Cheap Eats

Bras and barbecue


CHEAP EATS Mountain Sam has many last names; I don't think I've ever seen the same one twice. My personal favorite, because it's the only one I can remember right now, is Two Bears.

I met Mountain Sam and his wife, Mountain Veronica, at an open mic in the Castro called Retool and Grind. I sang about Sonoma County and being a chicken farmer. I sang the one that gives directions to my shack, and they came up to me after and said, "We're neighbors!"

First I thought they meant they lived close to each other. "Good. Read more »

The asterisk


CHEAP EATS Sockywonk fell down backward on the street. It was the story of her life, she told me, while I shouldered her to my pickup truck, trucked her home, and tucked her in. She was smiling, laughing. Dropped on her head as a baby, she said, and 40 years later ... still falling down all over the place.

The next few days were hard. With surgery and chemo behind her, she now faced a bigger, blurrier challenge: the rest of her sinking-in, falling-down life. And the uncertainty was killing her.

She cried on my shoulder. This felt nice. Read more »

On death and dining

Phnom Penh

CHEAP EATS When he talks, his whole face participates, but especially his forehead, which snakes into road maps of thought, and I get lost. When he listens, he listens. This guy went to medical school, completed his residency, and then went, Naw, I reckon I'd rather work in publishing. And for this my new friend Maze is a kind of a hero to me.

A hero and a proofreader.

Phenomenon's new favorite restaurant is Phnom Penh, a friendly little Cambodian wonderland on the edge of Oakland's Chinatown. Read more »

Tattoo you

Pho Clement

CHEAP EATS She had tattooed knuckles. One hand said PORK and the other said CHOP. I expressed my adoration, and she said, "You should see the other ones."

"Should I?" I asked.

She has a girlfriend in Canada. This was not a date but a business meeting.

Business = new favorite Vietnamese restaurant. Pho Clement, between, I think, Third and Fourth avenues on Clement Street. Read more »


Route 1 Diner

CHEAP EATS The closest chicken fried steak to my shack is at the Route 1 Diner in Valley Ford. You probably know it, if you've ever been to Bodega Bay. And if not, what the fuck? The Sonoma coast has the prettiest beaches in the world. Surfers don't like it because they get eaten by sharks, but, other than that ...

Anyway, I'm not a beach reviewer.

Two chickens, like I said. That's all the chickens I have left is two chickens. One lays eggs, and the other one eats them. Or: tough times for a chicken farmer. Read more »


Casa Mexicana

CHEAP EATS There's only one thing in my refrigerator, and nothing at all in the nest. It's come to this, then: two chickens left, and one of them has developed a taste for eggs.

Two weeks ago today when I flapped my wings (venison lasagna + Ativan = liftoff, plus or minus an airplane ticket), I never felt more like I needed a vacation from my life. And yesterday evening, upon touching down again at SFO, I burst into tears, grateful to be not only alive on Earth, but alive in my exact life. And dying to see Sockywonk and Weirdo the Cat and my newest and littlest love, Z.Z. Read more »

Sympathy for the (she) devil

South Pacific Island Restaurant


CHEAP EATS They don't have kickoffs. They just start the game. It was the Lexington Club Bruisers vs. the Diablas, and we were the only two people in the stands. Again. Me and Twinkle Wonderkid.

Crocker Amazon. The weather: football weather, foggy and freezing ... I had every intention in the world of rooting for the Bruisers. I don't know, the Lexington Club just kind of feels like the home team to me. Plus I like the pink shirts.

However, there was a lot more pink on the field than there was blue. Read more »

Making it

El Toro Loco

CHEAP EATS The Craigslist ad said "blood-soaked carnivore." And I wish I could remember the rest of it, because it was unusual and well written, but all I needed to know, really, was "blood-soaked carnivore."

By the letter, it wasn't even what I was looking for; it wasn't M or FTM or F (w/a SOD).... It was BSC. Blood-soaked carnivore.

That's my favorite kind of carnivore!

Talk about a hook with my lip written all over it.... It's almost not even fair. It's almost cheating. Read more »

Love's labours

Taqueria Mexican Grill

CHEAP EATS I'm a fickle fucking farmer, I know that. So ... sorry, Doc, I've got a new favorite person. Her name is Zidane de la Cooter, and even though she only weighs 6 pounds, 13 ounces, she just about broke Crawdad's back trying to bonk her way into this sad and blurry world.

I got to be there for part of it. Not that I was invited exactly, but that's where my press pass comes in handy. Read more »

Wing clippings

San Tung

CHEAP EATS My new favorite person is this guy Doc who I play baseball with. He's not a medical doctor. He knows about chicken wings. We weren't even on the same team, and he said between innings, "Have you ever been to San Tung?"

"Never heard of it," I said.

"Best chicken wings," he said.


"Irving," he said. "Between 11th and 12th."

We were in the Golden Gate Park, Big Rec. Read more »