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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Joe's Of Westlake

Bruce and I use to live near the Westlake district in Daly City.

Honestly, I kinda hated Daly City. It had the worst weather in the summer time. You could drive over to San Bruno and it would be gorgeously hot and sunny, then come back home to Daly City and it would be so cold and foggy you felt as if you could spontaneouly break out into Morrissey songs, and actually you hate Morrissey.

Or did.

All of a sudden, "this is the coastal town that they forgot to close down – Armegeddon come Armegeddon come" made sense – as did the chorus to that song, "everyday is like Sunday".

But for 3 long years I called the town that inspired the song "Little Boxes" home. Say what you will about alcoholism, but at least my addiction gave me something to focus on while I spent countless days inside my tickytacky box.

When we moved to the City we kept our San Mateo County library cards active and, on the weekends, we occasionally commute from San Francisco to Daly City or South City to use the library, since San Francisco's library system is notoriously sucktastic.

Today we found ourselves checking out the newly remodeled Westlake Shopping Center with its multitude of souless new chain restaurants featuring generic takes on Greek and Italian food and a god-awful Home Depot, of which I make an effort not to shop at since if they drug-test their employees, it should make sense that they drug-test their customers – of which most would surely fail.

Even I, myself, have been known to eat a lot of bagels with poppy seeds.

Besides, there hasn't been once where I've been in Home Depot when you could actually find someone who works there who wasn't so clueless that, for all you know, they could've been spinning on hillbilly heroin, weed, and Red Bull.

It's useless to figure out the reasoning behind drug testing since A) testing for stupidity makes more sense, B) boozehounds are more dangerous than weed whackers, and C) sparkin' up the chron-chron with your friends on the weekend means that you have a healthy social life, as opposed to being an angry loner – the typical profile of a serial killer and/or domestic terrorist.

With this in mind, our waitress at Joe's of Westlake seriously needed to get blunted.

Once we were seated, she came on like a breeze of frigid air. Considering it was pretty warm outside and that we had crossed the street from a brand-new box store hell to the venerable uber-dive of Joe's, it was refreshing, if not a little startling.

She was the stereotype you hear about in American mythology about hardened, chain-smoking waitresses, only she leaned more to the severe Victorian school marm side of the equation. If this was America's Next Top School Marm, I'm pretty sure Tyra, Twiggy, and Miss J would give her points for being well lit.

The migraine-causing glare from the huge pane-glass windows made it impossible for anyone facing them to see anything other than shadows, and suddenly, standing over me, was a large, imposing, and intimidating shadow waiting for me to order drinks.

From the get go, this woman scared me. Her tightly and neatly coiffeured hair, the sharp features of her face, and the dead look in her eye gave me the impression that she wasn't above stabbing someone with a dull and dirty steak knife if she had to. I begged Bruce to make up his mind – and hurry.

It was easy to know your place at Joe's with this woman. You were one of those cute and furry little animals you see in nature shows rubbing two seeds together while a few feet away a vicious and hungry predator eyes every move you make.

Every word she muttered oozed contempt. Simple words such as "water" and "tea" transformed into expletives and accusations when leaving her dry thin lips.

She brought us bread to start and I had to remind Bruce to keep it down when we started capping on the fact that it comes without a towel between it and the well-used bread basket. Not only is this a dive-worthy presentation, it's a dive-worthy act. In fact, add "dirty bread basket" to your "greasy spoon" lexicon.

Our waitress, whose name might have been Mrs. Prudence Higglebee or (going with the ex-Nazi angle) Frau Helga Von Reichstag, came to take our order. Thankfully Bruce didn't dick around and ordered the first thing that came to his mind – Fish and Chips. I ordered the open-faced sirloin sandwich with veggies ($10.85).

Upon hearing my request, Prudence shot back that there wasn't any bread, to which I, as nicely as possible, murmured that that was great. However, too afraid to think straight at the time, I assumed that meant no bread on the side.

After taking our order, she brought us our tea which was practically water with a little caramel food coloring. It came in a glass about the size of a juice jar and during the course of our meal was refilled once, for which I was grateful for.

Today was the first time we had been to Joe's in at least 10 years, and even then it was only once, at night, and I have no solid memory of it other than the waiters in tux's and the hipsters who stuck out amongst the annoyed seniors back when Swing and Lounge was in fashion (the second time). Our trip to Joe's this time was a unique, daytime event and, judging later from our experience, will remain that way: unique.

While waiting for our food, Bruce and I (as quietly as possible) joked about the harsh service and the clientele, who were hmmm, let's say, diverse. It was hodge podge of people, many obese and/or old, if there ever was one.

The waiters and bus boys were dressed in formal wear, as were the cooks and waitresses (in pantsuits). The juxtaposition of the bus boys in bow-ties with the biker with hairy shoulders, wearing nothing more than jeans and a leather vest, sitting at the bar inspired much snarking at our table.

The restaurant's character is a throwback to another era, one that is usually found with concrete shoes at the bottom of the closest body of water. The set-up of the dining room and the vibe coming from the open kitchen reminded me of Joe's city cousin, Original Joes, only not as many on-duty police officers, not as dingy, and not as dark. It was the Suburban Joe and, really, that best describes it.

It has a "swinging" bar to the side as you first walk in, but in the middle of the day, it's as sad as any old duffer dive bar, complete with the kind of people you normally would find in a dark and smelly bar in the middle of a sunny weekend afternoon.

You know, health nuts.

Also to the side, as you walk in, is another dining room, where it so happened that something was going down as we were leaving. Taking a wild guess, I would say that it was likely a game of Bunco or Mexican Train being played by folks from the local senior's club.

When I saw Prudence/Helga marching towards us from the kitchen area with two plates in her hands, two thoughts came to mind. The first one was a feeling of relief since, at that point, I was really hungry. The second thought was "oh god, I hope she didn't poison us out of spite".

I thought Bruce was pushing it when he asked for hot sauce, but at this point she couldn't add any more rat poison or Visine to our food without us seeing her – or could she?

Bruce's fish were the kind that had been previously breaded, cooked, frozen and then deep-fried to order. And let's just assume that the fries weren't cut to order and then fried ala In-N-Out style. Luckily he had enough tartar and hot sauce to make his $9.95 fish and chips palatable. Later, when asked how it was, he replied "deep-fried – that's all I could taste".

I, on the other hand, didn't have anything deep-fried although my veggies were more overcooked than if they had been. Nothing says "The Fifties" like pre-cut frozen veggies steamed or boiled to death. The end result is a kind of veggie mush on its way to being a puree. Better to gum it with, I suppose. In addition to adding copious amounts of salt and pepper, I took a lemon meant for my "tea" and squeezed it over the veggies.

Better, yet still mush. I should've added a few pats of butter to it and made a proper puree using the over-sized, arthritic-friendly handle of my utencilware. Or I could've taken the extra-large container of pre-grated "parm" that was sitting on the side and given it a couple of shakes.

I'll be sure to remember this place when I get my dentures, that is if it's still around (I'm guessing it will be).

With that said, I should probably stock up on the Polident since the "sandwich" I ordered had meat so tough I would've had to soak those dentures afterwards for hours with multiple changes of water. To the cook's credit, the meat was just as I had ordered it, medium-rare, but was served without seasoning or sauce. It was also really tough and chewy; a sure sign that we're talking bottom sirloin here (as if I should've expected different?)

Also, you may notice that on my plate is a hunk of grilled meat and a side of veggies. You may wonder, like I did, "where's the sandwich"? This is, I guess, what Frau Waitress meant when she said "no bread"; not what I assumed meant a side of bread.

Interesting what comprises an open-faced sandwich at Joe's.

It would've been helpful to have a little bread to soak up the juices (I wasn't touching that bread-basket bread), since I ended up splattering a little juice on my new thrift store Guayabera. This didn't add to my fine dining enjoyment, but it certainly did add to the overall ambiance of my Joe's of Westlake lunch.

Normally I wouldn't use A-1 steak sauce on a good piece, or any piece, of meat, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It was more of a lubricant than a sauce anyway.

After finishing up, our lovely waitress brought the check and I tipped her more than I should've, since she was the type who would follow you out and drop-kick your ass in the parking lot. So all of you sorry waiters and waitresses who think the world owes you a living, learn from the old pros: intimidation gets the goods.

And thus we left Joe's of Westlake - I, with an odd taste of perfume in my mouth, and Bruce with a coating of grease in his, fondly wishing it well until we see it again.

Say, in another 10 years or so?


Friday, October 27, 2006

Scenic Drive-In

With the holidays coming up, you're likely to find me in the Central Valley visiting friends and family, as well as a few dives.

The Modesto area, in particular, has its fair share of dives that, if not supported, would fall to the restaurant chains that predominate the area. These dives include the taco trucks on Crows Landing Road, the funky ethnic dives and donut shops on Yosemite, and tons of burger joints and drive-ins that date back to the 1950s and 60s.

Like Sno-White.

Or an original A&W with rollerskate-wearing teenage carhop service.

One of my favorite dives is a place on Scenic Road called Scenic Drive-In.

If you have to ask "what's so scenic about this place?", look no further than down the street where there's a huge cemetary. Knowing this, someone with poor taste in humor might pose the question about where the meat for Scenic Drive-In's burgers comes from, and that someone, obviously, is me.

However, I'll refrain, since bad jokes about the dead and cannabalism only has so much mileage – and I'm saving the really gross stuff for the holiday dinner table.

Like Beep's Burger in San Francisco, this place is strictly a drive-in where you walk up to the window, hear someone ask if they can help you (you usually can't see them through the window), place your order, and then wait to be called. Unlike Beep's, Scenic has a small, covered area to the side with thrashed wooden picnic tables where you can eat or wait to hear your name called out on a loud speaker that's so distorted and full of feedback, it makes Lou Reed's seminal classic, Metal Machine Music, sound like a Queen midi file.

However, once called, you won't be sorry.

Scenic's main contender in the burger TKO fight is a heavyweight named the Knock Out Burger. For $5.00 you get a grilled burger with cheese, bacon, avocado...shit, you can read the sign.

Sure, I know a lot of folks make big claims about their burgers and I'm sure you're use to seeing all kinds of weird combinations. I have faith that you, my readers, are just as jaded and cynical as I am, so it's good to know we're on the same page.

This burger is the bomb. Words cannot describe how good it is. The burger and cheese (you know what I'm talking about), the lettuce, the avocado putting a little high-calorie creaminess to it, the hotness of the jalapeno peppers (muy caliente), and the bacon – enough said.

With Scenic Drive-In in the area, it is unconscionable to eat at McDonalds, Wendy's, or (yes) even In-N-Out.

In-N-Out? Momma said Knock YOU Out.

I'm gonna Knock you Out.

I'll be counting the days until I see this place again.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

International Food Center

Being born into the lower class in America, and barely rising above it, I've seen first-hand the dangers faced by members of my class: dangers such as homelessness, prison, post-combat related mental illness, suicide, poor nutrition, substance abuse, obesity, teenage pregnancy, violence, and lethally gaudy choices in couture and coiffeurs.

And this is just in my immediate family.

As dangerous as it is to be poor (or close to it) in America, I've recently discovered that being filthy rich can be downright debilitating. I had this profound realization on my way to lunch today when, walking through the toney Jackson Square area and Financial District, I came upon a plethora of expensive luxury sedans, sports cars, and Sports Utility Vehicles all, clearly, driven by disabled drivers.

There was a time I use to posit myself as a real class warrior. The rich were corrupt, amoral, and always put their own class interests above the interests of the people of the city or nation. Or so I thought.

Now, as I get older (and less idealistic), I see that the rich really have it rough! To usurp democracy by using the tools of wealth to become even richer, regardless of the damage it does to the environment or future generations, that's bad. But to usurp democracy and be disabled – well, that's just sad.


I'm sorry now that I ever threw a bottle at your BMW, slammed you in the shoulder whilst walking down the sidewalk, or voted for Chris Daly.

What worries me most is that this disability plague, which is raining fire and brimstone upon Communities of Money, is starting to trickle down, class by class, and infect people in the building trades, such as this guy.

Even this poor man, who appears to be perfectly healthy and handi-capable, is burdened by the suffering and crippling pain that once was the sole realm of the monied elite. His is a suffering we cannot see and, thus, is beyond our realm of understanding.

I admit, I cannot feel or understand your pain.

Indeed, this catastrophe knows no class boundries, as evidenced by this poor soul and her dog...

who exited this junker of a Jeep with her backpack...

and then proceeded to walk at least two large city blocks.

By the way, Honey, that color you're wearin' went out with Kajagoogoo.

Indeed, my friends, we are in the midst of an epidemic of epic proportions. We are besieged by an invisible leviathan which is crippling the bodies of our generation and banishing them to a living hell that is anti-lock brakes, power windows and power steering, softgrain leather upholstery, and a 4.2-liter, 32-valve, 4-cam aluminum AJ-V8, with cam phasing that can take you from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds.

Thank God I'm broke ever so often, otherwise I wouldn't be able to manage the steps that lead down to the International Food Center at the corner of Kearny and Sutter.

I love this place if only because of what it represents. It's like a melting pot of cultures all being stirred by one, large greasy spoon. It's like visiting dives on 3 continents without ever leaving home.

Why waste your time being searched at the airport?

Unlike the airport, there are two entrances that take you to your country of destination, and you don't even have to deal with some stupid-ass, ignorant airport gestapo pulling underwear, toiletries, and porn mags out of your carry-on and humiliating you in front of travellers from Des Moine.

For that alone: a star.

Once you get down into the belly of the beast (this is a term of endearment), you have many countries to choose from. I'll be going to the Philipines today, plus I'll share with you my trip to the military dictatorship formerly known as Burma.

However, please feel free to move about the cabin as you explore the cuisines of Mexico, China, Vietnam, and Japan. There's always a long line for the Pho (someone should name it "The Pho-One-One"), a line of Asians for the Mexican joint, and a line of Mexicans for the Chinese joint.

All of this cultural mixing and harmonizing makes me want to burst out in song!

There use to be a Thai place where the Burmese place is now, but apparently it fell in a bloodless coup around the same time Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was visiting New York.

You didn't hear it from me but, if I were Thaksin Shinawatra, I'd be careful of the people at By the Bite since, while they have suspiciously good fried rice, their lamb curry inspires regime change.

The best part about food in the International Food Center is that for the amount you get, it's almost the same as spending money in a third world country. My rice, spicy green beans (way too oily, oh well), and lamb curry cost around $6.50, which could feed Aung San Suu Kyi and a party of 5 whenever she's not under house arrest.

Burmese food combines some of the best cuisines in the region, making it "fusion" before Alice Waters even heard of a jicama. It's a mixture of Chinese, Thai, and Indian, which sounds much more appetizing than, say, a mixture of Vietnamese and Yucatanian.

Filipino food is the same way.

I think of it as a combination of Chinese, Spanish, and Pacific Islander food – heavy on the fatty meats and stews.

Sometimes I think of the Filipinos as the long, lost descendants of the Roanoke, Virginia colony that mysteriously disappeared in 1587, simply because who else but Southerners likes to eat so much fatty, barbecued pork?

Is not "Croatoan" something alcoholic you drink with balut??

I rest my case.

I've been smitten with House of Lumpia for quite sometime. It's hard for a wannabe pinoy to find some homestyle Filipino grub in the FiDi, if only because a Filipino home is the only place in the City you're likely to find it. For the true Filipino restaurant experience, you have to travel out to Daly City or South City, or else be happy with the ear-shattering karaoke and hardened adobo they serve at Carmen's.

Nevertheless, House of Lumpia has it's good days - and then it has others. On this day, the steamtable was the fullest I've ever seen it. I don't know if they were preparing for a celebration (I'm totally out of the Filipino culture loop), but the food looked great!

Unfortunately I can't tell you the names of what I got, so I'll have to try to describe them to you. I got the 2-item plate and a side of lumpia for a total of $7.15. One of the items was sweet and slightly vinegary chunks of moist and (really) fatty pork. This is one of my favorite dishes, but it's crazy fatty.

The other item was a chicken curry of some type that had been stewed and came still attached to the bone. It also came with carrots and potatoes and was pretty spicy.

The lady who made my plate (always really sweet) piled it on high for me and I could tell she was the type of Mom and/or Grandmom who delighted in making her kids overweight, so much so that they were confined to a bed where she could entertain herself by poking needles into her human pin-cushions while she watched goofy Korean soap operas.

As I've mentioned before, anything with a "house of" or "world of" or "barn" in its title, I'm a damn sucker for. The place is called House of Lumpia, yet this house is not a home. Any house made with these lumpia should be immediately condemned and burnt down to the motherfucking ground. They were awful. Overcooked, greasy...you name it.

What up, House of Lumpia??

They weren't always this way, so maybe they had an off day. Everything else was satisfying, except for the lumpia...

And the entertainment. The unfortunate part of the International Food Center is that they have a television unintelligibly blaring CNN (aka Fox-lite), distracting everyone who doesn't have a dining companion. If my TV-B-Gone was working, I'd have not a lick of guilt in flipping that switch.

Books, people! Newspapers? Mindful meditation, much?

And of course, who doesn't enjoy a little eavesdropping? I can't eavesdrop properly with that fat slug Lou Dobbs complaining to the room full of immigrants I'm sitting in about immigration.


What's that? Godamnit! I didn't catch the last part of her sentence.

Something about a disability placard.


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.