Cobb’s Comedy Club

CobbsIf you like standup comedy, the best place to go in the Bay Area is Cobb’s Comedy Club. As you can see from the thumbnail, we went there to see Patton Oswalt. He had a great routine. At Cobb’s we have also seen Sarah Silverman. If you go, get there early so you can get a good seat. Seating is first come, first served and there’s a two drink minimum. If you don’t have time to eat before the show, you can also order food and they wll bring it to your table.


Cobb’s Comedy Club
915 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
415.928.4320

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Iluna Basque

Iluna BasqueOn our way to see Patton Oswalt at Cobb’s we figured we could duck into one of North Beach’s many Italian restaurants. No such luck — there was a long wait at all of ‘em and we were short on time. Luckily we found Iluna Basque. They had a delightful menu of all kinds of tapas. The seafood dishes were especially good. Chef Mattin Noblia is going to be on one of our favorite shows Top Chef (season 6). So, if you’re in North Beach, this place is worth a visit. Just have tapas and a drink or make a meal out of it.


Iluna Basque
701 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
415.402.0011

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Brown Sugar Kitchen

Brown Sugar KitchenOne of my favorite Southen cuisine restaurants in Oakland is Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland. It’s in an area that almost entirely industrial but the out of the way location is well worth seeking out.

For breakfast, everything is good but be sure to try the cornmeal waffles. They are light and airy and delicious and often served with apple cider syrup. And, of course, you can also get your waffle with a piece of fried chicken. For lunch, the pulled pork sandwich can’t be beat. It’s served with some vinegar based cole slaw that I love so much. One of these days I will have to invest in owner Tanya Holland’s cookbook so I can make these dishes at home too.


Brown Sugar Kitchen
2534 Mandela Parkway, Oakland, CA 94607
510.839.SOUL

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Citrus Club

Citrus ClubThe Citrus Club doesn’t really have much to do with citrus and it really isn’t a club either (even though it does have a bar). The first couple times I passed by this place while shopping at Amoeba in SF, it didn’t really register on me that this was a restaurant.

In fact, this place is actually a very nice noodle house with a casual and somewhat funky vibe. The prices here are very reasonable, the portions are large, and we’ve never had to wait long for a table even though it’s often packed. I really like their garlic-soy sauce edamame. I don’t go over to this part of SF too often but I can’t think of another place in the upper Haight I want to eat at (except maybe Cha Cha Cha).


Citrus Club
1790 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
415.387.6366

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Lucky Ju Ju Pinball Parlor

Lucky JuJuI’ve always loved pinball but good machines are hard to find and I can never get enough. There used to be a great place in South Berkeley that had a bunch of machines but I don’t know what became of it. I was delighted to discover the Lucky Ju Ju. Hidden behind a laundromat in Alameda, this place is a gem. They’re a non-profit and only open for limited hours Friday through Sunday. If you love pinball this is the place for you. You pay $10 at the door and all the machines inside are set on open play. You can play dozens of different machines including classic ones from the 50s and 60s as well as more modern machines. They’ve even got a fridge with sodas and $1 popcorn. A great value and lots of fun.


Lucky Ju Ju
713 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda, CA 94501
510.205.9793

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Kid Robot

Kid RobotThe vinyl toy craze may have slowed down a bit but one of my favorite stores Kid Robot is still going strong. This Haight Street haven has the best selection of limited edition vinyl toys around. They used to carry lots of Asian blind box toy editions but these days most of those are their own brand. Also, they have plenty of limited edition vinyl figures displayed in cases lining the store walls. They now have stores all over the country but I’ll always love the store that started it all.


Kid Robot
1512 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
415.487.9000

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St. George Spirits

St George SpiritsI first heard about Absinthe two decades ago and was always curious what all the fuss was about. In December 2007 St. George Spirits in Alameda became the first distillery to produce legal absinthe in the US in decades. It wont make you crazy because it only contains federally approved miniscule parts of thujone. I waited in line for two hours on the day of the first release on Dec 21 so I could make it a Christmas gift for Susan. It tastes like cough syrup or perhaps a lot like Jagermeister but smoother.

On Mother’s Day this year, we decided to go back there to try the other spirits they make at St. George which is housed in a former airplane hanger on the former Alameda Naval Air Station. It’s a perfect location for a distillery with plenty of room for the giant copper stills which condense the extracted spirits that make their products. We ended up going home with some lemon infused vodka, white tea and pear liqeur, and some pear eau de vie. You get to taste most of their products for just $10 and get to keep your glass. It was lots of fun and the staff are very friendly and well informed. I even got myself a “gree is the new black” t-shirt.


St. George Spirits
2601 Monarch Street, Alameda, CA 94501
510.769.1601

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Tacubaya

TacubayaTacubaya is one of the best tacquerias in the Bay Area. Situated on Berkeley’s 4th Street it’s the sister restaurant to Oakland’s Doña Tomas in the Temescal district. What makes the tacqueria so special are the rich flavors and fresh ingredients in every bite. The tacos al pastor are made with Niman Ranch pork and served on freshly made tortillas. If you go early you can also get fine desayuno items such as chilaquiles. On weekends, there’s often a line but it’s worth the wait if you want something special you can’t easily find at other places.


Tacubaya
1788 4th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
510.525.5160

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Amoeba Records

Amoeba RecordsI knew when I moved to Berkeley in 1997 that they had many great record stores — all within a few blocks of each other. That’s what made the arrival of Amoeba Records so surprising. From day one it was the best record store I’ve ever seen. They carried everything including all the obscure and import stuff I never could find elsewhere. Their San Francisco store is bigger but since I’m living in the East Bay I usually end up here. They also have extensive DVD offerings in addition to the music. Online shopping is convenient but I still enjoy the browsing experience. Their buyers always have something on the shelves that I want — but just didn’t know it existed.


Amoeba Records
2455 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
510.549.1125

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The Crucible

The Crucible is one of those “only in the Bay Area” type places that I love. It’s a huge warehouse in West Oakland that offers courses and studio space in the industrial arts. This includes all kinds of welding, casting, glass blowing, neon, and electronics. I took a course there in the Spring of 2007 on basic electronic circuitry and can now build basic circuits include amplifiers, radios, little light and motion gizmos. It was so much fun. After taking that course I taught myself how to work with electroluminescent wire so I can (hopefully) make mini “neon” signs.

In addition to the courses they offer, they also have these open house events which often feature performances that show off what they do. In July of 2007, we went to their fire arts festivals and saw lots of fire based machines and robots. Additionally, they put on a nearly 2 hour performance of the Oddysey. In this movie, Odysseus is just getting on the boat to cross the river Styx on his was back to Hades.


The Crucible
1260 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607
510.444.0919

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