Archive for June, 2010

Punch Line Comedy Club

June 30, 2010

There’s nothing quite like a good night of comedy, your sides aching, tears streaming down your cheeks.  San Franciscans have been getting their laughs on at  Punch Line for decades, and last night I found out why.

When I think of comedy clubs, I think of a warehouse-like setting with black floors that turn sticky from booze  after every show.  I picture cheap tables with uncomfortable chairs bought from some wholesaler down in L.A.  But Punch Line is different.  It has a cozy, intimate feel, so no seat is very far from the stage.  The stage itself is pleasant to look at even without a comedian on it, as they have this cartoon-like painting of the city as a backdrop.  Even the floors are nice (hardwood), and if you time it right, you can nab a table with a couch.

The quality of the comedic talent this club attracts is top-notch.  Last night we saw a variety of comics, including the hilarious Hannibal Buress, a writer for SNL who was recently voted best comic in New York.   We also saw some great local talent, Louis Katz, who has been featured on Comedy Central and HBO.

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Molinari’s Delicatessen: a North Beach Classic

June 15, 2010

If you’re ever in North Beach, in “Little Italy,” you have got to go to Molinari’s.  It’s got a classic, Old World feel – a long, narrow shop with a good selection of cheeses and a well-stocked deli counter.   While you wait to order, you stand amongst shelves of wine, delicate-looking packages of savoidari (lady fngers), tins of tuna that look like they could survive an air strike, “the good stuff” olive oil, amaretti cookies, an eclectic assortment of  imported Italian products.

If you’re having a cold sandwich, you can select your piece of bread from a bin, the way you select lobsters from a tank, only you get to help yourself.  I like to have the panini, and it’s what I recommend to everyone.  My favorite is I think the Luciano Special; you don’t have to remember the name because it’s easy to spot on the big black board with white plastic lettering.  It’s a grilled focaccia with prosciutto, mozarella, red peppers and sundried tomotoes.  It is a-mazing!

Every time I get my sandwich, I almost want to recite a poem.  In fact, I think I will.

Ode to my panini

Ode to my panini                                                                                                                            How golden brown and warm and havey                                                                       Your bountiful layers of freshly-carved prosciutto                                                        Perfect saltiness, delicately thin  and buttery                                                               Your heavenly-textured cheese and succulent peppers                                               Topped with sundried tomatoes – a red chewy piece of summer                             As I unwrap you I think I could not be happier                                                               Until I take my first bite

Quick Lunch Near Union Square: Cafe Venue

June 8, 2010

If you  are a tourist and want food that locals would eat, instead of the on-the-ground version of airplane food served to tourists, you usually have to wander a good way from the tourist-infested zones.   There might be more upscale restaurants that atrract tourists and locals alike, but what if you just want to have a simple lunch?

Well, if the “tourist ground-zero” at which you find yourself is Union Square, I have just the place.  I actually discovered it just last Sunday.  It’s called Cafe Venue, and I’ll tell you why, if you’re near Union Square and want a quick bite to eat but abhor fast food, this is the place to go.

1) It’s located only half a block away from Market Street. which means that to walk there from the heart of Union Square takes maybe 5 minutes if you walk slow and the traffic lights take a while to change.

2)   The menu features lunch staples such as sandwiches and salads.  The food is what I think of as typical Bay Area food – food with a fusion twist.  I’m not talking about your average “deliberate fusion” food, where the chef tries to make everything thoughtfully exotic.  I mean “regular” food like sandwiches and salads made with ingredients like avocados, sundried tomatoes, Thai penaut sauce – basically ingredients that would be considered out-of-the-ordinary in most other parts of the country but standard for this area.  Also “very California,” is the variety of fresh juices they offer.

3)  They have some outdoor seating.  There are actually only a few tables, but if the sun is out (and you have a sweater or jacket to protect you when the wind starts blowing), I highly recommend one of these tables.  So many different typesp of people walk past; it’s a great place to “people watch.”

Chipotle Mexican Grill

June 1, 2010

Any combination of  beans, rice, a variety of meats, cheese, guacamole, salsa, sour cream wrapped up in a tortilla are called what?  If it’s a corn tortilla, they’re called  tacos. If it’s a flour tortilla, they’re called burritos.

I want to stop eating animals, but I find it hard to resist tacos made with steak (carne asada) or burritos made with pork (carnitas). Luckily for my conscience and waistline, I don’t go to taquerias (restaurants featuring an assembly line of cooks putting together tacos, quesadillas and burritos behind a counter) very often.

My favorite taqueria is in the Mission district (where you’ll find a lot of the best Mexican food), but getting there from my apartment near Union Square involves taking Muni, which I am spoiled not having to take often since I walk to work and use my car when venturing to a “distant” part of the city.

So what does all this have to do with Chipotle?  It’s a chain restaurant that allows customers to walk down an assembly line of servers who put together their food as the customers make their way down the counter.  My second-favorite taqueria in the Mission district actually has a similar setup, where the customers indicate which of the ingredients behind the counter they want.

I prefer a real taqueria, but I do find Chipotle to be an excellent alternative to other fast food options.   Somehow the food seems more fresh.  After a couple of documentaries and news shows, I now fear the frozen beef patties and chicken nuggets at other fast food vendors’.

My husband also likes the fresher aspect.  Unlike me, he cannot read Spanish and does not have enough taco-ordering experience to confidently order at a Mexcian taqueria.  That’s why he loves the menu at Chipotle; it’s very, very simple to use for someone who is not super familiar with ordering “taqueria style.”

Last week witnessed the grand opening of a Chipotle location right in the Union Square area (on O’Farrell near Powel).  Those of us who pass by their every day on our way to work have been intrigued since the “Burritofication in Proggress” signs went up and a new franchise was clearly popping up.

The hubby and I missed the grand opening, but we did go Chipotle the day after, since we live close to the Union Square area.  The food seemed less unhealthy than other fast food options we had on our walk home.  I am proud to report I got a vegetarian burrito, spared some animals, saved time by not cooking and tried out the latest place for tourists and shoppers near Union Square to get their taco fix.