My pal Sara Keagle, The Flying Pinto, and I have shared a lot of travel and adventure firsts.  Shortly after her 18th birthday, we jumped into my car and drove 5 hours from Plymouth, Massachusetts to Montreal so we could legally drink.  We made the mistake of buying our first round within two minutes of entering a bar, when within five we had offers from men hoping to buy some for us. We learned fast and didn’t buy another for the rest of the weekend.  That fall we went off to college together and shared a 10×10 dorm room.  The next year, we hopped on a plane to Los Angeles, where we spent a couple of days at the beach, ordered room service on her Dad’s credit card, and dreamed of transferring to UCLA- even buying the sweatshirts as if they came with the power to grant us admission.

We lost touch for a bit as good friends sometimes do, but since we’ve reconnected it’s been fun to share more (albeit tamer) times together.  Getting together while living in different cities is easier with Sara’s flight benefits and she comes to town fairly often.  This week, she flew in to San Francisco for a day and I took her to a few great spots in one of my favorite neighborhoods- The Mission. Here’s a little peek:

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor- This restaurant has been an institution since 1919. The restaurant has changed hands, but owners handed down the precious recipes to the new proprietors.  All of their double-sized, softer-than-usual tamales are made with organic stone ground corn and they are nirvana on a plate.  The thing that haunts me and keeps me coming back is the Tamale de Calabacitas Con Creama; squash tamale with tomatillo sauce and cheese. Sara got the Tamale de Elote (sweet corn tamale) and we shared a homemade strawberry agua fresca (fresh juice drink which translates as fresh water).  Both were firsts for Sara and she loved them.  For a sweet $7.95 each we each got a tamale, rice & beans and probably could have shared. But we didn’t!

Next we bypassed another yummy spot worth a shout- gourmet ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe- so I could introduce Sara to my “friend” la panaderia. La Victoria Bakery’s website tagline “So authentic, you’ll think twice about drinking the water” makes me love them even more, if that’s possible after tasting a freshly baked pan dulce. The Maldonado family has been making old-style pan dulce for over 60 years.  They sell De La Paz locally roasted organic fair trade coffee to accompany your goodies, and oh-my-now-I’m-really-in-trouble Argentine (Venga) empanadas. They even offer vegan treats by Wholesome Bakery. We shared one of La Victoria’s yummy conos (cream horns) for $1.75.  She ate most of it ;)

We strolled down Valencia Street, hopping in and out of crafty boutiques, and hit Clothes Contact, a vintage shop that sells clothing by the pound.  This isn’t clothing by the pound a la Domsey’s in Brooklyn circa 1995 where you’d (and I say this with longing) dive into the equivalent of huge clothing-only dumpsters to find the diamond in the rough. No, Clothes Contact has done the diving for you and filled their shop with the diamonds, and they even have- gasp! – dressing rooms.  The current price is $10 per pound, but heavier items like coats are pre-priced (which saves you dough).  Lighter-weight items like blouses add up to around $3 and you can nab yourself 10 vintage scarves for roughly $8.  That’s Sara paying homage to Carol Brady.

To check them out when you’re in San Francisco:

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor- 2817 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 415-824-2600

La Victoria Bakery- 2937 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 415-642-7120

Clothes Contact- 473 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 415-621-3212

Catch up with Sara by reading her blog The Flying Pinto, listening to her podcast The Crew Lounge, or watching clips from her many on-air TV segments at In Flight Team.

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