Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Red's Java House - San Francisco

We covered a lot of ground on our first full day in the city. After getting caught out in the rain the evening before and eating in a place that can only be described as a soup kitchen, we had some catching up to do. Tuesdays is one of the days the farmers market is present outside the ferry building, to be honest I felt let down by the size of it. Supposedly one of the foodie capitals of the country and this was all that could be mustered up. What didn't come anything short of fantastic was the ferry building shops. The breads from Acme Bakery look amazing and after settling on a small sourdough round I wandered just a few feet up the way and came to the Cowgirl Creamery and bought some of the stinkiest cheese I could find. Boccalone is also inside the ferry building which is the side-business of Incanto duo Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore. Boccalone and their tasty salted pig parts are incredibly popular, so popular in fact that the queue was bent out the entrance and trailed off down the hall. After browsing the mushroom stores and the wine shops we decided to walk along to Fisherman's Wharf and see what that was all about, who knows, maybe some shellfish....

Fisherman's Wharf is a car crash. Something Disneyland has chewed up and spat out. If you like the theme park environment, Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurants then you might like this place. If so then please stay there. We took a silent walk along Fisherman's Wharf where the pair of us were in shock, knew each other hated it, but carried on regardless. We were hungry and no amount of sea lions were going to take our minds off it. I'd seen some Anthony Bourdain clips on youtube a while back and remembered that on pier 30 was a little dive bar that serves cold beers, chili cheese fries and burgers. I stated I would rather eat in the soup kitchen from last night than at Bubba Gumps on Fisherman's Wharf and with my wife in tow, made our way back along the Embarcadero to the Bay Bridge where Red's Java House lies. Any extra revenue generated from the spotlight Bourdain's No Reservations show shone on Red's has almost certainly not been spent on smartening the place up. Which is good because without the character of the place, you would quickly be turned off. A chilli cheese burger and some chilli cheese fries for me, I was hungry. It was a scorching day so we ventured out back onto the terrace area where I quickly felt at ease and ordered a beer from the makeshift drinks bar out back. Red's seems to take all kinds here. There were two miserable old guys on the table next to us who reminded me distinctly of Waldorf and Stadtler from the Muppets. Some people just clocked off work, some people probably never been to work, a mexican family with their young boy. One demographic that was nowhere to be seen to my great pleasure, was the suits, no tall skinny latte drinkers here. Our burgers came and I suddenly realised how much I'd ordered. There may be burger connoisseurs who have not rated this place particularly well, but for someone from the UK, where good burgers are few and far between, the burger lasted all of two minutes. Red's doesn't try to be anything, it's simple, booze and some food on the side. I relaxed, properly this time, like I haven't done in ages. The sure sign of a place worth going. As I lay back in the plastic chair, felt the breeze on my neck and sipped my beer I felt a nudge in my side. It was the wife, "That little bird is eating up the sick from under that table," she whispered. "Well maybe he's hungry too."


  1. Damn, I would give anything to meet Waldorf and Stadtler!

    Nice post mate

  2. They even have a buppagumps in Bali. Tacky