Sailing the seven(ish) seas -- and returning to Urbun Burger



CHEAP EATS Dear Earl Butter,

Thank you for putting real flowers and tiny plastic battery-operated candles in your closet for me. I slept like an angel that snores like a truck driver. Speaking of which, thank you for the chili and cornbread too. It made my homecoming that much sweeter and spicier, in addition to giving me gas. Which I am happy to have, and allowed to have, praise God, now that I'm back in a Free Country.

Plus the Maze of course, being beautiful, was waiting for me at the airport with a huge colorfully hand-painted sign that read, "Welcome home, Dani. We love you." Signed: "The Bay Area."

He admits having had help with the wording from at least one person, and with the painting from a couple more, so maybe there is some truth to this. If so, the feeling is very very mutual.

I will never leave the Bay Area ever again, not even to go camping. Just think, while my ex and my ex's ex-ex are holed up together in their dark, cold, provincial town in southern Germany, clinging to each other's small corner of obscurity, writing and editing their mediocre novel that is set in San Francisco, I get to live here. And love and be loved, and play and work and eat here.

I can't speak for working, exactly, but it's the greatest playing and eating place in the world that I know of. Here.

There, do you know what they eat, Earl? Well, the ex's ex-ex doesn't cook, and my ex's specialty is ramen noodles. That's what they call cooking. When they go out, it's for sushi. Really really bad landlocked German sushi. Imagine!

Meanwhile, I have been shucking fresh-picked oysters and scallops on the west coast of France, inventing home-raised cherry chicken-heart stew, eating up Paris and Rome, hobnobbing with extraterrestrials, crunching into crack conch in the Caribbean, and passing the guitar with a couple Haitian boys outside their single-family chicken-coop shack.

And now ... now I get to go get a burrito. Whenever. The fuck. I want. Because that's what San Francisco is. It's "what kind of beans," the best of all-things-edible, and raw onions and garlic no matter who you might breathe on afterward. No problem. We live here.

Anyway, I do. You do. And I do again. I can't think of a more appropriate way to celebrate my 20-year anniversary of moving to San Francisco than moving back to San Francisco.

St. Patrick's Day 1990 was the day. I still remember my amazement, the air and the sky. Thank you for getting me back in, Earl — albeit on the ground floor, literally, with an option on your upstairs apartment's closet. But I breathe better in closets than I did in small-town Germany, and I see more sky in one heartbeat here, through my dirty, barred sidewalk window, than I saw all this winter there. The Winter of My Discombobulation.

And now, if you will excuse me, m'dear, I have to go recombobulate.

Peace and pickles,

Your L.E.

Dear Lady of SF,

That is great. We went to Urbun Burger because the Mission has a lot of places to eat. You wanted to walk around because you have returned. I know the area and fear I will never be able to leave, except, perhaps for my parents' funerals. We went to the Community Thrift where 15 or so years ago, you found that really neat 49ers glass, and that made me jealous because I never, ever found a glass I really liked. Years later, when I read in your column that it had broken, I was happy. Karma, sigh, is on me.

But Urbun Burger. Lotta money, lotta meat. These burgers are 1/2 pounders. It was not $10 for my California Sensation burger, it was $9.50, and naturally I did not pay. There are a couple of burgers over $10, but they come with good fries. Super selection of condiments and a real nice, lively atmosphere. I enjoyed the colors in there. So did you.

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