By Broke-Ass Stuart
I spent most of my 20s living in the Mission. I floated between grimy dive bars, greasy spoon diners, and late-night living room dance parties where outside the apartments’ front gate, scores of bicycles sat piled atop each other to better share bike locks.* (*I still do these things) But now I’m in my 30s. I’m more mature, more refined, more grown-up.** (** These are all lies) So I’ve moved out of the Mission – by one block. That’s right, now that I’m a real adult I live just outside the Mission, on the SOMA side of the freeway.
It’s where the two neighborhoods smash face-first into each other, like two roughhousing kids running too fast. I call it The Smission, and I love it.
I can walk pretty much anywhere I need to go in less than 30 minutes. I’m surrounded by every kind of grocer imaginable, and there’s ample parking for all those auto-inclined visitors I may have. There are downsides though, too. Thursday through Saturday people come from all over the Bay Area to fight outside my window. Seriously, the bridge-and-tunnel crowd gets all fucked up at the bars and clubs around 11th and Folsom and then wakes me up with shouts of “Hold me back, bro!” or “Come at me, bro!” or various other declaratives ending with “bro.” It’s like, come on bro, why you gotta come all the way to San Francisco to fight? Go back to your own fucking city to do that.
The main sound I hear at night is shopping carts ka-klank, ka-klank, ka-klanking down the street, and when I walk around I have to pay extra care as to where I put my feet. People poop is everywhere. The number of homeless people in The Smission is heartbreaking.
But still, everything said and done, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in San Francisco. The Smission is my neighborhood and I love it. These are some of the reasons why:
I was SO happy when the Willows opened. The way things are going in SF these days, I was afraid it would be some mustache-y craft cocktail bar where people spend their entire Saturday night waiting in line just to watch some dude in suspenders shake things. Luckily it’s the opposite. The Willows sports a beer cave with a wonderful selection of brews, lots of board games, a killer jukebox, arcade games, a great kitchen, and a staff who are sweet as pie. It’s like the perfect neighborhood bar.
The Gaslamp Cafe
I often work from home, which can make me a little crazy. Thankfully, the Gaslamp Cafe is in my neighborhood for when I feel the need to put on pants and be around other human beings. It mostly caters to the morning coffee and afternoon lunch crowd of the surrounding businesses, but I use it as my office. If I have a meeting with someone, I almost always try to convince them to come to the Gaslamp. The food is good – and I have to put pants on like only seven minutes beforehand.
DNA Pizza is a very strange place to get any work done. Loud, angsty music videos flash at you from TV screens, while a staff that looks like members of the Sex Gang Children serves up slices, salads, and sandwiches. Which is to say – it’s actually an awesome place to work from. I go through phases of doing my writing here. Connected to the DNA Lounge, DNA pizza is a 24-hour joint, but it’s pretty empty during the day. At night it fills up with people attending whatever weird shit is happening next door. My favorite is to get a slice and people-watch on Monday nights when Death Guild is going on. There are enough goths to make the Roman Empire tremble.
Whatever weird dietary affliction you have, Rainbow has you covered. This co-op grocery store has been an institution since the ’70s. I just wish I could afford to shop here more. It has a really incredible cheese section. How incredible? The cheesemonger Gordon Edgar even has his own book called Cheesemonger! Boom! Pretty much all I buy here, though, is expensive cheese and cheap wine. There’s a bottle literally called Cheap Red Wine that’s actually really good and it’s only $5. I just wish Rainbow had a meat section, since that’s the only thing I really know how to cook.
Oh, Foods Co. It’s the exact counterpoint to the co-op. Everything at Foods Co. is hella cheap, partly because it’s mainly off brands you’ve never heard of. It’s like, instead of a box of Lucky Charms, you could almost buy a big bag of Unlucky Charms – its logo is a pirate with a speech bubble that says, “Arrrgh, don’t buy me!" This is where you go to buy jugs of blue drink. I’ve seen people 86’d from here at 8 a.m. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you’re being 86’d from Foods Co. at 8 a.m. I do a lot of my shopping here because, hey, I can afford everything! My favorite Foods Co. moment of all time was when I was walking back to my house around 9 a.m. and a drunk homeless man in a bush outside the market said to me, “Hey! You look muy guapo.” Drunk homeless people give the best compliments because they come from the heart.
The food at this place is just delicious. I don’t really have anything snarky or clever to say about it.
Crepes a Go Go
I fucking love this little crepe cart. It’s really well priced and delicious, and if you go there on a weekend night after the bars close, you get to see people who have devolved into some subhuman species – drunk people. I just wish Crepes a Go Go didn't have such weird hours. Whenever I want one of its delicious savory crepes in the middle of the day, I walk away crestfallen. I always forget that it’s not open till 6 p.m. and closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
SOMA Streat Food Park
It’s like living near a rock ’n’ roll food court that has beer and plays Giants games. You’ve been warned.
Check out more neighborhoods that we covered in our "Why I Love ..." series here.