Cheap Eats

Sink and swim

Getting good with yourself -- and diving into My Father's Kitchen


CHEAP EATS At first we called her Papa, and then Center. Not only was she the central figure of a particular circle of friends, she was also the center on our football team. Then she and our quarterback split up, which happens — only afterwards it was too hard for poor Center to have her ex's hands all up in her stuff, saying "down" and "set" and so forth (I am speaking metaphorically) so she quit the team, and since then I don't see her as much.

Which sucks, cause I really, really like her.Read more »

Punting for Peru

Faraway loves, a Cajun squeezebox, and huevos rancheros at Olivia's

CHEAP EATS First time she touched a football it was a wonky, bouncing punt, and she plucked it up and ran it back 180 yards to the five-yard line. I say 180 yards because there was a lot of zigging and zagging involved. Coach's grillfriend Zeezee is a professional surfer, and ever since that punt return (October), I have had newfound respect for the athleticism of professional surfers. Not to mention which, a bouncing punt is the hardest kind of football to pick up cleanly.

So . . . nice hands!Read more »

Bowled over

Move over New Orleans -- Front Porch has the best shrimp and grits


CHEAP EATS It started when our friend Stringbean texted that their mom and pop were going to New Orleans, where should they tell them to eat? Hedgehog was preparing a long, thorough, annotated email response while I texted back one word: Bacchanal. And then we both looked at each other and started to cry.Read more »

Ride 'em

Real cowboys, tons of bees, and Thai House 530

CHEAP EATS "It's amazing how Ohio still exists," said Shawn Shine out of the blue. I think it was in Salt Lake City that an old woman, on her birthday, referred to him and my brother Phenomenon as "a couple of real cowboys" — and this made their day.Read more »


Passing on the joys of life -- including Poc-Chuc


CHEAP EATS Hoolibloo lives next door, where Elsa the Very Very Old Peruvian Woman used to live. I changed light bulbs for Elsa in the '90s, and reset her clock every time the time changed or the power went out. Or a battery died.Read more »

Quarterback sack

The huge plates at Celia's in San Rafael require a robust offense


CHEAP EATS Mz. Grizz is tall and beautiful with a gleam in her eyes that says both I have something funny to add and, if you put a football in her hands, I will knock you over like a freight train hitting bowling pins.

If we played tackle instead of flag football, she would lead the league in yardage and touchdowns, and probably a lot of people would quit. As it is, her area of dominance is the defensive line. And the bowling pins are the opposing team's O line.Read more »

Going down

Pozole meets clay pot


CHEAP EATS As we were walking to the car we decided: it was not only the best pozole, it was the best thing either of us had ever ate. I should have gone back and told her so, but when we'd left Sal the Pork Chop's penthouse sweet it was almost midnight and she was in her pajamas. She'd already fallen asleep in the middle of the season premier of "Downton Abbey," and we'd had to clear our throats and knock on her head after, just to say goodbye. It was a knockout pozole, really and truly.Read more »

Street music

Sounds of silence -- and local rock


CHEAP EATS It's like a rubber band. It breaks.


by Hedgehog

Happy Current Year from the not-too-distant past! We celebrated New Years Eve at the Manse de la Cooter with good luck sausages, kale, and (for some of us) perhaps a little too much vino.

Oddly, it wasn't Chicken Farmer who over-indulged, though I expected her to drown her sorrows in the grape since earlier that day her knee doctor broke the news. Or rather, he tore the news: ACL. Read more »


Surfing the Tartine line, digging into Downton Abbey


CHEAP EATS Anna Yamo has been trying to catch me for it seems like a year now. When she calls it says Restricted Number and that's how I know it is her, but I am always in New Orleans or Seattle or the bathroom.

"Restricted Number," it said.

I was sitting on my couch. San Francisco!

"Hello?" I said. This time.

"Danielle!" she said, with her characteristically loaded laugh, which tells me I'm a hard person to catch hold of. And in her characteristic accent, which is, of course, Thai: "When we have lunch?"Read more »

Seasonal drift

"Meteorillogically, I had never seen anything like it."


CHEAP EATS In weather, it was daytime and I had to go to work wearing a scarf. And gloves. On the bridge, traffic was red so I was running late, and I had to pick up dog medicine for the family dog along the way, El Cerrito.

I didn't know why the traffic was so bad. Time of day, it didn't make sense. But when I came out from under the upper deck into Oakland daylight, there was weather. And so maybe that was it. Traffic and weather together, as they say on the radio.

But this is the paper.Read more »