Day 2 (pt 2) – The Castro and Starbelly

Not sure what building this is, but thought the sign was cool

I love The Castro. If I lived in San Francisco, it’d be among my first choices I think. But the story actually begins a little earlier than that. I wrapped up my conference obligations and decided not to take a cab down to my dinner reservation. I ducked into the BART station, slid up to the information window, and proceeded to ask for a little help getting to The Castro.

Quick aside: without exception, every municipal employee I spoke to was extra friendly and helpful. I never felt like a burden and they gave very thorough directions to where I needed to go. This was especially true of the BART staff.

So, I walk up, explain where I need to go, and the woman at the counter says “oh, honey, you want the MUNI.” Huh? Come again? Clearly the bewildered look on my face registered “out of towner” (or dumba*#, maybe) because without missing a beat she pointed behind me and said just hop on any if the outbound trains and get off at The Castro stop. Sweet.  Fast forward a few minutes and I’m coming out of the station and this is what I find

An important history lesson in Milk Plaza

A plaza dedicated to the life and work of Harvey Milk. Nice.

Somehow I neglected to write anything about Starbelly on my first pass at this post.  Well, I’ll tell you.  I started with a Brouwerij Bockor “Bellegems Bruin” (which roughly translates into ‘extremely tasty belgian beer made from fermented cherries and a nice strong belgian ale’). It’s not usually my thing, and come to think of it, I actually started with a West Coast IPA at the bar that I temporarily forgot all about.  But, I digress.  We sat down and ordered up a ton of food, including this little guy:

One of several small plates shared around the table

After a few rounds of small plates that I failed to adequately capture I settled in for a bit of spicy, baconny leafy pizza. The picture looks boring, so I’ll skip it.  But it was actually pretty good, especially the bacon.  There might be a natural inclination to assume I am overplaying the bacon.  I’m not.  It was no Linkery bacon, but it was very good.  As were whatever peppers they put on the pizza to give it a nice kick.  I ended up not being able to finish it, so some guy at my MUNI stop was the beneficiary of a chef’s hard work.  Everybody wins!

Before I got to back to the MUNI I came across yet another symbol that San Francisco is way more creative about space than we are down here.  Look at this:

Very cool use of space that doesn’t put cars at the epicenter of everything

I mean, closing down a street to put out some chairs and string some lights isn’t exactly a feat of public works magic, but it requires rethinking public spaces in a way that we seem remarkably unwilling to do in this town.  It’s as though we are afraid to put the creation and support of real neighborhood places on par with the almighty tourist dollar.  Don’t get me wrong, I like tourists.  They come and spend lots of money.  And they drive at least a large part of the very economies that got me to start writing this blog.  But since most of the taxes in our city’s General Fund come from people who live in neighborhoods in San Diego I think we ought to make a more concerted effort to put us first from time to time. *climbind down off soapbox*  I’m not a hippie.  And certainly not anti-growth.  But it’d be absolutely great to get our city to a place where we pushed for community as hard as we push for gazillion dollar high-profile projects.  What Rancho Bernardo needs won’t be the same as Linda Vista or North Park or Barrio Logan.  But helping to build those communities would be a great thing for San Diego to do for itself.

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