North Beach, Saturday night.

I decided to stay in last night, simply because I didn't feel like leaving my neighborhood. I was kind of hungry, so I walked over to the Blanca Cafe on Grant Avenue for my favorite sandwich in the ENTIRE world...the Blanca Pollo Bocadillo. It has tender slices of grilled chicken, tronchon cheese, red-leaf lettuce, thin-sliced fresh tomatoes and red onions, and parsley aioli. I have yet to taste a sandwich as divine as the Blanca Pollo Bocadillo...and that's saying a lot.

You should try the plato de queso with a glass of 2001 Ramon Bilbao Rioja (Spain)...just marvelous.

While I was waiting for my sandwich, a guy I've had my eye on for a while came in to say hello, and ask for some change. He's a bartender at The Magnet Lounge across the street. I know he's straight, but still...call it a little local neighborhood crush. Tall, lanky, blond hair buzzed short.



My sandwich emerged from the kitchen, wrapped up (as I was just going to relax in front of my television with a fire in the fireplace at Club Chad...the most exclusive club in North Beach). I sauntered down Grant towards home, pausing in front of Magnet to check out the large, friendly crowd inside and to see who was bartending. The owner of Magnet is absolutely adorable as well...I met him at Mojito one afternoon while hanging out with a friend of mine who bartends at the Savoy Tivoli down the street. What a bunch of friendly, genuinely nice, cute guys. What else can I say?

Almost home, I passed by Citizen Thai & the Monkey, an upscale Thai place that just opened up on the corner of Fresno Alley and Grant Avenue. I saw a girl I know bartending in there, so I popped in to say hello. Of course, once inside, I decided I wanted some yellow curry chicken, so I ordered that as well. As I sat at the bar, waiting for my food, the cute Magnet bartender I had seen at Blanca came in to have dinner, and sat down at the other end of the bar. Of course, I snuck in a few furtive glances, but otherwise behaved myself. I engaged in friendly banter with some of the people who worked there, finding out something we all had in common in the process. Seems we all like the same Californian herbal remedies on occasion.

At one point, I asked Citizen Thai Bartender Girl to lean over towards me, as I had something to tell her.

"You see that cute boy at the other end of the bar?" I asked her.

"Uh...yeah! He's really hot," she answered.

"I have the biggest crush on him."

She stifled a giggle.

"Seriously...my nipples are poking through my shirt," I said.

She guffawed loudly and went to serve a cocktail to someone.

Cute Magnet Boy saw all of the commotion at the other end of the bar, with me talking to three extremely attractive young women. He finished his dinner, got up from his bar stool, and came over to all of us, where I was holding court at the other end of the bar. He said, "Hey, this seems to be where all the action is!" and draped his long, slender (but toned) arm around my shoulder. Citizen Thai Bartender Girl shot me a look, lips pursed, trying again not to laugh. I discreetly gnawed on the palm of my hand as I sat there with Cute Magnet Boy leaning against me, arm draped around my shoulder, laughing and talking with us.

He introduced himself to me, and started flirting with the women. Alas, he soon had to leave and go back to work, leaving me there with a flushed face and slightly-raised blood pressure. I felt like a giddly little schoolgirl, but soon started thinking of trucks and cars and tools and the San Francisco 49ers and NASCAR and beef jerky, restoring my dashed masculinity in the process.

Before retiring by myself to my apartment, where I put on a comfortable pair of pajamas, lit my fire, put on [adult swim], and tore into my food, the four of us sat on top of Kearny Street hill for a few minutes. We were savoring the downtown view, waving at the police officers a half-block down the hill...and passing the dutchie on the left hand side. We were laughing at people huffing and puffing up the hill...one couple stopped halfway up the hill, sat down, and had some cigarettes. At one point, a wild-eyed guy claiming to be an Army Ranger sprinted up the hill at is (keep in mind this is one of the steepest hills in San Francisco), saying compared to Afghanistan, the hill was pretty flat. He challeneged us to race him up and down the hill...but my chicken curry and bocadillo were calling me, so I bade everyone farewell and retreated to Club Chad, where I was on the VIP list.

Now THAT'S Saturday night in North Beach.

(btw...with the exception of the first photo, which I took from the Vallejo Street Steps at the top of Russian Hill, the night shots were all taken from my roof)

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Chad Fox. All rights reserved.