Faves and raves by Rob Shapiro
AGE: Old enough not to reveal
YEARS IN THE CITY: Born, bred, raised, and still residing here
NEIGHBORHOOD: Pinelake Park
OCCUPATION: Mr. SHAP, a balloon sculptor, magician and event planner; his website is www.mrshap.com
SELF-DESCRIPTION: His motto is “Super Happenings Always Possible”; as a balloon artist/magician/optimist, it’s important to always be ready to “wow” your audience
FAVORITE GELATO JOINT
WHERE: 2015 Fillmore St., between California and Pine streets
WHAT: You’ll become an ice cream-to-gelato convert
INFO: (415) 346-3692 or www.tangogelato.com
My personal favorite is the chocolate espresso. Nice, clean atmosphere and a plus if you can score a seat by the window so you can watch passersby as you enjoy your rich, creamy gelato and a cup of coffee. Great place to bring someone you’d like to impress.
WHERE: 3627 Taraval St., between 46th and 47th avenues
WHAT: Tantalizing crust; old-time photos of San Francisco on the walls
INFO: (415) 753-6004
It’s worth the drive into the Outer Sunset for Brothers Pizza. Their crust consistently tantalizes my taste buds. I prefer to bring it home, but you can enjoy it there and view old-time photos of San Francisco on the walls or whatever sport’s on television.
FAVORITE PLACE TO HAVE A DRINK
WHERE: 734 Irving St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues
WHAT: Sit at the bar, play darts, lie on the couches, bring in pizza from two doors down
INFO: (415) 665-6551
This place is very spacious and has different areas to fit your preference while there. You can choose to sit at the bar, play darts at any one of their three dart boards (with a chalkboard for keeping score), sit at a table or sit in an area that is set up with couches and chairs, giving it a more homey atmosphere. Plus they’ll let you bring in a pizza from a couple doors down.
FAVORITE MISSION DISTRICT MURAL
The ‘Vamos Gigantes’ mural
WHERE: 19th St., between San Carlos and Lexington streets
WHAT: A colorful shout-out to the San Francisco Giants
While Balmy Alley has many more murals that offer another cultural reference, I am a Giants fan and love to see this colorful shout-out that makes you say, think and feel, “Go Giants!”
FAVORITE PLACE TO WATCH STREET MUSICIANS
WHERE: 900 N. Point St, Fisherman’s Wharf
WHAT: Enjoy the same guy who’s been improvising rhyming lyrics on that corner for years
INFO: (415) 775-5500 or www.ghirardellisq.com
As long as I’ve been going to Ghirardelli Square, I’ve enjoyed the guitar playing and humor of the guy who plays on that corner. He’s been there for years entertaining and improvising rhyming lyrics that make you laugh and smile. I miss the human jukebox guy.
FAVORITE PLACE TO WATCH HANG-GLIDERS
WHERE: 500 Skyline Blvd., at John Muir Drive
WHAT: Watch a rainbow of color as the gliders line up and prepare to take off
INFO: (415) 561-4323 or www.fortfunstondog.org
So much fun, especially on a nice day. Either watch from the observation deck or hike part way down toward the ocean to find a nice spot to sit and watch. Then enjoy the fliers criss-crossing above and the sound of the ocean waves crashing below.
WHERE: 2120 Chestnut St., between Pierce and Steiner streets
WHAT: Nice selection of pastas, breads, meats; try the roasted red peppers
INFO: (415) 921-7873 or luccadeli.com
They’ve got a wide selection of breads and rolls and offer a variety of delicious meats and garnishes, especially the roasted red peppers. Lucca’s is the go-to deli when I crave a hearty sandwich. Plus they’ve got a nice selection of pastas and other yummy side dishes.
FAVORITE CHINESE RESTAURANT
Tai Chi Restaurant
WHERE: 2031 Polk St., between Pacific Avenue and Broadway
WHAT: Their signature dish, General Tso’s chicken, is a must; no longer a hole in the wall
INFO: (415) 441-6758 or www.taichi-sf.com
Great food, healthy portions, and their signature dish, General Tso’s chicken, is a must-order. The restaurant was remodeled a while ago, so it has stepped up in ambiance from its “hole in the wall” origin.
FAVORITE JAZZ CLUB
Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant
WHERE: 1330 Fillmore St., between Eddy and Ellis streets
WHAT: Tasty food, if a tad expensive
INFO: (415) 655-5600 or www.yoshis.com
Yoshi’s brings in so many different artists that any night is sure to send your mind wandering and body swaying with the energy and vibe that emanates within their elegant walls. Their food is tasty. I just wish the club was a bit less expensive.