It's hard to get worked up over Best Of lists, the yearly prize dished out by alt-weeklies to whomever advertises the heaviest in the paper. Really, they're just corrupt BuzzFeed listicles for a bygone era. However, sometimes they are so unjustly--so tastelessly--awarded that it blows away my already low expectations.
Take SF Weekly's pick for the "Best Gut-Busting Lunch" of 2013:
American Grilled Cheese's Mac N Cheese Grilled Cheese
There's comfort food, and then there's a vortex of comfort food inside more comfort food. A grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni-and-cheese might be the very manifestation of a San Francisco foodie's id. Gooey, crunchy, and guaranteed to ruin your appetite for the remainder of the day, the sandwich has a simplicity that proves that all that umami nonsense is just a distraction from living out your inner 6-year-old's dream — and all for only $8. How has no one thought of this before? Should you chow down at the Mission location once occupied by Café Gratitude, you get to say, "I am decadent" as you stuff your face.
Dearest SF Weekly: I know the institutional memory is pretty short at a publication that lays off a sizable chunk of its staff every few years, but someone has thought of grilled mac 'n' cheese sandwiches before. In fact, you awarded top prize in a nearly identical category to them last year. Their name is Bender's and they do, in fact, make the best grilled mac 'n' cheese gut-buster:
But for those who want to take a real starch + dairy challenge, there's the Grilled Mac 'n' Cheese Sandwich, a creamy behemoth that will take you all night to eat. Two hunks of bread separated by several inches of cheese and elbow pasta — as savory and comforting a combination of food elements as has yet been devised by mankind. It goes without saying that a sandwich like that can absorb its fair share of beer. Also: Tots! A photo booth! Bands!
That isn't to say American Grilled Cheese is a worthless restaurant--it isn't. They make a perfectly fine sandwich. But fine isn't the best, is it?
It was just over two months ago that the Third Eye Blind front man stood tall on the Bottom of the Hill stage and declared, "We're right at that moment before Valencia turns to complete shit." Now, he's bemused and excited about slamming his face with a plate of Mission Cheese's finest.
(In all fairness, cheese is a magical food product and we welcome its existence in all forms.)
Previously on Uptown Almanac
I was just thinking the Mission was due for a new semi-twee bike shop, and it looks like we're about to get one (but only for nine days only). Rivendell Bicycle Works will be opening up June 1st next to Wise Sons on 24th, and they'll have all sorts of bike stuff to get your hands on:
There will be bikes to see and touch, art from our other showroom, bags, handlebars. Some free schwag, brochures, coupons, a secret “have to be there to get it” super deal. Small items for sale, and discounted posters. No test rides, sorry, just too much to worry about at the start and our insurance for the rider, well, were not sure about that part.
Our big honkin’ 71cm Homer will be there though. It will be the only bike available for test ride. [...]Opening day is Saturday June 1st. At 5pm Saturday we’re doing something special, a giveaway? Hmm.
Curiously enough, they rented the space they'll be popping-up in on a site called Storefront, which is basically Airbnb for retail space that I shouldn't be at all surprised exists, but, yet, I still am. (And the site has a heavy presence in the Mission, so I expect we will be seeing a lot of pop-ups this summer from businesses that can swing $350+/day rents. But I digress...)
Rivendell suggests if the store is a "smash success" or they "break even," they might be sticking around the neighborhood a bit longer. So vote with your dollars, folks. It might get us a new bike shop!
[via RBW Blug]
Look, we get it: Muni is pretty much a giant hollowed out piece of dogshit on wheels. Its schedule is random, at best. NextBus, a horror show. It's crowded, smelly, sketchy, slow, socialist, impossible, insufferable, expensive, and people clip their toenails on it. Being drunk is pretty much a prerequisite for boarding. Also, it doesn't have wifi and leather seats.
No one seems to know how to fix it. It takes San Francisco 16 years to construct a single high-speed line, while Mexico City reinvents their entire bus system in three. Willie "Da Mayor" Brown can do little more than joke about his fantastic ineptitude in fixing Muni. And Scott Wiener still hasn't responded to my pleas to criminalize pedicures on the 14 Mission.
What can be done?
Meet Leap, the latest coddle libertarian startup that knows Muni's issues stems from our secret jealously of Google Buses:
Leap is a shuttle service for San Francisco commuters.
Leap is the best way to get to work. Our shuttles will take you downtown in the morning, and back home in the evening. Our first route, the Chestnut Express, services the Marina. We'll be adding more routes soon.
Promising "A Seat For Everyone," a ride on Nu Muni will cost you $6 each way--assuming you own an iPhone and live on a profitable route. Numi also only runs weekdays from "7:00 AM to 10:00 AM and from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM," because those are the times everyone needs to ride the bus. (Sorry granny on a fixed income.)
We reached out to Greg Dewar of the N-Judah Chronciles for some initial thoughts on this stunning disruption of public transit:
This is going to blow up for a few reasons:
1. Just because it's not a Muni bus doesn't mean it can't get stuck in the same traffic Muni does.
2. If this amplifies the already existing problem of private buses at Muni stops, you can better believe MTA will crack down on them.3. Their base cost is very high if they aren't using public power (like Muni does and is the only one that can). [Ed: never mind increased pollution from not being electric.]
4. It can't replace Muni. It only makes sense for them to run on lines that produce the most riders. They're not going to have these things in West Portal. It'll be a downtown thing to a few neighborhoods at best and even then there are insurance issues and rights of way issues.5. It'll get a shitload of free press, it'll start up, and it will fail because they can't serve the entire city AND beat Muni. At best I see this as a snooty bus "system" that will leave most people still stranded.
We love it. Ayn Rand's libertarian fantasy world is finally taking root in San Francisco. Paul Ryan for mayor anyone?
World's greatest muni driver now announcing we are stopped at a green light because of a commuter bus. #sfmuni #49— The Tens (@thetens) May 29, 2013
[h/t Connie Hwong]
The closure of Nap's 3 certainly was a bummer. We always loved the ceaseless weekend train wreck of a karaoke night hosted by Nap himself, and squandering away a warm-ish summer night on their back patio has led to many fine memories. But while we loved Nap's, the new occupants of That Bar Next to El Rio are giving us something to look forward to.
Virgil's Sea Room is the name, and it's being opened by Hard French DJ Tom Temprano, Lexington Club owner Lila Thirkield, and Nickie's bartender Gillian (as Tom tells us, "I can assure you our Guinness will be properly poured"). Hard French and Tom's other DJ nights will be staying put at El Rio--Virgil's is just where he'll be slangin' drinks on nights off. As he puts it:
I've always been really interested in the opportunity to own a space and this was a great opportunity to work with fantastic people. Plus, I am in love with the neighborhood -- I actually live a couple blocks away and so it's a magical fit.
But the best news? Virgil's will be keeping the karaoke nights going, and they're hoping to have Nap come back to host regularly (no word if they'll keep lousy karaoke equipment we often blamed our frightening Tina Turner renditions on).
As for the back patio, they won't be able to open it at first
because of permitting issues [Edit: permitting issues are not to blame for the late patio open], but they're working to snuff and open eventually. For now, they're focusing on fixing up the front of the house, which apparently needed some repairs.
Tom tells us they hope to open ASAP, so be on the lookout.
We're big fans of the weekly Mission Community Market. Sure, it's a tad expensive as far as farmer's markets go, and the selection isn't as comprehensive as Civic Center's, but having a dependable farmer's market was something this neighborhood long needed, and now we finally have it.
So when Mission Community Market proposed to further improve the stretch of Barlett Street between 21st and 22nd that the market occupies every Thursday by converting it to a functional civic space, we were on board. By leveraging the $1.6m the city has already set aside to upgrade the street and eliminating the 40 some parking spaces, the city hopes to construct permanent market stalls, improve the pedestrian lighting and green the street--all while remaining a drivable street.
Of course, some self-described neighbors are already upset over the loss of parking, fearing it will negatively impact local businesses or something, for the benefit of a "private organization." From an email being circulated around:
1. Elimination of Parking: The proposed design eliminates parking which will hurt both residents and businesses in the area. The parking is eliminated in order to massively widen the sidewalks on Bartlett St. As there is little pedestrian traffic on that street, we believe that it would make more sense to just modestly widen the sidewalks and retain most or all of the existing parking. [...]
3. Process: The planning process has not been transparent or fair. It appears that Jeremy Shaw has been central to the design; but he has a clear conflict of interest as he runs the private organization that operates the Mission Community Market. In contrast local neighborhood and business organizations have not been involved. Not surprisingly, the final design favors Jeremy's particular private interests and not the views of the broader public. I think it is highly inappropriate for the City to allow the head of a private organization to redesign a public street to benefit that private organization.
The irony of the last point is clearly lost on the neighbors, considering parking spaces for privately-owned vehicles seems like a far worse use of public space than a farmer's market that can be patronized by everyone that eats food. Alas, this is their case.
Should you want to see the lot of apparently self-interested parties battle it out in a public meeting, the SF Planning Department is hosting a hearing on the proposed plaza tomorrow night at 6pm in The Women's Building at 3543 18th Street.
Previously on Uptown Almanac
UPDATE: Lawrence Le Blanc, Brick & Mortar's booker, tells us new soundproofing will go in Wednesday and "all is well."
Despite being located in the shadow of the Central Freeway, the Entertainment Commission ruled Tuesday that Brick & Mortar Music Hall is too noisy and is only allowing the club to remain open under burdensome circumstances. The Examiner reports:
The restrictions stem from nearly two years of complaints by neighbors of the venue on Mission Street near Duboce Avenue who say they have heard noise from the concert hall since it opened.
Following an hourlong discussion, the commission voted to approve numerous restrictions for the club, including limiting entertainment hours from 5 p.m. until 12:30 p.m. on weekends and 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. on weekdays. The sound levels of the club may also not exceed 80 decibels, which is about the level of a garbage disposal.
At the hearing, the owners explained they had already invested $50,000 in soundproofing, however the commission demanded the club schedule additional soundproofing by June 15--despite some neighbors defending the club, saying noise issues have improved. Additionally, Brick & Mortar claims to have never received a complaint or police citation.
Brick & Mortar's owners allege the heavy-handed restrictions are not in fact over sound issues, but over their refusal to employ the Entertainment Commission's lone inspector's private security company, Yojimbo Protection Services. In an interview with the SF Weekly, Brick & Mortart's owner Jason Perkins claims the club's troubles began last fall when he declined to hire Yojimbo at the inspector's urgings.
"I think if I hired his security company we would not have had one complaint," Perkins says.
Other club owners, speaking off the record, report similar occurrences. One says [Inspector Vajra Granelli] referred him to a partner at Yojimbo to hire security for a nightclub. The owner hired the firm, but soon found that it was too expensive. After he replaced the firm, the club began getting noise and security citations from Granelli, according to the owner.
"The reason why clubs hire this person is because they [the entertainment commission] leave us alone," he says.
The corruption has left Perkins frustrated and ready to throw in the towel. “We will close," he told the Examiner. "We’ve got four other venues to run, it’s not worth it.”
Despite last weekend's two-alarm fire that burnt out the backs of both We Be Sushi and Thai House, it seems at least one of those restaurants survived and will reopen. Jeff fills us in:
I ran into Paul the manager of Thai House today and he said they're reopening a week from Friday. Good news for us Thai food enthusiasts.
Still no word on the condition of We Be Sushi. We'll update if we hear more.