Monday, July 6, 2015

San Francisco: Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe


Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe  566 Columbus Ave./Union St., (415) 362-0536.  Cigars are no longer sold in this cozy atmospheric retreat across from Washington Square Park, but, fortunately, hot oven-baked focaccia sandwiches are.  I come for the food and stay longer for the music--“House of the Rising Sun,” Johnny B. Goode,” “Fun, Fun, Fun.”  Mario’s is most famous for their delicious meatball and eggplant sandwiches (I can vouch for both) made with grilled onions and melted Swiss cheese.  The menu also offers a fresh mozzarella di bufala Caprese (you can add prociutto) plus hot panini, pizza, and hot entrees.  Drinks include beer and wine, but I prefer a fruit-flavored Italian soda, specialty coffee, or comforting steamed almond milk.  Tables with a view of the park are available inside and out, and a vintage oak bar with stools is the perfect perch for singles.

exterior of Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe in San Francisco


sidewalk service at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe in San Francisco

interior at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe in San Francisco

specials board at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe in San Francisco

half a meatball sandwich at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe in San Francisco
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More things to do in North Beach.

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images © 2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

San Francisco: Chinese Historical Society of America


Chinese Historical Society of America  965 Clay St./Stockton St., (415) 391-1188.  Tu-F 12-5, Sat 11-4.  Free.  Well worth the two-block, uphill walk from Grant Avenue, and probably often overlooked because of it, this small museum is located inside a landmark YWCA building designed by architect Julia Morgan.  It concentrates on exhibits related to Chinese culture. 
exterior of Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

exterior of Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

interior courtyard of Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

My favorite exhibit is the Frank Wong dioramas.  Wong grew up in Chinatown and enjoys recreating scenes from the past in miniature.  His little portals to the past depict his grandmother’s kitchen, an herb shop, a laundry, a shoeshine stand (it still exists on the corner of Sacramento Street and Grant Avenue), and a cramped SRO (single-room-occupancy) hotel room.  With great attention to detail, he made tiny wrapped packages for the laundry shop and tiny chopsticks for the kitchen table.  
miniature kitchen at Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

miniature kitchen at Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

miniature shoeshine stand at Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

miniature SRO room at Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

More exhibits worth a look include a display of colorful fine Chinese clothing and hair ornaments 
elaborate hair ornaments at Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

and the new “Underground Chinatown,” which is set up in a room below ground a la an opium den and takes a look at racial myths and stereotypes.  
dragon leads to Underground Chinatown exhibit at Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

opium exhibit in Underground Chinatown exhibit at Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

And let’s not forget the “Forgotten Art of Lion Dance Puzzles.”  I especially liked the centipede puzzle but have no idea how to solve it. 
centipede puzzle at Chinese Historical Society of America museum in a Julia Morgan building in Chinatown San Francisco

More Chinatown. 

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, June 22, 2015

San Francisco: Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing Co.


Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing Co.  2505 3rd St./22nd St., Dogpatch; (415) 864-7468.  L-D daily; $$.  Hidden in a long row of converted warehouses, this combo brewpub/barbecue restaurant also operates a full bar and serves a list of whiskeys and Tequilas so extensive that bartenders need to move a ladder along the tall wall of shelves to find the bottle they need.  You enter the rustic, high-ceilinged vintage warehouse that it operates in through tall doors, and land in a welcoming atmosphere of old Delta blues music.  You seat yourself at a selection of communal long picnic-style wood tables with benches, at the bar on stools, or in one of the several booths.  An area in the back in the garage brewery has tables improvised from wood planks across wine barrels and strings of lights, and this is where they store stacks of almond and oak wood.  I suggest reading the barbecue menu first, then getting in line at the deli-style counter in front of the unpretentious open kitchen to view the goods and order.  Everything is prepared in-house and nicely smokey from open-fire cooking--no gas lines here--including tender, juicy brisket (my favorite), lean pastrami with housemade sauerkraut, huge and tender Waygu beef ribs, Thai chili-cheddar pork sausage, spicy jerk chicken wings, and lavender-rubbed duck.  Meats are ordered by the half or full pound (at about $15/1/2 pound), but you can order 1/4 pound of each of several different types.  Assorted salads and pickled veggies are among the sides; my favorites were the tasty potato salad (though a few of the potatoes were not cooked enough) and the pickled red onions.  Spicy beef jerky strips are also available.  Large plastic condiment bottles on the table hold spicy kimchee BBQ sauce, spicy vinegar, and mustard sauce; rolls of paper towels stand-in for napkins.  Once you’ve sorted out your meal, head over to the bar and select your drinks.  (Or, of course, you can do this vice-versa, and I would recommend that if there is a long food line so you can imbibe while you wait.)  I suggest ordering half-pints so that you can try several of the Magnolia brews.  We started with a refreshing light Kalifornia Kolsch, served in a small flute glass to keep it cold.  Then followed a biscuity, carmelly, malty Blue Bell Bitter, a grapefruity Jubilee Pale Ale made annually to commemorate the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair and honoring a Grateful Dead lyric “meet me at the Jubilee,” and a desserty coffee-chocolate Cole Porter.  Oh yeah, and they are family-friendly, too!

bar at Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing in San Francisco

kitchen at Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing in San Francisco
 
menu at Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing in San Francisco

meats and sides at Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing in San Francisco
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The original Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery operates at 1398 Haight St./Masonic.  

There’s a lot to do in Dogpatch–more restaurants, a museum, artist studios, wine tasting, two breweries, 2 chocolatiers, a butcher, a cheese shop, bouldering gym and a museum. Allow time to explore.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, June 19, 2015

San Francisco: Dogpatch neighborhood


DOGPATCH
3rd St./22nd St.; the Muni T-line runs down Third Street.
          The historic Dogpatch neighborhood has working-class roots and is home to some of the city's oldest structures, including sweet Victorian cottages as well as dockside warehouses and factories.  It feels remote from the rest of the city and is a neighborhood in transition.  There’s a lot to see and do in here–restaurants, breweries, wine tasting, an ice cream shop, two chocolatiers, a butcher, a cheese shop, a museum, artist studios, shops, a bouldering gym, and more. Take time to explore.

Attractions
SF-Museum of Craft and Design
   
Shops
Arch  2349 3rd St.  Currently a pop-up, this shop has been all around the town for going on 35 years.  It is due to move yet again in July of 2015.  Meanwhile, it offers a delicious selection of art and drafting supplies as well as sweet gifts.  Stop in for a browse.
Arch shop in Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco

Rickshaw Bagworks  904 22nd St./Minnesota St.  This factory-front shop displays a large selection of bags--messenger, shopping, backpack—and many are made from recycled materials.  The motto here is “Fresh bags made daily.” 
 Richshaw Bagworks shop in Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco

More Dogpatch . . .

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Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

San Francisco: Museum of Craft and Design


Museum of Craft and Design  2569 Third St./22nd St., Dogpatch.  Tu-Sat 11-6, Sun 12-5, closed M.  $8, seniors $6, under 13 free; free Tu.  Free tour, Sun at 1.  Located within the historic American Industrial Center building, which was originally home to the American Can Company, this museum moved a few years ago from its downtown location to the rustic Dogpatch neighborhood, with its galleries, shops, and restaurants.  The museum’s self-stated mission is “to be an environment for experiencing innovative contemporary work in craft and design that engages the community while stimulating the creative potential in peoples’ lives.”  Though small, the gift shop is exceptional, and you can visit it without paying admission to the museum. 

exterior entrance to the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco

interior entrance to the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco

gift shop at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco

galleries at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco

The current gallery show—Hands Off:  New Dutch Design at the Confluence of Technology & Craft—runs through September 13, 2015.  It features the the work of almost 20 Netherlands’ designers who follow the theme with innovative production materials and the reinterpretation of old techniques.  My favorites among them are “Sleeping Gold” (Grietje Schepers, 2014)--a moving, almost breathing, blob of gold lame fabric that I found reminiscent of ocean waves; and “Wanna Swap Your Ring?” (Ted Noten, 2010), which from a distance represents the outline of a handgun but up close turned me into a pack rat by inviting me to take one of 750 hot-pink miss piggy rings from within the exhibit and leave behind something of mine (I left a pen; wait until you see what other people left!). 




“Wanna Swap Your Ring?” exhibit by Ted Noten at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco

close-up of “Wanna Swap Your Ring?” exhibit by Ted Noten at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

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images and video ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers