San Francisco weekend eats
As most of you already know, I’m getting ready to move from Boston to San Francisco. I’ve never even been there, so I went a few days early to see the apartment and, more importantly, to eat some food. Charlie’s only been there for a month or so, but he’s already done an A-plus job of scoping out some good eats, both in downtown San Francisco and in San Mateo, where he lives.
On Saturday, we met up with two of our friends who were also visiting San Francisco for dinner. Charlie and I tried to make reservations for The Slanted Door, a spot on the bay, looking out at the Bay Bridge with lots of vegetarian options for our friends. But tragedy struck early, and there were no reservations for Saturday night. Because I’m a planner and feel irrationally responsible for when things go wrong, I started to panic.
We walked all the way down Market Street amid lots of rainbow flags and scantily clad men and women, which only increased my anxiety because they were all having so much fun and I wanted to have a fun dinner and what if we couldn’t get a table? Neither Charlie nor I had any idea of where else to go, being newbies in the city.
We got to the restaurant and found out that we had to wait until 5:30, and then we could speak to the concierge and see if there were any tables available. I worried immediately that we weren’t dressed fancy enough. But we weren’t going to let our plans be foiled, so we hung around the pier until five, and got in line. We were third from the front. I stood with my elbows out to keep anyone from cutting. Our friends joined us right before 5:30, and, when we said “Four please,” as cool as can be, they showed us right to a table. I’d like to thank my new hipster glasses and my friend Nicole’s fancy shoes for our street cred.
The food was Vietnamese with all sorts of interesting ingredients, like mint and peanut butter. It was served family-style, so we each got several dishes and shared. Everything was incredible, although I didn’t like having to cut the heads off the shrimp, which I guess were actually prawns. As it turned out, The Slanted Door is sort of a thing.
All of a sudden, the boys were whispering and discreetly pointing. “What?” I asked, and started to turn around. “Don’t,” they both hissed. Apparently, Heather Graham was sitting behind us being extremely friendly with the man next to her. I’m proud to say that we got nowhere near as giddy as the men did, but we’d definitely chosen a legit restaurant, especially when I went to the bathroom and an attendant wiped the seat off and opened the door for me. Opening doors has always been something I struggle with.
The next day, Charlie took me to lunch at an Indian place in downtown San Mateo called CurryUpNow (cute, right?). They used to operate out of carts but became so popular that they opened up a restaurant.
Charlie was raving about their tikka masala burritos, so I ordered a chicken one, no onions. My choices were regular, spicy, and extra spicy. Charlie ordered spicy, and I like spicy food, so I didn’t want to be shown up. I ordered spicy too.
A few bites in, and I was sweating. How could anyone ever sit out in the hot sun and eat this from a cart? I was having trouble sitting down and eating it. I once had a burrito in London, of all places, that was so spicy it brought tears to my eyes. This was spicier. I had to keep getting up to get more napkins to dab at my forehead and upper lip, and to blow my nose. If you are sick and need to clear out your sinuses, I recommend some spicy tikka masala.
But it was like some sort of masochistic delight, with rice and chickpeas and Jill-approved (read: not fatty) chicken. I wanted to stop eating and stop sweating but I just couldn’t. Halfway through Charlie got up and ordered a mango lassi, a beverage made with yogurt. It was a balm on my tongue, but didn’t do much for my esophagus. BUT I DIDN’T CARE. I was determined. And it was so delicious, I wanted to keep eating. Near the end, I took a break and let Charlie have a few bites. I took a last swig of lassi, then attacked the rest. Whoever thought to put tikka masala in a burrito is a freaking genius.
I toweled off, and we went for a short walk around the neighborhood. We both thought it was too hot even though it couldn’t have been more than 75 degrees. Instead of acting like fun, responsible adults, we came home and immediately fell asleep on the couch.
This can only bode well for eating and drinking my way through California.