5 Streets - San Francisco

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Steiner Street -- Afternoon delight

The perfect way to spend a slow Sunday afternoon on my five streets? (Well, besides being curled up in bed with a stack of fashion magazines and a glass of champagne!)

Start at Bean There Cafe at Steiner and Waller. They don't have the amazing pastries that Cafe du Soleil has, but the coffee is pretty tasty and the cafe is well lit and the tables are the perfect size for a lap top or a luxurious novel). If you can look past the somewhat apathetic wait staff (they're not rude, but sometimes it takes a bit too long to get the attention of one of the four idle bodies standing behind the counter) it's a cozy place to hang out for a chat with friends or strangers on a long afternoon.

Even better is to get your coffee (or your chai!) in a to-go cup to trot two doors down to Dolci Beauty Lounge for a little mani/pedi combination. It's a bit pricey in comparison to some of the spas in town, but the convenience of it (combined with the super-duper massage chairs!) makes it worth it.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia. Dolci used to be called "Bliss" but it changed its name. For obvious reasons.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Three from Fillmore Street

This weekend was all about Fillmore Street. Fillmore starts at Duboce street and stretches all the way to the Marina. Riding on the 22 bus line from one end to the other shows you the amazing diversity of the city as it takes you through the Lower Haight, the Western Addition, the edge of Japantown, Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow, to the Marina and the bay.

Saturday night, we started at the
Indian Oven. Some argue that it’s some of the best Indian food in the Bay Area, and I tend to agree (there’s also some darn good Indian in Berkeley, but that’s another five streets!) and I always find it baffling that there are three Indian food restaurants within thirty seconds walk of each other when Indian Oven is so good (more on this one later). Show up early or make a reservation, or you’ll have to wait, but the wait is well worth it. We waited for about thirty minutes for a table, and got seated upstairs (the seating’s better upstairs). The four of us split a bottle of Riesling and shared samosas (one of the best foods ever invented) and the assorted tandoori sampler and several kinds of Na’an. By the time the entrees had arrived, we were all pretty full, but I’m a sucker for Murgh Makhani so of course we all had to sample some more.

After dinner, we hopped in a cab to go to the
Boom Boom Room on Fillmore and Geary. It's located in the Fillmore district, and the club is one of the more intimate and authentic places in the city to see live blues, funk, and soul. Lucky for me, a friend’s band (Sila and the Afrofunk Experience -- yes, Sila really is that adorable in person) was playing this night. By the time we arrived, the band was well into its first (maybe even second) set, but we had plenty of time to get down with their funky rhythms and horn section.

Today was the perfect day to go to my favorite new café: Café Du Soleil on the corner of Fillmore and Waller. It used to be a bar called Movida Lounge which I only went to once and didn’t really appreciate, but now it's transformed into this lovely little French bistro. The food is very simple: pastries and salads and open-faced sandwiches, but it’s all so tasty, I never notice the simplicity of the menu (sometimes simple is sublime). In fact, while I’ve sampled a few things on the menu, most of the time I order the open-faced smoked salmon sandwich with crème fraiche, fresh herbs, and shallots. On a good day, I’ll also treat myself to the decadent (their words, but I tend to agree) chocolate pot de crème. It’s quite possibly one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. I love sitting either inside or outside. Inside, it’s brightly colored and always rather lively but still calm enough to read a book or write in my journal. Outside, on a sunny day, it’s the perfect spot to people watch while seated at a sidewalk table.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Steiner Street -- Celebrity Sightings

Tee hee. Watch me giggle.

Just down Steiner, at Duboce Park, Hollywood is shooting a scene for a movie starring Will Smith. Filming is all day today, and like the typical local that I am, I decided to ignore all of the big signs informing the public that the street is closed, and walked straight down Steiner, like I always do.

Drum roll, please.

There's Mr. Smith, first running through the park and then sitting in a nice shady area between takes. No, I didn't get to talk to him (or make out with him, not that Jada would have let me!) but I did get within 20 feet or so. Okay, maybe 40 feet. I'm sure he was about to come over and ask if I wanted a part in the movie, but then some nasty man with a very loud voice informed me that I needed to get out.

Still, a good morning in the Lower Haight of San Francisco!

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Story of Page Street

I should point out that this story is based on the ramblings of a largely-drunk storyteller (based on the ramblings of an equally-drunk storyteller). So it's entirely possible that it's not exactly true. But it's such a great story, I have to share.

My neighborhood used to be very sketchy. Extremely sketchy. In fact, the buildings across the street from my apartment building used to be occupied by squatters who had broken through a police lock to enter - and eventually live in - one of the buildings. Apparently, the block was largely run by a bunch of crack dealers.

Here's the good part. The neighbors started to notice a yellow Corvette pulling up to the buildings across the street. And for some odd reason, the squatters were always playing The Village People at over-the-top volumes. Then (rumor has it) they found out that the driver of the Corvette allegedly was the original policeman from The VP.

Sound beyond unbelievable? Not in San Francisco.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Page Street - Snapshots

Nighttime. Garbage cans on plastic wheels nestle curbside. Televisions shine bright through curtain-less windows. I wrap my sweater-coat around me, wishing the wind away.

A man with dreadlocks spilling down his back calls up to an open bay window: My son threw a party Sunday night. Did it disturb you? A faceless voice responds from inside: No. No disturbance.

A homeless man pushing a shopping cart stacked high with oversized, stuffed garbage bags, pauses to walk his dog. A lake-sized puddle quickly spreads around the dog, a tiny black ball of fuzz. My, I say, that’s a lot of pee-pee for such a little dog. The man smiles at me, picks up the dog, and cushions her on top of the cart. He whispers to her, softly, lovingly.

A drunken couple stumbles along the sidewalk, giggling like teenagers in love. They both wear heavy, wool coats and boots, though it is early September and still supposedly summer, though one would never know it, living in San Francisco

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Page Street

Page Street runs parallel to the infamous Haight Street; it races from the edge of Golden Gate Park, slicing through the touristy Upper Haight and not-so-touristy Lower Haight, before finally ending just above Van Ness Street and Market. I live on Page in the Lower Haight, in a 1-bedroom apartment in the back of a lovely Victorian building. It's a typical apartment for San Francisco: a bit small; too many drafts and not nearly enough outlets; hardwood floors and a murphy bed closet (perfect to house a large shoe collection!); quirky Victorian details.

Page is far more quiet than the ever-lively Haight Street; it has its own nooks & crannies that we will explore in the upcoming months, but more generally it's the perfect street to live on as it's so centrally located and literally minutes from everything. Within 15 minutes walk, I can eat Thai, Indian, Chinese, sushi, Ethiopian, falafel (so many food choices; we will spend many hours deconstructing this tasty topic); there are more cafes and coffee shops than I can count; I can go dancing, bar-hopping, or find new live music; the Red Vic Movie House is a quick bus ride away for independent movies and cult film classics; I can shop vintage or discover a new, up-and-coming designer or try on wigs and tiaras at the Piedmont Boutique.

And if I get bored, I can always wander past the Haight into the Castro, Mission, or Hayes Valley.

But why on earth would a gal ever get bored with choices like these?

Monday, September 05, 2005


This really is inspired by my dear friend, Julia, who started 5 Streets in her neighborhood. 5 Streets, to me, is about exploring the immediate space, the five streets, surrounding my home, really the space that makes my home: My Home. It's about the hidden surprises in one's own neighborhood, the places that tour books never tell a person about, but the places that the locals will send tourists to before all of the others.

I was walking home this afternoon from my favorite produce shop (outside my 5 Streets, technically, but still my favorite shop), clutching my green fabric sack of beautiful pieces of fruit: raspberries, grapes, peaches, cantelope, avacado, tomatoes, peppers -- all ripe, all locally grown, all gorgeously in season, all seven minutes walk from my apartment.

It was such a simple moment, one I do several times a week, one that a passerby would not ever notice. But in this moment, on this sunny, breezy, San Francisco day, I realized how lucky I am to live where I live. To be in this spot. To be carrying a sack of fruit up Fillmore.

So I ask you to join me in exploring my 5 streets and perhaps to share your own. Uncover the secrets of your neighborhood, the ones that are just outside your front door.