The incredibly everywhere Marcia Gagliardi, a.k.a. the Tablehopper (www.tablehopper.com ), has somehow canvassed, in-depth, every eatery, drinkery, and food-cartery in our fair city — while still maintaining her voracious appetite, sassy aplomb, and appealing figure. Her new book, The Tablehopper's Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco (Ten Speed Press) is one of those must-have recommendation books that truly opens your eyes and mouth to culinary nooks and crannies. Divided into a multitude of sections like "Shituations" (places for dumping someone), "Morning After Breakfasts," "Picky Eaters," "Dude Food," and "Ethnic Group Dinners," it's a fantastic thing to have on hand for every occasion, real or imagined. Marcia took a minute to answer some of our more "Guardian" questions about Bay dining and drinking. (Marke B.)
SFBG I'm pansexual and bursting with spring fever. What bars or restaurants can I go to where the boys and girls and everything-in-between are hot and open to everything?
MARCIA GAGLIARDI I've always thought the Lush Lounge (1221 Polk, SF. 415-771-2022, www.lushloungesf.com ) has a good mixed vibe, and it seems Blackbird (2124 Market, SF. 415-503-0630, www.blackbirdbar.com ) draws a mixed crowd as well. Orbit Room (1900 Market, SF. 415-252-9525) too. Or just go to Beretta (1199 Valencia, SF. 415- 695-1199, www.berettasf.com ) late at night, sprinkle some Ecstasy on everyone's crispy thin-crust pizza, and see what happens.
SFBG I have $5 for dinner. Where should I go?
MG I'd go to Balompie Café (3349 18th St., SF. 415-648-9199) or El Zocalo (3230 Mission, SF. 415-282-2572) and get a couple of extremely filling pupusas, which come with chips and salsa. Yep, you can get some hot pupusa action for less than $5. Hott!
SFBG Oh dear, I've doublebooked on date night. But then I get to thinking — why not take 'em both on at once? They might get into each other as well, and three's certainly company! What's a good place to have them both meet me and, once the initial confusion subsides, gently introduce the idea of a potentially delicious ménage à trois?
MG Well, hello, Ms. Popular. This is the kind of night that calls for some sexy atmosphere, and whaddya know, booze. The cozy downstairs booths at Oola (860 Folsom, SF. 415-995-2061, www.oola-sf.com ) might fit the bill, and you can take turns licking the sauce from the yummy, sticky, baby back ribs off each other's fingers.
SFBG My parents are on their way to take me out to dinner, but I just got really stoned. Where will my goofy demeanor blend right in?
MG Florio (1915 Fillmore, SF. 415-775-4300, www.floriosf.com ) would work because its dandy-yet-friendly atmosphere is parental-unit approved, the lights are dim, the hearty food will jive with your munchies, and there's usually enough going on in there that your parents won't be watching your every move. There's also a little alley around the corner where you can spark up if you need another puff before dessert.
SFBG Best place to announce my impending gender reassignment surgery to someone close to me who may be surprised?
MG Absinthe (398 Hayes, SF. 415-551-1590, www.absinthe.com ). You can request a quieter table so not everyone hears your answers to all of your friend's burning questions, and the spirited cocktails — a coquettishly tangy Ginger Rogers or bourbon-spiked Scarlett O'Hara, perhaps? — will help them digest the good news.
SFBG Someone took me out on a date to a really expensive restaurant and insisted on paying. Now it's my turn to take them out, but I'm like, down to my last $20. Where can I take them so they feel I've treated them to something classier than my budget suggests?
MG Ah yes, the old smoke and mirrors. I'd go to Great Eastern in Chinatown (649 Jackson, SF. 415-986-2500), which has some bountiful deals on set menus, and the room is spiffy. Or you could take them to dim sum at one of my favorite places, S&T Hong Kong Seafood (2578 Noriega, SF. 415-665-8338) in the Outer Susnset, and you will feast fo' cheap.
SFBG What wine bars have the best pours? I mean top-of-the-glass for $6. I'm a-thirsty, girl!
MG Well, the folks working the bar at Castro's 2223 (2223 Market, SF. 415-431-0692, www.2223restaurant.com ) know their clientele well and do pretty big pours. Same with Laszlo (2526 Mission, SF. 415-401-0810, www.laszlobar.com ). I also noted a fuller glass the last time I was at the Hidden Vine (620 Post, SF. 415-674-3567, www.thehiddenvine.com ). And based on the number of loaded folks at the Wine Jar (1870 Fillmore, SF. 415-931-2924, www.winejar-sf.com ), I'd say the generous pours are to blame.
SFBG What would you say are the most "interesting" things you've ever eaten in the city?
MG Some of the dishes at Spices! (294 Eighth Ave., SF. 415-752-8884) have definitely pushed the envelope for me. (Stinky tofu, intestine stew — and I don't care to have either dish ever again). The tendon pho at Pho Tan Hoa (431 Jones, SF. 415-673-3163) definitely rates on the funky meter — and I'm talking big hunks of tendon.