Jun 11 2009

my new partner in crime: Frisco!

I’m tired — in a good kind of way!

This spring has brought a few new people, places, and things into my life, so I thought I’d write my first “Guide to San Francisco” post. Since it all ties in together so nicely.

First, a little backstory: a fictional icon of the past, Mrs. Robinson, contacted a fictional icon of the future, Vulva Fervor, on Facebook, and invited her to join the illustrious Mrs. Robinson’s Society (MRS). How could I — or rather, Vulva —  resist? Besides, I saw the group’s members as one big qualified list of people to recruit as fans of my project, The Adventures of Vulva Fervor.

But this is fast becoming The Adventures of Diane in Frisco; for a result of  befriending members of this illustrious society, I’ve been getting out a bit more lately. And in doing so, have discovered new places and rediscovered some old friends.

Since my best friend recently moved to the Tenderloin, I’m spending lots of time in an  old neighborhood known as the  Tendernob (Tenderloin + Nob Hill = Tendernob). San Francisco LOVES its nicknames. Except Frisco. People still get so rankled over that one, which makes it so much fun to say! A good blog about this up & comer on the list of hot ‘hoods is www.tenderblog.com.

My favorite spot is Rye (where, it just so happens, I first met the MRS); an effortlessly cool bar: Great bartenders. Great vibe. Great locals. It definitely becomes more of a scene the later it gets (I’m glad the kids are keeping nightlife alive), usually when it’s time for me to go. But I like keeping the bartender company until he/she gets busy.

Another great Tendernob spot with a good happy hour and a good bar menu is Olive. It’s a block away from a bar called The Gangway. Few things in life frighten me, but the sight of the Gangway does. The name alone, in any of its interpretations, makes me… don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe! It’s just what I imagine that goes on inside that scares the shit out of me. And that’s just it, you can’t see inside. It’s one of those place. I’ve never been inside the Gangway. I never plan to. I’m not sure why I’m even writing this, except that I can’t think of Olive without thinking of the Gangway. But I digress…

If you need a pick-me-up in the morning or afternoon (we’re still in the Tendernob here), the best coffee and little nibblie-bibblies are to be found at Kate & Shannon’s Farm; Table. They come from a Blue Bottle Background. So you know they know coffee.

Last but definitely not least: For breakfast or lunch, Brenda’s Soul Food. Don’t let the location put you off. Don’t let the line of people waiting to get in put you off. Two words: Just go!

Time to move on...

MY ‘HOOD, RUSSIAN HILL: For more on why I adore my shotgun flat on a 1-block sidestreet atop the Broadway Tunnel, check out my Love Letter in 7 X 7 Magazine. I believe mine is the 6th one down.

For lunch one Saturday afternoon, one of the MRS figureheads took me to SPQR, which was divine. Even more divine: seeing the lovely owner, Shelly Lindgren. Shelly and I go back, way back. 14 years ago, we worked at restaurants across the street from one another. We became friends, until I went overseas for several years, and life took over. But it was wonderful to see her again — and so successful. She also owns A-16, which is next on my list. By-the-by, Shelly’s business partner and chef of both A-16 and SPQR, Nate Appleman, was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2009!

Berretta (disclaimer about this Michael-Bauer-top-100-list of Bay Area eateries: If you don’t like being the oldest person in the room, stay away from this bustling joint in the oh-so-cool Mission. The median age looks to me to be… young. But…) If you just want a casual yet professional approach to a casual yet stylish and affordable great eatery, get thee to Beretta. 4 stars all around on the staff. Hostess, bartenders, server… 1 little complaint: the ever-present busser(s). This is common in lots of restaurants, and is likely an issue of either over-staffing or unclear lines when establishing busser’s stations. I hate when I have to literally hover over my appetizer plate, with it’s two remaining bites on it. “No, I’m not done yet. Please remind the other 4 bussers so I can stop shushing them away from the plate like flies”.

NORTH BEACH: Look, I love North Beach. It’s my hood, it’s my heart — during the day. Maybe Sunday – Wednesday nights. The rest of the time, fuggeddaboutit. Pure bridge & tunnel crowd meets gangstaland. Seriously, I can’t stand the place at night. There are still a few good hole in the wall joints. But it’s charm is much easier to find during the day. Grab a sandwich at Molinari’s, sit in Washington Square Park, and watch the Chinese do Tai Chi and old Italian men in their caps chat on the benches. When the sun comes out you can watch youth’s beauty sunbathe and dogs chase frisbees and little ones take their first steps. Yeah, North Beach in the daytime, definitely.

Okay, one place checking out at night (there are a few, but I’m listing places that are new to me; otherwise this post would go on for days) is 15 Romolo. It’s sort of pub-meets-dive-meets-hipsterhotspot. And the bar food… mother of god. The mini pork slider sandwiches, the fries, the mini jambalya-ini thingies… mmmmmmmmmmmmm! It’s near a hostel, so you get a good mix of people as well.

Only After Dark

PORCHLIGHT STORYTELLING SERIES: I love this series. And not just because they selected me to be one of the featured storytellers in April’s “Kitchen Confidential” evening. I love it because it’s about sharing stories. Not performance, not entertainment. Because if you have a good story to tell, the rest takes care of itself. The monthly happening takes place at the Verdi Club, an old-school banquet/dance hall in Potrero Hill. One of my fellow storytellers that evening was Craig Stoll, chef/owner of Delfina. In attendance was his wife, Annie. Annie and I worked together at a restaurant in 1993 — and I hadn’t seen her since @ 1996. So I was wonderful seeing her impossibly infectious smile again.

Learning is HOT at NightLife on Thursday nights at California Academy of Sciences. Everything, all exhibits are open. And there are DJs! Bars! Dancing! No one under 21!

That’s my list for now. It’s a start, anyhow.