“The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” This quote is often attributed to Mark Twain, but apparently Snopes disagrees. Regardless of origin, I was in violent agreement as I braved the streets of San Francisco wearing 4 layers of clothing to protect my torso from the elements and sorely lamenting the fact that I didn’t pack any long johns. Perhaps I should have rummaged through the wonderful selection of men’s attire at Goodwill a bit longer.
I wish I’d had my camera at the ready while walking down Mission, because then I could have immortalized the two elderly paisanos in immaculate bright white cowboy outfits, one carrying a guitarrón, the other a guitar on his back. I didn’t, so we’ll have to make do with this shot I took a bit later on.
As you perhaps can figure out from the flying banners and the neon sign, ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Castro. As luck would have it, a few weeks later, on the flight between Bangkok and Sydney, Qantas showed Gus van Sant’s Milk, the Harvey Milk bio pic in which the Castro is practically a member of the cast. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I stopped for lunch at the Cove Cafe, right across the street from the Castro Theatre. The eggs Benedict was as it usually is – creamy and rich – but what sets the Cove apart in the neighborhood diner category is the extremely friendly yet not imposing service. As someone on yelp.com put it, “The fellas here are super-friendly in an unforced way. They make me feel like a relative who doesn’t owe them money.” For an unforgettable culinary experience, go elsewhere. For a relaxing stop in the middle of a day of extreme sightseeing, make a pit stop at the Cove, dig into the hash browns and marvel at the plasma screen showing pictures of the clientele from days gone by while sipping coffee from a bottomless cup (I think I had about six refills).
One of the waiters was wearing a T-shirt that said “C.O.C. (Cove on Castro) – Would you like a hot one?” on the back. Unfortunately they’d run out of stock, but I was told that Injeanious next door would most probably have something else that would do the trick. They did.