Hugo’s Guide to San Francisco. Part I: Eating

1 05 2009

The first in what we hope is a series.

Hugo, though susceptible to the occasional bout of pickiness, is a good eater and loves all types of food. He loves eating out too, and one of the best things about living in San Francisco is the dining options (why else do we pay so much to live here?). So, dear reader, if you live in the City and want to know what Hugo likes, or if you’re the occasional visitor and want to know what a 20-month-old boy with most of his teeth and weakness for cute waitresses prefers in a restaurant, read on…


For a sit-down place in Outer Noe, you can’t do better than Toast (Church & Day Street). We come here a lot. Sometimes Sacha and Hugo come here for a little mama-son bonding, sometimes he and I come when mama’s out of town and papa’s too lazy to make dinner. The Toast Combo is a huge breakfast and Hugo will happily liberate the sausage, pancakes, and scrambled eggs from your plate. His favorite here, however, is the fruit plate.Hugo knows how to order this, and, last time we were here, he started demanding (loudly) for “fwoot” “fwoot!”. He wasn’t trying to be rude, I think he was just happy that he knew how to ask for something (and be understood!). Hugo loves the comely young waitresses here, and they love him. Everybody’s really nice and it’s definitely kid-friendly, befitting a breakfast spot in Noe and only a block away from the Noe Rec Center. Kid-friendly is not how we would describe Pomelo, on the next block. We used to go there before Hugo came along, but this place’s refusal to get high chairs and the general sniffy attitude of some of the guys there means we haven’t been in years.

Our favorite coffee shop is Luv A Java (Dolores at 26th Street). The owners, Abraham and Ruthie, are friends of ours and they have a daughter, Alia, who is just a few months younger than Hugo. Abraham has already vowed that Hugo and Alia will wed one day. They have a great collection of books and mini Ritter Sport chocolates. Unlike the recently-closed Last Laugh Coffee, unfortunately, there is no kids area or crap for Hugo play with. Plus, a lot of people like to bring their laptops here and “work” (look at Facebook, perhaps peck at their never-to-be-published-for-a-good-reason novels, etc.) and give Hugo the occasional stink-eye.

Hugo and I are vey partial to the blueberry and pecan scones at Noe Valley Bakery (24th Street, between Noe and Castro). We take our scone to the benches next door and scarf it down, saving a few crumbs for the little black birds that gather at the foot of Hugo’s stroller, which he delightedly peppers with his leftovers.

Hugo and I have also breakfasted at Al’s Good Food Cafe (Mission at 29th Street). I’m hesitant to recommend it to everyone, however. It’s the greasiest of greasy spoons and Sacha thinks it’s kind of icky. Call it a guilty pleasure. They have a whole lot of crap on the walls andthe coffee is terrible, but the pancakes are fluffy and the prices are low.

For Dim Sum, Hugo prefers the offerings at Tong Palace (Clement at 10th Avenue)  in the Richmond. He likes noodles and siu mai, but he really loves sticky rice and can finish a satchel all on his own. They have great weekday specials ($.99 for any item). Highly recommended.

Up next, lunch and fast food…