Tommy’s Joynt

Of all the places in San Francisco, as I was driving back from downtown I saw Tommy’s Joynt and when I got home I couldn’t believe in my six plus years of writing this blog I had never written about the home of the meat lover’s Tommy’s Joynt. If you’re even the least bit hungry this is the place to go. It’s got the old San Francisco feel and your plate will be filled and I dare you to finish it all.

I took a few friends from out of town [about 30 actually] once because it was across the street from the hotel they were staying at. A few got confused by the soup nazi attitude, because you have to know what you want when the guy asks you what you want or else you’re in for it. I’ve tried lots of things there [brisket is always great], but I keep coming back to the Buffalo stew because where else are you going to find Buffalo stew for $10.95. I’ve also gotten the $8.95 Buffalo stew sandwich which is for when I just need a little snack [which if you’ve eaten there you know is a joke]. You order your food, grab your silverware yourself and then find a table amongst the three floors going back up the hill.

As you walk up the first set of stairs you’ll see a tub of pickles that says, Help yourself to pickles, but please take only as many as you can eat. All that food and free pickles? You get to see a host of crusty old native San Franciscans there and the occasional person who falls off their bar stool. Incidentally they stock over 100 draft beers in stock and supposedly have a full bar, but for some reason I suspect that if you asked for a cosmopolitan you’d get a knife thrown at you or just thrown out of the place. This is probably part of the reason I’ve never seen cops eat here as they’d end up having to work instead of eat.

If you like turkey and order it as a platter you get the equivalent of a Thanksgiving day meal. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing. If you ask for a side of green beans you’ll usually get a WHAT?! from the carver and you repeat it and he yells side of green beans. This is not a place for vegetable lovers. Probably one of the reasons Metallica loved to hang at Tommy’s Joynt. Just a little side note, Metallica has a rider on their contract that bacon must be available at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now that is a bunch of meat lovers.

Tommy’s Joynt offers sandwiches, platters, stews and of course their special of the day. Someone like Gordon Ramsey would probably say they had too many items on the menu after which he’s get gob smacked by one of the owners. They do offer salads, but only one is a mixed vegetable. The rest or stuff like potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw and then some other vegetable mixes I never thought of. They also offer desserts such as apple pie, carrot, cheese and chocolate cake so even with the desserts they’re staying very old school. I always like to go as far back as I can when I visit just because it’s quieter and you have less chance of someone falling off a barstool and hitting you.

Tommy’s Joynt is a place where you will eat like a king on a pauper’s budget and I hope that it never goes away because it’s a part of San Francisco that defines the way San Francisco really is, not some half caf soy frappucino place that’s opening up on every corner or some luxury cupcake shop where you pay $5 for a cupcake that, well tastes like a cupcake you would make at home. Tommy’s Joynt has that old San Francisco soul to it and we need to keep these places around..

Pink Slime

Seeing as it’s the weekend I can move away from San Francisco and talk about a term coined by Dr. Gerald Zirnstein, Pink Slime. It’s a term used to describe boneless lean beef trimmings that are ground up and processed as an additive to regular ground meat. Since the term is a pejorative one to denigrate this product I thought I’d do a little background research about this horrific meat product that is on everyone’s lips nowadays.

When I first heard the term it was used to reference ground up chicken that  being used to make chicken nuggets. There was no reference to it being used in ground beef, but apparently now I’ve found at least a dozen articles on it yesterday. There are two companies making this product and they are BPI and Cargill. Most of the articles while not mentioning BPI are focusing on it because they use Ammonium hydroxide to sterilize the meat because they are trimmings usually considered not fit for human consumption. This isn’t added to the meat, but the meat is washed and rinsed in it. The meat which people are saying isn’t fit for human consumption wouldn’t really be allowed for humans to eat, so it’s more like meat humans don’t normally eat. To those in the nose to tail brand of eating this is what is known as offal. When you slice open a cow the insides containing intestines, liver, kidneys, heart, etc are what come out and there are very few people that are meat eaters that go for this [except for the few liver and onions types or the steak and kidney pie types]. This is edible, but takes a bit of cleaning up before you cook it. Cargill by the way uses anti-microbial treatments to make it safer to eat not ammonium hydroxide.

Now if you go for the muscle parts of the meat that most of us eat there’s nothing used to sterilize it which is part of the reason we get food poisoning, mad cow and all those other diseases. Pink slime is a sterile, processed meat product. Sounds awful doesn’t it? Let’s talk about Tofu for a minute. It’s a processed, fermented soybean product that doesn’t occur in nature. If we called it processed rotting bean paste it wouldn’t be a good advertising tag line. Would you purchase bee barf? I bet you have. That’s called honey. A study was done in New York where they walked around Central Park telling everyone about the horrors of consuming dihydromonoxide. It’s present in everything we consume and if you consume too much of it, it will kill you. As it turns out, the public doesn’t know basic chemistry enough to understand that what they were talking about was H20, i.e. water.

I am not saying that beef innards are high on my list of things to eat. I’ve never eaten sweetbreads [nice name for a sales pitch] nor have I had kidneys or liver [I may have had foie gras once], but the grinding together of these innards and sterilizing them still leaves them as being 100% beef in origin. I remember a local hamburger joint when I was a kid that sold 25¢ hamburgers that everyone said used sawdust as a meat filler. THAT would be a questionable additive. Come to think of it I have eaten 100% beef hot dogs so I’m sure there were some innards mixed in.

Jamie Oliver who I enjoy watching demonstrated the way he thought Pink Slime was made by grinding meat and dumping ammonia on it saying this was how it’s made. That’s not true. The innards and trimmings when ground are exposed to ammonia gas then washed [BPI] or exposed to antibiotics [Cargill]. Much different than what was being told to us. There was a study published about the perils of Pink Slime which was later pulled as having some serious errors and that it was not harmful to human consumption.

What we have is people reading food labels and seeing ingredients that don’t sound like they’re fit for human consumption and then isolating them then writing up everything about the horrors of what this will do to you supposedly. Pretty much everything we eat today has been processed in one form or another. You don’t know what portions of the cow go into your ground beef. A can of soup usually has more than half you daily salt intake. Many of your store bought fresh baked cookies contain anti-freeze to make them soft. I’m not even sure if the picture I used up above is truly Pink Slime. It’s been associated with it, but I have yet to see a video that proves this to be true. Most of the fast food restaurants have stopped including Pink Slime because of the public outcry, but if you buy a beef and bean burrito from your local 7-11 look at the ingredients and I’m sure you’ll see beef heart as the source of beef. I shudder to think what their nacho cheese is made of. It always looked like yellow Elmer’s glue to me.

In the end, it’s not something I’d choose to eat, but the vilifying of an ingredient that when you take a look at it isn’t as horrible as it sounds by the name someone has applied to it just gets my yellow journalism radar turned up to 11. Now it’s time for me to go and have a cup of rotten dried leaves steeped in boiling dihyromonoxide with a spoonful of bee barf [That’s tea].

Lefty O’Doul’s

Francis “Lefty” O’Doul was born here in San Francisco. He is considered one of the New York Giants most colorful and popular personalities. He played in the Pacific Coast League as well as the Major League, where in 1929 he had a .398 batting average. It was the highest average of any National League outfielder in the 20th century.

Lefty was a highly respected coach and manager for the San Francisco Seals baseball team. He was a friend and team mate to the great players of our time, such as; Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, and Ty Cobb to name a few. Lefty was the man who brought two countries together after World War II. Lefty was credited for bringing America’s favorite past-time to Japan.

In 1958 Lefty O’Doul had an inspiration to open a restaurant bar in San Francisco where friends and family could come to eat and meet with sports stars, creating a unique environment where everyone was family. Over the years Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant has seen the likes of some of baseball and Hollywood’s greatest entertainers. We strive for quality food and quality service with the Old World Charm of baseball’s past. We feel that this is the way Francis “Lefty” O’Doul would have wanted it.

OK, enough with the by the book story. That’s off of their website. Lefty never got the chance to open the restaurant and his friends the Bovis family made his dream come true. Lefty’s has a wall that is a sort of mini museum to all the people who have ventured into this sort of Irish, sort of sports bar, definitely San Francisco establishment. This is the closest to an Irish pub that I’ve encountered in San Francisco and Lefty’s is definitely old school San Francisco.

When you go there expect a hof brau atmosphere. Lost of good food at a cheap price that’ll have you filled up for at least the next day or two. It’s the only place downtown where you can get dinner with a beer for $10. The food is good here and plentiful. The menu is a working man’s fare of roast beef, corned beef, turkey legs, ham or lamb shanks served up with potatoes and vegetables or sauerkraut. Of course being a San Francisco establishment named after an Irish baseball player it’s not unusual to find turkey enchiladas on the menu.

While it only got started in 1958, it still became a San Francisco classic fast. They cater to families having a special kids menu and when you go in expect to get your food quick. This is a good thing if you work downtown and only have a half hour for lunch. Lefty’s opens at 7am sharp and stays open until 2am. It’s one of the few places left downtown where an under paid working man [or woman] can get a good meal cheap. Make sure you try their signature Bloody Mary when you go in.

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