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If you’re at the Moscone Center or in one of San Francisco’s museum districts (Third and Mission is flanked by SFMOMA, Museum of the African Diaspora and the Contemporary Jewish) and you want to eat where museumites eat, enter the mini-food zone of Yerba Buena Lane next to the big cube of the Contemporary Jewish, and stroll on in to Tropisueño.  It’s actually two restaurants in one.

By day, Tropisueño is a taqueria, a place for freshly made tacos, tostados and flautas at super-reasonable prices. When night falls, there’s a transformation into a full-service Mexican restaurant.

Like most of the museum staff, we’ve only eaten there by day. It’s impressive. Cheerful, speedy service. Friendly chef/assemblers. Tasty dishes. Big portions. And low, low prices. All in a seriously attractive room.

415 243-0299;   75 Yerba Buena Lane;  


www.tropisueno.com

 

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Brunch in San Francisco may be a wee bit different from the last time you took Mum brunching on Mother’s Day. This one is called Sunday’s a Drag. It’s in a 1930’s-style supper club called Harry Denton’s Starlight Room on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The room, the setting, the atmosphere are all drag-queen elegant: cut-glass chandeliers, major mirrors, bronze ceilings, too-sweet drinks and spectacular views of Union Square. The hostesses are all tall, thin, attractive young women in black, body-hugging, full-length dresses.

The brunch, itself, is hotel-standard: pretty good, if a bit under-seasoned. But never mind — you’re not here for the food. Who’s here with you? Locals and tourists. Gays and straights. Birthday boys and anniversary couples. Singles and families, teens and elders — in short, somebody just like you.

On a given Sunday, four performers strut their stuff: Donna Sachet, Kendra Monroe, Lady Tia and Cassandra Cass. Donna is the emcee. She handles the crowd with consummate skill, teasing the rubes but never ridiculing them. Kendra appears as Superwoman — big, bold and kinda scary. Lady Tia — well, she fooled me. During her first act, she was all Donna Summers; in her next, pure Whitney Houston. As for Cassandra, she’s a triumphal monument to modern surgery, a dancing definition of trompe d’oeil.

The crowd loved it, and if you’re up for gender bending on a Sunday morn, odds are you will too.

450 Powell Street; 415 392-7755; www.sirfrancisdrake.com

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Rápido y Delicioso

The knock on Mexican food in American restaurants is that every dish tastes the same. Tostados, burritos, tacos — the texture is different, but your taste buds will strain to tell one from the other.

That’s not the case at Papito Hayes, a small, skinny place in the culinary free-fire zone of Hayes Valley, close to the opera, ballet and symphony. Each dish here tastes distinctly different which may be the beneficial effect of a French chef-co-owner designing Mexican meals.

Ingredients are seasonal, local and organic — that’s become the norm in San Francisco, though not yet in many Mexican restaurants.

The sangria is moreish, the portions are generous, the price is reasonable. Service ranges from fast-but-pleasant to the Whatever Shrug.

Let’s run through those tastes…

Homemade guacamole: fresh, bold, a bit oniony. Beet salad: pomegranate, jicama, cantaloupe add distinctive flavors. Ceviche Papito: Best in San Francisco—roasted pineapple lifts it above the others. Tacos: Each one distinctly different from the others. Don’t miss the shrimp tempura taco. Arroz con leche: rice pudding made zesty with fruit.

425A Hayes Street (near Gough) 415.554.0541; Monday-Friday 11:30am-10pm. Saturday & Sunday 11am-10pm; http://www.papitohayessf.com

 

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I know it seems impossible, but in famously expensive San Francisco, you get delicious Cal-Asian Fusion food, an all-drag-queen show and a waitress you’ll never forget, all at a bargain price.

Where? AsiaSF, a so-San Francisco delight. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but once you walk in, va-va-voom!

We take out-of-town friends here without telling them where we’re going or what they’re about to experience. Not a one has been disappointed. AsiaSF — it’s an Older fave. Go, San Francisco!

http://www.asiasf.com 9th Street & Howard

 

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This is one of our favorites. Mexican fare at its best and what San Francisco eating is all about.

Papito Potrero is in the lively, interesting neighborhood of Potrero Hill. It’s a tiny (20 seats inside, eight out) restaurant with a creative chef and cheerful knowledgable servers. It’s not fusion food but Mexican regional heightened with a soupcon of French flavor.

The prices are reasonable and the servings are right-size — not American Gargantuan, not tiny microbites. Papito Potrero serves street-food flavors enhanced by serious chefery.

317 Connecticut Street, near 18th Street, Potrero Hill; (415) 695-0147.

 

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Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is run and spun by award-winning pizza maker, Tony Gemignani. The champ has only been in business since 2009, but it’s San Francisco’s number 1 pizzeria, no doubt about it.

Tony knows his dough, and he knows his customers. He’s charming, entertaining, knowledgeable and a pizza fanatic. How fanatic? He keeps four (4) different types of ovens going to produce different types of pie. They’re all delicious, crispy, flavorful, different from one another. Check out the menu online. You’ll get a headstart on deciding which items to choose when you get to the restaurant—the selection is huge and everything promises to be delicioso.

The restaurant is open from noon to 11 p.m. It’s closed Monday & Tuesday; expect long lines the rest of the week.

1570 Stockton St at Union in North Beach; (415) 835-9888   http://tonyspizzanapoletana.com/menu/

 

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Headline news, January 2016, Pacifica, California.

Residents have enjoyed the cliffside ocean view from their decks and backdoors for decades. But that is about to end this hyperlink.

As waves relentlessly eat away at the soil beneath their homes, their decks and backdoors are falling into the sea. Reluctantly, residents have to move before they, too, plunge down the 80-foot vertical drop to the rocks below.

From a safer spot in Pacifica, ocean views are just one reason to check out this six-mile-long coastal town on California’s super-scenic Route 1.

Here’s more: surfing, mountain biking, hiking (especially on the Devil’s Slide walk), fishing, golf, art and theater.

Oh, and if you’re hankering for an authentic cup of English tea and scone with jam and cream, Lovey’s Tea Shoppe is a sure bet. And it’s on terra firma.

 

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Italian

Capannina

When people hear we write about San Francisco restaurants, their first question is always, “What’s your favorite?”

Easy. Capannina. A small Italian restaurant on Union Street in Cow Hollow (not on Union Square) that’s way cheaper than the tourist spots.

Capannina offers everything you love about Italy—fabulous food, doting service, a great well of warmth that engulfs you as soon as you walk in. If you’re there in truffle season, the Papperdelle with Shaved White Truffles cannot be topped. As one besotted patron said, “I want that to be my dying meal.”

And if that isn’t enough, before 6 p.m., Capannina has an Early Bird Special that even writers can afford. If you have but one dinner to eat in San Francisco, hie thee to Capannina.

“Sublime” is the one-word summary. And it featured on  Check, Please! Bay Area, the region’s fave foodie TV show. (OK, I was the one who featured it. Sue me.)

1809 Union Street, 415 409-8001; http://www.capanninasf.com

 

 

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Kia ora

New Zealanders have a particularly irreverent sense of humor. When people take themselves too seriously, Kiwis love nothing more than “taking the Mickey”—making fun of someone, in a (usually) gentle way.

Kiwis are also the first to make fun of themselves, and they love making up words to make the language just that tiny bit more accurate … and funny. Here are a few examples:

As: intensifies an adjective —“sweet as,” “dumb as”

Munted: describes something that’s totally messed up—Christchurch after the earthquakes.

Root: to have sex (not the underground part of a tree)

One more thing about New Zealanders—they probably mean the exact opposite of what they’re saying. If they call you a “winner,” it means you’re a total loser. If they say you’re “quite nice,” don’t get all warm and cozy feeling. It means you’re a lot less than nice!

E noho rā

 

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Kia ora

Even if you don’t follow rugby, you’ve probably seen a video of the haka performed by New Zealand’s All Blacks synthroid tablets buy online. The haka is the traditional war cry or dance of the Māori people of New Zealand. Although it was originally used by warriors to terrify their opponents, it’s now performed to welcome honored guests and acknowledge important occasions. Most kids learn the haka, together with other Māori traditions, in school.

Māori came to New Zealand in canoes from Polynesia more than 1000 years ago. Today, they’re only about 14% of the population, but their culture, language, and traditions account for a far greater share of what makes New Zealand one of the most compelling island nations in the South Pacific.

E noho rā

 

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