@SFLocalGuide mention and review for @ExploreSF #LittleSaigon Food Tour http://ow.ly/UUzB7 http://ow.ly/i/eDFEq http://ow.ly/i/eDFEY http://ow.ly/i/eDFIQ

Nirvana in a Box

Nirvana in a Box.

– See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/nirvana-box#sthash.kVcjmDgG.dpuf

“One pan. 10 minutes. Countless OOHHs and AHHs,” read the message on one side of the cardboard box. “#DinnerSolved,” proclaimed its other side. The solution it contained was a platoon of individually packaged, par-cooked ingredients for sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. Resting on a bed of ice packs and swaddled by insulated foam panels, it was the meal I’d ordered from Gobble, one of the Bay Area’s burgeoning number of subscription dinner-kit services.

Before trying Gobble, I’d spoken with its founder, Ooshma Garg, who had explained her company’s MO: “We cook just enough so you feel there’s just enough cooking for you to do. You can end up with an exquisite, perfectly made meal that we’ve assured for you.” In other words, it’s the culinary equivalent of assembling an IKEA nightstand. Cooking Gobble’s enchiladas amounted to opening the plastic bags and containers holding the individual components—premade filling, Spanish rice, salsa roja, a few corn tortillas, cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro—spooning the filling into the tortillas, and sticking it all in the oven for a few minutes.

“Exquisite” isn’t the word I’d use to describe the result, which was tasty and inoffensive in the manner of above-average cafeteria food. But that was fitting, I suppose, since I didn’t feel like I’d actually done any cooking. And that, in effect, is the idea at the core of the growing dinner-kit industry, which got its start, tellingly, in Sweden with the 2007 debut of a service called Middagsfrid (which roughly translates to “the calm that you feel when you sit down and have dinner after a long day”). It began gaining traction in this country a few years ago with the launch of companies like Blue Apron and Plated, both of which posed a virtually identical value proposition: Give us your credit card information and we’ll do the grunt work.

What “cooks” get, in effect, is dinner concocted with just enough some-assembly-required exertion to yield a wee frisson of DIY satisfaction. As someone who enjoys cooking, I am inherently skeptical of these companies. But even my somewhat freakish love of grocery store aisles doesn’t fully account for my knee-jerk dubiousness. It’s also a reaction to what George Packer memorably described in the New Yorker as the mission of Silicon Valley’s hottest tech startups: “Solving all the problems of being twenty years old, with cash on hand.”

The dinner-kit companies may be peddling to time-strapped working people up and down the class ladder, but their real customer base is a cohort with a surfeit of disposable income and an undying need to streamline the crap out of modern life. So it’s no surprise, then, that Silicon Valley investors are funding subscription-dinner kit startups as fast as they can demo their product, each promising a personalized spin on the concept. There’s Gobble, which was founded in 2010 as a sort of dinner matchmaking service for chefs and customers and now delivers precooked components for what Garg calls “Michelin-level meal[s] that you could never have made yourself through your own skills.”

There’s seven-month-old Sun Basket, which employs former Slanted Door chef Justine Kelly and an in-house nutritionist to create lifestyle-specific meals (paleo, gluten-free) that emphasize organic ingredients from local farms and, in founder Adam Zbar’s words, “export California value and bounty” to users. Three-year-old PlateJoy, which has $1.7 million in funding from investors as diverse as SherpaVentures, Foundation Capital, and Jared Leto (!), is likewise focused on healthy cooking. Its founder, Christina Bognet, clarifies, “We are a technology-enabled personalized-ingredient startup that uses algorithms to make you healthy,” which translates to bags of organic ingredients delivered directly from Whole Foods, along with recipes.

Meanwhile, 10-month-old Din uses precooked dinner components, like Gobble, but differentiates itself with mostly organic and locally sourced ingredients and recipes from restaurants like Bar Tartine and Tacolicious. By doing the prep work, explains Din cofounder Emily Olson LaFave, “We’re empowering people who are scared of it not working out.” Fair enough. But there’s something a little contradictory about these elevator pitches, which ostensibly extol the virtues of a home-cooked meal while presenting cooking as a source of stress and unhappiness akin to purchasing a used car. Bognet describes planning and cooking healthy meals as “just too complicated,” while Olson LaFave recalls analyzing cooking’s “pain points” as part of her research.

Granted, cooking may be this anguishing for some people. And it’s plausible that these services have the potential to help more such kitchen apostates across the country cook dinner. Still, cutting through the varying layers of startup bombast (at one point, Garg described Gobble as “lifesaving”), I was left with the question I have about most of the apps and web-based services supposedly created to simplify our lives: How exhaustively do we need to be spoon-fed (in this case, almost literally)?

And while we’re at it, here’s a riddle: How many ziplock bags does it take to negate a company’s claim that it cares deeply about organic/local/sustainable/environmentally conscious food? At this point, complaining that tech startups are turning us into teething infants incapable of handling surprise or discomfort is about as useful as complaining about the amount of sand on a beach. Although none of the companies I spoke with would disclose their subscriber numbers, the growth of their sector speaks to the fact that a significant number of people will pay for the privilege of having someone else do their planning and precooking for them.

I do like that some of these startups appear to be serious about reducing the amount of trash that typically accompanies dinner kits: PlateJoy delivers its ingredients in a grocery bag and uses a waste-reduction algorithm to cut down on unused food; Din packages its goods in a reusable (and returnable) tote lined with disappearing dry ice; and Sun Basket employs recycled blue jeans as insulation for its boxes, which customers can likewise return. A more compelling question for me, though, is where this is going, or could go. Food, after all, is basically analog, a massive market that hasn’t yet been impacted by tech.

Garg, who believes that we’re moving inexorably toward “a delivery culture around commodities,” goes so far as to predict that “all commodity goods outlets, including takeout restaurants, Walmarts, Targets, Blockbusters, and grocery stores, will cease to exist. The only infrastructure worth existing for the consumer will be built around a unique consumer cultural experience like a movie theater or theme park or Michelin-starred restaurant.” Setting aside the fact that Blockbuster’s demise is a fait accompli, maybe that’s what bugs me: Implicit in Garg’s forecast is the belief that something like buying groceries and planning a meal isn’t a worthy experience, and that a restaurant needs a Michelin star in order to be deserving of existence.

Growing up, I got arguably more quality time with my parents from grocery shopping than from going to the movies or watching TV together; it might not have been the most entertaining endeavor, but it was ours, and it had value. I’m sure plenty of families would readily outsource their meal planning (provided they could afford to), but I’m also sure that delivery culture has about as much chance of making us happier as partially built Nornäs drawers from IKEA do. And that’s not even taking into account the convenience economy’s dark underbelly, with its army of low-paid workers who labor to make life easier for the relatively affluent.

Ultimately, I’d be less skeptical of the dinner-kit industry if #DinnerSolved meant putting healthy, easily prepared food in the hands of the less fortunate. I realize that’s not going to make anyone a billionaire, and that it’s unfair to judge these companies for what they aren’t. A lot of their food is actually pretty good. But those entrées would be easier to swallow if they didn’t often come with a side order of baloney.

Email Rebecca Flint Marx at 
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– See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/nirvana-box#sthash.kVcjmDgG.dpuf


One of the most compelling features of San Francisco neighborhoods is that they are built to a human scale. Ignoring the latest monstrosities of course, as you walk around any neighborhood in the city, you don’t feel dwarfed by the buildings you pass. You can see into the shops on the ground floor and can even see into the windows of the flats above. You feel more connected than removed from your environment. But being at human scale, sometimes you can walk past someplace for months, if not years and never even notice that it’s there. Sometimes these little holes in the wall house the neighborhood’s most precious hidden gems. When discovered, they can make you a part of the fabric of the neighborhood, and you feel somehow more connected, more special than before. This is a partial list of some of the Holes in the Wall that are better known to me, because they are pretty much all from my neighborhood, and for whatever reason I am sharing them with you. There were two or three that I selfishly kept off the list because I like them as-is and don’t want them to change. While some of these could really use some new customer traffic. I have also included some that are not in my neighborhood but are so great that I couldn’t not mention them. We will probably continue this list in the near future so if you have any well deserving holes that you would like to include, please send their info to the email address at the end of this article.

ColorBox Salon510 Church at 17th. This tiny hair salon is easy to walk past and never realize the tremendous amount activity that happens just within. The whole place (no pun intended) is just a buzz of frenetic energy of girls laughing, doing hair, chatting, doing more hair, more laughter, feeding treats to all the neighborhoods that walk past and more hair and laughter.


M and L Market- 691 14th Hands down the best Pastrami Sandwiches in the city. Where 14th meets Market (south side). Rumor has it that they might be closed for good, but I am hoping they are just on another extended vacation.

Art Shades-698 14th Across the street from M and L, this is really a hole in the wall. But the shades they produce are incredible and well worth a look or two.

DENTAL OFFICES OF STEVEN ADAME AND RAUL MONTALVO 773B 14TH STREET- The cutest and most inviting Dental Offices ever

Boynton Court- a few doors down from the dentists, according to maps, this is a street.

Voila_Capture2572Voila_Capture2573 boyntoncourt dentaloffices

Golden Natural Foods and Golden Produce- 130 & 172 Church St These are the biggest holes in the wall on the list, but considering the behemoths across the street that they have to compete with, they qualify. In these two stores, both on the same block and owned by the same family, you will find better products than at Whole Paycheck on Market, and these products are the same price or less than inferior products at the scary Safeway across Church.

Montano Shoe Repair 199 Guerrero at 14th- A hole in the wall you might never notice, but the work is superb and the prices are great


Michael Bruno- 267 Market- This store has been here forever, and has an extremely loyal clientele. Come visit this store and find out why.EXPLORE SAN FRANCISCO HIDDEN GEMS: NEIGHBORHOOD HOLES IN THE WALL

Yamo 3406 18th- 8 Stools at a counter and three Burmese ladies behind the counter cooking like nobody’s business. There is usually a line, and the stools are usually full with a line out the door. Ordering to go from the sassy ladies is a sure bet.


Dearborn Community Garden Dearborn and Bird Streets. 45 garden plots on a former Pepsi Bottling Plant parking lot. If the gate is open then visitors are welcome to come in and enjoy paradise and listen to the birds.

Holes in the Wall Outside of my Neighborhood

Cordon Bleau 1574 California Street- Vietnamese Food. A few stools at the counter and a couple tables, nothing fancy but the food is to die for

The Sword and the Rose Noe Valley-85 Carl Street Your one-stop-shop for Magic, Stones, Candles, Rune, Tarot, Incense, Readings and a delightful garden.


Aria Korean American Snack Bar 932 Polk Street. A great place for KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

And of course: The Hole in The Wall Saloon 1369 Folsom– A little gay biker bar with friendly bartenders, a diverse crowd, and rowdy music.


Explore San Francisco is a Co-Op of tour guides, and we’d love it if you booked one of our tours. We’d also love to hear about your favorite neighborhood “Holes in the Wall” info@exploresf.biz http://ExploreSanFrancisco.biz

Dan Chew on Ovation TV’s American Canvas, March 11th at 10PM

Explore SF’s Dan Chew to appear on premier of American Canvas on Ovation TV, March 11 at 10PM

Dan Chew on American Canvas

Dan Chew on American Canvas

Historic March and Festival, Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Come On Home (album)

Come On Home (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

March/Rally October 4 2014


No Monster in the Mission  :: ¡Basta Ya!
Historic March, Rally, and Festival
Get more information.






We are neighborhood residents, businesses, and community organizations from the 16th and Mission neighborhood and Mission District.

We believe in equitable development that creates healthy, vibrant, communities of opportunity. We believe this requires thoughtful, intentional, and community-based strategies to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color participate in and benefit from the decisions that shape our neighborhoods and our city’s transit-oriented development.

View a PDF of the presentation from our May 15th Community Forum at the Victoria Theater.

Learn more about the Plaza 16 Coalition and how you can join our efforts.

Read our vision statement for development in our neighborhood and our demands for development at 1979 Mission Street at the 16th and Mission BART plaza.





How Much Would It Cost You to Make Toscas $42 Roasted Half of a Chicken?

How Much Would It Cost You to Make Toscas $42 Roasted Half of a Chicken?.


Alexander Alioto Opens Italian Restaurant on Valencia St




Another Monkey Becomes Another Alioto Italian Restaurant
Michael Moran


Into the gorgeous space that used to be Another Monkey, a new restaurant has opened: Plin, from none-other than Alexander Alioto.  Alexander Alioto, who is of course the former chef and partner behind the Seven Hills on Russian Hill, home of the Raviolo Al Uovo- a  giant pasta pocket filled with spinach, ricotta and oozing egg yolk…Yum.  Seven Hills won many awards including best Italian restaurant in the Bay Area 2013, and a spot in the top 3  Italian restaurants from Zagat in 2013 and 2014.  His next move was much anticipated, as much as many wondered who would be moving into this great space on Valencia Street and 14th Street. This might just be the combination that works.Bo1lHuOCIAAvGK0.png-large


To ensure that this new endeavor is a success, (not that he needed any help) he has wisely recruited many from his famous family to do what they do best.  His mother, Joanne Alioto was the lucky person who was chosen to be in charge of the interior design, and what a space she has had to work with! His father,  Nunzio Alioto Jr, who is a Master Sommelier is responsible for the wine list, and he has teamed with yet another Master Sommelier, Chuck Furuya, to impress the hell out of their wine drinkers.IMG_2880-3425777819-O


The Alioto family is well known in San Francisco, many family members have served in public office, and are prominent lawyers and members of the business community, but the family’s claim to fame is seafood. They were Sicilian fishermen who migrated to San Francisco in the late 1800′s, and in the 1920′s after operating several seafood companies, opened Alioto’s Restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf.  So it is truly fitting that the focus of the new restaurant is Italian Seafood. Alexander himself, operated seafood restaurants in Italy years ago. l


The menu  looks well balanced with many choices for every diet. Rustic yet modern, meat eaters will find choices like Chicken Liver Lollipops,  Grilled Lamb Chop, Grilled Filet with Fried Oyster. Vegetarian choices include Eggplant Parmesan, Confit Heirloom Tomatoes and Seared Baby Lettuce. The seafood includes Raw Tuna with Mission Figs, Grilled Spanish Octopus, Monterey Bay Calamari, and Black Bass Carpaccio.  Thankfully, the Raviolo Al Uomo has found a new home here as well.




Rounding out the selection here, is the cocktail menu from Master Mixologist Daniel Federico, who was rescued from Southern California to create a list worthy of any fine craft-cocktail bar including the American Sour (rye, Carpano Antica, Cappelleti, lemon and egg white).  The dessert menu features mouthwatering indulgences like Buttermilk Panna Cotta Donuts with Cayenne Cinnamon and Vanilla Almond Cream, Tiramisu, and Berry Shortcakes.  Delish…




Can’t wait to actually eat here, it opens tonight at 200 Valencia Street, in the Mission.












Explore San Francisco Food Tours








– See more at: http://www.exploresanfrancisco.biz/blog/alexander-alioto-opening-italian-restaurant-valencia-st/#sthash.3EJjYfr4.dpuf

The Dark Art of the Painted Lady


The Dark Art of the
Painted Lady


Throughout the city, florid gingerbread houses
are taking a monochrome turn.


Cole Valley and Noe Valley

(1 of 8)

Lower Haight and Castro

(2 of 8)

Mission and Noe Valley

(3 of 8)

Noe Valley and Marina

(4 of 8)

Mission and Russian Hill

(5 of 8)

Mission and Bernal Heights

(6 of 8)

Lower Haight and Cole Valley

(7 of 8)


(8 of 8)

Mission and Bernal Heights



Douglas Burnham of the design firm Envelope A+D is locally considered the godfather of dark Victorians. These days, you’ll spot them sporadically around the Bay—in Noe Valley, Jingletown, lower Pacific Heights—imposing obsidian beauties popping against their macaron-hued neighbors. But Burnham was the among the first to overthrow the prevailing Painted Lady, having painted the exterior of client Claire Bigbie’s traditional Clipper Street home a uniform blackish blue over five years ago. The original intent wasn’t to make the facade stand out (the Victorian’s whimsical trim “looked like roasted marshmallows on a stick,” Burnham remembers), but to disguise the molding with an inky finish, highlighting the texture instead.


Mission and Russian Hill

The idea came from the dark houses of Amsterdam, which Burnham had recently visited. “It’s not some freaky, haunted house kind of thing there,” Burnham says. “It’s classic and proper, like a tuxedo.” Since then, the dark lady of Clipper Street has spawned dozens of jet-black imitators, not only Victorians, but also storefronts, museums, restaurants, and condos. Within the local design community, there’s ongoing debate as to which monochrome hue will emerge as the new black—forest green, dark teal, and midnight blue are top bets. “I always envied Claire’s black gingerbread house, but now that it’s turning more mainstream, I’m thinking we’ll paint ours monochrome fuchsia,” says interior designer Alison Damonte. “Don’t tell my neighbors.” After all, the Gothic look “is like any great song,” says Burnham. “You hear it too much, you get sick of it.”

vic4Noe Valley and Marina


Emphasizing texture 

Why go to the dark side?

Lowering costs 
“It used to be that people were using 7 to 12 paint colors to make their houses look like wedding cakes,” says professional painter Jill French, cofounder of Heather and French painting. At $65 to $105 a gallon for high-end exterior paint, that gets pricey. “Now, we’re seeing more home owners sticking with one or two colors.”

Standing out 
“In a row of pastels, a dark house pops,” says architect Owen Kennerly of Kennerly Architecture & Planning. The trend coincides with a wave of younger Victorian buyers, says interior designer Melissa Guerrero. “They want to do something a little shocking.”

Camouflaging fussy trim 
“My house is kind of a shack Victorian,” jokes Damonte of her periwinkle—“not by choice!”—Bernal Heights home. “If we paint it black, everything we don’t like will go away.” Going monochrome allows unloved details to blend in.

Letting the light work for you 
On north-facing homes, “warm and pastel colors can look feckless” without sunlight to animate them, says Kennerly. A darker color—particularly one with some blue in it—will look rich even without direct light.

Minimizing spring cleaning 
In the city, grime builds up on the edges of Victorian trim. “When the rain comes, it oozes down the house in sheets of gray and catches in the caulking joints,” says Kennerly. That film is more obvious against pastel paint.

Mission and Noe Valley

Emphasizing texture 
“Going monochrome lets the three-dimensional quality of the Victorian ornamentation speak for itself,” says architect Casper Mork-Ulnes of Mork Ulnes architects. The trim comes together as a cohesive tapestry rather than candy-colored fragments.

Playing down size 
Bigger homes can seem less monolithic by going dark, says Guerrero. (Conversely, bright paint colors can make small homes appear larger.) Window glass looks dark from the outside, so a dark paint color unifies the volume of a house by downplaying contrast with the window openings.

Projecting style 
“Monochrome black paint has a certain elegance and sophistication, like an Armani suit,” says Kennerly. Many owners also see it as an expression of their own modernist sensibilities. “It’s kind of like pets—people want their house to reflect who they are,” says Burnham. “And in San Francisco, a lot of people wear all black.”





Lower Haight and Castro

House Swap: Five steps to transition from safe to striking.

1. Do your homework 
Burnham bought a can of black paint and a can of the darkest blue available, then mixed five versions in a spectrum. He and Bigbie had a custom formula made from the winning sample. Mork-Ulnes photoshopped a picture of his house with a series of gray-blue hues to choose the right one.

2. Invest in prep 
Proper priming and sanding are key. “Dark paint colors show a lot of flaws and make the wood more susceptible to blistering,” says French. Use elastomeric caulk and epoxy filler, especially on south-facing exposures, to protect the wood from expanding and contracting when it heats up.


Cole Valley and Noe Valley

3. Consider the pigment
Pick a paint with a high pigment ratio, which indicates a greater volume of solids. Benjamin Moore’s aura exterior paints are a designer-recommended choice for quality and longevity. The more sheen, the better—it gives the home better UV protection than a matte color. Stay away from hues on the yellow end of the spectrum, which are prone to fading.


4. Seal the color 
Top the paint with at least two finish coats to protect the color and the underlying wood.

5. Delay the fade 
A lighter color lasts 30 percent longer than a darker color—even more in sunny neighborhoods. (“We should start a colony of tiny black matchbox houses in the foggy Outer Richmond,” jokes Burnham.) Benjamin Moore recommends retouching paint on a southern exposure every three to five years—Bigbie repainted the south side of her clipper street residence after four. Annual power-washing can stretch the time between repaintings.

Lower Haight and Cole Valley

How much would it cost to repaint one of Alamo Square’s famed Painted Ladies dark? 
$15,000 to $25,000, says Philip Storey of RedHill Painting, which specializes in restoring historic Victorians. “That quote will depend on the condition of the home and its orientation to the sun,” he says. Some budget-minded clients opt to paint only the front facade, rather than the entire house. On a Painted Lady, that would run around $8,000 to $12,000.



The Dark Art of the Painted Lady.




1906 San Francisco is Smoldering

Originally posted on Burrito Justice:

via British Pathé:

I created a few panoramas out of the pans in the film.

One of the three fire engines destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.

1906 SF pathe fire engine

@shamponian and the NYPL Labs pointed out this photo — is it the same one?

1906 sf fire engine crushed

180 degree slow pan which I stitched into a panorama. Residential area, street on a slope, with a cross street that looks more commercial. Where is this? Fillmore? Divisadero? The 1905 Sanborns will help. Haven’t found anything that’s a good fit yet though.

1906 SF quake Pathe intersection

Bingo! Matt comes through with Golden Gate and Steiner!

The homes you see at the start of the pan:

2012 golden gate and steiner homes

Note the three collapsed eaves of the streetcar barn d0wn Steiner.

1906 Golden Gate and Steiner

Google Maporama:

2012 golden gate and steiner

Another pan. Definitely a business district.

1906 SF quake Pathe intersection zoom

A 360 degree pan. South of Market?

1906 SF pathe pan downtown

View original


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This Sunday, come Explore San Francisco and create some wonderful Mother’s Day memories to last a long time.

Take Mom out for a food tour and a cruise on the Bay for only $64!
Choose any of these food tours:

  • North Beach at Night
  • Mission Vegetarian
  • Little Saigon
  • Mission District South (24th Street)
  • The Real Chinatown

Paired with a Bay Cruise on San Francisco Bay!

To make reservations or for more information, please call:415.504.3636 x 102 or email: reservations@exploresf.bizLimited number of spots available
Golden Gate Bay CruiseOperated by:

Red and White Fleet

Give her the fun day she deserves
While making memories to last a lifetime

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Prague flower shop

Prague flower shop (Photo credit: jafsegal)

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