Archive for the ‘Richmond’ Category


Plague #2 Plague

A week or so ago I was at Ireland’s 32 for a Banter Cut show, and in the restroom I found the little dude up on the left. What interested me about him is that months and months ago, I found his cousin on the corner of 4th and Clement, pictured there on the right (though that one has since been cleaned up, last time I checked). Given the numbers 2 and 6, I’m inclined to believe that there are at least four other of these somewhere around the Richmond. Anyone ever spot one?

Baklava and Turkish Coffee in the Inner Richmond


When is Chinese food not Chinese food?

Okay, on with the food parade. The first thing one notices upon arriving at Taiwan Restaurant is the cooks, folding dumplings in the storefront window. That’s your first clue that you’re in for a treat. Sticking with the house speciality there’s the steamed and pan-friend dumplings, pot stickers, and a variety of won ton soups. (Pretty much all stuff folded into a wrapper, be it thin pasta or thicker dough.)

Taiwan Restaurant, Clement Street, San Francisco

Is this Chinese cooking? I’m never sure which groups and nation-states enjoy being considered part of the People’s Republic. Taiwan is *another* China, and I tell friends and visitors that we’re going out for Taiwanese food (much as I try to remember which places prefer to be thought of as Pakistani rather than Indian).

The dry braised string beans was pretty wonderful, and the more traditional Chinese restaurant fare (ordered by the relatives) was satisfying, mildly spiced when asked. For better or worse, nothing made it to the doggy bag.

The staff are friendly and helpful. Even so, I need to go with a native-speaker; between the dishes I don’t recognise and the scribbled items offered on the walls I think I might be missing something.

Taiwan Restaurant / 445 Clement St. @ 6th Ave. / +1.415.387.1789

More about that parking derth

I’ve been living in the Inner Richmond for a year, so I really, really should have known better than to try and drive my car over to Clement street on a Saturday when I needed to go to the bank before heading elsewhere.

Clement, which I’m sure I’ve written about before here, is one of the main drags through the Richmond, and in the Inner Richmond it’s a wonderful street full of shops, Chinese bakeries, restaurants, book stores, travel agents, hair salons, Irish bars, corner stores, local groceries, what have you. All of this on a narrow street (at least compared to the two streets to either side, Geary and California) that’s perfect for pedestrians. Of course, everyone and their mom is out there on Saturday, and everyone from outside of the neighborhood coming in is trying to park there. Parking is mostly parallel, and it fills up fast. Worse, you get people stopping in the middle of the street to unload their car, or even leaving it there as they run inside a store for “just a second.” Honestly, I’d be fine with them leaving the avenues open and closing off some of the blocks to cars and trucks… except there’s also the Clement St. bus during the day.

You hear about parking in SF being ridiculous and impossible; Clement during business hours is one of the poster children. Seriously, what made me think I could park anywhere near my bank that day? Other than being in a hurry as well as a dumbass, that is.

Honest busking

I give street buskers a buck whenever I can. Always. Like I thought it would bring good art-karma or something, but more because it takes a bit of guts to set up on the street, and bravery should be rewarded. Along Clement Street in the Inner Richmond, we don’t often get buskers. Save for the one guy who seems to come out every week with his accordion on Clement and 4th, the only music you’ll hear comes wafting out of bars or thumping out of the cars, the cars that go boom. We’re Tigra and Bunny, and we… sorry. Or, occasionally, you’ll hear a tour trolley-bus full of drunken revellers belting out 80s tunes as they stop at the light outside your apartment (an accurance more amusing, fortunately, than annoying).

One night this week, there was a busker sitting on the step of a shop closed for the night, playing her guitar and singing as a couple people stood and watched. I moved in to drop a dollar in her tip box, and only caught the sign propped up behind it as I was leaning down: “Spare change for pot.”

I think San Francisco is the only city I’ve been in where one can get away with that sort of honesty.

It’s Not a Root

My friend Kate was in town one weekend recently from upstate and the first night we headed to Assab Eritrean on Geary. They serve a wonderful honey wine bottled over in Oakland called Enat, and the food here is ridiculously good. This time, Kate and I shared a large vegetable platter that we nearly devoured without speaking. Lentils, okra, spinach, potatoes, salad, all wonderful. We completely finished off the plate and all the injara underneath without needing a second helping of the bread. “Good job, guys!” our waitress said when she came to take our platter away.

This got Kate thinking. “You know, I have a friend that was telling me that the bread isn’t really bread, it’s made from a root.”

“A root? Injara’s made from a root?” I asked.

“Yeah. I mean, I don’t know, but that’s what I’ve been told. He said it’s really a mashed down root and pan-fried.”

“That doesn’t seem right. How’s it get so bubbly? That suggests yeast.”

“Hmm. True… We could ask.”

Out with the Green Beer, In with the Blue and Purple

This was me and my roommate’s first St. Patrick’s Day in our neighborhood, and while I never really go out drinking on 3.17, we figured there’s so many Irish bars within walking distance, we should hit some up.

Hahahahahaha, wrong. Even before I started this paragraph I could see you shaking your head and clucking your tongue, dear reader, and you would be right. We were very much schooled. These are excellent bars on any other freaking day of the year. On that night, every bar was overrun by frat/sorority kids who were too drunk and too crazy and too… preppie. Forgive me for my sounding bewildered, but isn’t San Francisco supposed to have some sort of magic spell protecting us from such things? I kid, of course, but now I know where all the preppies are; they’re bridge-and-tunnel cases or they’re nursing their beers until those special chronological events arise, causing public celebrations of drunkenness and fisticuffs. No, really, I’m kidding.*

So instead of going to one of the Inner Richmond’s Irish establishments and listening to authentic Irish music, we ended up somewhere quieter with other folks who probably had more of a clue than we did at the beginning of our evening. Trad’r Sam is a crazy tiki dive bar (sounds redundant, maybe… but where else is each booth named after an island or chain of islands, proclaimed in wicker on an archway above each one?) serving all sorts of colorful spirits. I had a Tahitian Purple Haze (rating: excellent), other blue and pinks and amber-colored drinks were consumed, and I saw a lot of drinks being served in bowls with multiple straws. The music kept fluctuating between mellow and loud-and-conversation-threatening, which I like to think of as “charming” rather than “obnoxious.” Brilliant. Authentic? Hell if I know.

Green beer for the Irish, bah! I’m Irish every day of the year, screw it. I’ll take purple with a little paper umbrella.

Trad’r Sam is located at 6150 Geary @ 26th Avenue in SF. Look for the big orange arrow.

(*I should maybe note that my attitude is not San Francisco snobbery… I imported it with me from Chicago. <3 preppies!

Also, I’m not kidding about the fisticuffs. Part of our posse somehow got involved in a scuffle, too, though it was really minor and there was no blood, and I just stood there like I would know what the fuck I was doing when really, no clue here, and a cop pulled up and broke it up and said, no lie, “Get off of my street,” which led to us asking ourselves on the cab ride over to Trad’r Sam’s if he’d been waiting all night to use that line.)

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