To live in Bernal Heights is to know that we take the Art of Living rather seriously here. We appreciate great food and the finer things in life, but we generally prefer it served without additional helpings of fuss or pretension. Our neighborhood is sometimes written off by snooty food critics as a result, but Bernal’s culinary charms are not lost on the more earthy ones.
Case in point: last week The Bold Italic published a story entitled “Screw the Foodies,” which showcased some of the more beguiling eateries around the City where one can get a good meal “without all the fancy pants frenzy.”
Amid an explosion of F-bombs and orifice-inspired indignation, writer Sara Faith Alterman explains:
I love to eat, and to eat adventurously, but I get tired of the pomp and culinary circumstance that often seasons the San Francisco dining experience. Fuck. I get tired of the phrase “dining experience.” I can’t tell if it’s because I’m annoyed by complicated menus, or because of the surgical scrutiny to which people subject them. I once overheard five 20-somethings grill a server endlessly about the levels of sulfides in the organic Grenache. They ordered a single glass to split among them, and ended up sending it back because one dude didn’t like the way it brought out the ashiness of the cheese that topped his gluten-free flatbread.
I resisted the urge to stab each of these assholes in the clavicle with my salad fork. Barely.
But the whole situation reminded me just how much I relish an easy meal. Dining off the eaten path at a low-fuss restaurant is, for me, far more satisfying than scrambling for a table at Gastropub Du Jour or scratching my head at the complicated components in trendily deconstructed cuisine. Sure, that stuff’s fun sometimes, but give me one of these “screw the foodies” spots anytime.
That’s the set-up, but here’s the interesting thing: Of the six restaurants on Sara Faith Alterman’s list, four are in the Dominion of Bernalwood:
- Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack (“The hand-drawn menu… is simple and satisfying. It changes every season but always includes that good ole go-to trio of crisp Caesar salad, buttery garlic bread, and spaghetti and meatballs with homemade marinara.”)
- The Old Clam House (“I cried, because the meal made me nostalgic for the seafood suppers my mom cooks after family days at the beach. And because I’d had two glasses of wine and a French lemonade cocktail.”)
- Silver Crest Donut Shop (“You will never, ever be served precious nonsense that’s glazed with sustainable bacon-flavored angel tears. And bless them for it. The donuts here are gigantic and sugary and perfect for late nights or early mornings.”)
- Paulie’s Pickles (“The brisket and liver sandwich at Paulie’s Pickling is so goddamned fantastic that we’re pretty much in an abusive relationship.”)
Playing host to four of San Francisco’s six finest no-fuss eateries is a rather impressive accomplishment. Or, as Sara Faith Alterman might say, “Holy F*ck!” So eat up, Bernal Heights, and remember always that we are living the dream.
PHOTOS: From top, Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, Silvercrest Diner, Old Clam House, and Paulie’s Pickles, by The Bold Italic