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/

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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

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

Mel’s Drive-In

My visit to Mel’s Drive-In was pretty useful in that it reminded me why I don’t go to Mel’s Drive-Ins anymore.  I’ve been delaying this post because I kind of hate Mel’s.  The food is mediocre and overpriced.  Anyway, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  I was optimistic when Sarah and I walked in to the restaurant.

It was pretty festive.  Lights and decorations and all that are my favorite thing about the Holidays.  Everything else…not so much.  Well, holiday cocktails,  I like those.  The actual Holidays though, those I could take or leave. 

Mel’s was pretty empty when we got there.  It’s one of those places that is depressing when you’re there alone.  It’s so big, there are lots of booths and tiny jukeboxes at every table…this is a place that is supposed to be full of groups of young people scrounging for change to pay for their fries and families of tourists with screaming babies.  That’s the Mel’s I remember from my youth.  When we were about finished with our meal a group of about 6 or 7 kids came in, but they only depressed me more.  They looked like babies to me, but the odds are they were 18, 19 or 20.  One of them was wearing a Furby backpack.  They caused me to reflect on my past in a severely unpleasant way. 

I don’t want to depress you, and I don’t want you to think I was crying into my curly fries the whole time I was there.  It’s not like that.  Sarah and I were having a pretty good time.  We had a laugh over the food prices;

It’s weird how they end in such unround numbers.  There’s nothing for $3.99, it’s $3.41, or $10.24.  Also, I’ve never really understood why Mel’s puts those mini menus inside of their larger menus.  It makes everything more difficult to read. 

Is it stupid to say that I only just read Fast Food Nation, even though it’s been nearly a decade since it was published?  Well, I can’t help it, and I can’t help that that book put me off ground beef for about a week.  A week which I happened to be smack in the middle of when I went to Mel’s.  That’s how I ended up with the No-Name chicken sandwich

Which turned out to be a very dry chicken breast with gloopy “swiss” cheese melted on top.  It wasn’t worth the 10 whatever bucks I paid for it, but it didn’t make me puke or anything.  The curly fries were exceptional.  Very very crispy.  If I ever go to Mel’s again I’m not even going to try to have a semblance of a real meal.  It’s going to be french fries and ice cream all the way (probably in the form wet fries, which are fries with gravy, and a milkshake, probably coffee).  If I were smart or clever, I would have ordered a grilled cheese like Sarah did

It’s really really hard to fuck up a grilled cheese sandwich.

So, what it boils down to is, if you find yourself at Mel’s diner, I suggest you get fries and dessert.  Ice cream is good, pie could also be ok.  A better suggestion though; don’t go to Mel’s.

Mel’s Drive-In

1050 Van Ness Ave

Galaxcy Pizza

I used to be really scared of Galaxcy Pizza.  I have an irrational fear of a lot of pizza places I’ve never been to.  I think it stems mostly from the creeps who hang out at Napoli Pizza on Polk and the pizza places I’ve visited on Haight Street.  That old saying that pizza is like sex, even when it’s bad it’s pretty good; I’ve never believed either side of that equation.  Bad sex and bad pizza: both can be really REALLY bad.  Like scary bad.  I used to walk by Galaxcy Pizza pretty often while on my way to the (now tragically shuttered) Central YMCA.  The whole block of Golden Gate between Hyde and Leavenworth is pretty unpleasant.  One of my favorite stories that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at is when I walked past a young lady pushing a stroller and a young man asked her if she wanted to smoke out with him.  She stopped and very seriously and sternly said Hell no, she was with her baby!  There was a dramatic pause before she burst and laughing and said “I’m just kidding!  Let’s go!”  It’s sad to see all the kids on the sidewalk throwing footballs and riding scooters around old guys passed out on the ground.  So yeah, I had some negative associations with Galaxcy pizza.  Also, they have a “c” in their name, how weird is that?

One day when I was searching GrubHub for some lunch I decided to check out Galaxcy’s menu and was surprised when it had my mouth-watering and my stomach growling.  All of their special pizzas sounded really good to me, and I liked the naming conventions (they’re all named after a celestial body in our milky way galaxy), it made me think that someone pretty clever was running the joint.  I didn’t end up ordering from Galaxcy that day, but I mentioned to Steve that I was really interested in trying it.  He was down too, saying that he’d heard they had a good happy hour.  We had tickets to see David Byrne at City Arts and Lectures at the Herbst Theater, and we figured that Galaxcy Pizza would be a good pre-show dinner spot.  I met Steve there after work on Tuesday.

The happy hour deal turned out to be $5 dollar pitchers.  Not too shabby, huh?  We started off with a pitcher of Fat Tire.  Check it out, a pitcher of Fat Tire for just 5 bucks!  It’s practically too good to be true!

Oops, that’s because it is.  It’s a teeny tiny pitcher!  We had a good laugh over that, but it still turned out to be a pretty good deal, because we got 2 pints and change out of it. 

Before we go any further, I guess I should talk about my impressions of Galaxcy, especially since I’ve already spent such a long time talking about my “judge a book by its cover” impressions.  Wow.  I was pretty surprised; Galaxcy is really nice inside.  It looks modern and clean, totally not what I expected.  Their trashcan says “Mahalo” for some reason;

I thought that was pretty cute.  They have some cheesy sample home sort of decorations, but for some reason they seemed sweet instead of weird and “trying too hard.”  Also, for the vast majority of our meal we were the only people there.  There were a couple people who came in to pick up take out orders and this cracked out lady:

Who ordered a slice to go, but then I think left and didn’t come back.  So yeah, I was totally off base about this place.  I was completely charmed and we hadn’t even ordered yet.

So let’s get back to the food.  Here’s the list of specials that, as I mentioned before, are named after space stuff:

They all sounded pretty delicious to me, except the sun.  I just can’t get down with pineapple on pizza; Steve thinks I’ll learn to appreciate it when I’m older.  Anyway, the pizzas I was most interested in were the Neptune, the Uranus and the Venus.  We ended up ordering the Venus,  I think because Steve loves pesto.  We were a little surprised that they didn’t have Caesar salad on the menu;

but we shrugged it off and went with the Chicken Salad.

I was again pleasantly surprised by this salad.  All the produce was fresh and tasty and I liked that the dressing came on the side.  I really liked the chicken, but Steve didn’t, which is odd because, if you’ll recall, we had opposite reactions to the chicken at Hank’s Eats.  I found this chicken to be pretty much the same as the chicken at Hank’s with a few important distinctions: this chicken was served warm instead of bizarrely freezing cold, it was moist and flavorful instead of dry and bland, and it was edible.  It was similar in flavor to a McNugget, which is fine by me. 

The pizza arrived

and we both thought it was pretty big for a small.  The blackened bits on the crust were promising, as was the aroma wafting from the pie. 

Yum.  This is definitely one of the best pizzas I’ve had in the Tenderloin, and one of the best from a place that seems to focus mainly on delivery and take out.  The crust was really crispy, not soggy at all and not chewy either, and the pesto and cheese both tasted real.  The combination of toppings worked nearly perfectly, and it was pretty surprising that with the heavy load of veggies the crust stayed so dry.  That was impressive.  The only negative I have is that I would occasionally get a hint of a chlorine-y flavor.  It was something I’ve experienced before and I’m pretty sure the origin was the crust.  I can forgive it though because it was faint and not in every bite. 

So, who knew?  Galaxcy Pizza, despite an oddly placed extra letter and a kind of scary/dirty exterior is a pretty solid place to get a pizza pie.  And check out these delivery deals:

A two topping large pizza for $11.99?  We’re practically getting into Pizza Hut territory here.  I’m looking forward to trying more of Galaxcy’s combos in the future.

Galaxcy Pizza

288 Golden Gate

Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers

Is Pearl’s burger the best in San Francisco?  Plenty of people on yelp think so, and I believe it was recently awarded that title at the Great American Food Festival.  I wouldn’t go so far (I am a Bill’s girl through and through) but best burger in the general Tenderloin area?  That is a pretty safe bet. 

Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers is one of my go to spots on a Tuesday or Sunday night, those being the two nights I most often find myself dining alone.  I’m a big fan of the buffalo burgers there, I find the buffalo meat to be so intensely MEATY and juicy and I love the texture of a medium rare buffalo burger.  It’s kind of a bummer that Pearl’s only offers the buffalo meat option for their larger burgers (the one-third pound patties), because often that is too much food for me and after consuming one I find myself groaning that I’ll never eat again.  Still, because I love the buffalo so much and because it’s supposed to be healthier, I keep ordering the larger burgers.

Well, the visit I’m writing about today was different.  Instead of heading to Pearl’s for dinner, I was  looking for something more like an afternoon snack.  I’d been TCB all day and kind of forgot to do lunch when suddenly it’s 4pm and I was supposed to go out and paint the town in a few hours.  I was hungry, but I didn’t want to go too crazy because I knew I’d be eating dinner soon.  So I decided to keep it simple at Pearl’s and try the mini deluxe burger with cheese with a small order of fries on the side.  Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the interior of Pearl’s, I wasn’t planning on field research so I didn’t have my camera.  I can tell you that Pearl’s is really really tiny, maybe six tables in a space that would better fit four.  I’d suggest ordering take out.  The people who work at Pearl’s are so sweet, I almost always end up talking to them about something totally random while I’m waiting for my food.  This visit the cashier was nice, but we didn’t end up chatting, so I got to listen to a couple hipster dudes talk about jerking off at The Lusty Lady.  Nice!  My order came up, I put a bunch of pickle spears in one of the provided wax paper bags (unlimited free pickles, so awesome) and headed home with my loot.

I was pretty surprised by how cheaply I got out of Pearl’s, because usually my tab is more like 15 bucks, but that’s with the regular size burger and the buffalo upgrade (omigod, how bored are you yet of reading buffalo?  sorry!), and this time  I made it out of there under seven dollars, which is pretty good anywhere.  I was pumped and anxious to chow down.

Ooh baby you lookin’ good.  What a color on those fries!  When I say golden that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

I was totally taken with this mini burger.  Isn’t it adorable?  I was like “Squee!  This is the cutest burger I’ve ever seen!!!!” and then I took about a million pictures of it.  Look how tiny it is, like a gourmet McDonalds burger!

So tiny! 

There were two really amazing things about this burger, beyond how adorable it was.  1) It had amazing beefy flavor, and did that thing where you get a bite in your mouth and before any food even touches your tongue a moist, beefy aroma hits the back of the roof of your mouth.  I know it sounds gross, but it is so rare and amazing.  2) This burger was put together perfectly.  The patty fit precisely inside the bun, no overhang and everything stayed together to the last bite.  No dripping condiments, no sliding tomatoes, no onions dangling.  It was shocking to be honest.  I can’t remember the last time I ate a burger and didn’t end up with food all over myself. 

THESE FRIES ARE THE SHIT.  Can I just say that?  Totally yummy fries.  Crispy, velvety, salty…a perfect storm of carbohydrates and oil.  Way to go Pearl’s.   I’ve also had Pearl’s garlic fries in the past and those do not disappoint, though I’m not super keen on their sweet potato fries.  I want to try their onion rings again, I think they were good but it’s been a while…

If you want a hamburger in the Tenderloin, especially if you don’t want to go out but you don’t feel like cooking I recommend Pearl’s wholeheartedly.  I think you’ll like it too. 

Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers

708 Post

(I think it’s pretty cute that their website has nothing but a link to their latest reviews, which are newspaper reviews from 2004.  Also, the reviews are all for their location in Mill Valley.  But also, get a real website dudes!)

Original Perfect Hamburger

Sorry it’s been so long between posts.  I have been a busy busy bee!  And now I am so behind on restaurants!  It seems like I’ve been out millions of times since I went to farm:table.  So I guess I better hop to it, eh?

Steve and I slept in late one Sunday and I suggested we go out for some breakfast to get our strength up.  I knew Steve wanted to go to Perfect Hamburger, we’d thought about going another time but had not been brave enough.  I was still a little skeeved out by the thought of actually eating there, so I said “why don’t we walk by Dottie’s, see how the line is, and if it’s too crazy we’ll do Perfect Hamburger.”  I don’t know how I could have thought that that plan might work out in my favor.  Of course the line at Dottie’s was off the fucking hook.  I am a little concerned about having to eat at Dottie’s, anyone have any suggestions about their off time?  I will go crazy if I have to wait on that line.  So, back to the story, we made our way to Original Perfect Hamburger.

The outside was scary as ever.  They have the weird raw meat looking hamburger photos in the windows and the promise of Chinese AND American food.  I have found that to never be a good combo outside of Chinatown.  When we went inside things were a bit better.  At first…

This place is full of retro kitsch goodness.  If we were rating restaurants on decor alone, Perfect Hamburger would be my new favorite spot.  Everything in there looks to be about a million years old.   I doubt much has changed since the grand opening, save for the addition of the paper plates.  I was cheered considerably by the atmosphere, and by the menu.

Shit was cheap.  And you could get pancakes with a scoop of ice cream!  Insanity.  I decided ice cream was a little too much for my first meal of the day, but I definitely wanted pancakes.  I ordered two with scrambled eggs and sausage.  The waiter/owner asked if I wanted cheese on my eggs.  What?!?  I don’t think I’ve ever been offered gratis cheese on my scrambled eggs in a restaurant.  Of course I wanted cheese!  Steve ordered a mushroom cheeseburger and a strawberry milkshake.  I was super stoked and my feelings about this meal had shifted.  I was encouraged and optimistic.  Steve’s milkshake came;

More positivity.  It was rich and sweet but not overly syrupy sweet like a McDonald’s milkshake.  This was a bona fide ice cream milk shake.  Very creamy with bits of strawberry flesh and seeds.  I was a little weirded out that it came in one of those plastic cups with the pebbly texture, but whatever.  We watched the wife/co-owner work the griddle and soon enough Steve’s burger arrived.

It looked promising.  Lots of vibrant veggies, nicely toasted bun.  Smallish patty but it smelled good.  Then came my pancakes.

Looks pretty right?  So everything looks good, let’s get down to the nitty gritty:  how’s it taste?

Eh.  It was all right.  My pancakes weren’t too heavy and were cooked correctly, no wet spots, no spots where the batter wasn’t mixed well enough.  They were served with butter instead of margarine, which is always appreciated.  I had to ask for syrup 2 or 3 times and they seemed to have only one bottle, which seemed weird for a spot that devotes a lot of its menu to breakfast.  So the pancakes were fine, but after eating about half of my first one I found myself wishing I had ordered hashbrowns instead.  My eggs with cheese were a real bust, they were a sort of mini American cheese omelet, but the cheese was oddly watery and very cheap tasting.  The sausage was perfectly standard cheap diner sausage.  Satisfying.  Steve’s burger was pretty standard as well.  Nothing to write home about, but not a total loss either.  The worst thing about Perfect Hamburger, and why I wouldn’t want to return, is the service.  Usually I am really forgiving when it comes to service issues at restaurants; I’m not a demanding diner and I don’t want to browbeat someone because my food’s not letter perfect, but Perfect Hamburger was a little too much for me.  There was the aforementioned syrup issue, and I had the same issue trying to get milk for my coffee (which, by the way, was some of the worst coffee I’ve ever had, beaten probably only by the gas station coffee I got in Santa Cruz).  When the waitress/wife/co-owner brought me my mug she asked if I needed cream, I answered yes and she nodded and walked away.  She passed by our table a couple times, taking the orders from the table behind us, but I never got my cream.  I had to ask twice more.  I can forgive even these sorts of things, but the proprietors have to be nice, or at least benign.  The people here were pretty offputting, very gruff, obviously disinterested in their customers, upselling…when you ask for water they ask if you want bottled water, which is really strange in a place like this.  It took me a second to piece together that they are probably usually frequented by tourists from the many hotels nearby and that’s why they offer the bottled stuff, but I was taken aback.  It kind of takes away from what I’m looking for in a greasy spoon.

So, unless unstoppable forces compel me, I will not be going back to Original Perfect Hamburger.  No, the Chinese food portion of the menu does not entice me.

At least it was cheap.

Original Perfect Hamburger

601 Geary

Their Yelp Page

Irving Pizza

It was tuesday, I was attending my last pub quiz of the season at the Edinburgh Castle and I was feeling lazy so I went to Irving Pizza for dinner.  It’s two or so doors down from the bar, which is very convenient.  Also convenient, they are open til two or three in the morning every night.  So, if you’ve been out at the bars, their slices are pretty good.  Or, if you’ve been boozing it up at home, their delivery is better.  I wasn’t in the mood for pizza and I wanted to try something new so I ordered a cheeseburger.  It’s about seven bucks and it comes with fries. 

I sat at one of the tiny tables in the store and waited for my burger to come up.  Irving Pizza is not much for ambience.  If you are planning on eating in you had better be drunk and with at least two other drunk friends.  Otherwise, you will probably be weirded out by old ladies coming inside and rifling through the trash looking for cans or by random homeless people wandering around outside the door.  Or you will feel lonely sitting there by your sober self, watching Friends with the counter guy.  The guys who work there are pretty nice, they’re efficient and calm in a way that comes from dealing with crazy and/or drunk people all hours of the night. 

Sorry for the very very horrible quality of the food pictures but I took these inside the Edinburgh Castle and it is dark in there.  Anyway, here are the burger and fries, in all their glory.  I haven’t had a burger like an Irving Street Pizza burger in quite a long time.  It took me back to my elementary school cafeteria.  It was definitely a frozen patty that came out of a box with dozens of other patties just like it; perfectly round, perfectly flat.  Throughout it was that purplish-grey color you find in meat that is actually full of something other than meat and there were plenty of chewy gristly bits.  You know though, I didn’t find this burger entirely unpleasant.  I certainly wouldn’t order it again, but it was kind of a nice nostalgic experience eating it.  It didn’t taste bad, just average.  Actually, the bun was quite nice, and it was loaded with fresh veggies.  The only really bad thing was that they put pepperocinis on it, and they were just a bit too spicy. 

Oh, the fries?  I didn’t actually eat more than a couple, I was pretty stuffed after the burger, but they were unremarkable.  Creamy on the inside, greaseless, but definitely from frozen and in need of some salt.

This block of Geary is kind of gross, there’re a lot of people of the smelly variety milling about.  I wouldn’t suggest making a special trip, but there are a lot of popular bars in the area and it’s not unlikely that you’ll find yourself at one of them one night.  In that case, this is a perfectly serviceable place to grab a slice post getting your drink on.  Otherwise, if you’re dying to try them, I’d suggest getting delivery.  But steer clear of the burger, unless you’re craving a flashback to your K-6 days.

Irving Pizza

928 Geary

www.irvingpizza.com