I've been told that the when the Mission District's young and chic hit the town (read: Mission) they usually draw their southern schmoozing border at Beretta for cocktails, only occasionally venturing south of Cesar Chavez for mac 'n cheese at Blue Plate. Those few intrepid city explorers who drive (or better yet, bicycle) south past Pupusa Peak will find a world to themselves. A world of $20 foot reflexology and $3 tapsilog plates. A world free of ironic mustaches and macchiato pretense. A world where Schwinn gears spin at liberty, free from the confinement of fixation. Yes, ya'll this is still San Francisco. It’s called the Excelsior. No reservations necessary.
My first year of existence was spent in the Excelsior, in a house on London Street. My grandmother has been living here for the majority of her life. When she was a youngin' the hood was mostly Irish and Italian, although these days the slew of Chinese B.B.Q. shops and Taquerias peppered along Mission are evidence of a much transformed ethnic demographic.
Sure, it’s foggy most of the year and dentures seem to outnumber residents under 30 by a sizable margin but this slower paced section of the city has it's definite charm.
I was cruising Excelsior's business strip (Mission Street) on a sunny Sunday afternoon when I spotted this unassuming store front beckoning me with tropical cuisine.
I took a quick peek at the menu - is this for real? Sure I wasn't expecting much but these pre-dot.com-bust prices had me giddy. Perhaps I've been living in San Francisco too long, a city that conditions the mind to believe $8 is a fair deal for a cup of juice. To think how far I’ve come since the days of haggling over a 15 cent overcharge on a Cafe sữa đá!
Nowhere on the menu is there the claim of grass fed hormone free beef, and attempting to calculate the profit margin could conjure up unsavory thoughts about product sourcing. Lets leave that to the haters. This patty satisfies. It’s charred sufficiently and seasoned well, two straightforward steps that other places charging 5x as much seem to screw up on the regular. No Acme bun. No humboldt fog. No daikon sprouts. No secret smug sauce. My $1.85 cheeseburger was dressed simply with the holy trinity of mayonnaise, ketchup and cheese product. That's how the Excelsior do.