I love the Castro neighborhood but for the movida, the street scene, less for the food. There are a few dependable spots, though, and this is one. Relatively new, Canela is nice enough to be a date night, and casual enough to be a place for friends to gather. This is a Spanish style tapas restaurant (of which there are few in the city) and as such, you can order large plate (appropriate for that dinner out) or small plates (ready for that group of friends to share) Today, I was in need of a stage more than anything. My friend, a film maker and director in town from Los Angeles, is used to good food. I wanted something fast and easy, since I had to get in and out over my lunch hour, yet something nice enough to make the afternoon special for my pal. Canela fit the criteria nicely.
The food is not mind blowing, but solid and good. Get the calamari and white beans. Get the Revuelto, a very thin egg omelet with savory sauce, sausage. Get the Lamb. Get the patatas bravas, roasted potatoes in a spicy sauce.
The service is friendly and it’s not hard to get a table here without waiting. The look is sharp and clean. So if you need a place to enjoy an evening in the Castro, check this place out. It’s a find.
2272 Market St
(between Sanchez St & 16th St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Lunch with the mad hatter happens shortly after the bars close……Marcello’s Pizza in the heart of the Castro. San Francisco. Halloween.
420 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114
Fri-Sat 11 am – 2 am
WE LOVE PIE! And, we love the NOPA location of Chile Pies and Ice Cream. Home of incredible crust and one of our favorite ice creams for a la mode, the local organic and wonderful Three Twins. Can’t wait to have both in the Castro.
Check out our homage to another pie establishment here. yes, we still think Pie is the new cupcake…
This is the only time we’ll recommend a film to you this year. Just see it.
No room at the inn and, No Parking for the Schooled by Jesus Bus. . .
“Wish you were here”, (-Ike!) Artist, unknown, but probably the coi guy. . .
Here’s hoping the stars align and Ike’s Place is able to return to 16th; he’s applied for the permits to reopen his sandwich shop in the space that used to house Joseph Schmidt Chocolates, just off the corner with Sanchez Street.
SF Eater reporting that Ike’s Place Sandwiches just might be coming back to the Castro to a storefront of its very own, having been evicted from the old 16th Street location, a few months ago. A few details need to be sorted out before it’s a done deal, we’ll keep you posted. Kudos to him for staying true to his roots and relocating a block from the old spot. Sure, he’s serving up sandwiches from Lime at the moment, but the guy definitely needs his own space. If all goes to plan, he’ll be taking the storefront that used to house Joseph Schmidt Chocolates (purveyor of the best chocolate in the area, and it was a darn shame to see them go, too) The address is: 3489 16th Street, near Sanchez, and it’s right next to the fabulous restaurant Tangerine. Thanks Ike!
OH MY- but that’s a big one. . . MAGNIFICENT!
EaterSF reports that Ike’s Place will remain open after all. Following up on my previous post, Ike’s was to be evicted today and in a stunning 11th hour move, . . . wasn’t ! How cool would it have been to have been there when Ike came out of the store and exclaimed, “we’re not closing!” Seems there was a technicality in how the paperwork was drawn up and the whole case was thrown out. Man, those neighbors that instigated this whole thing must be in a snit!!
>>UPDATE 13 September 2010:
Today Ike announced that this will be his LAST day, and he’s staying open late to celebrate. I drove by on my way home from work and the line stretched nearly to the end of the block. People were doing spontaneous ‘waves’ to pass the time. We’ll miss you Ike! I hope you open another location here in San Francisco!
This is my favorite sandwich destination in San Francisco and I’m not alone. In just a little over two short years of business, Ike’s has managed to achieve national recognition, which you wouldn’t think would be all that easy to achieve when your dealing with a food so ubiquitous in the American diet as the sandwich. He’s made one that is that good. Rolls are fresh-baked at the time of the order, meats are prepped on the premises, and a special sauce of mayo, garlic and around twenty other secret ingredients is baked right into the roll. A foodie culture has risen around Ike’s and the line is always present outside that shop (tip, avoid it by calling ahead;-). Of course, that also contributed to the problem, despite Ike’s efforts to accommodate the litigious neighbors who, by many accounts, were uncompromising and mean.
Ike’s was a positive force for the neighborhood. The Castro prides itself on fostering small local business to the exclusion (for the most part) of national chains. We actively preserve and maintain that quality of life, the unique character of the neighborhood in which we live, by keeping them out. But times are tough, rents are high (too high) and it’s hard for all those businesses to remain open. There are more and more empty store fronts and the neighborhood has to work to make opening a business viable again. In this playing field, Ike’s was not only a success story but a magnet for the neighborhood, drawing customers not only from other parts of the city to the Castro but, thanks to national media publicity, he made the neighborhood not only a gay tourist destination but also a sort of foodie tourist destination. Ike’s personality was also a great fit, reflecting the easy going and friendly nature of the community. As popular as his business got, I often saw him still working the line himself, always smiling and concerned about the customer experience and quality of the food.
All the more sad that he’s going to have to close his doors by August 26th. MUS•e•YUM only hopes Ike’s will find another location in the city and in the Castro, especially. We need our Ike’s!
On a day like today I can’t think of a better place in the world to live than the Castro. Our evening plans having been cancelled, L. and I made an impromptu plan- a picnic! We took a short walk down the hill and bought sandwiches at Ike’s Place on 16th at Sanchez Street. Ike’s is one of the best sandwich companies in the country (it’s the “Dirty Sauce”) and I’m so glad he’s got the press exposure to back it up, not only because the food is so excellent but also because the owner, Ike Shehadah, happens to be such a great guy. Check out his story on Food Network.
Sandwiches in hand, we continued walking right to Dolores Park, which is two blocks down the street from our place. Even at 6pm there was a party atmosphere there, some ravers having set up a sound system pumping out house music to dancers and hoola hoopers alike, with lots of folks just lying in the grass enjoying the sight of the fog rolling in just above the panoramic view of the San Francisco skyline, the clouds just barely obscuring the tip of the TransAmerica building.
When we finished our sandwiches we decided to make one last stop. At the corner of Dolores Park happens to be one of the best ice cream parlors in the country, Bi-Rite Creamery. There’s always a line but it is so worth it. Tonight, I went for a scoop of brown butter pecan atop a scoop of cookies and creme.
The walk home afforded the spectacle of the fog blowing in over Twin Peaks and spilling into the Castro, backlit by the sun. Whisps of white curled around Sutro Tower and vanished into the blue above. Unbelievable how beautiful that is.
In my last post I wrote about San Francisco Pride, and shared how meaningful the event is for me. The celebration was marred this year by a tragic event, a multiple shooting on Market Street perpetrated by someone not of our community. I’d just left the street party half an hour before, and heard the shots from my home, followed by shouts of fear. I felt that clenching feeling in my chest. Who had been hurt? Why? Had our community just been taken away from us?
I couldn’t hold back the tears as read the account of the evening below. This is an uplifting description of something good that also happened that night and is a reminder of how Light persists and prevails in this world, proving it can overcome anything that tries to take it away.
I thank God for the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who keep that noble flame and practice that mission of goodness in my community and many others around the world. Those nuns in drag do more good for the world than just about any organization I know. They’re so GOOD.
So I invite you to read this message from Merry Peter, one of the Sisters who made a difference in the life of one woman that night, one future life, and demonstrated to all of us what it is to be a force for Good in the world.
“Midwife to Joy: A Pink Saturday RevelationShare, written by Merry Peter, 28 June 2010 on Facebook
Her name was Serena but she was anything but calm as she stood sobbing at the Castro and Market gate at 11 p.m. on Pink Saturday. Sister Barbi called me over to answer her question about where to catch the 24 Divisadero bus that normally ran straight through the Castro but tonight, because of the event, had been re-routed.
Serena was pregnant- just a week from delivering her baby- and had just finished her late shift as a sales clerk at Claire’s Boutique. She wanted to ride the bus home to Bernal Heights as she did every night. But with 100,000 people in the midst of the largest queer block party on the planet her normal stop was not available. Her fear and exhaustion got the best of her as she took in the scene before her and realized she would have to wade through the crowd to get to her bus which was now running three blocks away- on the opposite side of the street fair.
“My baby, my baby” she kept saying as she cried at the gate. “I can’t go through all those people!”
At that moment, it was evident Serena needed more than information about where to catch a bus. She needed an escort to help her navigate the sea of revelers. I looked up at Barbi and an unspoken understanding flashed between us. “You’re the nun in charge now,” I told her handing over my walkie talkie and bull horn. “I’m taking Serena through the crowd.” “Absolutely!” said Barbi without a moment’s hesitation.
I looked over to Serena and said I would find a way through the crowd and asked if she had enough energy to come with me. “Okay” she stuttered, still sobbing. “Take my hand and stay right behind me, honey,” I told her, promising that she would be safe walking in the wake of a giant drag nun. “If you get scared or need to slow down, squeeze my hand hard.” “I will… I will” she sobbed.
With Serena’s hand in mine we began the walk down the hill from 17th and in moments we were enveloped – the crowd pressing in on all sides. As I moved I looked for gaps in the crowd and tried to put ourselves into any stream moving in the right direction. “Excuse me darlings” I kept saying calmly to everyone I passed. I smiled at each person saying, “Sister coming through just trying to get someone safely home.”
Though it was after 11 p.m. and many in the crowd were already feeling the effect of booze and other chemicals, they responded to my invitation to be gentle and kind, parting before us as we made our way over to 18th, negotiated the corner and headed to the safety of the sisters’ command centre where I could take Serena through the blocked off empty street with ease.
As we walked, I kept looking back to see that Serena was alright and to let her know how much progress we were making. “Not much farther now” I kept saying. She held my hand tightly and pressed on.
On the other side of the crowds Serena shared that she lived far up Bernal Heights almost at the end of the 24 Divisadero bus route. At that moment, I understood why the goddess gave me princess parking when I arrived at 4 p.m. for my first shift: my car was just one block up from where we stood and I knew I had to drive Serena home.
“Serena, honey,” I said as soothingly as I could, “I know we’ve only just met but you and I have just made it safely through quite an ordeal. If you can trust me a bit more, I’d like to take you right home in my car.”
“Can you do that sweetheart?” I asked.
Serena was still crying softly but looked up and said “Yes, I trust you.”
That was all I needed. Two of our EMTs were standing nearby and they watched Serena while I sprinted up the hill to my car. In moments I had her back in the passenger seat and she started giving me directions to her home. As we wound our way out of the Castro and through Noe Valley, up Folsom into Bernal Heights she shared her story with me.
She had only moved to San Francisco in November and had no real friends or family in the city. She was, as I suspected, a single mother who had just dropped out of school and was working to save enough money to travel to Nevada next week to be with her mother when her baby was born.
I asked if she had given her baby a name and she said “Yes, I’m going to name her Ruby.”
“Wonderful!” I exclaimed, “You’re going to give birth to a little jewel!” She gave a smile and the first little laugh of the evening. Her breathing was growing calm and less laboured.
Serena continued guiding us, mapping out the bus route she normally took home. As we drove together she kept apologizing saying “I’m so sorry. I’m not usually so emotional.” I told her there was no need to apologize at all.
In fact, as I looked at this young girl a week from delivering a baby I couldn’t help but be struck by her strength and determination. She was alone in the city, working a tough retail job and, despite her exhaustion, took the hand of a stranger dressed as a drag nun to guide her through a rowdy crowd of thousands. She was at risk the entire night but once she took my hand she never waivered in her purpose to get her baby safely home.
To me, it seemed that going through this ordeal she was polishing that precious ruby inside her, fusing all her own strength into this gem of a little girl so that she could walk this sometimes harsh world with confidence.
Finally, we made the last left onto her street- a nondescript row of grey single-story stucco apartments in the foggy outer edges of the city. She was calm now and thanked me for all I had done tonight. I shared that it had been my honour and privilege to spend this time with her and that I admired her courage and wished her nothing but the best in the weeks ahead.
As she got out of the car we hugged and I whispered in her ear, “Serena, when she’s old enough I hope you tell your daughter Ruby the story of this night when a giant drag nun led you safely through the crowds. It’s a whopper of a fairy tale!”
“Oh, I will” she said, “I will!” Then she turned the key in her front gate, looked over her shoulder and waived goodbye. “Good night, sister!” she called as I drove away.
At about the very same time, a young man from a Bayview neighbourhood gang got into a fight with a 19 year old boy at the corner of Market and Castro- just a few meters from where I met Serena less than 40 minutes earlier. The boy drew a gun and shot the other boy dead and wounded two other people.
This senseless violence has been all over the news this weekend and has shocked the Castro. Though it had no connection to Pink Saturday or to the neighbourhood other than through an accident of location, it reminds us all that energy waves as large as Pink Saturday and Pride lift all the boats in the harbour not just those ready for the voyage.
But as we try to make some sense of events in the wake of Saturday night and the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Pride that followed, I want to lift up my voice and share the story of Serena and the journey we made together.
We were a most impossible couple- a young, straight Latina from Bernal Heights and an old gay nun from Toronto. But when we took one another’s hands we were given to each other and our lives, so different and separate, were woven together in the common cause of shepherding a new life to safety.
We must grieve for the young life lost on Saturday. But I hope we will also rejoice for the young life that will come into our world next week somewhere in the Nevada desert. May this Ruby enter the world sparkling with just a hint of pink and all the glitter a drag nun can bestow and may she grow into the promise of the prayer whispered over her mother’s belly yet to be fulfilled: “One Joy! More Joy! Always Joy!”
We must realize that it falls to each of us to play midwife to the promise of Joy coming into being. So let us send our light and love to Serena and her mother and to this beautiful Ruby child making manifest to everyone the joy hidden in each and every moment!
My favorite event of the year is the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter Party. Held every year on Easter Sunday, rain (as in, this year) or shine, this incredibly fun event draws hundreds (or thousands) of revelers young and old to the Castro to celebrate Easter, the Arrival of Spring, and …Fun!
The day kicks off with an egg roll for the kids and progresses to an Easter Bonnet contest for the grown ups. And then there’s the Hunky Jesus contest which is …um, popular. (No one does more for keeping Christ at the center of the holiday than the Sisters!) And no one does more for the Community in both maintaining the Spirit We Have and also, delivering much-needed money to good causes. . . the Sisters raise so much for charity it isn’t even funny!
To me, this event represents all that I love about the community I live in. The Celebration of Creativity. Of Fun. Of Fellowship. Of Open Mind and Heart. Of letting people Be who they are and want to Be. Of taking care of each other. There is no better way to celebrate Easter in my book. Three Cheers for the Sisters who keep the Spirit Alive.
So regrettably, I wasn’t able to go this year so I’ve posted links to albums from celebrations past. And of course, I’m looking forward to next year!