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San Francisco’s Tamale Lady is Fundraising to Start a Restaurant

San Francisco’s Tamale Lady is Fundraising to Start a Restaurant


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San Francisco’s famous “Tamale Lady” is looking for help to start her own restaurant

Earlier this month San Francisco’s “Tamale Lady”, Virginia Ramos, was banned from selling her famous tamales outside local restaurants. Now she has launched a crowd-sourced fundraiser to help her create her own restaurant.

Ramos has been selling her tamales in various locations for the past 20 years. However, due to health code violations that would cause restaurants to be held responsible for any health issues caused by the tamales she has been asked to stop.

As reported by CBS San Francisco, Ramos is working with David Campos, a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors to spread the word about her campaign.

Ramos is looking to raise $155,000 via Indiegogo to combine with her own savings to build her own brick-and-mortar location. Campos has been helping Ramos in her search. Though a food truck option isn’t out of the question, Ramos would prefer something that doesn’t require as much walking as she used to do.

Campos encourages patrons to help Ramos fulfill her dream saying “San Francisco would not be San Francisco, at least the city we want it to be, if the ‘Tamale Lady’ is displaced and she is no longer able to have her business.”

Those interested in donating can visit Ramos’ Indiegogo page.


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Big score at Chase Center: Entrepreneur lands contract to sell tamales at Warriors’ new arena

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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Alicia Villanueva poses for a photo at Chase Center in San Francisco on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. With the help of La Cocina and the Opportunity Fund, she landed a contract to sell her tamales at Chase Center. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Alicia Villanueva, left, of Berkeley, and Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia walk inside Chase Center, where Villanueva has landed a contract to sell her tamales. The Opportunity Fund lends to small businesses like Villanueva's. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Alicia Villanueva poses for a photo at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. She has landed a contract to sell her tamales at the Warriors' new arena. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Alicia Villanueva stands at the concession stand where her tamales are sold at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Alicia Villanueva poses for a photograph at her company Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Villanueva started off selling homemade tamales door-to-door and now has a contract with Chase Center and more. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Anna Gomez adds filling to tamales at Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas' production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: New packaging for tamales is displayed at Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Alicia Villanueva at her company Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas' production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Employees assemble tamales at Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas' production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Beatriz Vera prepares an order at Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas' production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Employees assemble tamales at Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas' production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: An order is prepared at Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas' production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

HAYWARD,CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Alicia Villanueva points at her company's goals board at Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas' production facility in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

It’s only the beginning of the Warriors’ season at the team’s new San Francisco arena, but one woman already feels like a champion. Alicia Villanueva just landed a contract to sell her tamales at Chase Center, nearly two decades after she immigrated from Mexico and started selling her goods door to door in Berkeley.

Villanueva used to make tamales at night, after cleaning houses or taking care of the disabled during the day. For almost a decade, she made about 100 tamales a day and sold them to neighbors and local job sites.

“I would knock on doors and introduce myself” after picking up one son from preschool and carrying her younger son on her back, she said. “Some of them became huge customers.”

Now, with the help of San Francisco-based kitchen incubator La Cocina — her partner in the contract with Chase Center — and loans from the Opportunity Fund, Villanueva has a 6,000-square-foot Hayward factory that makes about 40,000 tamales a month. Last week, Chase Center asked her to deliver 5,000 tamales to the new arena, a number that could change as the basketball season progresses.

Villanueva is in talks to sell her frozen tamales to Whole Foods, and her cooked tamales will be at the hot bar in some stores during the holiday season, she said. Her tamales are also sold at Berkeley Bowl and UC Berkeley. Plus she caters all over the Bay Area and has struck deals with companies that serve her tamales in the cafeterias of Google, Facebook and Twitter.

“I just can’t believe it,” Villanueva, 58, said as she showed off her industrial freezers, steamers and other kitchen equipment. “I’m living a beautiful dream.”

She remembers a time when buying just one of piece of equipment was a hardship, and she’s grateful that La Cocina helped lead her to the Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit that lends to entrepreneurs who might be turned down by banks.

“We have a moral obligation to say yes to people like Alicia,” said Luz Urrutia, CEO of San Jose-based Opportunity Fund, last week at Chase Center. “She embodies the American dream, the entrepreneurial spirit.” When people like Villanueva get loans, it creates jobs and helps local vendors, creating a “ripple effect in our communities,” Urrutia added.

Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas buys its meat, vegetables and other supplies from nearby suppliers. The company now employs 24 people.

Imelda Noriega, a former restaurant worker, has been with ATLM for two years and is now in charge of quality control, inspecting shipments and making sure the food is at the correct temperatures. Lucy Gomez has been there three years — for as long as the facility has been open — and Villanueva considers her the operation’s sous chef. Gomez said she is muy feliz (very happy) about the company’s growth.

Villanueva hopes to do for her employees what making tamales has done for her: ensure their children get a good education. Her son Pedro Jr., who graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in environmental studies, now helps ensure the family business is green.

Nearly two decades after starting to make tamales in her Berkeley home, Villanueva has come a long way. She has had to make changes. As much as she wants to spend most of her time in the kitchen, she can only devote the first few hours of the day there before she turns to the goals she has written on a whiteboard in her office.

She wants her tamales sold at Safeway and served in area schools. She wants to provide medical insurance for her employees within the next year. Longer term, she want to go organic, have vegan offerings, become zero waste and start a free community garden.

But first, Villanueva and Chase Center are feeling their way around each other, especially as the arena prepares for the first regular-season Warriors home game Thursday night. The Warriors have boosted the number of food and drink offerings at the new arena: They have 39 food and beverage stands at Chase Center compared with 14 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, according to a spokesman. They have also doubled the number of full-service bars from 6 to 12.

The phone could ring at any time and Villanueva might need to fill another huge order. She’ll be ready.


Porto's bakers work each day and night, hand-shaping and scoring fresh dough to bring you the most delicious and freshly baked artisan bread possible.

Dear Porto’s Bakery Community,

First and foremost, I hope you and your family are in good health.

What an incredible time we are all living through. I cannot remember in the 40 years of helping my mother and family-run Porto’s a more challenging time. Over the last few months, my sisters, son, nieces, nephews, and our incredible team have been working tirelessly in our bakeries trying to continue to take care of our guests. During this time of profound uncertainty, which no words will do justice, the Porto’s team has made all efforts to adapt to the constantly evolving situation.

As this unprecedented situation continues to unfold, we decided to discontinue take-out service and transition our operations to contactless ordering, payment, and curbside pick-up.

Thank you for your kindness and patience as our team continues to work hard to serve our guests and communities. In speaking with our guests these past few months, I’ve come to realize that we’re not just feeding the community, but we’re providing a sense of comfort and normalcy to their homes during these uncertain times.

We are all in this together! Be safe and we look forward to continuing to serve you.


San Francisco's Real Mission

EACH TIME AMERICA SEALS ME IN A laminate of deadlines and Dow Jones averages, bills due and bills payable, I journey to a place where urgencies fade, colors brighten and all claims on reality begin to look relative. Just a stroll down the hill - though, like a good Californian, I usually drive - leads me out of my silent, wind-scoured, chillingly pretty neighborhood into a raucous, mouldering, charmingly unscrubbed caldron. Suddenly, the sidewalks are bordered with azure tiles and doused with the perfume of rotting mangoes the streets are serenaded by thumping basso laments broadcast from souped-up Chevys the advertisements appeal to a dozen loyalties and languages. Black-shawled Guatemalan women ply the restaurants, peddling red carnations, followed by packs of Vietnamese urchins toting bags of fresh-picked garlics each available clapboard wall bursts with murals of naked Aztec deities and painted jungles every sight conspires to defeat grayness and to sabotage the straight-and-narrow. Where thousands have sought asylum before me, I am a refugee in reverse - fleeing the benefits of the Promised Land for the immigrant hothouse and global miscellany that is San Francisco's Mission District.

If other parts of San Francisco exist to meet outside expectations of what San Francisco should be, ''the Mission'' is where San Francisco is San Francisco for itself. Residents know what tourists can find out only by giving up the search for postcard imagery: the most characteristic neighborhood of this city is the one with the least characteristically San Franciscan attributes. You'll find no cable cars here, and no hills for them to climb. Sourdough bread and shrimp Louis have long been replaced by corn tortillas and cangrejos a la parrilla. Far from the ocean and close to the Bay, the Mission is also one of the sections of town least plagued by the picturesque fog.

This oblong grid that runs roughly from 14th to 30th Streets, bounded on the east by Potrero Avenue and on the west by a curtain of palms along undulating Dolores Street, contains San Francisco's finest assortment of Victorian-style houses. In the Mission's unfiltered light, it's easy to notice when these so-called ''painted ladies'' have had their makeup smeared and their rouge blown off by time, their petticoat trimmings tattered. Prissy and puritanical in a wide-open land, smugly closed to the elements in a realm of perpetual sun, these architectural holdovers are revealed in all their unsuitability to the environment. Nonetheless, these houses have become San Francisco's own - and make the Mission's residential areas prime territory for gawking. Some of the earliest and most ornate houses in the Mission are along South Van Ness Avenue, called Howard Street when it was a millionaires' row. Another assortment of 19th-century treasures can be found on Fair Oaks and Liberty, two tree-lined streets west of Mission Street.

But the Mission's main claim to fame is its ever-multiplying ethnic diversity. The name of a popular district saloon says it all. 'ɾl Tico Nica'' reads the sign, translated as ''The Nicaraguan Costa Rican,'' or the reverse, if you choose. In recent years, the neighborhood has become a hybrid, its core Mexican and Mexican-American population supplemented with a steady stream of noncombatants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and other portions of that troubled area that many travel agencies advertise as 'ɼ.A.'' A smattering of Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Chileans have found a haven here, too.

A stroll down Mission Street also reveals markets catering to a growing number of Chinese, Vietnamese, even Laotian tribal people. A drive farther south along the main street, leading toward the Excelsior neighborhood and beyond, is an expedition into the Pacific islands. Filipino markets sell dried fish and homemade lumpia rolls, but that is only the start. Find a rare green space here and you might stumble on a mass Samoan barbecue, where the charcoals are tended by formations of women in flowered muumuus.

I made my first foray into the Mission in the fall of 1968, the week Richard Nixon was elected president. Iɽ come to San Francisco on a break from my freshman year at college. In the days when the Bay Area laid claim to being the world capital of revolt, word reached me that the most incendiary show in town was to be found in a tiny church that then served as venue for El Teatro Campesino, the company born out of the United Farm Workers movement. I felt thoroughly conspiratorial as I searched among darkened, unfamiliar avenues. I even remember my first glimpse of the wispy palms along Mission Street. How, I wondered, did they survive so far north? Eventually, I found my way to ''The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa,'' the first full-length play by Luis Valdez, who went on to write and direct ''Zoot Suit'' and the movie ''La Bamba.'' Once I moved to the Bay Area, I was led to the Mission by cuisine, not culture: the burrito. First at the legendary La Cumbre, on Valencia, and later at the competing El Toro, I discovered how a whole dinner could be stuffed inside one steam-heated, bargain-priced white flour wrapping. The enlargement of the burrito to humongous, Americanized proportions may be the Mission's supreme contribution to Western civilization: the story is told about a newcomer from Mexico, used to the skimpier variety back home, who ordered four burritos on his first trip to the Mission - and found his plate loaded down with 10 pounds worth of these edible artillery shells.

Still, my own appreciation for the neighborhood did not flower fully until, returning from a trip to Venezuela, I wanted to replicate a fried banana dish for friends. In South America, I had sampled the delicious ''manzana'' bananas, tart and apple-ish as the name suggests. I assumed that they didn't exist north of the border, but one shopping trip was enough for me to discover that every store in the Mission stocked manzanas, as well as the over-ripe monsters the Mexicans call machos - and five other types besides.

But the Mission provides more than bananas. It offers a past - that rar-est of commodities in the society on wheels where only right-of-way matters, epochs are but bumper stickers waiting to come unglued, history is just a rear-view mirror into which few bother to peek. That's why I pulled over the first time I spotted the freshly whitewashed adobe at Dolores and 16th Streets known officially as Mision San Francisco de Asis (bestowing the name on the city) and colloquially as Mission Dolores. I don't usually brake for chapels, but this pint-sized speck of California's Spanish past, dwarfed by the accompanying basilica where Pope John Paul II, in 1987, blessed AIDS patients, stands as a singular revelation. A modest plaque tags Mission Dolores '⟊lifornia Historic Landmark No. 327,'' but it is San Francisco's building Numero Uno: this schizophrenic city's single provider of psychic continuity. 'ɽolores,'' of course, means sorrows or pains, and close by what bilingual Missionites jokingly call ''Pains Park,'' under the mission-style turrets of Mission High, ran a stream that the Spanish christened 'ɾl Arroyo de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores.'' The Mission building was once the northern terminus of El Camino Real, the Spanish road up the California coast. It was dedicated on June 29, 1776, just five days before the Declaration of Independence.

THE MISSION WAS built with 36,000 sunbaked bricks, clay walls four feet thick. Redwood trusses helped the church survive the 1906 earthquake. If you get to Mission Dolores between tour buses, you can have a moment's meditation in the oblong sanctuary under a ceiling of zigzagging earth-toned patterns reminiscent of Santa Fe. Once upon not so long a time ago, this building was the center of a vast rancho supporting 11,000 head of cattle. Bullfights were held outside the chapel, and so were ritual dances of the few surviving Costanoan Indians. The grounds of the Mission hold the unmarked remains of some 5,000 unlucky Costanoans, one of the native 'ɽigger'' peoples whose gentle ways would later inspire Haight-Ashbury's hippie tribes.

The burial plot for Europeans is probably the high point of a visit to the Mission site. A proclamation in the gift shop, handed out by a local publication more known for rating purveyors of goat cheese, calzone and Sonoma County zinfandels, dubs this the Bay Area's '➾st-Looking Graveyard.'' Amid bursts of uncontrollable California fecundity, cacti and aloes, roses and poppies and birds of paradise, there are enough headstones of civic founders to serve the tourist as a road map. Francisco de Haro, the first alcalde, or mayor, of Yerba Buena, as the settlement was then called, can be found here. The street named after him is not within walking distance, but you can find members of the families who are memorialized in some of the Mission's main streets: Valencia, Guerrero, Sanchez.

Because of Mission Dolores, most people have the mistaken impression that this has always been the Hispanic section of town. But the enterprising Forty-Niners who squatted here - including one Levi Strauss, whose blue jeans factory can be viewed at the north end of Valencia - were quite efficient at wiping out the traces of prior Spanish and Mexican rule. The wealthy among them soon abandoned the area in favor of Nob Hill and its sweeping Bay views. Successive waves of poor immigrants - the Germans, the Italians and the Irish -weren't so foolish. They disdained the quest for status in favor of the Mission's sunshine. It wasn't until after World War II that Mexican immigrants to California's fields and shipyards came flooding back to unwittingly reclaim the neighborhood's heritage. T ODAY, THE HEART OF the district, the Inner Mission, is the thoroughly Mexican strip along 24th Street between South Van Ness and Potrero. While Mission Street has become an unappealing hodgepodge of cut-rate rag shops and liquor stores, doughnut stands and Foxy Lady boutiques, ''La Calle Veinte-Cuatro'' remains a quiet and genial stretch that simulates a visit to the downtown of a mid-sized Mexican farming community. Bakery windows are crammed with pink and yellow cakes inside, customers take a tray and tongs, then choose - amid hanging pinatas, sacks of frijoles, industrial-sized cans of pickled jalapenos - from the various traditional shapes and sizes of sugary buns. For a quarter a pop, try a novia, shaped like a wedding dress, or a concha, with its icing baked in nautilus design, or the croissants that Mexicans more aptly call cuernos, or horns. At Casa Sanchez, one of the city's leading tortilla factories, you can get the corn cakes fresh and warm, then dip them in a variety of sauces displayed in the traditional black mortars. Or you can sit down to a full meal at such longtime neighborhood landmarks as Las Marias and the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. All that's missing here is a quaint plaza. Twenty-fourth Street also houses El Nuevo Fruitlandia, which turns out to be a Puerto Rican restaurant, and Discolandia, the city's only Latin record shop. There might be dozens of such stores in New York or Los Angeles, but San Francisco's very smallness assures that each speck of Latin culture remains distinct, a treasured resource. That is certainly the case with the Galeria de la Raza, the major showcase and patron of local Latino artists. Its Studio 24 shop next door has the city's best collection of Mexican folk objects and handicrafts, plus plenty of thick-eyebrowed icons of Frida Kahlo, the wife of Diego Rivera and the reigning goddess of every aspiring Latina artist. You can find idols to suit your fancy on the many murals that spring up on nearly every empty patch of plaster along 24th and nearby streets: from an Aztec god in a plumed headdress to Carlos Santana wielding his electric guitar. Balmy Alley, off 24th, boasts a blocklong series of murals that mix landscapes and agitprop, foliage and laundry -both real and painted. M ISSION STREET, which crosses 24th, is notable for its astounding heterogeneity. Each stretch of storefronts here is emblematic of the American dream and the multi-ethnic reality to which that dream is slowly giving rise. Just look: above the Kum Wah Chinese Garden, the offices of a Hispanic ''Palmista and Spiritual Advisor'' next to the Korean Cabin, beside the Vietnamese butcher shop, close by the excellent Cuba Restaurant, a bar boasting ''juegos Peruanos'' (whatever Peruvian games might be). It's a few blocks to Eunice's Brazil Bazaar, offering, as a Brazilian friend joked, 'ɾverything in the world you don't need,'' on our way to that ultimate Mission mishmash, the Country Station Sushi Cafe, where a Japanese chef in a cowboy hat carves up his herd of raw sea urchins nearby the Salvadoran pupusa stand with a name as grand as its decor is modest, ''Las Mil y Una Noches,'' the ''thousand and one nights'' of the Mission. Don't they mean thousand and one nationalities? To this mix is added such leftovers of the Edward Hopper era as Golden Crust Pies. At this point, it's the bygone Americana that seems most exotic, out of place or context. All that remains of a former de-(Continued on Page 56) partment store on 17th Street is a rooftop billboard dominating the district with its inexplicable boast: '✗ Reasons Why!'' F OR ALL THIS, SOME first-time visitors to the Mission may see only the buckles in the pavement, the strewn newspapers, the gang graffiti, the broken-down borrachos staggering about in exaggerations of stupor so artful they border on the Chaplinesque, the abandoned Chevys and, in some unshaven faces, abandoned hopes. But they will be missing everything to use the dismissive terms ''ghetto,'' ''slum,'' '➺rrio,'' ''low-rent.'' For one thing, California insures that poverty is sun-washed and diluted by space to spread out. Unlike some of its counterparts back East, the Mission is sometimes tawdry but never bleak. Its inhabitants do not give the impression of feeling trapped, just occasionally stalled. Amid the groups of sharp-eyed shoppers at the papaya stands, there is little evidence of shame and much of dignity. ''La Mision'' displays a world that is less busy striving to become American than showing America how to become the whole world.

The Mission illustrates the obvious paradox of travel, whether far or crosstown. For we don't go places just to expand our choice of bananas. Our quest is to reclaim a sense of the other-worldly amid mundanity. In the places where life narrows to the most basic human concerns, we glimpse a widening of our own possibilities. It's these possibilities that send me coasting down that hill more and more often. INDIGENOUS CULTURE PAINTED WALLS

The Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center (348 Precita Avenue telephone: 415-285-2287) conducts hourlong ''Mission Mural Walks'' on the first and third Saturdays of each month. The walks, which are led by muralists, include a stroll down Balmy Alley with its 28 murals. A half-hour slide presentation precedes each tour. Cost: $3.

City Guides of San Francisco conducts free mural tours, beginning at 1 P.M. on the second Saturday of each month. Meet at Precita Avenue and Harrison Street, behind Flynn Elementary School. For information call: 415-558-3981. THE LIVELY ARTS

Some of San Francisco's most progressive theater, dance and arts events take place in the Mission. Listed below are some examples.

Eureka Theater (2730 16th Street 415-558-9898) presents such socially relevant, multicultural plays as ''Heart of the World,'' co-produced with A Traveling Jewish Theater, opening Nov. 8. Tickets are $11 to $17.

Theater Rhinoceros (2926 16th Street 415-861-5079). The fall schedule includes ''Lust and Pity,'' a dark comedy about obsessive love by Hilary Sloin, opening Nov. 11. Tickets: $8 to $15.

Theater Artaud (450 Florida Street 415-621-7797), a former factory, is now a home for contemporary theater, dance and music. Included this season: ''Slapstick,'' a Dellɺrte Players theater piece, employing vaudeville and silent film techniques 'ɻlack Choreographers Moving Toward the 21st Century'' June Watanabe, performing in a multimedia piece, and ''Projections in Performance 1989,'' a synthesis of music and image presented by the Multi-Image Showcase. Telephone for schedules. Tickets: $12 to $25. Intersection for the Arts (766 Valencia Street 415-626-2787). Formerly a mortuary, the building now houses two galleries and a theater space.

Footwork (3221 22d Street 415-824-5044) is a showcase for work by both new and established choreographers.

New Performance Gallery (3153 17th Street 415-863-9834) mounts experimental theater, music and dance.

The Roxie Cinema (3117 16th Street 415-863-1087) programs an eclectic mix of political, classic, foreign and independent films. On Sundays there are silent film matinees with live organ music. BURRITOS AND BEYOND Though the Mission is home to restaurants specializing in a variety of ethnic cuisines, the accent is heavily Latin. What follows is a highly selective sampling of snacking and dining establishments.

La Cumbre (515 Valencia Street, telephone: 415-863-8205) has a variety of specialties, including a dinner of beef tongue, rice, beans and salad, for under $6. Burritos cost $2.15.

El Toro (598 Valencia Street 415-431-3351) offers an enchilada dinner, served with salad, rice and beans, for $4.75. The El Toro plate, which includes an enchilada, flauta and chili relleno, is $6.95.

Casa Sanchez (2778 24th Street 415-282-2400) has burritos for $1.75 and combination plates for $4.50. Casa Sanchez's own tortillas and salsa are served with meals.

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor (2817 24th Street 415-550-9213) specializes in crab enchiladas ($6.75). The enchilada platter is $3.95.

El Nuevo Fruitlandia Cafe (3077 24th Street 415-648-2958) specializes in Puerto Rican and Cuban fare. The Saturday special is lechon asado (roast pork) accompanied by Puerto Rican-style rice with pigeon peas and yuca in garlic sauce: $7. Camarones al ajillo (prawns in garlic sauce) are $8.95. Natural shakes, made with such Caribbean fruits as the slightly astringent guanabana and the sweet mamey sapote, are $2.

Las Marias (3033 24th Street 415-282-7428) serves Salvadorean and Mexican comidas tipicas. Yuca, boiled then fried, and served with deep-fried pork bits, costs $3.75. Sopa de mariscos, a hearty shellfish stew, is $9.95.

Cuba Restaurant (2886 16th Street 415-255-2396) serves authentic Cuban cuisine. Mariscada, a stew of scallops, clams, crabmeat and prawns in a garlic-and-tomato sauce, served with black beans and rice, is $14.25. Sopa de los siete maris, a thick seafood soup, is $8.75.

La Rondalla (901 Valencia Street 415-647-7474) offers, in addition to the usual Mexican fare, such traditional dishes as barbecued goat, marinated in a sauce containing garlic, bay leaves, sesame seeds, cloves and chocolate ($8). Carne asado (beef prepared Mexican-style) is also $8.

Los Panchos (3206 Mission Street 415-285-1033), a Salvadorean restaurant, sells pupusas - tortillas stuffed with melted cheese and fried pork - for $1. Carne asado with tortillas, salad and french fries costs $4.25.


Author lures restaurateur Suvir Saran to S.F.

Chef Suvir Saran is coming to San Francisco's Mid-Market neighborhood, thanks in part to local restaurant legend and author Joyce Goldstein.

The way he tells it, Saran - whose previous restaurant, Devi, in Manhattan, was the first Indian restaurant in the United States to earn a Michelin star - was ready to leave the bustle of New York for the greener pastures of California. He was initially leaning toward opening a restaurant in Los Angeles. That's when Goldstein stepped in.

"I knew I wanted to do a farm-to-table restaurant," says Saran, who left Devi in 2012 and has spent the past year on a farm in upstate New York.

"I was leaning toward Los Angeles, but Joyce Goldstein sold me on San Francisco. She said, 'Kiddo, you're not doing it in L.A. If you want people to eat delicious food, come to San Francisco.' "

The pitch worked. Saran has inked a deal to take the expansive ground-floor space of the new Nema building (14 Tenth St.), which is under construction across from the Twitter building.

It's an area rife with restaurant development, including new projects from the AQ guys and Daniel Patterson - and probably more to come.

Saran's still-unnamed restaurant, which clocks in at almost 9,000 square feet and 100 to 120 seats, will also include an adjacent lounge. Cocktails and a "serious wine program" will also come into play.

"The lounge and bar will have snacks and finger foods, and the restaurant will be beautiful food with the right pricing so that people can eat there every day if they're so inclined," Saran says.

The New Delhi-born chef says the food will be California cuisine with personal influences - or as he puts it, "the food of the planet, through my Indian eyes."

Saran is moving to San Francisco in January, taking one of the building's 754 residential units above the restaurant, and hoping to open in the spring.

And who knows, maybe he'll get a chapter in Goldstein's next edition of "Inside the California Food Revolution," her new book about the chefs who molded California cuisine.

Wine and dine: Oakland's Oliveto (5655 College Ave.) is one of several Bay Area restaurants experimenting with Coravin, a new tool that allows wine to be poured without pulling the cork, thus extending a bottle's lifetime.

To christen the new toy, Oliveto is rolling out a new dinner series and wine list: 1,800 bottles of older vintage Italian red wines, with a particular emphasis on Barolo and Barbaresco.

Proprietor Bob Klein, who has been collecting bottles for years, says it's time to open the cellar. The dinners ($125, wine included) will take place weekly, starting Monday. Each will feature a dedicated presenter with certain clout in the wine world, from David Lynch (St. Vincent) to Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon).

For more information, go to www.oliveto.com.

Shaken, not stirred: Scala's vets Jen Biesty and Tim Nugent have finally locked down the lease to take over Mezzé (3407 Lakeshore Ave.) in Oakland's Lakeshore neighborhood after crowdsourcing $102,937 from their fans on Kickstarter.


San Francisco's favorite dive bars

2 of 32 The 500 Club-A classic Mission hipster hangout with old-time booth seats, a jukebox, and stiff drinks. 500 Club 500 Club, The Mission, San Francisco, California Leica M8, Zeiss Biogon 2,8/25 ZM B+W 386 UV IR cut filter Aperture 2.0 (straighten, exposure, enhance. highlights/shadows, monochrome mixer, vignette) 1/250sec, iso160, 25mm (33mm) ____________________________________________________ Lazy Memorial Day. We walked to the 500 club but it was empty that day. Eventually we ended up at Zeitgeist. Flickr/Terry Chay Show More Show Less

4 of 32 The Saloon, at 1232 Grant Ave. and Fresno Alley, was established in 1861 and is one of the oldest bars in San Francisco, Calif. Adam Lau/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

5 of 32 Murio’s Trophy Room-Divey with a capital “D.” Murio’s has been a staple on the Upper Haight scene forever. If you’re looking for a dicey/sketchy crowd, look no further. Upper Haight San Francisco, CA Flickr/Brandon Doran Show More Show Less

7 of 32 Spec’s-Not a true dive, but it’s the best place to start a proper crawl in North Beach. Ask about the Walrus body part hanging behind the bar. A true piece of San Francisco. Flickr/Brett L. Show More Show Less

8 of 32 Kennedy’s-On the border of North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf, this unlikely establishment fancies itself an Irish bar, with a hippie clientele and an Indian restaurant. An odd combination that works. Flickr/D.L. Show More Show Less

10 of 32 Want a dive with a touch of the tropical? Then this tiki bar in the Outer Richmond is your place. The scorpion bowl, a drink for four, will have you seeing palm trees. Kenn Wilson/Flickr Show More Show Less

11 of 32 Hawaii West-Another North Beach standby, Hawaii West is the kind of place where you can be the only one sitting at the bar for a good stretch. Great pool table and a good selection of draft beers. Flickr/Drazz Show More Show Less

13 of 32 Great bartenders and a killer snacketeria this SOMA bar feels just like home… If your home is filled with jello shots, spaghetti-os and movie marathons. yelp.com/Flickr Show More Show Less

14 of 32 The Double Play-This bar is across the street from the site of old Seal’s Stadium, between Potrero Hill and the Mission. Great baseball memorabilia and good food makes for a tasty dive. Flickr/Shando Darby Show More Show Less

16 of 32 Aunt Charlie’s Lounge-A classic of sleazy downtown glamour with a nice combination of Tenderloin locals and underground club kids. On weekends, they host one of the most legendary drag shows in the city. flickr/ilvadel Show More Show Less

17 of 32 Toronado: It might not smell so great, but this Lower Haight dive has a vast selection of beer at some of the best prices. Hungry patrons can head next door to grab a sausage from Rosamunde's and enjoy it at the bar, beer in hand–just like Ed Lee pictured here. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee clinks glasses with Tiffany Calhoun and Christina Castro at Toronado pub during the mayor's lower Haight neighborhood on a pub-crawl. Thursday August 18, 2011 **MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/NO SALES/MAGS OUT/TV OUT/INTERNET: AP MEMBER NEWSPAPERS ONLY** The Chronicle/Lance Iversen Show More Show Less

19 of 32 Tempest: Stop by SOMA's favorite bike messenger hangout for world-class tattoo watching. A side window serves up delicious bar bites. Customers enjoy drinks and pool during happy hour at the Tempest in San Francisco, Calif., on September 14th, 2011. **MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/NO SALES/MAGS OUT/TV OUT/INTERNET: AP MEMBER NEWSPAPERS ONLY** The Chronicle/John Storey Show More Show Less

20 of 32 The drinks at Sutter Station are made to pack a punch. If you like some extra kick, as well, then get a Bloody Mary. It will put that spice in your life. atxryan/Flickr Show More Show Less

22 of 32 Hi-Dive: The waterfront location next to Pier 28 makes this a great spot for a daytime drink or a beer before the game. The Hi Dive Bar on the Embarcadero on Friday , May 30, 2008 in San Francisco , Calif MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE/NO SALES-MAGS OUT Kurt Rogers/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

23 of 32 Another hipster hangout in the Mission. A dimly lit, smoker friendly dive. KayVee.INC/Flickr Show More Show Less

25 of 32 Want a bar where you can drink with your best furry friend? Kilowatt is dog friendly. It also has some great games for you and your human friends. rnair/Flickr Show More Show Less

26 of 32 Buckshot: Don't let the collection of taxidermied animals deter you. Between the game room and the Southern food (chicken fried bacon, anyone?), this place has something for everyone. San Francisco's quintessential rock "n" roll bartender, Johnny Davis, who owns Bender's Bar and Grill, shares one of his favorite places to visit in the city, Buckshot Restaurant Bar and Gameroom on Geary Street in San Francisco, Ca. on Friday June 11, 2010. Davis enjoys a recent luch at teh Buckshot, sloppy Joe, sweet corn chowder and a glass absinthe with simple syrup and ice, to drink. **MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/NO SALES/MAGS OUT/TV OUT/INTERNET: AP MEMBER NEWSPAPERS ONLY** Michael Macor/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

28 of 32 Zeitgeist: This popular spot is rightly known for its abundance of outdoor seating and frequent late-night appearances from S.F.'s beloved Tamale Lady. Rafael Alvez/Flickr Show More Show Less

29 of 32 Known for its cheap drink and relaxed setting, you’re likely to be in with a few regulars here. Mr Bing’s is definitely a place you go as much for the prices as for the people watching. Digital Sextant/Flickr Show More Show Less

31 of 32 Looking for a game of pool this weekend? Look no further than Ha-Ra, where patrons rave about the service as much as how they sunk the 8-ball. Jeremy Brooks/Flickr Show More Show Less

Question: What makes a great dive bar?

A. Cheap, stiff drinks. B. That sketchy-looking guy sitting in the corner. C. The dark lighting and dank atmosphere. D. Great times with unpretentious people.

Answer: E. All of the above.

San Francisco is home to some of the greatest dive bars in the country. Free popcorn, a collection of taxidermied animals, and drag queen shows, and a bar that doubles as an Indian restaurant are just a few of the bizarre amenities offered by the bars on this list. Between the old haunts that open at 6 a.m. for those just getting off work and the newer hipster hangouts of the Mission, the many dive bars of S.F. have something for everyone.

Browse through these photos to check out some of the best dive bars of San Francisco. Did your favorite spot make the list?


I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born. More by Lydia Chávez

My, how the narrative would be different if this lady were white. What a joke.

Yes, I thought the same thing. I guess we should give ML credit for finding a “sympathetic” landlord in an attempt to show there really are two sides to this issue, and that many property owners struggle because of rent control.

Of course, there’s a dig in there about predatory lending but overall it’s the familiar refrain of eviction-proof tenants with super-low rents who nonetheless whine all the time that their building is not the Ritz.

The good news is that Zillow has the property now worth over a million, so Ramos can always cash out at a profit, to no doubt be replaced by a much less benign owner who will Ellis the joint. This story is a textbook example of why that happens.

zillow is a computer program questimating and offten way off. its value is what one would expect, for now and the future, since both suck, and are guaranteed to suck given sf laws, and the maintenance problems, zillow is wrong.
wild that even the tamale lady is considered a slumlord. if she could raise the rents commensurate, or even close to the market, she would have none of those problems – she could afford her loan, maintenance, to address leglaly if need be tenants who are not following their lease terms. not all landlords are rich.

they are certain to censor any real discussion.

I know the page managers well and:
1. Missy District, if that is the same person who frequently posted to VanishingSf as Missy Destrict, is a troll by any standard. You may want to get a little more creative with your nom de plume if you wish to continue.
2. No, VanishingSF does not block commentary or comments of those who disagree with posts. They are a canny bunch. If someone is disrupting dialogue, using well-known troll tactics, VSF will actually intervene at some point to ask if the person is trolling. 9x out of 10, the commenter is never heard from again. If they keep it up, escalating in familiar ways we all should understand, they are eventually banned. Some overt racists and violent and uber-nasty offensive types have been banned outright. I think about 25 bans out of 9,200 likes and an average of 36,000 in almost 2 years.
That’s the truth.

i look forward to vanishing sf’s posting of this article and the ensuing discussion. the issue is far more complex than the ‘evil and greedy’ landlord caricature.


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Nearly two decades after starting to make tamales in her Berkeley home, Villanueva has come a long way. She has had to make changes. As much as she wants to spend most of her time in the kitchen, she can only devote the first few hours of the day there before she turns to the goals she has written on a whiteboard in her office.

She wants her tamales sold at Safeway and served in area schools. She wants to provide medical insurance for her employees within the next year. Longer term, she want to go organic, have vegan offerings, become zero waste and start a free community garden.

But first, Villanueva and Chase Center are feeling their way around each other, especially as the arena prepares for the first regular-season Warriors home game Thursday night. The Warriors have boosted the number of food and drink offerings at the new arena: They have 39 food and beverage stands at Chase Center compared with 14 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, according to a spokesman. They have also doubled the number of full-service bars from 6 to 12.

The phone could ring at any time and Villanueva might need to fill another huge order. She’ll be ready.


After their son was born with a heart defect, the Chwaliks were flown to Maryland to care for him.

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California law lets home cooks sell their food directly to public

State Senator Scott Wiener spoke at a rally in support of Assembly Bill 626, the 2018 Homemade Food Operations Act. at the Forage Kitchen Sunday, June 10, 2018 in San Francisco, Calif. Liz Moughon / The Chronicle

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law AB626, a groundbreaking new law that allows people to sell directly to the public food they have cooked in their home kitchens.

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella (Riverside County), introduced the bill in 2017. It was held in Assembly appropriations until 2018, when it moved forward again with state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, as co-author. Both the Assembly and Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill before it moved to the governor&rsquos desk. Brown signed it Tuesday.

AB626 is part of a nationwide effort to pass &ldquocottage food&rdquo laws permitting small-scale home-based food enterprises. The California Homemade Food Act, signed into law in 2012, allows home cooks to sell jams, pickles and other foods with low risk of food-borne illness.

The new law is much broader, encompassing all sorts of perishable foods, yet it also includes safety precautions for the public. To obtain a permit to sell food prepared at home, cooks must obtain the same food managers&rsquo certification as restaurant professional do and agree to an inspection of their kitchen. They must also agree to unscheduled, drop-in inspections during their posted business hours.

A statewide advocacy group held a rally to support Assembly Bill 626, the 2018 Homemade Food Operations Act. at the Forage Kitchen Sunday, June 10, 2018 in San Francisco, Calif. Liz Moughon/The Chronicle

Furthermore, cooks are allowed to sell food directly to consumers &mdash they are not allowed to use delivery services or send their food through the mail. &ldquoThat ensures a high degree of traditional accountability,&rdquo said Matt Jorgensen, whose nonprofit coalition, the Cook Alliance, sponsored the bill and organized petitions and rallies in support.

Once it goes into effect on Jan. 1, AB626 will legalize many types of informal businesses that currently operate under the radar: Cooks who make dumplings and advertise them through WeChat, the Chinese-language messaging service. Cooks who make sheet-pans of tamales to sell to their church congregation. Cooks who quit the restaurant industry to prepare dinners in their home for paying guests. If they gross more than $50,000 a year, they will have to move to a commercial kitchen.

&ldquoIt decriminalizes a practice that has been going on for a long time and creates an economic empowerment opportunity for people who want to make a living from something they already do at home and enjoy doing,&rdquo Assemblyman Garcia said.

Garcia argued that the law will make consumers safer, rather than putting them at increased risk. &ldquoRight now we&rsquore turning the other way to something that&rsquos happening, so there&rsquos no accountability,&rdquo he said.

The passage of the law does not ensure that, come Jan. 1, home cooks in every part of the state can apply for a permit to run a food business out of their home kitchen. Local environmental health departments must opt in to the program obtaining their buy-in will be the next stage of the effort to legalize these enterprises.


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