A Day in Dogpatch, Potrero Hill, and Environs – January 2018

in by

Last year, I recounted in this column that, while walking home from an automobile repair shop, I discovered Martita’s Kitchen, a Mexican restaurant on Marin Street located amidst the mostly unwelcoming industrial area just beyond Potrero Hill’s south slope. Since then, I’ve learned that a number of eateries offer their fare along the lower Cesar Chavez Avenue corridor.  They’re hidden among the distribution centers and storage facilities that make up the area between Interstate 280 and Highway 101.  It’s not quite Bayview, not quite Potrero Hill, and, thanks to zoning laws, no one lives there.

Deli Lama

Still, there’s a community of workers who need to eat.  A popular place is the Deli Lama, 150 Toland Street, a weekdays-only breakfast and lunch counter with ample seating and extensive menu of sandwiches, burgers, and breakfast specials. I visited in the morning, ordered the hotlink scramble – chopped hotlink, mushrooms, spinach, cheddar and pepper jack cheese, two eggs – paid about eight bucks, and moments later dug into a plate of classic American breakfast food: an ample serving with buttered toast and fried potatoes, which’ll always be more satisfying than the fancified Eggs Benedict of brunch. The Deli Lama is cash-only. I forgot to visit an ATM before biking over, but the meal was sufficiently inexpensive I was able to pay for it from the loose bills and change I happened to have on me.

The restaurant opens at 6:30 a.m., closes at 2:30 p.m. Breakfast ends at 10:30 a.m. When I was there a pair of San Francisco Sheriff’s Department officers walked in at about 10:40 a.m., clearly regulars – they complimented the owner on the cuteness of his grandchildren, whom they must have encountered on a previous visit – yet slightly delayed in their routine by the business of law enforcement, still hoping to order from the breakfast menu. No dice. The owner seemed like a nice guy, but rules are rules, apparently.

Big Daddy’s Antiques

In 2017 I moved to a new apartment. The consequent need for new furniture was the impetus for me to step inside Big Daddy’s Antiques, which, from its massive space at 1550 17th Street, has been supplying the Hill with eclectic homewares since 2010. I couldn’t afford anything there but have found myself wandering in a couple of times since to admire the vast and beautiful selection of tables, chairs, sofas and light fixtures. Some of the objects that I suppose technically are for sale – vintage soapbox car, rusted metal clock taller than I am – seem to belong more to the store’s curated environment than to any potential buyer.

The space includes a fenced backyard, where plants are sold, and a slightly hidden loft with additional furnishings and decor. There’s stuff that looks like it could have come out of your grandmother’s house, and gear that looks like it belongs in some hipster artist’s studio. It’s all cool. Someday I’ll buy something.

The Boba Shop

Moving eastward, I feel duty-bound – after previously praising the Boba Guys’ Potrero 1010 outlet – to mention that a Dogpatch stalwart, The Sandwich Shop, now hosts a second business within its 2071 Third Street storefront. The Boba Shop occupies the countertop’s left side, operating as an independent business, though owned by the same family. It has more limited hours, opening at 11 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.; orders are rung up separately. Its menu is larger than that of Boba Guys, and includes, in addition to classic milk tea, seven varieties of jasmine green tea, three types of yogurt green tea, and four kinds of lemonade.

When I’m in South-of-Market, I’m usually on a bicycle or in a car.  The roads’ width and the traffic speeds make the neighborhood feel like Los Angeles; it isn’t meant for strolling. But I recently found myself on foot on King Street’s southside, between Third and Fourth, and noticed for the first time the extensive tribute to the Native American tribes that, for thousands of years, inhabited the villages of Chutchui and Sitlintac on Mission Bay’s shores. An informational signpost, which looks like a black-and-white checkered pole from the road, describes them “skimming over the shallow waters of Mission Bay in their lightweight boats that they made of tule reeds lashed together with willow withes. With pointed sticks, they pried mussels from rocks and dug up clams; with woven baskets, they scooped up herring and smelt; with throwing nets weighed by grooved stones, they snared ducks and shorebirds.”

King Street

Europeans first sighted these peoples in 1775. The Mission San Francisco de Asis was founded a year later; the Spanish forcibly converted the natives to Catholicism. An 1886 account, quoted within the public display on King Street, illuminates the process: “If any captured Indians show a repugnance to conversion, it is the practice to imprison them for a few days, and then allow them to breathe a little fresh air in a walk around the mission to observe the happy life of their converted countrymen, after which they are shut up, and continue to be incarcerated until they declare their readiness to renounce the religion of their forefathers.” Tuberculosis, measles, and typhoid fever quickly decimated tribal populations after conversion. When Native Americans sought to flee the mission, often in response to the deaths of their families, they were hunted down and recaptured.

Another placard reproduces the mission’s baptismal records from 1777 to 1787, listing old names – Taulvo, Cajnute – and new ones; Juan Bernadino, Maria Gaudalupe. The surrounding sidewalk is studded with plaques bearing the 104 known words that remain of the language, Rammaytush, which was spoken in Mission Bay for at least 1,500 years. It can be worthwhile to take a walk in SoMa after all.

For dinner, I returned to Dogpatch. I’d been meaning for ages to attend the Tuesday night trivia at Yield, a wine bar at 2490 Third Street. Yield offers a light menu of pizzas and bar snacks, but there’s enough to form a meal, which is a good thing, since weekly trivia starts around dinnertime, at 7:30 p.m. The bar’s cozy interior fills to the brim with competitors, most of whom are regulars. My friend and I were invited to join a welcoming preexisting team of two.  The questions – shouted above the din of the crowd, with admirable clarity and volume, over the course of nearly two hours, by a microphone-less bartender – ran the gamut from history to pop culture, science to literature. There was a name-that-tune section; at one point, we were asked to unscramble an anagram to name a CBS sitcom.


My main triumph was remembering the band behind the 1998 hit single “Kiss Me”:  Sixpence None the Richer. My team was stumped a few times, but the questions didn’t seem that hard on the whole. I thought we had a decent shot at winning, but when the answer sheets were reviewed, we ended up coming in fifth, so I guess I was wrong. The top three teams received gift cards of varying value. Because it was the end of the month, the overall champion for the last four weeks was also crowned. They were gifted a big bottle of rosé.  They were such gracious winners that they split it not only among themselves but amongst whoever else was still hanging out at Yield after trivia had ended, including me.