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Sunday, October 22, 2006

King Diner

Today* was a beautiful, sunny and warm day.

*Saturday, Oct. 21

Likely, it was the last of the beautiful, sunny, and warm days until next year. So, instead of staying indoors all day watching cooking shows and This Old House, I headed over to the Mission for the kind of retail therapy that truly calls for throwing down the Hamiltons: thrift stores!

First stop: Thrift Town. FOB, or fresh off the bus, I had nothing to slow me down (ie., bags to check) as I breezed into Thrift Town, glided up the stairs to the appliance section, made my way past some chick on roller skates, and immediately scored big time. In fact, it was as if the hand of God guided me and my newly aquired WestBend Popper II towards each other.

Ka-Dow, Bee-yatches! $2.99!!

I've been searching for one of these suckers ever since I caught the home roasted coffee bug. Apparently, a lot of people know (or are figuring out) that you can roast your own coffee in certain hot air poppers, which makes finding them on Ebay at a cheap price common– until a bid war ensues. I got into one of these bid wars last week, until I decided, finally, that $20 was too high and let him have it. Still, I wonder how many unsuspecting sellers are led to believe that hot-air popcorn is making a comeback without realizing that coffee afficianados are turning these machines into micro-roasters?

I'm not going to get all religious and shit but, besides being blessed with shorts and t-shirt weather (I know I looked good), someone or something had my back today. First of all, it was a veritable thrift score on the home appliance and clothing scene, plus I bought some second-hand items for my kickass Halloween costume (don't even ask – it's a surprise).

And San Franciscans were in a hella good mood today.

Yes. I did say hella.

Except for one. I was taking pictures in front of her restaurant, mostly of the sandwich board. The place is one I've passed many times and thought would make a nice place to check out for this blog. To tell you the truth, the place beside it would be more fitting since it dives deep into the fear factor, or at least it does for me.

But something about Yucatan and Vietnamese fusion cuisine in the Mission caught my curiosity. After noticing that I was taking pictures, the waitress (or owner) glared at me hard, and then approached me asking if I needed help. I told her no and that I was just looking - which I was. And while the restaurant appeared to be full of Latinos enjoying the food, the place next door was virtually empty. "Yucatasia is a stupid ass name for a restaurant, but the food must be good", I thought, but the attitude from that lady put me off.

Now I know why. She probably thought I was the guy who cold-busted them* breaking numerous health code violations.

*Seeing is believing.

It's funny, because looking at these two restaurants, side by side, you would think that you could spot the obvious health code violator. And even though occasionally you might imagine that some dives do stuff like this, you prefer, for the sake of finishing your meal, not to think about it.

Ignorance protects the tender heart...as well as the stomach.

That's all too true for me, because after seeing this, one thing is for certain: I'll never eat at Yucatasia! You can look for a review of that dive from some other poor soul. And while you're at it, thank Pierre Saslawsky.

(By the way, I see that the assholes that everyone is starting to hate over at Chowhound have, in classic Chowhound fashion, deleted Pierre's warning/PSA about Yucatasia. Way to serve the dining public - you stupid fucks.)

(Oops! Looks like Pim scooped this topic a week ago. I should read her blog more.)

Instead, I made my way through Clarion Alley where they were preparing for tomorrow's (Sunday) block party. This is a really cool alley and it was a pleasure to see all of the artists working on their murals,

listening to music,

bopping their heads,

shaking their butts,

and putting on the finishing touches.

I started to feel nauseous. I don't know why, but I was getting that sick feeling you get when you eat too much bacon, probably either from too much tattoo overexposure or not enough fluids in my system.

So I went to Ritual Coffee Roasters.

It was my first time at RCR and I had heard many good things about the coffee there. It was true, the coffee was pretty good (not cheap though) and the person who waited on me was super nice.

What I wasn't prepared for was stepping into a lair of hardcore yuppies. It seemed like everyone around me was locked into their laptops - most of them working! Urgh!

Like this chick:

She was busy talking on her cell while working on some branding/marketing project. The guys behind me: same. And behind them: ditto.

God forbid a bad batch of organic scones worked its way around here. It could wipe out Internet 2.0 and half of the advertising/sales ghetto. I mean, I thought by going to the Mission I was getting away from the Oracle convention.

Next time I'll either get the coffee to go or just go to work and brew the shit myself.

Because I hate to be judgmental and all, but it's just not my scene. Unfortunately, neither is Papa Toby's Revolution Café around the corner, which looked a little too leftwing political for me (although the noticeable absense of laptops was a plus). Not that I have anything against Left politics per se, but when I say "leftwing political" in this context (or in pretty much any context), I mean, well, unfortunately...insufferable and boring.

I know people are oppressed and all, trust me – I know, and it's totally penciled in to my Microsoft Outlook calendar to fight the power - fight the powers that be, but let's face it: even thinking about this stuff makes my penis go soft. And when I'm trying to get my caffeine fix on, I don't want to have to think about what person, what village, what wildlife, or what rainforest just got fucked or saved from fucking because of what's in my cup.

Again, ignorance = tender heart. Or, better yet, I shall refer you to the buzzword of the day: "Yucatasia".

Are you listening RCR lady? The one with the cap on?

Since Ritual Coffee Roasters isn't my cup of tea (although the coffee to go is) and Revolution Café is the anti-Viagra, I guess there's only one place left that will take me:

King Diner

The King Diner is a small, non-descript burger joint at Mission and 10th that's open 24 hours a day. It's right around the corner from what the gay men of yesteryear and the "Folsom Miracle Mile" era would call "Breeder Alley", or 11th street and all of the straight clubs and bars that comprise it.

No doubt King Diner does a pretty decent business from folks coming in from Slims or Club DNA or Butter at 2 or 3 in the morning, but what's it like during the day; say around 5:00 PM? Well, besides me and the Middle Eastern guy who worked there, there were 3 people in the whole place: a quiet woman, a man reading a book, and a one-legged wino who literally hopped in front of me to order a cheeseburger – paying for it all in loose change of course.

The few one-legged winos I've met in my day seem to have all deserved their fate in life, since even when they're trying to be courteous, they're ignorant and unbearable assholes. It's like they'll bark out "where's my drink? I ordered a drink! I want my drink!" and then follow up with a pseudo-pleasant "yes, sir, thank you, sir". They're like a dog that doesn't know when to bark, roll over, and piss itself, so it does it all at once.

King Diner has a long and substantial menu, but the basics are that they serve burgers, hot dogs, shakes, sandwiches, and some breakfasty items. I ordered the Old Fashioned double cheeseburger which consisted of two patties, onions, relish, ketchup and mustard for a total of five dollars even.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, it shouldn't surprise you that I got the cheeseburger. My predicatability stems from the fact that cheeseburger quality swings wildly from good to bad depending on where your order it from, so that it's a greater indication of how the food at a particular place is as opposed to relying on the hot dogs. Besides, there aren't many places in the Bay Area where you can reliably get a decent hot dog because, let's face it, they're an East Coast/Midwest thing. And as far as I know, the only decent hot dogs come from Top Dog in the East Bay (and don't even tell me about "What Up Dog" – that place is crap).

Fact is, cheeseburgers are a West Coast thing.

So deal with it.

Drive-ins, drive-thrus, carhops, wide-scale teenage exploitation, and the fast food nation all started in or around California (with the exception of White Castle) and they all centered around the burger. Incidentally, so did fast food-related obesity, but don't knock us. Southerners are so fat they could sit on a dollar bill and spit out four quarters – probably from all that sugar and pork fat they put in everything (hello, Paula Deen?).

The gardenburger, like the Church of Satan and the Zodiac Killer, is also a West Coast native. King Diner offered a gardenburger, but I'm not having it. It seems that right when I considered something other than the cheeseburger I saw this message stuck to the window, no doubt left by a good Samaritan as a warning of some kind.

Frankly, "suicide" is a little too vague. I think what they meant to say is "Yucatasia".

But getting to the burger, this cheeseburger was actually pretty good! Well, except for the actual "meat part". The burger patties were precisely the kind either Eric Schlosser or Michael Pollan (I forget which) warned us about when they wrote that a typical hamburger at a fast food joint contains the remains of thousands of cattle.

These patties looked extremely processed and industrial. Still, it's amazing what a little char-grilling, American cheese (processed, of course), mustard, and relish can do to something as processed as these patties. Also, the burger was served scorching hot, which is exactly what my body was craving at the moment. A salty, hot, grease injection of vitamins C (heese) and B (urger).

This is the kind of food you crave and devour, but are too ashamed to tell your friends about. You might as well be stepping out of a porn shop with a sack full of foie gras and a Smithfield country ham. It's the kind of place your friends shake their head at you for even suggesting, and perhaps changing their opinion of you in the process.

But, you know what? You're okay with me.

And if we run into each other, say after a protest march or a Slow Food convivium, I promise not to tell.

So long as you do the same.



At 12:16 PM, Blogger Sam said...

I can't believe this post doesn't have any comments. It deserves at least a hundred.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Dive said...

Apparently, Sam, you aren't aware of Beta Blogger's new telepathic comment option.

I get hundreds of thoughts per day.



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