My City: Local poetry and cake disguised as doughnuts

Faves and raves byRobin Ekiss


Personal stats

AGE: 40


NEIGHBORHOOD: Mission district

OCCUPATION: Poet, advertising copywriter, teacher, Jill of all trades. Her first book of poems, “The Mansion of Happiness,” hits bookstores on Nov. 1.

SELF-DESCRIPTION: Poet, writer and teacher with a dangerous proclivity for baking, vintage jewelry and flea markets.

WHERE: 3499 16th St. at Sanchez Street
WHAT: Potato latkes and macaroni pancakes to die for
INFO: (415) 626-1700 or

If you’re only going to eat one meal all day — and weekend brunch fairly guarantees that — this is the place to do it. They have the most amazing potato latkes with a generous helping of smoked salmon, poached egg and Hollandaise. If you haven’t tried the macaroni pancake, you’re missing out.

The Atlas Cafe
WHERE: 3049 20th St. at Alabama Street
WHAT: Roasted yam sandwich, the right music and a sunny patio
INFO: (415) 648-1047 or

I think they might be psychic here. They always seem to be playing just the right music — Bon Iver or Fleetwood Mac, or Etta James, or whatever I’m exactly in the mood for, with lots of outdoor seating, including a patio out back (important, since it just may be the sunniest block in The City).

Castro Theatre
WHERE: 429 Castro St., between 17th and 18th streets
WHAT: “San Francisco, Open Your Golden Gates” on a Wurlitzer
INFO: (415) 621-6120 or

Even jaded East Coasters can’t help but love an old movie palace. When that mighty Wurlitzer rises up out of the pit, and the organist plays “San Francisco, Open Your Golden Gates,” it’s just magic every time. I never get tired of that.

Cooks Boulevard
WHERE: 1309 Castro St. at 24th Street
WHAT: Baking cups or sprinkles in a pinch
INFO: (415) 647-2665 or

If I just need baking cups or sprinkles in a pinch, I stop into Cooks Boulevard in Noe Valley. They’re small, but friendly and helpful, and have a decent selection.

Books & Bookshelves
WHERE: 99 Sanchez St. at 14th Street
WHAT: Great selection of poets you’ve never heard of
INFO: (415) 621-3761 or

If I’m looking for used poetry (and I often am), my first stop is Books & Bookshelves in Duboce Triangle; they’ve also got an eclectic reading series, a great selection of poets you’ve never heard of, and they make the shelves to stock them.

At venues all over The City
WHAT: San Francisco’s largest literary festival, from Oct. 9-17
INFO: Full schedule at

San Francisco’s largest literary festival only comes around once a year, which is a good thing because the line-up is crazy: more than 500 writers! My top pick? A bit biased: Tomorrow night’s (Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m.) “Poetry in the Pews” benefit reading for Poetry Flash, with five of the country’s most amazing young poets reading at Grace Cathedral. And don’t miss the world’s largest literary pub crawl next Saturday night, Oct. 17; if you haven’t seen a writer read in a beekeeping supply store, well, you haven’t seen a writer read in a beekeeping supply store.

Sugar Lump
WHERE: 2862 24th St. at Bryant Street
WHAT: The ’70s meets Wi-Fi with comfy chairs
INFO: (415) 826-LUMP or

I’d be lying if I didn’t say “in bed,” but if I can actually haul myself out of the apartment, I head to Sugar Lump. It’s like the ’70s never ended there, except now there’s free Wi-Fi. Best po-mo couches and comfy chairs. Cool atmosphere and art. Real food and real people, actually working. Makes me feel like getting stuff done.

Recchuti Confections
WHERE: Ferry Building
WHAT: Try the Force Noir and Tarragon Grapefruit
INFO: (415) 826-2868 or

Can you mainline chocolate? My love for Recchuti Confections is going to bankrupt me. I fantasize about being left alone after hours in their factory, Lucille Ball style. The best flavors — and anyone who argues with you about this is just plain wrong — are Force Noir and Tarragon Grapefruit. These guys know what they’re doing.

Dynamo Donuts
WHERE: 2760 24th St., between Hampshire and York streets
WHAT: Less like doughnuts, more like really, really good cake
INFO: (415) 920-1978 or

Am I crazy to fork over $3.50 for a doughnut? Yes, I must be. But these aren’t “doughnuts” (in the open-24-hours vein). They’re more like really, really good cake. Everybody loves the maple glazed bacon apple, but I prefer my bacon with a side of eggs; I’m strictly a lemon-pistachio gal myself.

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