Something the wingnuts really need to have explained to them--preferably by a William Tecumseh Sherman-like father figure--is that the point of a democracy (or a democratic republic) is that the people make decisions and the wingnuts get to live with that...or leave. They don't get to secede just because things don't go their way.
I should have put this as the close of the restaurants post. Oh, well.
In the three days I spent in the SF area, I ranged as far north as Sausalito (on a run up to see Muir Woods) and as far south as San Mateo.
I was struck by how few out-in-the-open fast food joints there were. These were mostly in San Bruno and Millbrae (the In-N-Out Burger we went to was in Millbrae). I saw one stand-alone McDonald's with its familiar architecture. The handful of McDonald's joints farther north were blended into their neighborhoods or in strip malls. No drive-through, nothing more than a recognizable but modest double-arches sign to let you know they were there.
I saw a combined KFC and Taco Bell in an otherwise nondescript building. A combined KFC or Taco Bell and A&W in another spot.
Not a Waffle House sign (or restaurant) anywhere. Those things grow like kudzu near highway offramps in the Southeast.
I liked it. I liked the fact that there was a dress code in the area and that even these corporate giants had to conform.
Billboards. There weren't a lot of them cluttering up the view. Business signs, either.
Walmart? bwahahaha. Nope. The Great Retail Satan can be found across the bay or down near Palo Alto, though there are a couple of corporate offices of some sort near San Bruno.
[Edit: Don't know why it didn't occur to me that the "dress code" could also be about using established buildings that are up to local earthquake-preparedness codes. The San Andreas fault cuts right up the center of the SF peninsula--interactive map at the link.]
[Nother Edit: I really should have trolled the locals, asking them where the Rice-A-Roni Factory Outlet store was. Dammit!]
I've got a bad habit of getting an album and only listening to a song or two on one side. When I first bought Rush's "Moving Pictures" in 1987, it was just for the one song: 'Tom Sawyer'. I'd slap the tape in my player, rewind to the beginning of the song, and play only that song. It took a couple of years to get into the rest of the album--and with each new song I couldn't believe I'd waited so long, because each one was awesome. Now "Moving Pictures" is a favorite and I'm on my 3rd tape and 3rd CD (I don't know how I wore the music off a CD, but I did--sounds cooler than "they just deteriorated with age").
There's a long list of other bands and albums: I've listened to the first side of Alice In Chains' "Facelift," Def Leppard's "On Through the Night," the first few songs of Metallica's "Pantload" "Load."
That said, it's only taken a few months for me to get into the first Dethklok disc ("The Dethalbum"). There's not a bad track on it. Some are more awesome than others, but today's song, "Go Into the Water," is glorious. The guitars are incredible, especially those Brian May-like harmonies. Reminds me of Metallica when they were still in the music business.
The video (from the deluxe edition Dethalbum II DVD) includes "Fansong" as a hidden "bonus" track.
There weren't any complimentary peanuts or crackers on any of the flights, just soft drinks. A canned Coke is a canned Coke, even at 33,000 feet. No food here, and that'll save some reviewing time.
First place I dined was Tommy's Joynt at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Geary. We had to park up near the end of the block on Geary (nice downhill slope for me to deal with). I didn't even notice the eye-catching livery on the building's north side (late evening and worn out from all the airport stuff). As you enter from the corner (didn't see the door on Geary, either), you've got a long cafeteria-style serving area on the right. The bar dominates the left wall. Plenty of warm, dark wood. Beer signs all over the place. Small without feeling crowded. As a bonus for Monty Python fans, there's a little "Watney's Red Barrel" display hanging just next to the bar.
I wish I'd been able to stay in SF longer so I could explore the Joynt's menu. I had the BBQ brisket dinner platter (mashed potatoes, hard roll and a salad). Good portions for the price (about 10 bucks, plus a Coke). Very tasty! It was served with what looks like a thin brown gravy but has a tangy BBQ sauce flavor. I'd definitely eat here again and again.
We ran some errands early in the day and didn't do breakfast until maybe 10:30 am. Thanks to the Lex and Terry morning radio show, I've been hearing praises of In-N-Out Burger for years. We stopped at the one near Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Rd in Millbrae.
I went with a straight-up #2 combo (double cheeseburger, fries, Coke). I'd put them in the same league with Wendy's, Steak 'N' Shake, or Whataburger as far as flavor and quality--basically mid-range as far as burgers, but high as far as fast food joints go (for comparison, Burger King, McDonald's, and Krystal are on the bottom tier; Tops and SteakOut are on top). Huge portions. Good fries. It wasn't an earth-shaking experience, but I'd go occasionally if there were one in Pensacola.
We spent the rest of the day driving all over SF proper. Had a Slurpee at the only 7-11 I've seen since 1999 (there are none in Northwest Florida; they were taken over by Circle K).
Dinner was from Sorabol, a food court restaurant at the Tanforan mall in San Bruno. Korean. Pretty typical Asian-style menu (rice, vegetables, bite-size cuts of beef, pork or chicken). Lots of food for a decent price. The bourbon chicken was very good.
There was a Jollibee next door to Sorabol. I later learned that it's supposed to be Filipino--but from reviews around the Interwebs, actual Filipinos eat elsewhere. The only reason I even remembered this place was #3 on their menu: a plate of spaghetti with sauce...and a fried chicken drumstick.
We'd intended to see the "Evil Dead" remake in the nearby theater, but neither of us thought we'd make it through without falling asleep. Back to the apartment.
My host had to go to work. He spent a good 6 hours on that. I sat around (glad to not be walking or climbing in and out of my host's Miata) and munched on my leftover dinner. Bleah. No microwave or cookware. The rice had hardened and the noodles had taken on a rubbery consistency. Bleah, again.
We lunched at the Broadway Grill a few miles from the apartment at Broadway & Capuchino. What?! Not fast food?! Nope. Not a formal place, but tony enough that prices are noted discreetly on the menu next to the entrees ("21" without the distracting dollar sign; don't be fooled by the Web version). The room is big, two stories high, with an open and roomy feel to it.
I had the Steak Frites (the classy name for "steak and fries"). And a Coke (no classy name). Moderate portions. Good steak. A bit pricey, perhaps, for a low-budget kind of guy (that's a classy way of saying "broke").
More running around, this time in Haight-Ashbury.
Dinner was a medium pizza from Village Host, a couple of blocks east of the Broadway Grill (Broadway & Laguna). Casual sports-bar vibe, but without TV's covering every wall. Wood-warmed and comfortable, maybe louder on a big game night but plenty quiet for conversation. There's an arcade room at the back with a vintage Ms. Pac Man/Galaga sit-down game. The only interesting stand-up had a dozen or so classics such as Joust, Defender, and Vanguard.
Rating the usual pizza joints, I'd put Domino's dead last, then CiCi's, Little Caesar's, Hungry Howie's, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's. Village Host would come in around Howie's or the Hut.
Alcatraz day! We did breakfast in the little cafe/gift shop near the ferry landing. Some kind of turkey & ham wrap, and too pricey. I ate half of it and stored the rest away for later.
Alcatraz ate the morning; the California Academy of Sciences (CAOS! heh.) ate the afternoon. We infiltrated a Popeye's for a late lunch.
We went back to the Broadway Grill to see their Dean Martin impersonator *ahem* Tribute Artist. Once he wrapped up, we went up the street to Village Host again and demolished a large.
Back to the airport for my long-ass ride back to Pensacola. With the flights (Frisco to Charlotte, then to Pensacola) and the layover in Charlotte I was looking at 10 hours. I had the other half of that wrap from the Alcatraz pier cafe for breakfast. That was it until I hit Charlotte, found out my flight had been canceled, and that I was being put up in a hotel for the night.
The Hilton's Omaha Steakhouse is simply made of awesome. Granted, my rosy outlook thereupon is a likely side effect of low blood sugar. Don't care. I was seated in the lounge. There was just enough light to read, the booth seat was terribly comfortable, and service was fast. I ordered a burger, since a steak would be more work than I wanted. If that wasn't the best damn burger I've ever had, it had to be close. On that short list of burger places, Omaha is at the top, above SteakOut, which is my go-to for damn good burgers.
It tasted like steak.
I don't know what McDonald's does to their patties, but they do not taste like steak. Maybe it's their seasoning (he said, being diplomatic), or the cooking method (he added diplomatically).
Whatever it was, there was just enough burger in all the right places and the price was very reasonable ($13 plus tax) for a steakhouse. No bacon. Why, why, WHY would I pollute a good burger with bacon?
Probably the coolest thing I've ever done. About 10 years ago, I took my kayak out on the Gulf just east of Fort Pickens. Mid-spring, gorgeous day, pretty calm. I was a few hundred feet offshore and looking out at deeper water where a pod of dolphins were working their way westward, smoothly breaking the surface to grab a breath and rolling under again without much of a splash. There were nearly a dozen of them.
Then I heard a blowing sound behind me, toward the shoreline, and turned to see three of them maybe 20 feet away.