Food & Lines

Burma Superstar Tail-Ends Valencia's Trendiness With New Mission Outpost

Burma Superstar, the much-loved local Burmese chain, is set to open their long awaited Mission location on Valencia Street (at Duboce) in a few weeks. An employee that answered the door Monday night informed Uptown Almanac that the official opening is planned for shortly after Christmas.

According to Tablehopper:

This is the fourth location for the local chain, joining the original on Clement Street, in addition to outposts in Oakland and Alameda. […]

The menu doesn’t differ from their other locations, but there is the exciting addition of a full liquor license and therefore a cocktail menu. Cocktails are all priced at $10 and are not overly complicated.[…]

When they do open, hours will be 5pm-11pm daily, and lunch will be added in a few months.

Using such descriptors as “warm-hued,” “cool gray,” and “smooth wood,” the Tablehopper piece devotes considerable space to the new location’s interior design (photos of which are here) and reads almost as if Burma Superstar’s new location is a replacement for the displaced Therapy furniture store down the street. And while we love a good “scallop motif” represented in a “metal open-work wall” as much as anyone else, it’s the food we’re excited for—which, it should be noted, appears to be more expensive than at the Richmond location.

In many ways Eddie Codel sums up news of the opening best:

[Photo: @x]

People Still Make Zines

Boozy Zine Release Party this Saturday at Vacation

Everyone’s favorite Tenderloin based zine is set to drop a third edition this Saturday, and the creators are throwing a party to celebrate. Tales From the Tenderloin, which is billed as a “collaborative zine that seeks to document the tales, trials and tribulations of life in the Tenderloin,” is a usually funny and sometimes touching look at life in the Tenderloin. 

The website lets you know what to expect:

This Saturday (12/20) we’re gonna be releasing the third issue of Tales From the Tenderloin, which we’re calling the HOLLADAZE edition. […]

[It’s] all going down at 9pm at VACATION (651 Larkin) and there’s gonna be some killer bands, a (hopefully) pretty cool zine, good friends, and all the booze you can carry in!

In addition to being both free and BYOB (which we love), the brown bag friendly event will feature live sets from San Francisco’s Seatraffic and Hot Flash Heat Wave.


Is The Mission Creek Microhood Here to Stay?

When we wrote last April about the then newly coined “Mission Creek” microhood, it seemed the designation of the Eastern Mission as a bespoke cocktail mecca deserving of its own branded name was an act destined to fade into the dustbin of the next tech bubble.

As such, we were surprised to see the above pictured sign last night at Bender’s. While “The Mission Creek,” a mixture of Southern Comfort, 7 Up, and lime, definitely eschews the artisanal ice cubes Mission Creek is better known for, the use of the name implies an embrace of the microhood that we found surprising.

And although it’s certainly possible that the bar was simply making a joke about the rainstorm we’re all currently experiencing, it seems just as likely that acceptance of the Mission Creek name has spread to places as no-bullshit as Bender’s. And if Bender’s is on board, well, then the The Mission Creek microhood may be here to stay.

But all is not lost. After all, the drink is only $3.00.

Drinks and Laughs

PianoFight Opens New Comedy Venue on SF's Shittiest Block

PianoFight, a San Francisco based artist collective that includes sketch comedy, a film production unit, and a band, has just announced the December 19th opening date of their new venue. In a town awash with upscale cocktail bars, but with an ever diminishing number of venues, the PianoFight space is aiming to be more than the sum of its parts. With two theaters, a bar, a restaurant, and a cabaret stage, PianoFight looks to be making a bid for all the constituents elements of your night on the town—dinner, show, and a cocktail all under one roof.

Based out of the old Original Joe’s at 144 Taylor, the PianoFight space inhabits a block better known as an open air drug market than a comedy hot spot. But in an interview with Uptown Almanac, PianoFight Artistic Director Rob Ready expressed nothing but love for the neighborhood, and explained what we can expect from their new location.

Uptown Almanac: What does the new PianoFight space bring to the SF arts scene?
Rob Ready: San Francisco doesn’t have a Second City or Upright Citizens Brigade. We aim to be that for SF, with our own Bay Area twist. Over the last eight years, PianoFight has produced everything under the sun—sketch and full-length comedy, music, film, dance, and a ton of interactive events. And we’ve produced that with local artists of all stripes. So we’re taking that eclectic “eye for awesome” and building it a dream home.

UA: Speaking of dream homes, what do you think of your new home in the Tenderloin?
RR: It’s great. Honestly, the residents and other business owners are cool people. The neighborhood is raw and gritty, just like the art we produce. But it’s also got a real sense of humor so our comedy-centric company fits in nicely. The TL is going through a lot of changes—some of those are for the better, and others not so much. But we believe every neighborhood and every community deserves access to incredible art, and that’s what we’re going to provide.

UA: So you’re not just opening a theater with a bar—you have a full restaurant as well. In a city that takes its foodie pretensions pretty seriously, what up-and-coming celebrity chef is behind your sure-to-be organic and locally-sourced food stylings?
RR: At PianoFight, we’ve always boot-strapped and DIY’d everything, that’s why our our Executive Director Dan Williams has designed the menu with his food-scientist mom, Mary Jo. It’s gonna be pretty delicious—classic California Americana with a twist on nostalgic concessions. And there’s eight beers and eight wines on tap and classic cocktails behind the bar. 

UA: OK, let’s get down to it. How much will a beer and a shot cost?
RR: Less than $10. Still nailing down final prices, but we’re all broke artists who like booze, so rest assured we’re gonna keep everything affordable.

UA: How late will the kitchen and bar stay open?
RR: The restaurant and bar area is open 4:00 PM until 2:00 AM (we might close a bit earlier on slow nights). It’s always open to the public and there are no drink minimums, no ticket fees, and no Shakespeare. You’ll need a ticket to get into shows in the theaters, but we’ll always have bleacher seats available on the cheap, $5-$15.

UA: The fist show in your space is A Merry FORKING! Christmas. What should we expect from a PianoFight Christmas tale?
RR: Fun fact - there are over 360,000 possible permutations of A Merry FORKING! Christmas. It’s a fully scripted play that takes place in a mall on Christmas Eve; a pot-dealing Santa, bored mortician, and a harried security guard are all in the mix. Every so often, a host character comes out and asks the audience what they want to see happen and the audience votes by loud, drunken applause. It is awesome. And everybody should have the opportunity to democratically vote down Christmas—or not.

UA: So obviously there will be performances happening in the two theaters housed within the building, but what about in the bar? Will there be live music? A jukebox?
RR: There will be live music in the bar after 10:00 PM on weekends. And we’ll be hitting up the musician meetup group happening here at PF, Balanced Breakfast, for some awesome, local playlists.

UA: The Chronicle mentions that the date for an official opening night party has yet to be set, “pending Mayor Ed Lee’s participation.” Is that total bullshit, or should we expect an opportunity to harass the mayor over a shot of Fernet?
RR: The Mayor was a big fan of Original Joe’s. Since we announced we had a signed a lease in their old space, we’ve met him a handful of times and he’s been asking about PianoFight ever since. His office says that he’s on vacation the second half of December, so we’re looking at maybe January for the official black tie Grand Opening big stupid party thing. We’re gonna ask him to throw out the first rotten tomato (cause ribbon cuttings are bullshit).

PianoFight is slated to open on December 19th, and you can buy tickets to the first production in the space here.

The above interview was edited for clarity.


San Francisco's Housing Protests Aren't About Hating Tech, No Matter How Much Industry Yes-Men Wish They Were

The proposed luxury apartment complex at 16th and Mission is one of the most controversial developments to hit the neighborhood in recent years. Activists have labeled it a “monster in the Mission,” fearing its imposing size will usher in a brutal wave of gentrification along Mission Street. The politics behind the protests are complicated, but you’d never know that reading the Examiner.

Over the weekend, San Francisco’s second fiddle daily published a story that ignorantly insisted Mission residents are rising up against the project out of misplaced hatred of techies:

The “monster” is a 10-story housing complex of 350 units proposed above the 16th and Mission BART station — a dream for transit-first advocates. It would be new housing that won’t displace anyone other than customers of a Burger King.

The opposition calls the market-rate development a “monster” because it will attract more tech workers to the Mission. It doesn’t matter that a percentage of the units will be below market rate. The protesters are willing to kill new affordable housing simply because they dislike tech workers.

This is willfully misleading. We don’t disagree that many in the Mission dislike tech workers. But pretending that tech loathing is driving housing activism transcends simple cluelessness.

Ever since the $175 million project was unveiled last October, residents have been quick to outline the real reasons behind their opposition.

The primary concern is that the complex will set an unwelcome precedent. The building will be a glistening harbinger, signaling to developers and landlords that Mission Street is the new Valencia. Many fear the area surrounding the 16th and Mission BART plaza—home to one of the largest clusters of low-income housing and SROs in the city—will be suddenly hit with rising rents and evictions. Those rent increases could impact residents and businesses alike, with worries that local businesses that serve both the Latino and lower-income communities could be pushed off the corridor.

Then there’s the concern that the residents of the new complex, which has projected rents between $3,500 to $5,000 per month, will demand increased enforcement of “quality of life” crimes. And the enforcement of those laws predominately affect the poor, as we’ve already begun to witness in the wake of the real estate-backed “Clean Up the Plaza” astroturf campaign.

While the tech industry may help fuel San Francisco’s gentrification crisis, they are hardly the only force behind it. We know it. Activists know it. The Plaza 16 Coalition, which leads the “No Monster in the Mission” protests, knows it (their “Visions/Demands” page doesn’t even mention the word “tech”). Even the Examiner knows it.

That’s right. An article published just three months ago by the paper accurately summed up the concerns of neighborhood activists:

While the project would demolish only some buildings on the site and not displace any residents, numerous community groups have opposed it because they say it will fundamentally change the neighborhood.

Andy Blue, an organizer with the 16 Plaza Coalition, which was formed to oppose what it has dubbed “The Monster in the Mission,” said there is no question that such a development will be a game-changer for the working-class Latino neighborhood.

So why’d the paper switch up the narrative and make it about techie victimization? The column itself hints at the motivation behind the change:

Doesn’t anyone see how these new units will provide a safety valve to prevent displacement? With 350 people living above the 16th Street BART station, there are 350 people not competing for existing housing in the Mission. […]

If we squander this opportunity to build much-needed housing on a rapid transit corridor connecting San Francisco to the Bay Area, grandma’s words will surely haunt us when we look in the mirror. Because the only monster we’ll see is our own disfigured face.

Naturally, the conservative-leaning paper’s stance is pro-development. And the crowd that champions the “Build, Build, Build” mantra is notoriously loose with reality. It is, after all, a lot easier to dismiss progressive activists as spiteful haters than it is to actually address their concerns.

Will further luxury development on Mission Street spur further displacement? Who knows. But asking that question is far more sane than the belief that setting aside 42 units out of 350 as affordable housing will solve the city’s displacement crisis.

[Photo: Plaza 16]

Valencia's Still Got It

Naked Bro Terrorizes Valencia

Last night at around 9:00 PM, the police received reports of a naked man chasing a woman around Valencia.

The man, clothed only in sunglasses, finally ended his reign of naked terror outside of Boogaloos on 22nd and Valencia. Bare ass on the sidewalk, and head resting against the glass, the sartorially challenged dude was essentially ignored by everyone trying to get their pop-up dinner on inside the restaurant. 

Surrounded by the police, who were clearly waiting for the EMT’s to arrive, it seemed obvious to that this bro was high out of his mind. This suspicion was confirmed when the otherwise entirely silent fellow yelled, at the top of his lungs, “my name is GLADIATOR!”

Celebrating & Spending

Indie Mart Comes Out of Retirement

Started by Kelly Malone back in 2005, Indie Mart was a semi-quarterly design fair that allowed local vendors a chance to sell their goods on the streets outside of Thee Parkside (among other places). Indie Mart, which eventually gave birth to Workshop, was always a great excuse to brown bag it while chatting with local kids making weird stuff.

As the last Indie Mart was in 2013, we were pleased to read that it is briefly coming out of retirement. The event page lets us know what to expect this time around:

We’ll host 40 vendors including almost all our [Workshop] teachers, San Franpsycho with their truck outside, Home Sweet Flowers with holiday wreaths outside in her truck and well have a fun booth with some DIY gifts and fun! Food. Drinks & beers. Music. Good times.

Indie Mart goes down this Tuesday at The Independent, and admission is free.

Fun Fun Fun In The Google Sun Sun Sun

The Pleasurable Externalities of Tech Shuttles

While many have previously noted a correlation between tech shuttle routes and both increased rent and no-fault evictions, it seems the stops have resulted in something a tad more curious as well.

Maybe it’s all part of the tech industry’s plan to more publicly give back to the community. 

Back From the Dead

Sunflower Returns With a Solid New Vegan Restaurant on Valencia

Just over two years ago, a tipster told us that Sunflower Vietnamese was slated to open a Burmese restaurant next-door “in a month or two.” Of course, that “month or two” quickly became a year or two, with no visible progress being made at the former Mariachi’s Taqueria. But the recent shutter of Sunflower apparently spurred the owners into action. Now Indochine, a vegan restaurant serving a wide range of Asian dishes, has finally opened on Valencia Street.

Curiously, Indochine’s grand opening was at noon on Thanksgiving day (and when this blogger walked past at 11am that morning, the waitstaff was still scrambling to arrange the tables and chairs.) Days later, much of the joint still felt very thrown together—menus were just cheap computer print-outs stapled together and silverware was served with cheap Costco napkins. But don’t let that fool you: the menu was honed and the restaurant has serious promise.

Fortunately, Indochine isn’t another exhausting foodie outpost catering to the city’s army of immaculate artisan assholes. Rather, it keeps in line with the recipe that made Sunflower the popular place it was: cheap, delicious food served in a space that doesn’t force itself to be an “experience.”

The space is certainly newer and nicer than the old Sunflower location next door. Most of the furniture is new and there’s a giant Jet Martinez mural lining one of their walls. But some of the worn fixtures have been cannibalized from Sunflower, including that musty soda refrigerator, which sits humming at the back of the restaurant floor.

The food is mostly in the $10 dollar range (you can peep the menu here). We won’t go too much into picking apart the menu—at the end of the day, if you were a fan of Sunflower, you’ll probably dig this place. After a group of us took down three dishes this past Saturday night (including the above pictured “Sizzling Teriyaki Vegan ‘Chicken’ ”), everyone agreed Indochine was a worthy successor of Sunflower.