pork, the perfect pickles and the right ratio of filling to roll. It is an extraordinary sandwich, and it is also very far away. So today, when our office ordered lunch from a new Cuban joint around the corner, Paladar, I crossed my fingers and chose the Cuban.

Hamburg Heaven


The best is yet to come: Clown Alley becomes Pickles.

Friends, we’re about to become a world-class burger town. If you were among those who scoffed when Daniel Boulud first presented his $40 foie gras stuffed burger at his restaurant in NYC, thinking it would never come to our shores…well, let’s just say you might be eating crow.

Salad Days

After my debaucherous dessert week, I resolved to end my sugar bender and turn over a new leaf (so to speak). That’s right, I went from chocolate cakes and fruit crisps to capreses and cobbs sans bacon. Well, not exactly that saintly, but I have been making an effort to get back to my healthy eating in honor of swimsuit season (everywhere in the northern hemisphere but here).


Salad fixins
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