Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cheap Eats–The Tee Off Bar and Grill

The Tee Off is a cozy little neighborhood bar that cooks up some of the tastiest comfort food found in San Francisco. Think juicy 1/2 l.b. ground sirloin cheeseburgers, grilled double cut pork chops with apricot and achiote relish, and creamy four-cheese mac'n'cheese with pancetta. They also have a rotating list of specials that may include such offerings as Kobe beef hot dogs, spinach enchiladas, ostrich burgers, and wild mushroom risotto. Be warned, however, that all of this delicious goodness is served in a bar, and a very divey one at that.
The Tee Off is not the cleanest of establishments, the service is slow, and they let dogs have a free rein of the place. Some might find this dive bar atmosphere off-putting for a dining destination, but if you are prepared for it, it can also be a part of its charm.

This is not a place to bring the grandparents when they come to visit from Topeka. It is not the spot to choose if you are in a hurry. Don't bother coming in if you can't handle a canine staring lovingly at your meal. Instead this is the kind of place to spend a few hours drinking beer with your buddies, playing pool, going a few rounds on the ping-pong table out back, chatting with some of the hard-core regulars, and then topping it all off with the best meal you can find at a place with this kind of laid-back atmosphere.
The prices are on the high side for bar food, but what you get is also beyond what the majority of bars have to offer. $14 for a huge order of mac'n'cheese accompanied by a salad drizzled with an amazing homemade blueberry (or sometimes raspberry) vinaigrette, or $11 for a 1/2 l.b. cheeseburger with a generous helping of fries are not unreasonable prices to pay for a quality meal that will keep you full for the rest of the night. $20 for the pork chop is a different story budget-wise, but still a solid option if you feel like splurging.
The Tee Off is way out there, nestled in the perpetual fog of the Outer Richmond district. Do to its location it tends to draw a mainly neighborhood crowd, giving it a homey, if at times somewhat cliquish, vibe. This is a great place to get a feel for this often overlooked neighborhood, and see a side of San Francisco that cannot be found in guidebooks. So bring a friend, grab a beer, and get ready to experience the best dive bar food around.
The Tee Off Bar and Grill is located at 3129 Clement Street, between 32nd and 33rd Avenue. You can get more information on their website

You can find more SF cheap eats on my examiner page at

Friday, March 4, 2011

The San Francisco Royal Family

The Royal Family

San Francisco is known for its colorful characters, but even amid our sea of oddballs and misfits a few unique individuals manage to stand out. If you have been in The City for any length of time you are sure to have run into the Brown Sisters, the 12 Galaxies Guy, Dog-Cat-Rat Man, or the Bushman. Maybe you've meet them all, I know I have.

The Brown sisters (photo by D.C. Atty via Flickr)

Harmon Leon has created a series of portraits that celebrate San Francisco's most famous eccentrics, of both past and present. You can learn more about these outrageous locals in his feature "The Royal Family" on The Bold Italic.

significant podcasts
                                   Frank Chu aka 12 Galaxies Man (Photo by Jef Poskanzer via Flickr)                                                                         

Harmon has quite a thorough list of iconic SF eccentrics, but I wonder: What about the No Sex sign guy on Market and Powell?

No-sex promoter in San Francisco
No Sex Guy (Photo by Franco Folini via Flickr)

Are there any other people that were left off of Harmon's list?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern-San Francisco Episode

San Francisco certainly has a reputation for being different, but bizarre? Only if you find dumpster-diving, foie gras ice cream, or bugs for dinner bizarre. Around here we tend to think of these things as simply unusual, and not necessarily too weird to try.

Some of San Francisco's strangest eatables were featured on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on March 1st. While this episode doesn't reflect the typical eating habits of most locals, it does give a nice overview of the creative, inventive, and yes maybe even a little bizarre, foodie subcultures that thrive in this unconventional city.

You can read Andrew Zimmern's blog entry on San Francisco here. Below is a short trailer showing Andrew's experience with SF's gourmet food trucks.

Try to catch a rerun of this episode if you missed it the first time. The variety of perspectives it offers does a good job of highlighting the diversity of San Franciscans, plus it might inspire you to try something new. Prosciutto ice cream......mmmmmm.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Let's Be Frank

Let's be Frank....
(Photo by pengrin via Flickr)

Let's Be Frank dogs are not your typical Oscar Meyer weenies. Unlike most hot dogs, whose ingredients tend to be of questionable, if not downright frightening origins, Let's Be Frank dogs are made with premium cuts of meat from all natural, grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. This means that you can enjoy one, or more if you are really hungry, without worrying that you are filling your body full of nasty chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics. Plus they are nitrate free, making them safe to eat if you are pregnant and craving the forbidden goodness of salty, cured meats. 
Let's Be Frank dogs come in four delicious varieties: The Frank Dog (100% grass fed beef), The Brat Dog (family-farmed pork), The "Hot" Dog (spicy Italian pork sausage), and The Bird Dog (pasture-raised turkey). Each of these delightful dogs come nestled in a freshly-baked Acme bakery bun, and topped with grilled onions they create one of the tastiest meals you can eat with one hand. 
In addition to grilled onions and the typical hot dog condiments like relish, mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut, Let's Be Frank offers a unique topping they refer to as Devil Sauce. This spicy, pickled concoction of peppers, garlic, ginger, and hand-toasted spices, reminiscent of Indian chutney, is an interesting and surprisingly yummy addition to any of their dogs. 
All of Let's Be Frank's dogs run $5.50, which may seem steep compared to a COSTCO weiner, but keep in mind that what you are getting for this price is actual FOOD, and not a tube of reject bits and fillers. 
Let's Be Frank has a stand at Crissy Field, one of the most beautiful and versatile outdoor recreational areas in San Francisco. There are few things better on a sunny day than to walk or bike down the approximately 1.5 mile promenade, taking in the sweeping views of the bridge and bay, and then refueling at the end with a nice, juicy hot dog.
The Let's Be Frank cart is located at Crissy Field near the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on weekends and holidays from 11am-dusk. For more information visit their website at

You can find more SF cheap eats on my examiner page at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Home Sweet Home-The Richmond District

Why is the Inner Richmond one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Francisco? Because it is not the Mission, the Castro, or the Haight. Don’t get me wrong, these are all vibrant, interesting neighborhoods, but I’m sure you’ve heard the saying about not eating where you...well you know. 
What I’m trying to say is that the Mission, the Castro, and the Haight (as well as North Beach, SOMA, etc.) are all great places to visit but when it comes to choosing a place to live, do you really want to be surrounded by hoards of hipsters, tourists, or gutter-punks with pit bulls? Wouldn’t it be preferable to just visit these iconic SF neighborhoods when the mood strikes, and then go home when they inevitably become tiresome? And think about it, do you really want to deal with being spare-changed or having your picture snapped when you go for the morning paper, or venture out for that hangover-curing breakfast? Yeah, me neither.
The Inner Richmond has a reputation for being a mellow, community-oriented, family-friendly kind of place. While all of these descriptions are true, they only tell a part of the neighborhood’s story. The part that is left out is this area’s diversity, a mix of people and landscapes that make it hard for any one vibe to dominate. Yes it is true that many middle-class families call the district home, but so do college students, recent immigrants, trendy teenagers, old hippies, single techies, elderly couples and many, many others who defy easy categorization. 
Yes the Inner Richmond is peaceful, but it can also be exciting. Packed into a small square situated between Arguello Blvd. and Park Presidio, this hardworking neighborhood can morph from a calm green oasis into a bustling urban center in only a few short blocks. The neighborhood’s southern border is Golden Gate Park, a lush swath of greenery reportedly bigger than New York’s Central Park, and the perfect place for a picnic, a hike, or a visit to one of the two world class museums it houses: the DeYoung and the Academy of Sciences. The northern border of the neighborhood is only one block away from another park, which means that it is embraced on both sides by the calming presence of nature. This other park, named Mountain Lake, has a lovely pedestrian-only trail that curves around its namesake lake, a playground for the kiddies, and an off-lease dog run for the pups. 
Between the two parks lies both sleepy residential streets and busy shopping districts. Clement Street, also known as “the New Chinatown” or “Chinatown-lite” is a swarming buzz of bodies lured by the Asian groceries, spice shops, restaurants, and cheap housewares stores. Mixed in are several Irish pubs, an amazing independent bookstore, an art gallery that showcases local artists, a french restaurant that rivals any in the city, and several high-end boutiques down at the Arguello end. The dim sum on Clement beats anything you can get in tourist-laden Chinatown, and the array of Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Burmese, Malaysian, and Singaporean cuisines offers a more eclectic palate than can be found there as well. 
One block south from Clement is Geary St., the major artery that runs through this part of town and the place to catch the 38 Geary bus going either towards the beach or downtown. A variety of good eats can also be found on this street, as well as numerous coffee shops, a few gas stations, several convenience stores and produce markets, a medical marijuana dispensary, some laundromats and bars a plenty. Two blocks over on Balboa St. some additional amenities can be found, guaranteeing that the Inner Richmond resident never has to venture more than a few blocks for a bite to eat or a cold beer when the mood strikes.
Sounds almost perfect, right? Well like any other place the Inner Richmond does have its downsides, most notably the thick fog that reportedly blankets the neighborhood on a regular basis. Ask someone about the Richmond and the fog is probably the first thing to come up. More accurately it is the Outer Richmond and Sunset Districts that get the brunt of this the fog as it comes off the ocean, and often by the time this wave has reached Park Presidio it has thinned out considerably. But yes it can be foggy, although this is a small price to pay for all the other wonderful things that this neighborhood has to offer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cheap Eats-San Dong House

"Thump, thump, WHACK. Thump, thump, WHACK." Deliciousness has a sound, and you can experience it for yourself at the newly opened San Dong House located at 2nd Ave. and Geary St. The sound is the first thing you will notice upon entering this bare-bones Chinese restaurant, and comes from a guy in the kitchen preparing their already famous (at least in the Richmond District) hand-pulled noodles. 

If you have never had fresh noodles, hand-pulled to order, then you are in for a treat here. Dense and toothsome, the noodles at San Dong are worlds away from the dried variety, and even the fresh ones that are sold in packages. There is something about serving noodles minutes after pulling that takes them from "good" to "I can't get that meal out of my mind." You can't really go wrong with anything containing noodles at San Dong, and with 18 different types of noodle soups and stir-frys there are a lot of yummy options to choose from. 

In addition to anything noodle-related, another unique dish not to be missed is the beef roll which takes a naan-like piece of bread, slathers it in plum sauce, and rolls it up with cucumber and warm slices of beef. The dumplings, which they also sell frozen and in bulk, are best avoided as their preparation is uneven, arriving soggy on some occasions and overly dry on others. 
The service at San Dong tends to be slow and not very attentive, but this is a small price to pay for great food and enough of it to fill up even the most voracious of eaters for under $10.
San Dong House is located at 3741 Geary Street. For more information call (415) 668-5888.
Interested in eating well on the cheap? Check out my Cheap Eats Examiner page at

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fun Places For Doggies and Their People

*and by lil 'uns I am referring to the the hairy, four-legged 
      creatures that outnumber children in The City.

San Franciscans love them some dogs, making San Francisco one of the most dog-friendly cities in the nation and possibly even the world. So where do the locals take their pooches for some quality outdoor romping? Below is a list of the best places around to get out and explore nature with your own little beast(s). 

Fun Places For Doggies and Their People:
(in order of awesomeness) 
  1. Fort Funston-This has got to be one of the most beautiful public off-leash areas that exists anywhere. Epic views of the bay, ample room to run around, and beach access makes this the best doggie fun spot EVER!
  2. Chrissy Field- Another great place for both humans and dogs, Chrissy Field boasts one of the best views of the Golden Gate, beach access, and a huge lawn perfect for long-distance frisbee. Also off-leash, but beware of bikes. More on Chrissy Field here
  3. Ocean Beach-What dog doesn't love running in the sand, splashing in the waves, and sampling washed-up sea delicacies? Dogs are allowed off-leash from Kelly's Cove (which is the side of the beach nearest to The Cliff House restaurant) to about the Windmill across the street (there is a small sign marking the boundary on the beach as well). *Small dogs will not want to miss Saturdays at 10am when hordes of mini-beasts gather on the beach around Lincoln St. The sheer volume of these little buggers make them hard to miss, and on nice days it is not uncommon to see them number in the hundreds.
All of these places have robust parking situations, and can easily be located using MapQuest. If you don't happen to have wheels, don't worry. Muni allows one muzzled and leashed dog per bus to ride for a fare equal to the owner's (except during the weekday hours of 5-9AM and 3-7PM.) Muni directions can be found here.