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April 2, 2012

NJC Business Review: Room Service Will Deliver (almost) Anything To Your Door!

IMG_6056.JPGI never thought the phrase "from your mouth to God's ears" was serious, until I found out about the new business at 10th and Irving, Room Service. You see, I was out one day and thought to myself "why is it we, as a dense, urban city do not have more businesses that deliver like, say, in New York City or Elsewhere?" and literally the next day I saw the signs go up for Room Service. The business, owned by Daniel Flores and Ilario Peppe, grew out of the same question one night when some friends wanted something that was Not Pizza and Not Chinese Food.

Daniel had some experience delivering food as the owner of Los Yaquis in the Mission, and he and his business partner did some research, and found that there were no other businesses doing delivery of things like beer, food, and whatnot, particularly late at night on the weekends. Once the market at 10th and Irving was up for sale, they decided to make a go of it and give San Francisco the local delivery service that it needed.

Right now the business is still testing out various models to see what works in a 7 x7 city like ours. Currently the delivery minimum is $30, and there's a Scoutmob offer that gives you 50% off your order (minus alcohol and energy drinks), and they have a wide variety of food to choose from.

My favorite was the wonderful selection of Columbus brand meats and cheeses, as well as the sandwiches from Los Yaquis. Best of all there are an array of products one might want to order in odd situations: you've returned home late from a long distance trip and your kitchen has only the elements of food, or perhaps you're feeling ill and just want someone to deliver some chicken soup and fruit juice while you get over that nasty flu.

Those with memories that extend past 2006 may recall Kozmo.com, which was a wonderful idea, but blew up during Dot Bomb 1.0. Room Service has a chance to suceed as it's starting out slow and is working to find what things people really want and what they do not. In the near future they will be offering Illy coffee, and they also plan on opening up a wine cellar and offering custom gift baskets for delivery as well.

Overall you can't go wrong. Their prices don't seem to be too much different than anyone else's, and the fact they will deliver ANYWHERE says a lot. This is the kind of business we want to encourage, because the idea of more delivery businesses means more people can live without a car. Check them out sometime when you and your friends want something but perhaps don't feel like hopping on a Muni to get something late at night!

Room Service
900 Irving Street, SF, CA
1 block from the 9th and Irving N-Judah stop
415 566 7666

June 3, 2011

Friday Fun: New Store on Iriving, Chloe's Closet, has a Grand Opening Party June 4th!

Although there's a lot of unseasonable rain forecast for this weekend, that doesn't mean you have to stay at home watching reruns on Me TV all weekend. For example, Chloe's Closet, a new children's consignment store on Irving Street, is slated to have a formal grand opening tomorrow, June 4th!

Opening in the vacant storefront where the old photography place existed for years, Chloe's is new to Irving Street, but not to discerning families in need of kid clothing, and other assorted items. Their first location in Bernal Heights has been a success for years, winning the "Best of the Bay" award from the Bay Guardian in 2005-2008 and in 2010.

If you stop by tomorrow, not only can you check out the wonderful renovation they did to this space, you can also participate in some fun activities from 11am-4pm. There's a balloon artist making things for the kids, and they've also got a "Spin A Discount" fortune wheel where you can win anywhere from 10%-20% off your total purchases for the day, or you can win a chance to draw a prize ticket, which might be for a 30% discount, or other exciting prizes.

Best of all you'll be welcoming another locally owned, sustainable business providing goods and services the neighborhood can use, now and in the future. The N literally stops in front of this place (located at 661 Irving) , and it's within a block or so of other lines, including hte 6 ,43, 44, and 71.

At a time when economic times are bad, here and elsewhere, it's more important than ever to support locally-owned businesses, especially on the westside. When you spend your money at a place like this, more money stays here in San Francisco and gets reinvested via taxes and other intangible benefits (like having a useful store instead of some bland chain bar or something). Plus if you have kids, or are planning to, these kinds of stores are not just stores, they become a true community resource. So stop by tomorrow and say hi!

December 14, 2010

The 2010 N Judah Chronicles Shopping Guide (Good All Year Round, Too)

There's still time to buy things for Christmas and all the assorted winter holidays, and if you're like me, you put this off as much as you can because holiday shopping is never much fun. Fortunately, you can ride the N Judah and get an assortment of Really Cool Unique Things, and you don't have to go look for parking all day either.

First off, any guide would not be complete without a list of places to buy your Muni related gifts. The Market Street Railway Museum and Gift Shop can be found both online, and on Steuart Street downtown. Their calendar is a great gift for railfans or for friends from out of town, and features great photography. Another fun gift can be found amongst the touristy things at the Cable Car Museum - vintage San Francisco street signs which not only look cool, but can be used as weapons should you be attacked by anyone on the way home.

Obviously, you can always find NJC-related items at our Zazzle store. Today (December 14th) there's a 15% off code (enter code JINGLESALE75 at checkout) for everything in the store, and free shipping on orders of $50 or more. If you're shipping to anywhere in the Bay Area, you don't need to order special shipping, as Zazzle is located in Redwood City, so most itmes get shipped fairly quickly.

When you pull into the Irving and 9th intersection, you're within walking distance to a number of cool gift and card shops. Whenever I need unique cards, wrapping paper, or other fun, unique gifts, I head to Wishbone (on Irving and 7th) and Tutti Frutti (on Irving between 8th and 9th). Both offer distinctly different items, and I find they compliment each other nicely.

Right in between these two stores is one of my favorite comic book stores, Amazing Fantasy. They lean more towards the super-hero type comics, but they do have a small assortment of titles from Fantagraphics titles as well. They are always friendly and will help you find the perfect present for you amongst their assortment of comics and toys.

Also nearby on 7th is One Shot Tattoo. Now, this may sound like an odd present, but if you know someone who wants to get a tattoo, this is the place you want to send them to. I know many people who've had a tattoo made here and their work is excellent and the people who work there are super-friendly.

Going west on Irving, if you find yourself in need of a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price for a party, I recommend checking out 828 Irving Market. It's not only a good neighborhood market, their selection of wine isn't bad. And, right across the street is Pearl, which opened up earlier this year, offering an array of impressive photography and jewelry, all locally made and of good quality.

Keep going west another block, and you will find one of the Inner Sunset's semi-hidden treasures, Sakura. Basically it's a Japanese dollar store with everything from Japanese snacks and food, to household items, to just about anything they can fit in this space! The selection is constantly updated, and if they don't have something you need, they can usually try and find it for you. It's always fun to stop in at any time, but for discounted presents, it's hard to beat 'em.

If you walk up 9th, you'll find Urban Bazaar, which opened up earlier this year. They offer a variety of locally made and "fair trade" gifts, and some of the things they sell there are really nice. I like buying things like this for friends from out of town, because I know it will be something they can't necessarily find in their home town. Plus the store itself is quite pleasant and has a really nice back yard.

Finally, up at 9th and Judah, there is a fun little bookstore, the Great Overland Book Company. Now it has the usual assortment of used and new books a store like this will have, but the real find here are vintage newspapers from the 20th Century. Reading through a stash of these (all preserved in plastic) is like reading the blogs of the 1920s or something.

But wait, there's more! Click and find more bargains!

Continue reading "The 2010 N Judah Chronicles Shopping Guide (Good All Year Round, Too)" »

July 9, 2010

Fun Friday (Finally!): Fun Muni Apps, Fun Bicycles, Fun Links and a High Five!

IMG_1004.JPGIt's been a heck of a week, what with Fourth of July festivities, World Cup matches, a protest in the Inner Funset, trial verdicts and so on. If ever there was a need for a Fun Friday, this is it.

So, without further ado, here's all sorts of random fun in no particular order.

-Jay, who runs the family owned Sunset Barber on 9th Avenue was off most of the week - because he and his wife just had their first baby boy, Issa (named after Jay's dad)! Congratualtions to Jay and his family! If you're going by the Sunset Barber, be sure to congratulate him when you get your next haircut.

-A bit belated but still good news: The Inner Fog Wine Bar (pictured, via iPhone) on Irving and 7th (same building as One Shot Tattoo) opened on June 2nd. My friend Elaine and I crashed the party after spying Sup. Ross Mirkarimi as we left Pacific Catch last week. It's definitely a fun spot - it's hard to believe Crossroads (which moved down the block) used to have its dressing rooms there.

Now it's a warm, inviting place to hang out with friends over a fine wine. Elaine wrote about our adventures there last week.

-A new Muni App was annoucned today in the Apple Store: Muniverse. This was co-authored by our own Loyal Reader Jamison, and from what I've seen so far, it's yet another unique use of the freely available NextMuni data. This is critical - with open data, many people are able to come up with new and unusual ways to provide said data giving you, the Muni owner, many options. I will be reviewing this app as well as Transporter (which I've been using, along with Routesy).

Special note to Android users: I would love to review any Next Muni Android apps, but I do not have an Android phone, so if you find on and would like to show it to me and help me write a review, feel free to email me.

Finally, Streetsblog posted links to this video of a rather unique take on mobile street food, beer, and bikes. I swear, if you had a bunch of these available to ride during Critical Mass, they'd make a lot of friends REALLY fast.


Have a great weekend!

December 19, 2009

The N Judah Chronicles Very Last Minute Shopping Guide!

Many people wait until the last minute to go shopping for Christmas. I know I do - usually because I find the best bargains and get people more gift for the money than I would had I done it all months in advance. Plus these days there are shopping bargains galore. Plus, there's no shame in giving someone a super awesome card with the message their present is on the way - hey if they complain, then they get a lump of coal next year (and no carbon offsets, either).

Because I'm still sending out Christmas cards and so on, I'm going to cheat, ever so slightly and post this link to my guide from last year as a starter. 99% of this is still all true, anyway, and they're all easy to get to, be it on the N or the 71 or whatever.

Also, of course you can always buy some NJC-related presents here, be it a mug, a Failwhale mousepad, or whatever. Already I've noticed quite a few "N is Near" related products out the door, and they make for a nice unique gift. Don't forget the Market Street Railway, which offers some truly unique gifts as well. "Mason Powell" also just got some kick-ass vintage SF street signs at the Cable Car Museum too.

I also wanted to link to some cool Etsy.com shops. Three of them, Foxy Monster (Goth and Kawaii related jewelry and more) Wonderland Dreams (Alice in Wonderland themed jewlery just in time for the new movie), and Superfly Delicious are all run by my friend Z, who was one of the people who encouraged me to start this blog in the first place, years ago.

Another is a site run by Reader Geoff, who not only reads the N Judah Chronicles, he lives just about a block or so away from me. He's got this great Etsy store and he'll be donating proceeds to efforts to repeal Prop. 8, too.

Finally, I'll leave you all with this link I found. Now, I'm not suggesting "buy local" for some sort of "let's all be holier than thou" nonsense. Instead, I suggest it simply as a practical matter to turn things around a little. Sure, we all shop at chains from time to time for a good discount, or for something not easily found locally and that's fine. But if you have the choice, take a look at this graph, which demonstrates what happens to your money when you buy local first.

I think it's worth paying a few extra dollars if that means we keep people in our city employed or in business, and see that money stick around here longer, than if we give every single spending dollar of ours to Wal Mart. Chains do offer some wonderful things (think prescriptions filled 24 hours, etc.) and again, that's fine. However, you can also spend a little more locally, and know your money will not just pay for your items, but also help out in other ways too! Who wants to hate on that?

December 4, 2009

The Inner Sunset Gets A Little Play in the Chronicle via Kronos Quartet...

The ever alert Eve of SF Appeal passed on this link that appeared at SFGate today, a brief interview with the David Harrington, founder of the world famous Kronos Quartet, extolling the virtues of the Inner Sunset, which is home to the group. (Hey! That's cool!).

While I still consider Amoeba to be in the Haight, overall there's some nice picks in here. You may not be aware of this, but the Kronos Quartet actually wrote a song about our Mighty N, entitled Judah to the Ocean.

I think it's great to live in a neighborhood home to so many different kinds of people and businesses. Craigslist, Kronos Quartet, the Blackthorn, and so many more. Why live anywhere else?

August 26, 2009

A Guide to All the Outside Lands Guides Online!

olart.jpgQuite a lot is happening this weekend. Not only is the weather expected to be hot and sunny, it's my birthday on Saturday (yay!) and we on the west side have the (in)famous Outside Lands Festival all weekend, starting Friday.

Last year I composed a quick guide to attractions around the festival, and posted and tweeted many MUNI fails that weekend as well. It seems the organizers have learned from last year, and have tried to mitigate the effect of millions of Tenacious D fans on the Park and our neighborhoods this year.

This year there are so many guides to the festival, it makes it even easier to do a round up of all the places you can get some really good information and plan your weekend accordingly. I'm not attending myself, unless of course I win tickets or something, but I will most likely either camp out on the deck on our roof and watch the masses flood MUNI with a cooler of cheap TJ's beer, or sell treats to drunken festival-goers at street-fair inflated prices for a few bucks.

So here are your guides for the weekend (click through for the list):

Continue reading "A Guide to All the Outside Lands Guides Online!" »

July 15, 2009

Guest Blogger Wednesday: Outerlands


I went down to 45th and Judah over the July 4th weekend to check out a new restaurant that has been receiving a lot of buzz in places like the Chronicle and even the New York Times. The restaurant, the five month old Outerlands, not only lived up to the hype, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole little hippie business district out there that I had never really appreciated before. I picked up some organic flowers at Other Avenues, the co-op between 44th and 45th, and I am contemplating a return trip out there to try out yet another raw food restaurant. I am not always so up on raw food, but I was a fan of some Café Gratitude specialties (if not the weird cult-like atmosphere).

I read that Outerlands was originally conceived as a soup restaurant, so I ordered a cup of carrot soup, and I also tried a salad with apples, pine nuts and cultured raw sauerkraut (whatever that is). The soup, which came with dill and garlic toast, was phenomenal, and the salad was out of this world. Everything was just unbelievably simple and delicious. The restaurant has great décor, too, with simple wooden tables and quirky wall art made up of what looks like pieces of driftwood. It all felt very calm and soothing, even as I was trying to contend with a wriggly ten month old who desperately wanted to get her hands on everything (in the end, I just fed her some carrot soup, which she loved).

I left Outerlands of two minds. I was glad to have a reason to set out for the far reaches of the Judah line. But I also found myself really wishing we had such a simple, hearty option in the Inner Sunset. Hey, that makes me think—now that the Café Gratitude space is empty, maybe Outerlands can move inbound?

Debra Solomon lives in the Inner Sunset with her husband and baby girl.

May 20, 2009

N Judah Business Review: Sakura Store on Irving Street!

IMG_0507.JPGIt's been a while since I've done one of these local business reviews, despite the fact I have a stack of business cards with notes on a number of great locally owned businesses I keep meaning to write. So I'm kicking things off with a review of Irving Street's newest locally owned busines - the Sakura Store af 936 Irving Street between 10th and 11th.

Sakura has been open for just over 2 weeks, opening on May 1st. Owner Michi Hojo found out about the space via a Craigslist ad (another local buisiness! yay Craig!) in January and said that upon viewing it, and the neighborhood, she felt an "immediate attachment" to both and began plans to open up her store. Since then she's really enjoyed meeting people in the neighborhood as they check out what Sakura has to offer.

Sakura offers a wide array of products, mostly from Japan, ranging from instant noodle bowls and Japanese snacks, to household wares, and various other useful supplies. It is simliar in some ways to theDaiso store in Daly City, or Ichiban Kan in Japantown, but on a smaller scale.

And, in these economically crummy times, Sakura offers a big advantage over its larger cousins far away, in that its prices are very low. Right now I'm trying to restock a household after years of living in furnished places, and I've found some great bargains on household items there. They even sell my favorite brand of cheese puffs so now I don't have to hike all the way to Japantown (or even past 19th avenue) should I decide I need a bag.

However, what really makes Sakura such a fun place to shop is the contagious optimsim of Ms. Hojo, who's opened her first store. Her enthusiasm makes you want to return again and again. In times like these when it seems like most news (esp. from City Hall) is so depressing, it's nice to see someone willing to put in the time to do something productive, and turn a vacant storefront into something we can all enjoy. That's the biggest benefit of small business, and why you should stop by sometime when you're walking around Irving Street!

April 2, 2009

Guest Blogger: It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

Recession fever is doing strange things to San Franciscans. Aside from real concerns about layoffs and the murderous drubbing our 401K's have taken, I've noticed a tendency among the citizenry to look for doomsday scenarios to manifest in our streets. As if we, as sophisticated and diverse urban dwellers in one of the world's most idyllic and expensive cities, are somehow less legitimate if our Main Streets aren't all shuttered storefronts. This is not to say neighborhood businesses aren't vulnerable in an economic downturn, and that some of ours haven't or might not survive this one. But take a closer look around the city, and you'll find the resilient health and vibrancy that comes with well-used public space, diversity of uses and populations, and thriving neighborhood commercial.

Continue reading "Guest Blogger: It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!" »

December 13, 2008

Weekend Fun Already In Progress!

It's that time of year when it seems like there's a holiday party every night, and so on. Here are a few things to remember this weekend you might enjoy:

-Today, actually right now, is the infamous Santarchy thing, which has now spread to multiple locations in town and in the Bay Area. Basically it's a huge mob of folks dressed up as Santa, and causing all kinds of non-threatening mayhem and merriment around town. If you're out shopping today, you'll likely see 'em out and about.

-Tomorrow is the "Yes We Can" house's "Holiday Underground Bazaar." I've already posted something about this before and it's well worth checking out. Conveniently located on Irving at 6th, you can buy locally made crafts for your holiday gift list.

-And, for those of you who don't have a MUNI monthly pass - don't forget that on Sundays from now until the end of the holiday season, you get an all-day MUNI transfer for just $1.50. This is part of the ShopSF promotion going on that offers locals in the greater Bay Area discounts at stores, hotels and so on.

If I see any Santas, I'll post them to Flickr for ya!

November 30, 2008

The NJC Holiday Shopping Guide! UPDATED!

In the frenzy that is holiday shopping, we often don't realize how many wonderful things are available to us right in our own neighborhood as we set out to Buy Stuff, usually locked in a pattern based on years of experience. So this year, I thought I'd create an N Judah Holiday Shopping Guide for you to consider as you decide what to get everyone on your list. Just about all of them are locally owned and offer you, the consumer, a good value for the money.

It is by no means an all-inclusive list - mostly made up of places I tend to end up at during the holiday season, so if a store you like isn't mentioned it isn't meant as a slight - post something in the comments about places you enjoy as well!

Also, note that from December 7th through February 1st, you can get an all-day pass on MUNI on Sundays. For $1.50 you get a transfer that's good all day (until 6pm.) That's a great deal!

But first, the self-promotion of our two T shirts - the famous "N is Near" and our new "80th Anniversary" shirt which we offer for sale via Zazzle.com. The quality of these (and our items at sister site Adama For President are of dependable quality. I've bought a few for myself and so long as you hang them out to dry, they do not fade or "chap" like other shirts did in the past.

Likewise, if you have a local history or transit fan among your friends and family The Market Street Railway's online store (and their store/museum on Steuart Street downtown) offer some really fun items. My favorite is their calendar, which features some really nice photography.

Also, I wanted to give a special shout-out to my friend Z who has a new online blog+store at FoxyMonster. She was one of the people who encouraged me to start this site, and her jewelry and other items (offered through Etsy.com and Zazzle.com) are unique. If you have a friend who likes unique products, or likes zombies, go check it out!

Now let's start, first in the Irving/9th shopping zone. If you are looking for holiday cards that will stand out amongst the many your friends and relatives will be getting this year, I recommend Wishbone on Irving and 6th Avenue as well as Tutti Frutti just a few blocks away. Whenever I need to get a birthday card, it usually ends up coming from one of these places. Wishbone also had this really cool MUNI themed kids wear a while back.

Right in the same block of shops is another favorite of mine - the Amazing Fantasy comic book shop located next door to the Rain Tree Cafe on 8th. It is one of my favorites in town, the other being of course Comix Experience on Divisadero (which is a short walk via Duboce Park from the N). AF tends to lean more towards mainstream comics (superheroes, Star Wars, etc.) while Comix Epxierence has more alternative/independent titles, in addition to a good mix of Marvel/DC comics as well.

Continue reading "The NJC Holiday Shopping Guide! UPDATED!" »

August 21, 2008

MUNI Survival Guide For the Outside Lands Music Festival and the LaPlaya Block Party

Update: I just took a look at the NextMuni/GoogleMaps mashup, and it seems like there's a ton of N's in and outbound...good luck and get home safe everyone!

For those of you headed to the Outside Lands Music Festival this Friday-Sunday, and for those headed to the LaPlaya Block Party on Saturday, heads up: we may be looking at an epic MUNI failwhale festival, as we've previously discussed. However, the N Judah Chronicles does not exist simply to complain, but to try and assist our fellow citizens as they try and enjoy a nice weekend. Thus, I've come up with a list of things you might wanna do to try and avoid too much mayhem as you head to the various festivals this weekend. UPDATE: MUNI has also posted some guides, including "preferred" places to board the N, 71, et al.

1. Don't drive to the festival! - This may seem a bit counter-intuitive given that MUNI may be on the verge of collapse, but trust me - parking really sucks near Speedway Meadow anyway, but with zillions of music fans all trying to drive there, it will only get worse. And you can bet that DPT will be out there in an "Apocalypse Now" kind of deployment to write tickets (insert "Flight of the Valkyries" music here).

Continue reading "MUNI Survival Guide For the Outside Lands Music Festival and the LaPlaya Block Party" »

August 11, 2008

N-Judah Business Review: Cheese Boutique at 12th and Irving!

It's been a while since I've done a review of local businesses on the Mighty N line, and I've got a stack of business cards and notes for all the great places I've been meaning to write about but haven't had a chance to (day job and all that). Today I want to talk to you about Cheese Boutique, located at 1291 12th Avenue, at the corner of Irving and 12th, just one block from the 12th Avenue N Judah Stop.

It's a small store, located in the same block as some of my other favorite places, such as San Tung Chinese Restaurant, the Pho noodle place, and so on. There's so many great businesses here you might miss Cheese Boutique during your daily routine - as I have done so until several months ago. Believe me when I say I'm glad I broke the pattern and walked in.

Owned by Rick and Nada Malouf, Cheese Boutique does indeed have a wide variety of gourmet cheeses, as you might guess. However, what you might not know is that they offer one of the best tasting, bargain priced sandwiches you can find in the Inner Susnet.

For less than $5 you can get a salami sandwich on a fresh, locally baked baguette with everything on it, and it's really good. 90% of sandwiches made in delis suck, so when I find one that's good and low cost, I take note. I've often picked one up on the way to Pub Trivia at the Blackthorn on Mondays. (And yes, they have other choices as well, all high quality meats, cheses, etc).

However, one of the biggest secrets of Cheese Boutique is the fact that their prices for things like salami, cheese, etc. are some of the lowest you'll find. For example, I like Molinari Salami, so much that I won't buy anything else. At Andronico's or Lunardi's it's 12-13 bucks a pound (!) while at CB, it's only 8.99, freshly sliced.

Needless to say, that's a heck of a deal, and one of many reasons I'll go back. Plus, you're supporting a local business which isn't just good for feeling good, it's good for the local economy too.

Cheese Boutique is an example of one of the many local businesses we can have a "blind spot" to as we go to familiar places over and over again, not realizing that sometimes there are other great things hiding in plain sight.

I plan on sitting down one day and blasting out a stack of pending reviews of other local businesses that are worth a second look. If you have any suggestions or finds of your own, feel free to email me and let me know!

Cheese Boutique
1298 12th avenue
San Francisco, CA 94122
415 566 3155
One block from the 12th Avenue N Judah Stop
One block from the 11th Avenue 71 Haight Noriega Stop

July 14, 2008

Breaking News: The Westside, and the Blackthorn are OFFICIALLY the Smartest Bar in the Bay Area!

By now, most people have picked up on the fact that the Blackthorn Tavern is not only the Official Headqarters of the N Judah Chronicles, and the Adama for President Committee, but also one of the best places to hang out in the Inner Sunset.

Tonight, I learned another factoid though - the Blackthorn is home to the TWO teams that kicked major backside in Brainstormer's Bay Area Trivia Championship! Even better, they had to decide the winners with a tie breaker!

And, to cement the Blackthorn, the Inner Sunset, and our Trivia Heroes as mega-doses of awesome, the winning team offered to buy every team tonight a pitcher as a gesture of goodwill.

This was just so much awesome, I had to blog it! Next time some arrogant hipster doofus tells YOU the Inner Sunset ain't cool, you just remind him the smartest folks in the Yay Area are HERE. In the Inner Sunset.

AT THE BLACKTHORN!

:-)

March 21, 2008

This Just Sucks: Black Oak Books on Irving St. is CLOSED...

f08150.jpg There's no other way to say this - the unexpected news that Black Oak Books on Irving Street has suddenly closed just sucks. I got done with work early so I decided to take a long walk outside and make a few Irving and 9th stops before hiking up to Golden Gate Heights Park. Whilst talking to Alexis at Amazing Fantasy Comics, he told me that in fact, Black Oak Books at closed. I walked a few doors down and in fact, there was the notice on butcher paper.

What suprised me was that I was in there just two weeks ago (and in fact took this picture of some great old OZ books they had there, and was planning on coming back to buy one of those old RESearch books) and there was no indication things were not going so great for this store.

I'd been going in there every so often for years, as I found it was a great place to get Christmas gifts for folks, especially if they were interested in topics one does not always find at Barnes and Noble.

I don't know the specifics of why they had to close, but if I find out I'll post an update. For now, I'm going to finish this post, and go offline for a while and enjoy the rest of the afternoon, such as it is. But I really hope this isn't the first of a wave of local biz closings. That would really suck.

March 1, 2008

N Judah Business Review: Sunset Shoe Repair on Irving Street!

So there I was on Friday, heading out for a 5:30 cocktail party at Alfred's Steakhouse downtown, a gathering of all sorts of local folks, internet rockstars Melissa and Beth and tv talk show host Art Bruzzone among others. But as I was getting ready to leave I noticed that my leather shoes had this weird white powdery stain on them. WTF? My normally fine looking dress shoes were looking hobo-esque. Now what?

As I was walking down Irving to catch the N downtown, I remembered that Sunset Shoe Repair was right there on Irving, so I walked over there hoping they were still open. It was 4:58pm and they close at 5pm on Friday. Not wanting to be a jerk customer I asked if it was ok to get a quick shoeshine, and the guy said yes. He not only polished my shoes and made them look new, he also explained to me what the stains were - salt stains. Because I'd worn them a lot during our rainy period and let them dry in the closet, salt residue built up on the outside.

This was awesome. Not only was I able to go to the event without hobo shoes, I learned something new about shoe care as well. How cool is that?

This morning as I recovered from last night's rock star partying, I was talking to someone in the neighborhood and they too had an awesome "save the day" story about Sunset Shoe Repair. Heck, as I googled around for some info, I found this this story about how great the service is here.

This is the kind of local business you really want to promote - it's a great business providing great service. Plus, it's giving folks out here something they actually need instead of Yet Another Nail Salon or Yet Another Cutesy Annoying Expensive Clothing Store, or Yet Another Lame Restaurant.

So the next time you need a shoe shine or a shoe repair you know where to go!

621 Irving Street
(between 7th Ave & 8th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94122

PS: The awesome service here was a nice antidote to a rather typical Friday on the N going downtown. We stalled several times at the tunnel at Duboce, and then crawled at a snail's pace through once we actually got IN the tunnel. It was so slow, I decided to get out at Powell and walk to Kearny and Merchant instead of getting off at Montgomery like I'd planned.

But I eventually got there and talked to all sorts of good folks, including Luke and Elaine of Fog City Journal, Ben over at SF Weekly's blog and many more. It was fun, and on the way home later that night I capped things off with a quick drink at the Blackthorn. What a Friday.

January 3, 2008

So There I Was, Dying From The Flu...And...A Breakfast Recommendation on the N Line....Darla's!

Oh, Loyal Readers....I had hoped long ago to regale you with tales of the Double Decker Bus, tales of Holiday MUNI, and more...and instead I got a freakin' flu (and you have to realize I NEVER get sick, EVER) that kicked my ass something fierce for the duration.

It sucked, and for the first time since I was a kid, my holidays sucked royally. There's no good way to describe it. Anyway, things should be back to normally forthwith, but in the meantime, I wanted to post a short recommendation for breakfast on the N.

Darla's on Irving Street is rightfully known for their awesome burgers and fries, which many folks enjoy while playing Brainstormer Trivia at the Awesome Blackthorn, but many may not realize their breakfast menu is also really good.

In particular, Darla's manages to make a breakfast sandwich that defies physics and restaurant nonsense and is one of the best things I've ever had. Now, you'd think eggs, cheese and sausage on an English muffin would be easy to do, but you'd be wrong. Just try the over-cooked abominations at Starbucks on Irving, which I'd reluctantly put up with, and you'll see what I mean.

Darla, however, manages to make something that's fresh, just enough food without being too much, and tastes amazing. And it's accompanied with some bottomless (well sort of bottomless) coffee and the good will of a locally owned biz.

It was also my last day out before I had the horrid flu hit, so it provided me with a nice memory as I puked my guts out a few days later, unrelated to said awesome sandwich. The flu sucks, the holidays sucked, but Darla's was a beacon of hope in a sea of bullcrap.

Lighter lit because...Darla's rocks!

November 27, 2007

N Judah Business Review - Sunset Super!

One of the main reasons I continue to hold out for a new apartment somewhere within striking distance of our Mighty N (despite the amazing amount of pain and suffering such a decision has inflicted on me) is because there are so many interesting local businesses that offer bargain hunters like me incredible deals, as well as saving me a trip to other parts of Our Fair City. Sunset Super is one of those places.

I don't know that I've ever been in this store when it wasn't busy, and Saturdays are obviously incredibly busy, but frankly that has never bothered me since no matter what, I'm always able to get in, buy what it is I need, and get out in a reasonable amount of time.

More important than the speed of service is the fact that if you are looking for any sort of Chinese or other Asian ingredients, this is the place to go. I bought a container of the good green curry that the folks at Whole Paycheck charge a fortune for, at a significant discount. Sunset Super also has an amazing array of frozen food that you can't find in most stores, and their selection of candy and snack foods from all around Asia is one of the best I've seen.

Now, a word on the meat market - some of my colleagues, upon entering said store immediately make all sorts of assumptions, none of them good, about the quality of the meat here, but they are incorrect! Not only do they have just about any part of the pig or chicken you might need, but they also have an incredible array of seafood. Now, sure, some of it, in fact much of it is alive when you buy it, and that may not be everyone's cup of tea, so to speak, but to me that just makes coming to Sunset Super that much more fun.

True, it was a bit wince-inducing when a woman and her young daughter were in the market, obviously for the first time, and the kid exclaimed "Look mommy! Pet Froggies for sale!" as she pointed to a vat of live frogs. But to me that just made the visit that much more interesting.

Other notables include an incredible selection of sake, soju, and some types of imported Chinese liquor that I have never heard of that looks rather fierce. Their sake deals are amazing - the same dry sake you'd pay a fortune for at Safeway for some little bottle comes in a 1.5 liter bottle for like, 7 bucks. Talk about a bargain! They also have the city's biggest selection of canned luncheon meats as well so if you find yourself jonesing for some SPAM but just can't bring yourself to picking one up at Safeway, try "GreatWall" luncheon meat instead and impress all your pals!

All in all, one of my all time favorite places to find bargains on Irving Street. Check it out sometime and you'll most likely end up buying something good at a great price!

Sunset Super
2425 Irving Street
(415) 566-6504
Next Door to the Awesome Tel-Aviv Kosher Deli, which we'll review soon!

October 15, 2007

N Judah Business Review: Sunset Barber on 9th Avenue!

Once upon a time, getting a haircut was a simple affair for a guy. Go to the barber, sit in the chair, get a haircut, maybe a shave with a straight razor, and enjoy a moment's respite from daily life.

Then the 60s happened and suddenly, finding a sanctuary where one could get a haircut got more and more difficult. Suddenly, "barber shops" were no longer in vogue, and instead we had endless variants of "hair salons," excellent at serving the needs of those who require highlights and endless expensive whatnots, but the rest of us just wanted a good haircut.

Fortunately for those of us in the Inner Sunset, Sunset Barber has been with us for 40 years, and continues to provide patrons a quality haircut in a modern, barbershop setting at a reasonable price.

The father-son duo of Issa and Jay recently remodeled their longtime location on 9th Avenue (between Irving and Judah), taking a classic barber shop and updating it for the 21st Century, while retaining all of the charm and neighborly feel that longtime patrons have come to know and appreciate. "Most of our business is repeat customers because they know we're going to treat them right," said Jay, as he masterfully cut what's left of my hair the other day. "If we get someone in here once, they're going to come back." Besides, how many "hair salons" will give you a shave with a real razor, anyway?

Having been a longtime customer, I can attest to Issa and Jay's mad haircutting skillz, and the friendly atmosphere that permeates the premises. More importantly, when I go to the Sunset Barber, I'm not just going to get a haircut, I'm going to help continue a successful family owned business that's been around for four decades thanks to their hard work. Spending my money at a locally owned place like this isn't a holier-than-thou political sentiment - it makes good sense because I get great service at a great price - and I have the added benefit of keeping my money here in town, instead of sending it off to the home office for that chain store around the corner.

With the recent improvements to the shop and young Jay's enthusiasm for his work, I have no doubt Sunset Barber will continue to prosper and provide us with Yet Another Reason why we like living out here, and why the N-Judah continues to be a great way to find the best of Local San Francisco.

Sunset Barber Shop
1374 9th Avenue (between Judah and Irving)
1/2 a block from either the 9th/Irving or the 9th/Judah stops!

September 13, 2007

The Birds of Java Beach Cafe, at the End of the N Judah Line


Lately I've been trying out a new exercise plan which basically consists of leaving an Undisclosed Location near UCSF, and walking all the way to the beach every morning. Since I don't have a dog anymore, I don't have that little reminder to get outside and do a dedicated walk in addition to all the other walking I do every day (dogs have a way of making their point that is rather unique if you DON'T walk them).

More often than not, I end up getting a small coffee at Java Beach, conveniently located at the end of the N Judah line. It's a fun place I have grown to look forward to as I come to the end of my walk, and it usually has a line out the door because it's so popular with the locals. If I have time, I like to sit down and read something before hopping on the train home.

Also, various species of bird have discovered the cafe as a great place to get something for free. One day I spotted these industrious little birds using the rails as a bird bar. Today, however, I not only spotted some rather odd looking little birds, but had one sit down at my table, eye my protein bar, and regale me with his take on the day's events.

A nice way to start the day, for sure!

April 6, 2007

Don't Forget! Starting Tomorrow, NO N-Judah Service To Caltrain & The Ballpark!

UPDATE JUNE 29th: N-Judah service HAS BEEN RESTORED TO THE BALLPARK! If you found this page on Google, please disregard it and read this update instead!

Hey Giants Fans! Don't forget - if you're going to the game tomorrow, the N Judah will no longer take you to PacBell/AT&T/SBC park!

Our friends at MUNI have posted this easy to read and understand page chock full of information, for your review! (

Well, let me amend that last statement. Yes, there is lots of information there, but it's arranged in such an incoherent manner, it might prove a bit confusing. Esp. the downloadable map - which is completely wrong!

You'd think in a city that's at the center of all sorts of internet innovation, MUNI might have a website that's at least somewhat easy to use.

February 25, 2007

N Judah Business Review: Burgermeister - Giving You At Least One Reason Monday Doesn't Suck

UPDATE: I noticed that although this particular bargain is no more, Burgermeister has a new series of specials for each day of the week. Go to their site and check it out!

Few businesses have the opportunity to make money and invent a new way to cure a bad case of the Mondays, but one does here in San Francisco, and it just happens to be on the Mighty N Judah line. Of course, I'm talking about Burgermeister, located (among other places) on the N Judah at Carl and Cole, with another branch of this fine institution at Church and Duboce, a stone's throw away from another N Judah Stop (and yes, the infamous J-Church chugs along on occasion by there too).

Most people know Burgermeister for their incredible burgers, made from the always wonderful Niman Ranch beef. For Philadelphians, I would also encourage you to try their cheesesteak sandwich - I don't know that anyone on the West Coast can match a true Philly cheesesteak, but of all the places I've been from Seattle to SF to LA, Burgermeister seems to come the closest.

Continue reading "N Judah Business Review: Burgermeister - Giving You At Least One Reason Monday Doesn't Suck" »

August 20, 2006

Local Business Roundup on the N-Judah Line - First in an Occasional Series

One of the things I like about living in San Francisco is the number of good small businesses that operate in town, and so many of them are easily accessible by the Mighty N-Judah line. Don't get me wrong - I shop at the Safeway as much as the next person, thanks to the bargains on pricier items offered by their Club Card, but sometimes it's nice to to hike all the way from the Sunset to the Safeway for a handful of items.

Up until recently, if you wanted to shop at any sort of an organic or non-mainstream market in this area, your options were rather limited. Either you had to go to the nice (but pricey) Andronico's on Irving and Funston, or you had to go all the way out to the end of the N Judah line at Ocean Beachfor anything not pesticided to death. Now, I'm no purist when it comes to organic foods and all, but not everyone shares my view, and not everyone has time to go all the way to Ocean Beach during a busy workweek.

Now a new store has opened this summer, Essential Foods, at Irving and 4th Avenue, right on the N-Judah line. It's funny how I missed this place since the storefront has been vacant for years, but one day when I was walking instead of riding the train, I saw it and walked in.

Not only were their prices better than Andronico's, they had more than just "organic" food - they also had a decent selection of imported foods and noodles and whatnots. Best of all was the friendly, non-haughty atmosphere of the place, which is the result of the personable and friendly attitude of the owners.

In an era when sometimes in SF I feel like an "alternative" store should be asking me "would you like a dose of 'tude with your order" Essential Foods had none of that. They're just nice people who want to run a nice store that serves the neighborhood well. Best of all, it is one of the few stores open until 10pm - a nice change from the "roll up the sidewalks at 9pm" vibe many stores have.

Continue reading "Local Business Roundup on the N-Judah Line - First in an Occasional Series" »

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