EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Westside | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'Westside'

Shhhh…A Shopping Secret

La Playa SafewayI was tempted not to share this one because I do like to shop here even though it’s a drive from my house [3 miles isn’t much of a drive for most people outside SF], but I figured that young hipsters who don’t usually have cars and live in the Mission or Haight won’t bother going all the way out to this place. What place am I talking about? The Safeway at the beach. I honestly hate shopping on weekends and the closest Safeway to me is on Noriega and 30th which I hate because it’s always crowded even during the week and in the evening it’s not crowded, but understaffed. The Safeway at the beach isn’t anything like that.

It’s kind of a hidden mystery for many because it’s a large Safeway, one of the largest in the city and they put it out at ocean on top of what used to be Playland at the Beach. Because of the exposure to all the salt air and fog from the ocean the outside looks a little dumpy, but when you go inside it’s a different story. The typical crowd is a bit on the rough side. I don’t mean fights will break out, just that to most people tossing on a t-shirt over your pajamas and grabbing your flip-flops is considered well dressed to shop here. I suppose a small part of this is due to the few homeless people who hang out in front and the large number that live in Golden Gate Park who go there to buy their food and cheap booze. They’re pretty harmless, but to the uninformed they can look a little scary.

The best part is the aisles are large, very large and it tends to be a very well stocked Safeway, but like many others the staff is a little short in the evenings. There is a Wells Fargo branch at this location where you can get all your banking done even on Sundays [side note, if you’re a real San Franciscan you bank at Wells Fargo]. The deli and bakery are sufficient and a little better stocked than many others around town, but for the general groceries you can find stuff here that is hard to find in other places just because they have lots of room and need to fill it. The butchers are one of the few at Safeway’s that you can pull over and have them cut some meat up for you.

When you finish your shopping and go to check out the wait can be stupidly fast on weekends and it’s not unusual to find a few checkers just standing there talking to another checker waiting for someone to show up. When I used to live a bit closer we used to go here all the time, but now on weekends it’s just kind of refreshing to get some morning air and walk around a store where there aren’t thousands of people pushing you all over the place. It’s even better when it’s a sunny morning which contrary to popular belief we do get more frequently than people think.

The General Store

I like living in the Westside. We’re starting to change the Sunset district and Richmond over to the Westside because we both have Ocean Beach in common. Once you pass Sunset Boulevard the vibe changes and you just get a laid-back beach vibe from the things you encounter. You see it most down on Judah street with Noriega and Taraval starting to get into the game and Judah street was where I ended up yesterday.

There’s a little parklet across from the 7-11 that made me stop and take a look and I noticed a new store that I hadn’t seen before. It’s called the General Store, yes I agree it could have a better name, but it’s a well, general store. It carries thing you would need like clothes and flashlights and books, etc. They tend to be a bit more on the upscale side of things, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’ve been in business for a year and a half which is good by business standards in the Westside because businesses don’t usually last too long as you get near the beach. At least in the past.

The beach area used to be a no man’s land that the only thing that lasted more than a year was the corner liquor store. Restaurants out there were pretty beat up looking and you would want to choose them unless you had to. I’m glad it’s changing. Judah street from 44th Avenue down to Great Highway is becoming a vibrant place to visit. The General Store just adds to this.

When I walked in I was surprised at the artistic quality of many of the items for sale. There was a calendar that  had each month printed in a spiral showing the phase of the moon each day and was printed using an old method called letterpress wherein metallic versions of the letters are actually pressed into the paper after being coated with ink. It gives a debossed look even though the printers tried to avoid this when they first started doing it.

There were wooden handmade implements that upon further inspection turned out to to be flashlights. They were pretty impressively made and if you had one sitting on a table you wouldn’t even know what it was. There were also a collection of handmade soaps and jewelry for those so inclined. The books and notecards available while few had a distinct Westside vibe.

All in all it was a nice place to visit and with the parklet outside the two blended in together quite nicely. It’s a warm and inviting place that makes you feel welcome when you step inside. You should stop by and take a look. It’s a nice place to visit.

West Portal

West Portal is a little village within San Francisco. It is based on the metro station of the same name where the L-Taraval, M-Oceanview and K-Ingleside all come together. It’s quite a hub of transportation, yet at the same time has a bit of small town feel with a bit of a high price tag.

You’ll find very few chain stores here. I think Walgreen’s still stands out as the only major chain. Most of the shops here are of the Mom and Pop type where if visit any of them a few times the store owners will remember you.

West Portal is a funny area in that before the tunnel was built in 1918 it was rather difficult to get to. The tunnel which no services the SFMTA originally was a hole through Twin Peaks to enable streetcars to traffic people downtown in about fifteen minutes.

It’s funny to travel there during the week because after all the hustle and bustle of the morning commuters taking the trains downtown the place turns very quiet. Parking is everywhere and the place takes on a rather sleepy kind of presence. The only place you’ll find lots of people are at the tables outside the coffee shops, in particular Peet’s where you’ll find the older retired Bohemians sitting around talking about the news of the day over coffee.

You don’t find too many hipsters here and you only see someone at a coffee shop with a laptop occasionally and that’s usually at Starbuck’s. Most of the time you’ll see people here to shop or eat at one of the many restaurants. Did I just say restaurant? Well there are many here such as Fresca serving Peruvian cuisine [sorry, they don’t serve guinea pig] to the Mediterranean Bursa or if you like something less upscale there’s always Mozzarella di Buffala for a quick slice of pizza or authentic Brazilian dishes, yes you read that right or Noah’s Bagel’s for a quick nosh.

In the evenings if you want to experience a bit of old school it would be best to stop by the Philosopher’s Club to get your drink on an debate the state of politics with the locals. Be careful though for fisticuffs might ensue! While there are at least four bars on the strip of West Portal you’ll hardly ever see a fight though. This is a place where the genteel upscale people live being bordered by Forest Hill. It’s a step up from the working class here.

In general West Portal is well, nice. It’s a safe place to visit and shop. Everyone seems to have a smile on their face and there is a great sense of community here. The Merchants get together to fund decorating the parking meters for the holidays and they have a yearly arts and crafts show on the sidewalks that always brings the locals to visit.

Oh and in case you’re interested, I’ve started making neighborhood t-shirts at the behest of my Sunset District neighbors. You can see some of them at my Baghdad by the Bay Store.

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Trying to Wrap My Head Around Mission Hipsters

So I’ve been spending the better part of the week in the Mission District as many of you can probably figure out by by talking about my trips on the 48 Quintara. I actually did live there for about six years 16 years ago and I have to say that not too much has changed except that you see more white people now, but it’s still the best place to find a good selection of Hispanic foods.

That being said, I can’t wrap my head around why the Mission Hipsters™ have wanted to call this place their home. The place isn’t the cleanest still, the building are old and while nice to look at when you get inside some of them can be a little disgusting. The crime has dropped significantly from when I was there [no I was not the cause of the high crime rate], but there are still gangs running around and a flying bullet doesn’t care if your a Norteño or Sureño.

I have noticed that the Mission has tried to gentrify itself a bit which is a nice way of saying people with money come in and buy up poor people’s places pushing them out to make room for more people with money. The look is kind of odd when you walk past Rosamunde that’s right in between two run down stores that look like they haven’t seen a fresh coat of paint in over 50 years.

With that being said, I know there’s still good in the Mission, because I wouldn’t have lived there for six years if there wasn’t. The people are friendly and by that I mean the pre-hipster people. It’s got great weather most of the time and even when it doesn’t it’s still not that bad. If you want to experience the real Mission you have to go to anywhere around 24th and Mission. That’s still the place where you hear the salsa music blasting all day and some of the best places to buy Mexican food. If you get a chance stop by the Mission Panaderia that’s there. They make the best Mexican pastries in my book.

I think, but I’m not sure that the Mission Hipsters™ are located more down around 18th and Mission because you’ll suddenly hear less Spanish and more English and the crowd turns decidedly more Caucasian and Asian. You still will find a few Mexican food places, but there aren’t the same. The Mission kind of loses it’s feel here due to it being more affected by the gentrification and is kind of, in my mind a Disney version of the Mission.

I can see the Mission Hipsters™ wanting to live and work cheap, but the gentrification takes time and most of the start ups come and go quickly that are around here. They’re kind of an unwashed version of the Marina crowd with less money. I know I’m sounding mean, but I can’t help it. While you do have BART serving the area, you still have to go downtown to get to BART or take a slow bus to get there. This is probably why people out in the avenues are kind of isolated from the Mission District and vice versa. There’s no way to get there from here and vice versa.

That’s part of the reason I don’t get the concept of the Mission Hipster™. They try to be alternative fashion conscious, but I don’t get when being hip and cool meant that you have to step over excrement and homeless people when you walked out the door of your antique apartment that probably needs some major maintenance work. Note: I lived in the outer Mission in a full five room house built in 1924 that was always well maintained, but that was back in the early 90’s which was pre-Mission Hipster™ period.

I guess I don’t get Mission Hipsters™ because I’m a Westside Hipster™. Now we can let the hipster gang wars begin. There’s probably an app for that.

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