The Eats of San Francisco, Part Two
Castro Theater Sing-a-Long
"Boo Hitler. Hiss the Countess..." read the promo, and we knew we had to attend the Sound Of Music sing-a-long -- which works pretty much like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, except a lot fresher. It was a hoot Lyrics to songs are subtitled onto screen, and theatergoers are given a bag of novelty items to use during the film - such as confetti-poppers to set off during the big kissing scene between Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. And while this particular film has passed, Xanadu, West Side Story, and others are coming up at The Castro Theatre -- a gorgeous old-timey movie house with live organist rising up to the stage. Admission is $15. Before or after the show, you can walk up the block to pay homage to the late, great Harvey Milk at his original camera store.
|Dip focaccia bread in and you're set.|
...The Stinking Rose is for you. Located in North Beach (325 Columbus Ave.; 415-781-7673), the menu features the popular bulb in nearly every dish - which, when it comes to Italian food, isn't really that unusual. Then again, most Italian restaurants don't serve 3,000 garlic bulbs each month. They use quite a few of them in the Bagna Calda, set in a tabletop wok with olive oil, butter, and a bit of anchovy -- a dip for the fresh focaccia bread. Garlic shrimp, and linguini with clams are old school Italian hits played right. As for the garlic ice cream...more subtle than it sounds, and chocolate syrup matched better than you'd imagine, but it isn't really something I'd order again. Why go to The Stinking Rose when there are so many fancier, more serious Italian dining establishments in town? Because it's fun, unpretentious, affordable, and a fine family-style Italian restaurant in its own right. And if you really don't care for garlic, there are menu items without any at all.
|We ate these Gallinita tacos at the airport|
There are tons of authentic Mexican taquerias lined up in the Mission neighborhood. Many swear by La Taqueria (2889 Mission St.), especially for the burritos. Never made it there, but while I was sipping coffee one morning, my wife went off in search of great tacos -- and she found them at La Gallinita Meat Market (2989 24th St.). The venue is really more carniceria than taqueria, but a man at a tiny stand inside griddles fresh meats to stuff inside the tortillas (two tortillas per taco). We also bought plastic bags of thick, warm tortillas there, made fresh each day. Try the pork tacos and suadero tacos culled from hanger steak -- we packed some for a pre-flight lunch at the airport. But the Mission also boasts fine Vietnamese and Pakistani eateries, great coffee shops, great donut shops, great shops of all stripes, and...
They call it "indie ice cream", which means flavors such as balsamic-vinegar caramel, and ice cream sandwiches made from foie gras ice cream between ginger snaps. With a name like Humphry Slocombe (2790 Harrison St.), it's got to be good.
|Late night snacks at Pisco Latin Lounge|
Those in the know know that Coi and Quince are two of SF's hottest dining establishments. And there are so many San Franciscans in the know that those two places are constantly booked. And expensive. But each restaurant has opened less formal, less pricey alternatives. Coi's sister is Il Cane Rosso in the Ferry Marketplace, where you can get a bowl of soup for $6 (changes daily; we caught local cauliflower with Soul Food Farm chicken), or for $12.50, a rotisserie Marin Sun Farms roast beef with side of roasted nettle and leek bread pudding. Quince's next-door cousin is Cotogna, a rustic trattoria by Jackson Square (490 Pacific Ave.). Chef Michael Tusk helms the kitchen -- widely acknowledged for his peerless pastas. His reputation is well-deserved; pappardelle of lamb cooked in the wood oven, and Venetian bigoli with octopus were eye-raising, wow-inspiring good. The rustic room with fiery hearth is beautiful, the prices excellent for the quality of fare ($16 for each of the pastas). Il Cane Rosso is a take-out lunch place; Cotogna is where you want to go for a warm, delightful dinner.
Where To Go When Homesick
That would be Pisco Latin Lounge (1817 Market Street), where Latin videos play all night, and pisco cocktails are served in all variations imaginable (including a perfectly prepared Pisco Sour, and Pisco Punch - an original San Francisco treat). Chef/owner James Schenk puts out a smart snack menu of charcuterie, cheeses, plantain chips with cilantro salsa, anticuchos, empanadas, and so forth that will remind Miami natives of the better aspects of home, sweet, home. For a full taste of Schenk's Pan Latin cuisine, you just have to go next door to his acclaimed Destino restaurant. But I'm afraid that will have to wait for next time.