Cheap Eats

Worth it

Grilled shrimp Popsicles at Pot de Pho on Geary

CHEAP EATS He signs his e-mails Romeo. I sign mine Juliet. It's cute, but you try not to think about how that one ends.

You know ... well, you probably don't know, so I'll tell ya: if you're a trans woman dating men, you can spend years and years and years trying to find one who doesn't either cream his pants or throw up as soon as you take your clothes off. And then, by some miracle of shifting continents and a spectacularly rare alignment of stars, planets, and good hair days, you do! You find, in fact, the one. Read more »

A story goes with it

Looming question marks -- and Looney's Southern BBQ

CHEAP EATS There's something reassuring about this, that, blink, 15 years later there's still a line outside Kate's Kitchen on Sunday morning. And they still haven't figured out how to make home fries taste like anything. And their homemade sausage patties are still only slightly more flavorful than hockey pucks — but not nearly as succulent. And I will still wait in line for half an hour to eat there.

The good news is I won't have to do so again until 2024, at my current rate of amnesia.

There's more good news. Read more »

By degrees

Lugging it out to Spud Point Crab Company

CHEAP EATS It's summer, smack dab, so I don't mind taking you to Bodega Bay with me. And Henry. He's my seven-year-old, Top Bunk, literally and figuratively. I have two four-year-olds, two twos, and a one. Henry, he's my uncharted territory. My antennae, my tugboat, my scout.

If I say "I love you," he says, "I like you." Sometimes he doesn't say anything at all. But he runs to me fastest and hugs the hardest. Little sweetie! Read more »

The loneliest number

Mediocre matzo balls at New York by the Bay

It does strike me as odd that New York's best deli is in San Rafael. But I am willing to believe anything, at least for a minute and a half. To date, this capacity has served me pretty well.

I don't know about New York by the Bay. Their logo is a white on black drawing of the Statue of Liberty holding a tray of bagels in her other arm, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Read more »


More on the fingerlickin' Brick Pig's House in Oakland

CHEAP EATS To a lover, love is bigger than anything, including reality, including practicality, reason, distance, sense, and in many cases, cornbread. So when a lover speaks to a lover of "the reality of," you know, "the situation" ... you might understand or even agree, but afterward you will need to put a sweater on.

Reality checks, like hip checks, send you. What can you do but regain your skates and glide along?

What I meant to say about Brick Pig's barbecue is: yum. Well, like a lotta barbecue, it's inconsistent. Read more »

Buttered up

Tootling around Berlin, and missing Brick Pig's House in Oakland

CHEAP EATS First I want to say that, in spite of everything, there is no danger of me not coming back. That sentence is dedicated to Jennifer and all my other friends, moms, and childrens. Yes, I am having the zeit of my leben, but the restaurants here in Berlin charge extra to put butter on your bread. Ergo ...

At the top of my list of Things To Do upon repatriation: invent a purse with a small, stick-o'-butter shaped cooler in the bottom of it.

Then: who knows?

Now I want to tell you about my love. Read more »

March madness

Soccer, Pride, and Taqueria Los Potrillos in Petaluma

CHEAP EATS I can tell you where to get pork tacos if your car breaks down in Petaluma and you have to wait for Kragen to test your battery, which for some reason takes an hour. I speak from experience; it's just not mine. My only experience with experiences like this are vicarious. Now. As you know, I drive a new car and have gotten in the bad habit of getting where I'm going.

Which is nice, in a way, but my chances of marrying a tow truck driver are greatly reduced. Not to mention a Good Samaritan with a wrench. Read more »

The odds

The passing of time -- and chicken fried steak at Craig's Place

CHEAP EATS Speaking of clocks running down, here it is, the second half of June, meaning by the time you read this I will be either in Germany, or dead. I'm pulling for the former.

My favorite ex-therapist, who shares my fear of flying, once told me every time he got on an airplane he had to first live his own death.

"Hmm. Tell me more about this," I said, crossing my legs and scribbling in my note pad, because that's the kind of student of life I was, at that time: the kind who takes notes about every single thing, but learns nothing. Read more »

The zone

Burgers to order -- rare, of course -- at Marin Brewing Company

CHEAP EATS I believe it's called "garbage time." Can't speak for soccer, but in American football it's when the team in the lead runs the ball up the middle, again and again. The game is decided. It's just a matter of letting the clock wind down.

That's where we were at. In this case, my team, the good guys, had a big lead. The other team, the bad guys, had just scored but it was way too little, way too late, and we were going to win the championship. Read more »


Love, Ativan, and Ton Yong Thai Cafe

CHEAP EATS A lime green flip-flop on the shower floor of a gym I don't go to ... Somebody stole my compost pile. The old woman I am not was rehearsing what to say to her doctor. "I have an eating disorder," she rehearsed, in the waiting room. Her husband was sitting, she was standing. Both were 80. "Anything else?" she said.

The husband mumbled something I couldn't hear.

"I can't wait to see him!" she said, and kept saying, to the receptionist, to me, to her husband. "After all this time! Read more »