NFT San Francisco Sunset


This gridded neighborhood -- "The Avenues" -- houses much of San Francisco's middle class (and shrouds them in fog during the summer). Many of the family homes were built after World War II by Henry Doelger, who favored uniformity. Some residents have even been known to try their keys on the wrong house.

Irving Street past 19th Avenue is the main drag where you'll find an eclectic mix of Asian restaurants, Irish pubs, and coffee shops. For some above-average fare, head to Marnee Thai. Wet your whistle at Durty Nelly's and Chug Pub.


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Posted By:  Alex Orzulak
Photo:  Alex Orzulak

Animal Connection
We all remember the small town pet store, the one with friendly bird and reptile experts who will keep your parrot or bearded dragon healthy and thriving for decades. San Francisco's last independent resource for reptiles and birds has complete pet supplies for those boring dogs and cats, and stocks all sizes of frozen or live reptile food. You can walk out with anything from a cute fuzzy thing, to things that eat cute fuzzy things. For 10 years, my ball python has been kept healthy and happy thanks to Kelly, Joe, and all the others. The place is clean and humane, and the upstairs reptile display is swell. Don't knock on the glass or you'll have to hand feed that huge frog with an "active feeding response."

Posted By:  David MacFadden
Photo:  David MacFadden

Jazz Quarter
Knowing which Duke Ellington song you’re looking for is only going to get you so far at Jazz Quarter. Entering the shop is like wading into the annals of jazz history—sometimes alphabetized, sometimes cross-referenced, but likely stacked, shuffled, and previously rummaged through. Nevertheless, jazz cats will find some long-sought after gems in this tiny shop in the “cloverleaf” area around 19th Avenue and Lincoln. This writer came away with some Freddie Hubbard, Coleman Hawkins, Joe Zawinul’s (RIP) pre-Weather Report Zawinul, and the previously alluded to “East St. Louis Toddloo [SIC]” by Duke Ellington and his Entire Orchestra, among others. The shop is run by an older gentleman that chain-smokes and plays CDs while you browse; stoic at first, he warms up once you chime in, and is happy to talk about jazz and San Francisco history. These record shops are few and far between, and as even Amoeba is feeling the crunch of the internet’s effects, it’s worth sticking your head into Jazz Quarter to see how record buying used to be done. (Hours are “approximately” Tuesday through Saturday between 1 PM and 6 PM.)

Posted By:  David MacFadden
Photo:  David MacFadden

Quickly dubs itself a “New Generation Asian Fusion Style Chain Cafe.” Sounds exciting, but all that’s been fused is tea with bubbles and finger foods with deep-fryer. Neither is a remarkably new concept, and Quickly does little to push either cause forward. What they do offer is a huge number of teas—the menu looks like it came from a diner—but the drinks are prepared at such a quick pace that one suspects they are not made to order. The fried baby octopus was the standout of my visit: Fried baby octopus should probably replace French fries on certain occasions. The nadir of my visit came in the form of four tea-flavored eggs, one of which I ate. It was just too funky. Considering the number of independent bubble tea joints in the Sunset, there is no point in spending your money at a chain.

Posted By:  Ryn
Photo:  Ryn

Shangri-La because my tastebuds are intact, as in the shredded salad mix at Cafe Gratitude, despite whatever name it may go under, is bland. Shangri-La because the tables are covered with Bay Area veg organization information, not the teachings of Sri Chimnoy. Shangri-La because my Canadian source allegedly witnessed the waitress at Lucky Creation squeezing the juice out of chicken flesh into a boiling vat. Shangri-La because unlike Herbivore, it has a spice cabinet and dishes I couldn't prepare better in my kitchen. Shangri-La proves that vegan cooking can be both healthy and a delicacy. Their Sweet and Sour Ribeye garnished with bok choi is one of their classics, with a chewable texture and a tangy sauce. The Shanghai Wonton Soup has a splash of citrus and thick noodles. The Crispy Tofu is a plate of soy spiced tofu triangles, tomatoes, and celery. The menu contains over 100 dishes. Tea is free and refilled often. Traditional dining setting conducive for relaxation and conversation. Even honest fortune cookies.

Posted By:  David MacFadden
Photo:  David MacFadden

The menu of this generically named Café Bakery boasts that their “house famous specialty” is the “B.B. Q Pork Bun.” And if that isn’t enough to get you in the door, let me point out the light price tag: a buck and a dime. These roasted pork buns (cha siu baau in Cantonese) are not the steamed variety favored at dim-sum restaurants, but the baked version found—where else—in bakeries. What really puts these guys above the multitude of buns that I’ve gorged on is the generous meat to bun ratio. Many cha siu baau suffer from being too doughy, which makes the hunt for pork like the hard-fought quest for the pearl at the center of an oyster. But the cha siu baau at Café Bakery is loaded with the good stuff: chunks of pork, saucy but not drowning. The egg-wash that glazes the bun is stickier and sweeter than usual, which is a fine compliment to the ‘cue. The great thing about Chinese bakeries is that they provide a steal for penny-pinchers, and a feast for the prodigal. So try anything that looks delicious or downright weird. You won’t be out more than $1.10.

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