Thursday, April 21, 2011

Options Wide Open

We headed to San Francisco on Sunday for haircuts.  Since our haircuts were at 5pm, we decided to go on an adventure beforehand.  We thought about starting our CityWalk project, but the first walk includes the farmers' market at the Ferry Building, but the market only happens on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  So we'll start that another day.  For Sunday, our options were wide open!

There have been a few articles in the Chronicle about a couple local bars (Buena Vista Cafe and Tosca) who serve Irish coffee in special glasses.  This article was the first in the series.  We also haven't ridden a cable car as residents, so we decided to take the train to the Powell Street station - where Conery gets off when going to work - and ride the cable car to North Beach to Tosca.

We got off at the Powell Street station and headed to get our cable car tickets. The Powell-Market turnaround is always crowded, but we were not taking the cable car for its efficiency.  We got in line and someone in front of us said that the line moves pretty quickly.  Then a random homelessish guy walked over and told us this whole thing about how only X number of people get on here and the driver leaves room for people up the route.  The guy doing the turn around of the cable car sees this conversation, gives me a look, and shakes his head side to side.  As Conery and I are trying to figure out if we are waiting in line or heading a few blocks up to catch the car, the conductor announces that there is an accident further up the line, and no cars - including the one being loaded - would be heading in that direction.  That sealed the deal.  We were getting hungry, so we figured we'd get food further up the line and jump on a car there.  It should be noted that you are not allowed to jump on or off cable cars.  Just because they do it in the movies, does not mean that it is permissible in real life.  I know this because I tried to get on one a few years ago while it was moving and was not allowed to board.

We walk up the line and stop at a restaurant that piqued Conery's interest during his lunchtime walks.  

Sears Fine Food
World Famous for Little Pancakes

Sears has been around since 1938.  You definitely feel like you've entered a place with a lot of history.  The fixtures and tile let you know that this place has been around awhile, but it doesn't mean, however, that it's rundown or dirty.  The little pancakes (silver dollar size) come in an order of 18.  Yes, seriously, 18.  I ordered them with a side of bacon and lingonberry fruit topping.

The tiny 'cakes
(there are 3 pancakes in each stack)

There were other delicious sounding things on the menu, but I couldn't very well go to some place famous for their pancakes and not have them!  Conery ate a sandwich called "The San Franciscan" which is fresh avocado, lettuce, and tomato on sourdough.  He ordered it with dungeness crab (one of the meat options) and said it was excellent.

On a day when it was like 90 in Orlando, we walked out on to the super windy street and stood in the sun at the cable car stop while a few full cars passed us by.  We decided to forgo the cable car and take a cab to North Beach to get that Irish coffee at Tosca.

Tosca is on Columbus Avenue, which was the epicenter for the Beat Generation in its heyday.  Conery and I spent some time in this neighborhood on several of our trips to SF as I wanted to check out the literary haunts.  Before walking down to Tosca, we stopped at City Lights Bookstore.  In the alley between City Lights and Vesuvio (a cool bar frequented by authors and artists), there was a street fair.  The alley is called Jack Kerouac Alley and is a pedestrian walkway closed to traffic.

Street fair in Jack Kerouac Alley

There was a live band in the alley along with vendors on both sides.  

I bought a pair of earrings from a booth called
Scene, Not Herd.

There are quotes throughout the alley from Jack Kerouac and authors like Steinbeck, Ferlinghetti, Angelou, etc.

After perusing the shop and booths, we headed to Tosca...

which was closed.  FAIL!  I never looked at the operating hours.  They are open from 5pm to 2am. The other Irish coffee place featured in the SF Chron article was many blocks away near the Wharf.  So we punted and figured other places have Irish coffee, right?  There is a cool building on Columbus whose green dome you can just barely see over Conery's head above.  Here's a better picture.

Cafe Zoetrope occupies the first floor.

Irish coffee wasn't on their menu, but Conery asked the waiter, and they served it!  Success!!  I had an expresso nutini which was vodka, espresso, Bailey's, and Frangelico.  YUM!  While hanging out, I realized that all the wine that was lining the walls was from the Francis Ford Coppola winery.  I did a quick search and found out that Coppola did indeed own the restaurant. His production studio is called American Zoetrope, and there were many photos and movie posters from his movies hanging throughout the cafe.  After warming our bellies with our drinks, we headed out.

Our hair appointments at Zip Zap were at 5 and 5:45 in the Lower Haight, and the cable car wasn't going to get us there, so we cabbed it.

Zoetrope to Zip Zap

While getting our hair cuts, I happened to look out the window and saw someone being all sketchy while standing inside a bus stop shelter.  The woman was wasted and wobbly and decided that the bus stop shelter was the right place to relieve herself.  Thankfully, it wasn't a deuce!  She totally did her business and played it off like nothing happened.  I have added a new item to my city survival guide; if there is a puddle on the sidewalk and it hasn't rained recently, it's urine.  Strange things happen when so many people live in one place.

We held onto our cable car tickets as they do not expire.  We'll have to do that some other day.


  1. I know when you can use those tickets!

  2. Fabulous! I laughed at your cable car experience as we learned alot about the lines and moving down a block or two to catch them in a lesser line. The cablecar drivers (is that what you call them or are they engineers?) are quite the characters themselves...and, yes, do NOT jump on or off.....They really yell! Oh I long to return!