Faves and raves by David Gallagher
YEARS IN THE CITY: 22 years
NEIGHBORHOOD: Bernal Heights
OCCUPATION: Web developer for the Western Neighborhoods Project (www.outsidelands.org)
SELF-DESCRIPTION: Enjoys photography and history and spends a lot of time walking the streets and taking pictures of old stuff
FAVORITE BREAKFAST JOINT
John’s Ocean Beach Cafe
WHERE: 2898 Sloat Blvd., at 47th Avenue
WHAT: Great food and never a line
INFO: (415) 665-8292
Maybe I’m a grump, but my No. 1 rule of breakfast out is that it’s not worth waiting in line for, certainly not out on the sidewalk. At 47th and Sloat, there is never (OK, rarely) a line. After all, you’re just a couple of blocks from the end of the world. Oh yeah, and the food is great.
FAVORITE FARMERS MARKET
Alemany Farmers Market
WHERE: 100 Alemany Blvd., at Bayshore Boulevard
WHEN: Saturday mornings
WHAT: Cheaper prices than at other farmers markets
It’s The City’s first and biggest farmers market. I’ll admit that I don’t go to it all that often, but my wife, Brady, and our neighbor, Art, have been regular customers for years. I get to eat all the stuff they bring back, and she gets great deals on mushrooms. The vendors are the same and the prices are cheaper than what you’ll find at the other farmers markets.
FAVORITE HARDWARE STORE
WHERE: 32 West Portal Ave., between Ulloa and Vicente streets
WHAT: Everything you need by a helpful, West Portal-bred store owner
INFO: (415) 681-6717 or www.papenhausen.com
I grew up in San Bruno working in my father’s stationery store, and I still kind of miss it. So when I met Matt Rogers and heard his story about how he grew up in West Portal, moved away, then came back and bought the hardware store, this place became my instant favorite. He’s got everything you need and will always help you figure out your project.
Don Chuy’s Mexi-Mercado
WHERE: 544 Excelsior Ave., at Naples Street
WHAT: Huge, tasty tacos for cheap
INFO: (415) 585-8092
I found Don Chuy’s one day by walking around the Excelsior and tracing the steps of the people walking down the hill with little paper bags. It’s a hike up the hill, but it’s worth it: huge tasty tacos for cheap, best eaten sitting on the sidewalk outside.
FAVORITE PLACE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS
The Giant Camera (Camera Obscura)
WHERE: 1096 Point Lobos Ave. at the Great Highway
A live camera image of the ocean. Watch the world spin by on a 6-foot disc
It looks funky from the outside, but it’s a magical place inside. Sure, you can see the same view for free, but there’s something really special and surreal about standing in the dark, watching the world spin by on a 6-foot disc. Plus, if you can time it to a minus tide, you can walk the beach around the Cliff House to the Sutro Baths.
FAVORITE PLACE TO GET A DRINK
WHERE: 743 Larkin St., at O’Farrell Street
WHAT: Great variations on the martini and excellent small plates to munch on
INFO: (415) 776-9814 or www.olive-sf.com
This is a regular after-work hangout for me. Jerry and Lindsey (and the rest of the friendly staff) do great variations on the martini and make an excellent margarita. (OK, we schooled them a little.) It looks like a bar, but the excellent small-plate kitchen (crispy pizza, fish tacos) makes it an all-ages place. And they have super happy-hour prices.
FAVORITE PLACE TO HIDE OUT
Mount Olympus, Upper Terrace
WHERE: Slightly southeast of 17th and Clayton streets
WHAT: Peek through the trees and see both bridges
Sometimes when I just want a quiet place where no one will find me, I go up to a tiny park on Upper Terrace where, on Thanksgiving Day 1887, Adolf Sutro dedicated a statue called “Triumph of Light.” Back then it had panoramic views of the city, now, not so much. But you can peek through the trees and see both bridges, sit on the benches (built in 1927 by the Department of Public Works), and eat your lunch uninterrupted.
FAVORITE PLACE UNDER THE BART TRACKS
WHERE: Cayuga and Naglee avenues
WHAT: Folk art wood sculptures
Cayuga Playground is filled with hundreds of wonderful folk art wood sculptures created by long-time city gardener Demetrio Braceros. Tiny trails lined with topiary, fantastical creatures and historical figures wind around the ballfield and along the edges of the playground directly under screeching BART trains. It’s truly an only-in-San Francisco oasis.
The Golden Gate Commandery of the Knights Templar
WHAT: Beautiful terracotta ornamentation
WHERE: 2140 Sutter St., between Pierce and Steiner streets
The red brick building was built in 1906 and now is the home of the Macedonia Baptist Church. It’s covered with beautiful terracotta ornamentation, including a bunch of the goofiest gargoyle heads you’ll see anywhere.