Drive along Hwy 84 in the Santa Cruz mountains and you’ll come across the occasional Grateful Dead flag flapping in the wind, a reminder that this area was once the stomping ground of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, and their Hell’s Angels friends (in nearby La Honda). Just up the road where Hwy 84 meets Skyline Blvd (Hwy 35), and fitting right in with the counter-culture vibe is Alice’s Restaurant, named for Arlo Guthrie’s ’60s anthem. And just like the song (and the menu) says, apparently you can get anything you want here, within reason. Continue reading Alice’s gives you what you want
If you can’t find the magic potion you’re looking for at Miss Cat’s Lucky Mojo Curio Co., it probably doesn’t exist. Of course, if you make the journey to this out-of-the-way shop in the North Bay village of Forestville eight miles west of Santa Rosa, you’re probably a tad more motivated than the average casual shopper. No one accidentally happens upon the Lucky Mojo, except maybe in a Rocky Horror kind of way. Even armed with a map and a well-tuned GPS, the shop is barely marked from the road and set well back behind hedges and trees. Continue reading Lucky Mojo’s voodoo paradise
Okay, so it’s the only general store in San Gregorio. In fact, it is San Gregorio, unless you want to count a nearby farmhouse, an old barn and a rusted out VW bug. And this general store is not your grandpappy’s general store, with old-timers sitting on creaky chairs under a rickety front overhang. Located less than a mile off Hwy 1 in San Gregorio (pop. 287), the setting is appropriately country, with the closest town being Pescadero eight miles to the south and Half Moon Bay 12 miles north. But the big difference at this general store is the old-timers ride Harleys. Continue reading The best little general store in San Gregorio
Sure, you can probably find better pho in the city. (I hear Turtle Tower and PPQ in the Tenderloin are good.) But in my mind, Clement Street in the Inner Richmond is still the home of pho in San Francisco. The abundance of pho restaurants and Asian markets are part of what give Clement its character. It’s easy to get here by bus, safe and easy to park, and an interesting street to stroll and shop. Pho, if you’re not familiar, is a large bowl of soup, with a flavorful broth, vermicelli rice noodles and beef, chicken or seafood. I usually order ‘ga’, or chicken. And every bowl typically comes with a side of bean sprouts, lime wedges, fresh sprigs of basil and sliced jalapeno that you add to taste. Here’s a rundown of the pho places you’ll find here. Continue reading A pho tour of Clement Street
Every so often a day comes along that’s a perfect convergence of time and place, the air imbued with that special tinge of golden light unique to California, a little slice of heaven that seems frozen in time. When a beautiful day such as this falls in January or February, I prefer to be on the coast, near the ocean, with a little extra sparkle to the water from the low-arcing sun.
If I’m in the city, I might zip to Ocean Beach for a stroll, or lunch at Beach Chalet. But if I plan ahead or feel ambitious, I’ll drive the hour down the coast along Hwy 1 to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse just south of Pescadero. It’s pristine setting is scenic at any time, but on a beautiful weekend, it can’t be beat. Continue reading Pigeon Point an ideal seaside getaway
Hei og god jul. That would be Norwegian for ‘hello and Merry Christmas’, something you might hear if you stop by the Norwegian Holiday Fair at the Norwegian Seaman’s Church this Friday and Saturday (10-4). Can you say waffels! The annual fair is a kick-off of sorts to the holiday season, especially for the Bay Area’s large Norwegian population. It’s also a peek inside the world of one of the many ethnic groups in and around San Francisco.
Speaking of Christmas, wasn’t it invented in Norway? You’ll believe it when you see some of the white-haired Father Christmas look-a-likes in their hand-embroidered sweaters. There’s various Norwegian trinkets and food products to buy, as well as baked sweets and beverages from the cafe, and waffels! And if Christmas isn’t your thing, Scrooge, it’s at least a chance to visit the church with the best view in the city. 2454 Hyde Street (between Francisco Street and Chestnut Street).
Bank Transfer Day has come and gone (Nov. 5), but the movement to transfer money from big banks to smaller community banks and credit unions continues. But transferring an account can be a little bit of a challenge, especially for people who’ve banked for years at Wells Fargo, Chase or Bank of America and have no idea where to go. Rest assured though, the benefits are many: most credit unions require a minimal amount ($35-100) to open a new account, and don’t charge monthly fees on checking accounts and other transactions. Continue reading Finding a good bank/credit union in the Bay Area