October 23, 2002




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Without Reservations
By Paul Reidinger

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By Dan Leone

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The sun king

IT WAS SUNNY up in chicken country, and it was sunny all the way down to the city. It was sunny over the downtown skyline. It was sunny over Pac Bell Park, where the Giants were losing the one and only one they'd lose to the Cards. It was sunny over Mission High School's practice football field, off which me and my un-American football friends were getting kicked by authority-figurative athletic directors or head groundskeepers, or whoever that big meanie was. (It kills me how, on a perfectly beautiful day, people think that a friendly little four-on-four coed soccer game is going to hurt a field full of holes, dead pigeons, and miscellaneous litter.)

But the point is, it was hot and sunny and, unresolved tie scores notwithstanding, I was good and sweaty and just about ready for a bacon cheeseburger anyway. Seemed like the perfect time for Sea Breeze Cafe. I don't remember where I got the idea for this place, but somehow it stuck with me: outer Sunset, Judah and forty-something. Good burgers. Outside sidewalk tables ... which seemed like just the thing for an unshowered soccer hobo ... I'm trying to tell you it was sunny everywhere that day: it was sunny in the Castro, sunny up Twin Peaks and down Cole Valley, sunny on the high school football game-in-progress at Kezar, and sunny in the Sunset until about 40th Avenue.

Sea Breeze Cafe is on Judah at 45th, in the exact same place where A Place on Judah used to be. In other words: in the fog. Count on it, no matter what the rest of the world looks like. Sea Gale Cafe. Actually, I was happy to sit inside, because it turns out they have a TV and, as I may have mentioned, the Giants were on. The other people eating there may not have been happy to have me inside, but, hey, they were gone before long, anyway. Whereas I nursed my stinky way through a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and root beer. And was neither disappointed nor hurried along by my waitressperson, who, like the cook and everyone else, was keeping one eye on the game (and both nostrils closed).

Says at the top of the menu: "Where good food and life is not rushed!"

Says at the bottom: "American style comfort food with international influences." Which is true, 'cause I noticed you can get Swiss cheese too, if you want, on your cheeseburger.

I went with American, to go with baseball. It was a good big burger, cooked not quite as rare as I'd wanted it, but with real-style green lettuce and real red tomatoes and everything else, fries included, for $4.95 before you add bucks apiece for bacon and cheese.

Nice place, and cheap, so long as you go for lunch or brunch, when everything's well under 10 bucks. Dinnertime they wheel out the international influences (paella, cioppino, etc.); then the cheapest entrée, seared ahi tuna, is $10. But why am I talking about food instead of politics? ... Elections looming ...

Hey, listen, I'm just a simple chicken farmer. I don't have any idea what's going on in the world, let alone San Francisco. I try to keep track of my yard is about all I can handle – where all the eggs are and whatnot.

But I still do my sports-playin', music-playing, and eating out down there, and by next year this time Crawdad'll be all graduated from grad school, so for all anyone knows we'll be back on Dog Shit Park or some-other-suchwhere. Which isn't credentiation enough for voting this year, unfortunately, so do us (and yourself and your city) a favor and go to the polls Nov. 5. Especially if you weren't already going to. Go for me, and do what I would do: Don't even think about it; just take a copy of the Bay Guardian and vote exactly how they tell you to vote. I'm serious, because this paper, with one exception (me!), knows what it's talking about. You don't have to worry, so don't. The Giants need your juju right now.

I'm serious. I'm not a Bay Guardian employee. I'm just a simpleminded freelancer and a simple chicken farmer, but every now and again I find the time to kick back on a hay bale with a Bay Guardian and a toothpick, and I have to tell you, I always agree with what this paper says, always. It's always against the big man and for the little man. PG&E really does suck ass, and so (I know from personal experience) do landlords. True, the Bay Guardian doesn't give dick about sports. But they know their politics and – unless you're a landlord or PG&E or some other force of evil – they're on your side. Do what they say. I'm serious.

Sea Breeze Cafe. 3940 Judah (at 45th Ave.), S.F. (415) 242-6022. Tues.-Fri., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Takeout available. Beer and wine. MasterCard, Visa. Wheelchair accessible.

Dan Leone is the author of Eat This, San Francisco (Sasquatch Books), a collection of Cheap Eats restaurant reviews, and The Meaning of Lunch (Mammoth Books).