What’s Up Dog Express

I’m not going to subject you to any cutesy beating around the bush today; What’s Up Dog Express was a depressing lunch experience. 

First off, the menu outside offered a dream-like concoction called chili cheese tots.  Why yes, that would be tater tots topped with chili and melted cheese.  I walked in to the tiny cafe salivating at the very thought.  Then I was dealt the devastating blow; tater tots in any capacity were not available at this location of What’s Up Dog, their lease prohibited the use of a deep fryer. 

I’m strong enough that this alone didn’t drop me into despair, it was the combination of my poor observation skills causing me to order the wrong thing , like I almost always do.   I would have been so happy to order a regular old hot dog and add onions, relish and sauerkraut to it.  Sauerkraut, for me, is really key.  However.  On their list of extra toppings, do you know what wasn’t there?  Sauerkraut.  I also read the description of all their special dogs, and none included kraut, so I came to the conclusion that, bizarrely, kraut was unavailable.  Later, while waiting for my lunch to be prepared, I overheard another customer order a reuben, and I realized that you can’t have a reuben without sauerkraut, looked up at the menu on the wall and saw that I had tragically neglected to check the sandwich descriptions, and that the reuben description shouted “sauerkraut!” loud and clear.  What a sad, sad day.

I couldn’t get chili cheese tots, but two out of three ain’t bad.  The chili was fine, very smooth and salty like it came from a can.  Whatever.  The guy gave me way to much cheese, I was worried it wouldn’t all melt.  It did, but still, it was too much. 

I decided to order a Chicago dog.  I’ve had them in the past and enjoyed them, they have a lot of stuff on them (peppers, relish, onions, pickles, tomatoes and celery salt) and I like a lot of stuff on my hot dogs.  Also, I really appreciate the double hit of pickles.  They really get it in Chicago.  Here at What’s Up Dog Express, not so much.  Bun – cold, all the topping stuff – cold cold cold, actual dog – warmish.  This is so not cool.  Cold toppings I get I suppose, you’re trying to keep things fresh/stay good with the health inspector…but a cold bun?  There is no excuse for that.  My goodness.  Also, I don’t know who’s lying to me, What’s Up Dog Express or every other Chicago dog I’ve ever had, but are the peppers supposed to be crazy spicy?  I know they are supposed to be “sport” peppers, but I have no idea what that means. All I know is that in the past I’ve had peppers that were at an edible level of heat, and that these peppers were not.  I’m not saying this is a negative, I’m just looking for answers. 

So the food kind of blew it at What’s Up Dog Express; and really, the thing is that I could be much happier with a hot dog from 7-11, and those are only like 2 for a dollar or something, and the buns are never cold.  What WUDE has going for it is it is actually a fairly pleasant place to sit and eat lunch, the cafe is very clean and bright and cheerfully decorated, and, on my visit at least, the one dude working there was really nice and gave me a free bottle of water (I think he felt bad about the tater tots thing).  7-11 is definitely not a pleasant place to have lunch (they generally don’t provide seating) and the people who work there are usually jerks and/or gross (just in my limited experience, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of really nice people working at 7-11s that I haven’t been to).  Still, I’d rather go to 7-11 and get salsa and nacho cheese on my hot dog and eat it on the curb like a punk.

What’s Up Dog Express

http://www.whatsupdog.com/

528 Larkin

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Lori’s Diner

It had been a long time before this since I had been to Lori’s Diner.  The Powell Street location was one of the first restaurants I went to as a San Francisco resident, and such, although I lived in Park Merced, it was my go-to breakfast spot for a while.  I didn’t know any better.  Muni was a mystery to me, and the Sunset seemed unbelievably daunting, so one train and one street were about what I could handle.  Eventually, as I grew more comfortable with getting around the city, I found cheaper, tastier and closer places to get my grub on and Lori’s slipped out of my restaurant rotation.  Then I got kind of snobby about it, like, why would I go eat that over-priced tourist food?  I did go back a couple times, mostly with friends, most notably (in my memory anyway) for a pretty dang good ice cream sundae.  These visits were few and far between though.  So it had probably been a good two years since my last Lori’s experience when I headed to the Mason St location with Jessie and Justin after a movie.

The atmosphere was a bit sterile, all white walls, bright lights and shiny stainless steel.   The fact that it was a smallish space with most of its tables (and indeed, its barstools) occupied helped take the edge off. 

The menu is fairly straightforward Americana.  Lots of burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, fish and chips, you know the drill.  There are a few salads and dinners and even pasta to round things out.  I ordered a Cadillac burger, which is just a plain old cheeseburger.  I got mine with Swiss cheese.  The burgers come with fries, but you can substitute something else for an extra dollar or so.  I was tempted by onion rings, but ended up with garlic fries.

This was awfully tasty.  The burger was well cooked, everything stayed in the bun, the cheese was melted perfectly and the garnishes were fresh.  The fries were some of the best garlic fries I’ve had, and I’ve tried my hand at quite a few. 

Justin had a Cadillac burger as well, with cheddar cheese and a salad on the side.

 

Jessie got the chicken strips, which I’m always always tempted by on a menu but rarely indulge in.  These looked pretty delicious, what with the golden brown of the batter and all. 

So I surprised myself and really enjoyed my dinner at Lori’s.  And for about 30 bucks for three people, it was fairly affordable.  If you stick to the stuff between two pieces of bread section of the menu, I think you can get out of there without breaking the bank.  I reckon that in the future I won’t be so quick to take Lori’s off my list of acceptable restaurants in the Union Square area, which is good because that list is pretty short.  It’s always nice to add another entry. 

Lori’s Diner

336 Mason St

http://www.lorisdiner.com/

Cafe Mason

Cafe Mason, you are really weird.  You were not at all what I expected based on what I knew about you.  Which was mostly just that you were a 24 hour restaurant called Cafe Mason that presumably catered to people staying in the nearby hostels.  I expected a cross between Lori’s and Original Perfect Hamburger.  Instead I found this

Surprisingly swank.  I also found this

A charmingly (?) hand illustrated menu.  A menu that was much more extensive and eclectic than I could have anticipated. 

The service provided at Cafe Mason was busy and overfriendly but well-meaning.  The variety of accents made me suspect that it was staffed by foreign visitors perhaps from the aforementioned hostels.  Most notably there seemed to be some romantic tension between our female server and the male water guy.  Ooh la la.

So the menu was what one might call “continental.”  The standard soups, salads and sandwiches, but also pasta, French and Italian inspired entrees, and burritos and fajitas.  It was a bit overwhelming.

Jessie had a caesar salad (sorry for the godawful picture)

Justin had some sort of stuffed chicken thing

I had what I think they called a Croque Vegetal.  Basically a veggie and cheese sandwich but egg battered and pan fried like french toast.  Kind of weird, but basically good.  They stuffed a good amount of different types of vegetables and cheeses into one sandwich.  And I remember the little salad being nice. 

Cafe Mason would be a good place to take your grandparents, because it’s clean and that whole continental cuisine thing seems to belong to their era.  It would be a bad place to take your grandparents because the service is a little iffy and it’s a bit pricey for what it is.  In terms of me taking myself there again; probably not a happening thing.  I’m definitely not going there for Mexican.  Pasta and chicken are not things I go out for, I’d make that stuff at home if I wanted it.  And if I wanted to go somewhere with a wide selection of sandwiches, salads, and burgers, I’d probably hit up Honey Honey instead, because it’s closer to my house, they have larger portions, and they also have crepes.   Also, I find their more casual ambience more appealing.  So thanks for one pleasant meal, Cafe Mason; presumably our last in the foreseeable future.  Farewell.

Cafe Mason

320 Mason

Their Yelp Page

Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box!!!!  Ha ha, remember when you were a kid and you were like “Jack in the crack!!!!! LOL ROFL!!!1!!!!”  What a hilarious jokester you were.

I always seem to get really excited about the fast food places I go to for Goldentooth.  I don’t know what it is, I guess I still have it ingrained in my mind that fast food is this amazing special treat that I can only have once in a while.  So I get my hopes up and, invariably, they are dashed.  Remember the Mexican pizza?  Yeah.  Anyway, I got all excited all over again for Jack in the Box, but I was like REALLY excited.  Because I was finally going to try a JitB Taco!!!!!  I’d never had one before but they are crazy cheap and people love them!!!!  I imagined them to be like tacos from my favorite spot in Sactown, Jimboys, very inauthentic, very greasy, and very good.

Steve was also pretty pumped for this trip because he’d found a coupon for a free grilled deli trio sandwich and for some reason he thought one of them looked really good.  He was so excited he emailed me the coupon with the subject line “free jib yo!”  which is probably the best subject line of any email I’ve ever received.  Anyway, I doubted that his sandwich would live up to his expectations, but I figured, when else will I have Steve excited to accompany me to a fast food place? and just ran with it.

It was late-ish when we rolled up to the corner of Geary and Mason, and Jack in the Box was glowing like a Greyhound station bathroom.   Like most fast food joints, this place was populated by tourists, teenagers and vagabonds.  We ordered and got our food pretty quickly.  Steve convinced me to take our grub to the second floor dining room, a place that turned out to have a nice view of the street while also being depressing as all get out.

There were plenty of seats up there but there was only us and a largish group of high school girls gossiping in a ear twisting melding of English and Spanish.  Oh, and the intense pounding bass coming from Biscuits and Blues next door.  Anyway, time to dig in!

Again, I was going for a wide variety of menu items, though my lack of hunger pangs ended up dissuading me from going as crazy as I might have.  I ended up with two tacos

Only 99 cents!  And boy oh boy, can you taste that.  These were FOUL.   I am surprised after eating these that people have a tendency to be grossed out by pate, I’d think they’d be accustomed to it if they are fans of these tacos.  A paste of meat resembling nothing so much as cat food was smeared across the insides of a dense, chewy taco shell then sprinkled over with shredded lettuce.  It was, alas, not the taco of my dreams, and I will not be in a hurry to eat one again.

I also got an order of jalapeno poppers, after talking with a friend earlier about how Jack in the Box uses cheddar cheese in their poppers rather than cream cheese.  I love me a cheddar cheese popper so I was all set for a treat.  Of course, I was treated to nothing but disappointment, the poppers were very nearly burnt on the outside and the inside cheese was lukewarm and separated into a mess of oil and cheese-product solids.  There was, at least, a rather pleasant pepper flavor.

Steve and I shared an order of curly fries, the best “dish” of the night because, by God, curly fries are delicious and hard to fuck up.  Alongside the curly fries Steve had a side salad, which I assume was sufficiently salad-like, and the aforementioned (free) deli sandwich (yo!).

The deli trio grilled sandwich lived up to my expectations of being a horrific thing.  I think the words “creamy Italian dressing” sums it all up pretty well.  This was a greasy, slimy mess.  Steve was sad, he thought it would be like a Cubano, I think because there are pickles on it.  Let me set the record straight:  this is absolutely nothing like a Cubano.

So, surprise surprise, Steve and I didn’t like Jack in the Box.  I guess we’re a couple of snobs.  I hope you’re getting excited for our visit to Burger King!  I know I am!

Jack in the Box

400 Geary

www.jackinthebox.com

Sam’s Diner

Sam’s Diner is on Market Street between 8th and 9th, which is like, boom! strike one.   Not exactly a dining destination, not exactly the most picturesque stretch of road in San Francisco.  And from the outside you’d have no reason to think that Sam’s wouldn’t be gross. 

The fact is,  Sam’s is pretty inoffensive.  Nothing to get all excited about, but there’s an ok chance you won’t walk away unsatisfied.  Steve and I met Sarah there for a sort of brunch. 

We sat in a booth in a sunny, high ceiling-ed dining room.  It was busy and service was a little tepid, but, like I said, it’s not fine dining so that sort of thing is to be expected.  The menu was pretty standard San Francisco diner; Benedict specials, loco moco and terriyaki, but extensive.  Also, a little pricier than I expected.  It didn’t occur to me at the time, but it makes sense now that they cater to the theater crowd (the Orpheum is just down the block).  Also, tourists.  Which I should have realized, but me, I’m so dumb I saw this place with the tables all packed and thought, “this place must be good!”  Instead of thinking, “tourists.” 

Well, whatever, it may be a tourist spot, but I thought their chili cheese omelet (they call it a Texas omelet) was mighty tasty.  And their menu states all cheese in the omelets is American unless specified, but they were happy to use cheddar instead when I asked.   Hashbrowns were good too, a little less done than what I prefer, but that wasn’t enough to stop me from stuffing them in my face.

I was so busy wolfing down my food that I failed to notice my companions were less impressed with their meals.

Sarah seemed to be pretty blah about her burger.  Though she was impressed by how bloody it was and made me take this picture of the jus soaking into the bun:

As they say, nom nom.

Steve was even more unenthused by his wedge salad and club sandwich.  So it seems I made a prudent choice in selecting breakfast over lunch.  I win again, ha ha!

I think the main deterrent that will keep me from returning to Sam’s is the price.  My omelet was over ten bucks, c’mon!  The sandwiches were a bit cheaper than that, but there’s better food for less.  Also, there’s better food for more, but it’s a lot better.  See what I mean?  Sam’s is middle of the road tourist food.  Certainly an oasis in the area, and if you’re a tourist at one of the local hotels I don’t fault you for choosing Sam’s over Carl’s Jr or All Star Donuts.  If you’re a local, you can do better. 

Sam’s Diner

1220 Market St

www.samsdinersf.com

Bamboo Pizza

Ok folks, this is it.  Bamboo Pizza.  The scariest restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, and maybe the scariest I ever will eat at.  Definitely it will be in the top ten I imagine.  I rode by this place on my bike a couple times before I ate there and didn’t think it could be a real restaurant, it was either an empty storefront and/or it was named by someone who didn’t know what “pizza” means.  There was no way that there could be a place called Bamboo Pizza really serving pizza.  Turns out I was wrong. 

Judging by this sunbleached poster thing in the front window, Bamboo Pizza has been serving slices for some time.  The mystery (one of them at least, there are dozens of mysteries surrounding this place) is how are they selling enough of them to stay open.

Upon entering Bamboo Pizza, Steve and I saw a table of four old Asian gentlemen (Steve and I disagree on whether the proprieter and this group of gentlemen were Chinese or Vietnamese) and this terrifying hot food display.  Being confronted with this filthy glass encasement, I began to feel panicky.  There was no menu, and no sign of any food being made to order.  This was it.  It looked fucking scary.  The pizza was unlike any pizza I’ve ever seen,  it looked like a frozen pizza that had been reheated and reheated and reheated until the cheese and sauce began to congeal and become one entity.  The potato wedges were glistening and wet.  The baked chicken (you are so lucky I didn’t get a good picture of it) looked like the chicken they cook in Gone With the Wind during the war when they’re nearly out of food; scrawny and almost black, with skin drawn taut over bones.  The fried chicken was not the color fried chicken should be.  It was all just so wrong. 

Steve ordered first because I was sort of in a state of shock.  He got fried chicken and potatoes.  I figured we might as well try everything they had, so I ordered the pizza and the baked chicken.  I ended up getting fried chicken and potatoes.  I don’t know if this was due to there being a language barrier, or if the dude just recognized that I really didn’t want to eat that pizza.  Our lunches (plus drinks, Steve had a coffee and I got a Tiki Punch) totalled up to eight dollars.  EIGHT DOLLARS.  A quarter of a chicken for two dollars.  Potatoes for one dollar.  Drinks, at one dollar each, were the most expensive things in the place.  It was mental.

Ugh, looking at this picture of what I ate is turning my stomach.  Look at those potatoes, my god!  I know you want a close up:

Barf. 

So, the thing is this food wasn’t TERRIBLE.  Hear me out.  It wasn’t good, certainly, the chicken was very salty and pretty tough and the potatoes…well the potatoes were pretty disgusting.  Intensely greasy, odd tasting and unevenly cooked, sometimes mushy sometimes crunchy, like an apple.  But the point is that nothing tasted rotten or putrid.  Everything tasted like it wasn’t fresh, but not like it had gone bad.  Well, everything except for the ketchup.  I started off dipping my potatoes in it, but noticed it was very sour and sort of effervescent.  I said to Steve, hey I think that ketchup is starting to go off, and he said, really?  as he squirted more onto his plate.  Guess which of us ended up with a stomach ache later?

The reason I couldn’t finish my food (or even my Tiki Punch!) was that I was so grossed out by the scary filthiness of the restaurant that I couldn’t stop thinking about it everytime I would bring a morsel to my mouth.  They even had a disgusting dirty TV-VCR set up on which they were showing some video of a concert or something.

One of those videos was titled “Jekyll and Hyde Together Again” which sounds pretty great.

There was a lot of weirdness going on while we were there.  To begin with, the four old dudes were there when we got there and still there when we left, showing no sign of budging.  They weren’t eating, they were playing cards but displayed no evidence that they were gambling.  Several people came in to buy food, not homeless people, but certainly very poor people.  That’s how we learned that slices of that gnarly pizza cost only one dollar.  One lady came in, we didn’t really pay that much attention to her at first because we thought she was just getting food.  She got my attention when she started very loudly talking about how someone had jumped out a window up the street on Ellis.  Then she left, with no food, but Steve insists that he saw money change hands between her and the proprietor.  So what else is this dude selling?  Also strange; a refrigerator like an ice cream display, about waist level with a sliding door on top, with what looked like old Jug Wine jugs full of what looked like olives.  I didn’t notice until we were leaving that there seemed to be a sandwich prep area in the back with a giant jar of peanut butter on it.  So the point is I have no idea what is going on with this place.  I just know that I never want to go back, and I recommend you avoid it at all costs.

Bamboo Pizza

407 Ellis

Their Yelp Page (two reviews!  amazing!)

Showdogs

I was so super excited for this lunch at Showdogs.  I’d wanted to go since I’d heard it was opening because I love hot dogs and I like fancy new stuff.  Also, I was meeting up with friends, and that’s not always as easy as it should be.  I biked from the Fidi to 7th and Market in a state of high anticipation.

It was a pretty gorgeous day.  I say that now, though I’m pretty sure at the time all I did was complain about how hot it was.  I’m so delicate.  I can appreciate though that conditions lent themselves perfectly to my activities that afternoon, those being eating outside and drinking cold drinks.

The outdoor eating area is pretty roomy, though a little narrow, and preferable to the indoor seating situation.  The interior dining room was kind of dim, despite the restaurant having floor to ceiling windows nearly all around.  Inside is also not as good for people watching, which you’re going to want to engage in if you’re here in the daylight hours.

The promise of a variety of well made sausages is enticing enough, but what I’d heard about the wealth of beers available at Showdogs was equally intriguing.  They also offer an opportunity each day to get beer free!  It’s practically unheard of.  I certainly couldn’t pass up such an offer.  I produced my work badge to get a baby 8oz glass of Hell or High Watermelon, and my friends shelled out for their beers and lemonades.

Enough setting the scene, huh?  What’d we eat?  Well, Sarah ordered the Wild Boar sausage.

Which was topped with a cherry apricot chutney, arugula and a pickle.  Bryan got the chili cheese dog

Which was probably the most delicious looking thing that was ordered by our table (Justin had one too).  They shared an order of onion rings; I tried those and they were pretty good, crispy and not greasy.  I think in the overall scheme of things though I’m not crazy about the thinner cut onion rings.  I like a bigger burst of onion flavor.

I had the merguez with fig chutney and that same arugula and pickle that were on the wild boar sausage.

I had never had arugula on top of a sausage before and really wasn’t sure how I would find it, but I liked it a lot.  The slightly crunchy texture was nice with all the softness going on in the sausage and the bun, and the fresh flavor offset the greasy and more mellow qualities of the meat and bread.  The bun was very good, firm and with a nice crust and a fair amount of chewiness.  I love the way a normal hot dog bun steams and melds with the hot dog, but I also love me some good bread.  The fig chutney was delicious as well, the only thing I was really “meh” about was the merguez.  It was not the most flavorful iteration of the sausage I’ve ever eaten, in fact, it was pretty forgettable.  I wished that I had tried the 4505 hot dog or the pickled hot link, I doubt that those would be lacking in the spice department.  Oh well, it gives me a good excuse to go back!

Probably the most exciting thing ordered was Jessie’s corndog.  Mostly exciting because it had to be the biggest corndog I’ve ever seen.

The photo doesn’t do a good job of expressing that unfortunately.  It looked scrumptious and made me rethink my stance on corndogs (my stance, by the way, is that I hate them).   It came with a house mustard, and Jessie also ordered these fries;

Which he said he didn’t care for, but I found to be pretty good.  This is a meal I would consider ordering if I went back.

If you’re down near Civic Center and you’re looking for a place to get a moderately priced lunch with outdoor seating where you might even be able to get a free beer, this is the spot.  Our group sat for some time just watching everyone walk by (we saw one Grizzly Adams-looking dude who was using a large antler as a walking stick; I tried to get a photo but he was across the street and none of them came out, and that is a tragedy) and I could have sat there a lot longer.  Certainly on a lazy sunny day I can see myself sitting at Showdogs, drinking beer and eating fries for an hour or two.  That sounds pretty nice right now actually…I think I know what I’m doing this weekend.

Showdogs

1020 Market St

http://www.showdogssf.com/

KFC/Taco Bell

I headed to KFC/Taco Bell with a pocket full of coupons.  It was early evening and I was meeting Sarah for a fast food feast.  I was a little apprehensive about this particular venture, because I am quite familiar with the corner that houses this restaurant, and it’s a little gnarly.  As I approached the doors things seemed pretty quiet and I looked around for Sarah.  I didn’t see her so I popped into the restaurant.  From outside I saw a tall manly figure in a black skirt and top and from that distance I figured he was just a guy in drag, nothing out of the ordinary, but when I got inside I found that wasn’t exactly the case.

Here’s Sarah’s artist’s rendering

Full gray beard, tank top pulled down under his man boobs, ass drooping below his skirt and what looked like tassels on his nipples, but upon closer inspection were nipple clamps.  Homemade nipple clamps no less, just black binder clips.  Ouch.  I was pretty taken aback by this guy, but Sarah was put in a slight state of shock.  We had lots of time to observe (and notice his leopard print thong) because the couple in line in front of us took an extraordinary amount of time to place their order.  They did apologize to everyone in line afterwards though.  To my surprise, all our fellow customers were very nice.

We ordered a pretty wide variety of stuff from taco bell.

That’s Sarah’s bag of goodies, here’s mine;

Most of what sounded appealing was on the taco bell menu, but I made sure to order one thing from the KFC side.  Most of what I ate was stuff I’d never had before.  I ate a bean burrito, which was pretty normal, it seemed like there was less sauce than usual.  I also ordered a Fresco Ranchero chicken soft taco, which came off the Drive Thru Diet menu.  It was ok, but kind of hot dog tasting.  The biggest disappointment was the Mexican Pizza.

I was so excited for it too, it sounds super amazing right?  A Mexican pizza!  It should be great!  But no, it was weird; weird texture, weird flavor, and look at it, it looks weird.  More gross, it looks gross.  I could only eat a couple bites of this.

From KFC I ordered the Fiery Grilled Wings, which to my surprise were pretty good.   They weren’t too spicy, but the chicken wasn’t the gross greasy mush that KFC’s fried chicken usually is.  It was pretty standard barbequed chicken.  Not too bad.

Sarah also had a bean burrito, and I believe a soft taco, and this slug looking thing

that I’m pretty sure was a meximelt.  Sarah said it was alright.  She had a lot of trouble determining what was in it, but that’s just a fun mystery, right?

The very best thing we ate that night were, shockingly, the cookies.

They were 3 for a dollar, and I joked about the sign on the cookie case that said they were fresh baked daily, but the joke was on me because they did taste pretty fresh.  The chocolate chip was the best, but the sugar wasn’t bad.

Taco Bell/KFC didn’t make me sick like McDonald’s did, but I’m not in a rush to get back.  But if I had to eat there I wouldn’t be sad to eat grilled chicken and cookies.  I’d probably skip the weirder stuff on Taco Bell menu though.

KFC/Taco Bell

691 Eddy St

www.tacobell.com

www.kfc.com

McDonald’s

I used to go to McDonald’s fairly often; when I worked at the Embarcadero Cinemas it would frequently be the cheapest, closest, or only place open in the area to get dinner.  It was there that I acquired a taste for Oreo McFlurrys, but also where I vowed to never eat a double quarter-pounder with cheese ever again, lest I vomit.  Since quitting the theater my visits to McDonald’s have been few and far between, and when I began making plans to hit up the one on Van Ness for this blog I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten at one.  Perhaps that’s why I was so excited for it, I said that I was going to go in, look at the menu and just order every single thing that sounded good to me.  Which is kind of what I ended up doing. 

This McDonald’s location was recently remodled (in fact, what may have been my last visit to a McDonald’s was to this one during the construction, with Sarah, who accompanied me to this meal) but if you didn’t know that you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at it.  It looks about as gross and “retro” as any McDonald’s you’ve ever been to, or any fast food restaurant at all for that matter.  I was kind of bummed about that, I was expecting something more modern I suppose, and certainly more well lit. 

The McDonald’s menu is confusing to me, I think they make it that way purposely to frustrate you into getting the value meals.  Big bright pictures of big mac wraps and #3s dominate, while less popular menu items are smushed over into the corner in difficult to read little white letters.  I managed to order most of what I wanted, though I misunderstood a handmade sign that said “NO MILKSHAKE” and tried to order a McFlurry.   No dairy treats of any kind were available for the whole length of our visit, even though this scene

and the removal of the milkshake sign gave us false hope later in the meal.

Between me and my three friends, the range of the McDonald’s menu was pretty well represented.

I attempted to enjoy the simplicity of my southern style chicken sandwich, but was put off a bit by how much the bun looked like someone’s butt

and by the stuff that looked like spittle coming out of the chicken after the first bite.

It tasted ok, but was a little overmoist.  I can barely remember the cheeseburger I ate

except that the cheese wasn’t melted enough for my liking. 

Sarah ordered a McDouble

and Bryan got a double cheeseburger

and there was some dispute over the differences between the two, mostly that there weren’t any other than price.  They seemed to be the same size and contain the same foodstuffs, but the mcdouble was cheaper by a bit.

Steph got the McTasty Big N’ Tasty.  I don’t know how tasty it actually was, Steph said she enjoyed it well enough, but it certainly had the most appetizing looks of anything on our table that day, what with the pristine sesame seed bun and the frilly lettuce sticking out from the bun. 

We all ordered fries.  I only got them as a replacement for my McFlurry, I generally could take or leave fries, especially from McDonald’s, though I do have pleasant childhood memories of Happy Meal french fries.  I would take the little bag out of the bigger bag and when I’d finished all the fries in there I would root around in the bigger bag and be thrilled by the hidden treasure trove of fries I would find.  These fries disappointed though, everyone agreed that they were cold.  There’s little worse than a cold french fry.  I have to admit that most of mine went in the trash.

We also got a 20 piece Chicken McNuggets for everyone to share.  Sarah really pissed off the peeps working the counter by requesting every nugget dipping sauce they offer.  You should have seen this guy’s face as he slammed the honey down on her tray.

The nuggets were the best thing I ate that day.  For whatever reason, I grew up with sweet n’ sour as my default dipping sauce, and it was as delicious as I remember.  As an adult I began ordering my nuggets with barbeque sauce, which was still good, but I’d never tried the chipotle BBQ sauce before.  It was tasty, as was the spicy Buffalo sauce, which was actually pretty darn spicy.  I wasn’t crazy about the ranch or the honey mustard sauces, I’ve just never been a big fan of honey mustard, and they were both too creamy to stand up to the greasiness of the nuggets.  I don’t think I tried the honey, it grosses me out a little bit.

The aftermath:

I felt sick to my stomach pretty much immediately after finishing as much food as I could stand.  My body’s just not equipped to handle an onslaught of fast food like this.  It’ll be interesting to see how I fare at upcoming fast food establishments.  For now, despite the semi-disappointing nature of this trip, I am still optimistic and excited to try out KFC/Taco Bell and Burger King in the coming months.  I should be ok as long as I have a good posse to back me up.  Oh, and I make sure to obey any posted time limits;

McDonald’s

600 Van Ness

www.mcdonalds.com

Ananda Fuara

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope that you all have a really great 2010 and that you try some really awesome new (to you at least) restaurants this year.  I have a feeling it’s going to an interesting one.

Well, let’s start a new year at Goldentooth with an old favorite of mine, Ananda Fuara.  Steve and I started going to Ananda Fuara when we first started on our “healthy living” escapades.  We didn’t do a lot of eating out because we were being pretty strict with our diets.  When we discovered Ananda Fuara it was like a miracle.  We could go out to a restaurant and not feel super crappy about it afterwards!  And the food was pretty delicious!  And it looks pretty creepy from the outside, but on the inside it’s actually super nice!

I guess there are a couple things about Ananda Fuara that put people off.  One, it’s vegetarian, and people who aren’t vegetarians sometimes freak out if they can’t eat meat.  It’s not vegan though, okay guys?  You can still get hella cheese, which is nothing to sneeze at.  Two, it’s run by a cult.  They are led by this guy who is hella strong (there are pictures of him lifting like 700 pounds!) and likes to paint.  You can see videos of him painting at the restaurant, and postcards of his works are on each table.

The last sort of yucky thing about Ananda Fuara is that it is right on Market street without much else going on in the immediate area businesses-wise, so there is always a choice selection of derelicts in the vicinity.  I’ve never been hassled by anyone, and once you get inside it looks like this;

Kind of like your aunt’s house or something, if your aunt lived in a restaurant.  So don’t worry about it, just get inside and everything will be fine.

It was pretty cold this evening, so I ordered a teeccino

This is their fake coffee drink.  It’s got chicory, almonds, barley and some other stuff in it.  Mostly it tastes like sweet hot milk.  I think that’s what people like these days, and certainly I like it these days.  I can pretend like I’m drinking a latte and not have to worry about being up til 4 in the morning because I am a child who can’t have caffeine past 12 noon. 

I’m always tempted by the appetizers like the “chicken” nuggets, the samosas, the nachos…but the meals here are super filling.  I was considering one of the salads because I was reading stuff by this crazy guy and I was like, yeah, I guess I could stand to eat less carbs.  In the end though, I couldn’t resist the curry dinner

Everyday they have a different special entrée, curry, garnish, soup and gelato and sorbet.  The curry that day was matar paneer, peas with fresh cheese.  I love paneer, and though the curry at Ananda Fuara is extremely mild, it’s certainly comparable in flavor to most Indian places in San Francisco, and I’d wager a good deal healthier.  The curry dinner comes with naan, which in this case was stained bright yellow and was soft and pillowy and sweet.  Nothing to write home about, no crispy charred bits, but they’re doing their best; they certainly don’t have a tandoori oven here.  It also comes with a pretty delicious rendition of raita and a really tasty sweet chutney, which tastes kind of like apple sauce if it were made with apricots and pineapple instead of apples.  Oh, and rice of course, which was fine. 

Steve ordered the same thing he orders probably 80% of the time we go to Ananda Fuara, the Ensalada Mexicana.  It is a pretty tasty salad, what’s kind of neat about it is they put hot rice and beans on top of the cold lettuce, which results in slightly wilted greens, which is something I’m pretty wild for. 

I wanted to try one of their awesome vegan baked goods for dessert but, even though my dinner didn’t look like it was that big, I was absolutely stuffed.  As usual, everything was tasty and fresh, served with a pleasant attitude and very affordable.  I think one would be hard pressed to find nothing to like at Ananda Fuara.  It’s one of those places you can overlook or look down at forever, but you shouldn’t.  You should give it a try and you will find yourself won over, I’m pretty sure.

Ananda Fuara

1298 Market

www.anandafuara.com