Bernal Flats, La Lengua, SoCha – I’m never quite sure what to call the strip of Mission south of Cesar Chavez and north of Cortland. When I moved to the city two years ago, I lived in a sunny room on the outskirts of Bernal Heights, just south of the hood. Bernal Flats (as I’ll call the area here because “not quite Bernal, not quite Mission, and sure as hell not Outer Mission” is obnoxiously long) was a short walk away and supplied everything I needed. Bernal Flats gave me access to produce, houseware needs, amazing Thai and Peruvian food, spaghetti like no other, and equal proportions of old man watering holes and cool neighborhood bars with cucumber cocktails and whisky specials. There’s a great relaxed, weekend sort of vibe you get when strolling down the street – all week long. Which is why I’m so excited that The Bold Italic is spotlighting Bernal Flats for our next Microhood event. I stopped into a few standout neighborhood spots in preparation.
Blue Plate smelled amazing when I walked in the other afternoon. Co-owners Cory Obenour and Jeff Trenam casually told me they’d just pulled lamb out of the oven and made risotto. These guys don’t mess around. After checking out an extremely green and charming garden seating area (complete with heat lamps), I decided I need to come back to do personal research at dinnertime, aka date night.
Cruz Skate Shop got its start selling roller derby gear, and eventually expanded to skateboards. The Cruz folks definitely know their stuff, but aren’t jerks about it. As I was shooting photos of the store, I overheard Sandy Cruz, the shop’s co-owner, give very patient and thorough advice to several beginners. If I was ever going to grow some balance and venture into the skating world, this is where I’d come.
Rock Bar is one of my favorite newer additions to the neighborhood. The Front Porch’s drunken little brother is home to some of the city’s nicest bartenders, has a pool table, and something called “Fire in the Hole,” which consists of beer, whisky, and a piece of meat. When I stopped in I wasn’t feeling the fire so the bar manager, Brion Nuda Rosch, made me a cucumber-basil gin fizz and an Earnest Diamond, which is Angostura Rum, Luxardo Maraschino, Champagne, and grapefruit. I left feeling very refreshed.
Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack is such a standard that I actually get offended when Bernal and Mission residents say they’ve never been. I took my friend/neighbor Dan for his first visit recently, and I don’t think we said anything during dinner. There were much more important things going on in front of us: a heaping plate of spaghetti and meatballs and an equally-large portion of Rasta Pasta (roast chicken, cream sauce, zucchini, and peppers). Even if really good spaghetti’s not your thing, Emmy’s has got plenty of other delicious choices.
31 RAX is a vintage/thrift store opened by Stephanie Madrinan a little more than a year ago. The selection reflects Stephanie's passion for fashion, music, and art – all at very affordable prices, which is true to 31 RAX's mission of "creating something amazing out of nothing." Be sure to say hi to Stephanie when you stop in – she's as warm and welcoming as the shop's bright interior. You could probably find a cool Bay to Breakers costume here, but 31 RAX also has great tops, flannels, jeans, and skirts for everyday wear. I'm a fan.
Five years ago, Eden Stein opened Secession Art and Design, a combination shop, gallery, and artist workspace. Stepping inside, you'll find an amazing hand-selected assortment of clothing (Eden recently expanded the store space to include a men’s section) along with beautiful jewelry, original art, and home decor. Art is not just for sale, it's also made here. Secession also houses studios for jewelry creators Colleen Mauer and Twelve Designs, plus artist Heather Robison and designer New Skool. This is a hub for amazing SF-made finds. In fact, while I was visiting, a man tried on a hoodie with "94110" (the Mission/Bernal zip code) screened on the back. I must have this! Stop into Secession for these neighborhood pride hoodies, plus tons of other art, wares, and wears.
Check out this great little area of Mission Street tomorrow night during The Bold Italic’s Tongue in Cheek microhood party. Many other businesses like Mitchell’s Ice Cream, ICHI Sushi, Way Out! Cafe, and El Rio will be participating. See you out there!