The home of Sam Spade, Frank Bullitt, and Harry Callahan, San Francisco is engrained in my mind as a town of hard-boiled private eyes and no-nonsense detectives. That’s probably about as far away from the city’s current vibe as can be, but I’m still a sucker for Bogart’s cadence, McQueen’s mastery of a Mustang, and Eastwood’s legendary question, about how lucky you feel. Now while I didn’t burn rubber up and down the embarcadero, I made sure I put some miles on the soles of my shoes in a city I was inexcusably unfamiliar with, and of course that meant hitting a few local watering holes and culinary gems.
Japantown in San Francisco is beautiful for many reasons. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of it? Maybe it’s the abundance of sushi spots, ramen dens, and karaoke bars? I find it difficult to put Japantown into words. It must be experienced and should be. I made it to Marufuku just before the line tripled in length. Lucky. Only fourteen orders of Chicken Paitan DX ramen a day and I get blessed with a bowl. This murky, thick, chicken broth with deliciously submerged noodles, egg and slices of chicken breast is accompanied by a sizzling chicken leg served separately on a bed of bean sprouts. If you don’t dream about this meal after enjoying an order, then I have nothing for you. I also ordered some pork buns. Glutenous? Perhaps. I’m not apologizing for sinning in such a nature. Marufuku has locations on each coast and in Texas now. Fill the tank, check the tire PSI, and hit one close to you. Thank me later.
Chicken Paitan DX Ramen at Marufuku
What came first, bread or beer? Ok most likely bread, but no one knows for sure. Toronado may just be the best beer bar in the country. That’s no exaggeration. The list is staggering, ranging from multiple lines from the heavily sought-after West Coast brewery Russian River, to hundred-year-old classics from Belgium and Germany, Toronado can’t be equaled. It’s also the cheapest beer bar I have been to in the past decade. The vast majority of pours are $6 or $7. The Jukebox drops 45s of metal, punk, rock, and soul. Toronado is cash only, which I personally love.
I missed beer week, the annual weeklong release of Pliny the Younger triple IPA, by about a day. During this celebration of bitterness, Toronado serves nearly three hundred snifters of this ale a day. I normally loath lines, but one day I’ll find myself standing in that que with a $20 bill in hand thirsting for a taste.
Toronado, nuff said
Espresso may course through my veins in a similar volume to blood. Without it, I’m not sure if the morning would be a civil affair. Established in 1956, Café Trieste is apparently the first espresso hub to ever pop up on the west coast. I have no reason not to believe that. Outside of the world-class coffee, Café Trieste boasts one incredible music program and history. The Giotta family, the owners, are all musicians and they hold Saturday morning concerts every week. Some legendary musicians have swung by to take part, Dean Martin being one of them. Another cash only establishment, which I love but some folks can’t seem to handle. Don’t be that person. North Beach is beautiful and rivals any little Italy I have ever visited. Once you hit the area, just walk about and take in the scenery. I had some Louie Prima streaming through me ear buds serenading me as I made my way up and down the hills.