It was still 80 degrees outside when I got home from work shortly after 6:00 tonight. It's now nearly 9:30, and it's still over 70 out there.
If you aren't familiar with the San Francisco's weather, this is unusually warm for us. We have about four nights every year where you can comfortably go outside without a jacket after the sun is down. And tonight was one of those nights. You can't plan for nights like this, because you never have any warning that they're coming. You just have to recognize the opportunity when it arrives, and jump on it before it gets away.
So I suggested that we go out for dinner. Chip asked if I wanted to drive or walk. I asked if he wanted to look for parking in the Haight and then look for parking here when we got back.
We went to (in case you couldn't guess by the photo) Memphis Minnie's, possibly the worst place in San Francisco for anyone on a diet. It's a barbecue jernt. The sign over the exit reads, "Low Fat = Low Taste." We last went there about six months ago, so it felt like enough time had elapsed for us to visit in good conscience.
Memphis Minnie's was featured this past weekend on "Check, Please, Bay Area" on KQED (a rerun from a couple of years ago). Both of us watched the spot quietly -- all three guests waxed poetic about it (it's rare that all three people on this show agree on a restaurant review, but these three were absolutely unanimous in their praise). After the segment ended, Chip said, "That just makes me want to go there." I said, "Yeah, I was thinking the same thing."
So what if we didn't rush right out? It's better that we waited, because the weather tonight was perfect for hiking up to Haight Street.
The decor of Memphis Minnie's is appropriate to its menu (plenty o' pictures here). The tables are all draped with red and white checkered plastic tablecloths covered in clear plastic covers. Sandwiched in between the two are various things you can study while you eat -- drawings of pigs made by some very talented visitors to the restaurant, literature about Sake, a ticket given to the restaurant because "the food is so good that it's criminal". The walls are completely plastered with signs from all over the world, reviews of the restaurant, slogans, posters for movies and albums, and everyone's favorite, "DON'T NEED NO KNIFE! / DON'T NEED NO FORK! / JUST WRAP YOUR LIPS / AROUND OUR PORK!"
By the time we left, the sun had set and the wind had died down. We walked back down to Market and, instead of going directly home, headed down to Castro Street to get grossly overpriced ice cream -- excuse me, gelato -- at Naia (or should that be "naia"?). It's good, but is it $5 good? As long as people (self included) continue to pay that, I guess it is.
So that's what we do to rattle our routines when the weather suddenly turns nice -- we throw caution to the wind, throw our diets into the closet for the evening, leave our iPods and other media at home, and just get out and walk and appreciate the weather.
And appreciate the varying tempos of the city itself. The streets were almost empty between Duboce and Haight. Haight Street had its little clumps of hippies and hipsters and teensters scattered along the sidewalk. In contrast, the Castro was much brighter, busier (both on the street and on the sidewalks) and noisier -- which is not necessarily better or worse, just different.
I'm glad that nights like tonight happen. But I'm also glad that they don't happen very often.