Off The Record is a recurring feature, here on the Drunkard, that marries two of my greatest interests; music and travel. Having a locals perspective when visiting a new locale is the difference between experiencing it through the lens of a tourist and of that of a native.
Off The Record gathers some of my favorite artists, asks them to reflect on their city of residence, and choose a handful of places they could not live without, be them bookstores, bars, restaurants or vistas.
Today’s OTR catches up with Mark Kozelek whose recent Sun Kil Moon album, April, continues to dominate our late-night listening habits. As a longtime fan of both Red House Painters/SKM, and Kozelek’s adopted city of San Francisco, this installment is a personal favorite on multiple levels. Read below, listen to Sun Kil Moon, and visit San Francisco.
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Swan’s Oyster Depot – Polk Street :: I’ve eaten here once or twice a week for half of my life. I crave their oysters constantly. The Blue Points are my favorite. The clam chowder is so much better then the ‘bread bowl’ stuff at the wharf. My friend Chuck Prophet calls this place my office.
Molinari’s – Columbus Street :: The best Italian sandwiches. You have to pick a number and wait in line, and the fat guy there will always find a way to embarrass you and flirt with your girlfriend. Annoying. But I’ve been going there for years — the ‘Joe’s Special’ is my favorite, and the Renzo’s.
Original Joe’s Steak Restaurant :: This place is like walking into a time warp. A Hitchcock like world within a world. They shot a scene from Zodiac here. It’s down on Taylor Street, in the heart of the Tenderloin. My girlfriend thinks the waiters live there and never go outside.
Thanh Long :: Crab restaurant out on Judah, a few blocks from Ocean Beach. I don’t get out there much, but always make a point to bring friend’s there when visiting. The Best Dungeness crabs in the city. The salt and pepper crab is my favorite, and the garlic rice.
Sf Antique Mall :: I can spend all day in this place. There are million of these places out in Ohio, but just one here in San Francisco. It’s on Bayshore, on your way to the airport. I once saw a beautiful old blue vase there, told my friends how much I loved it, that I was going to buy it on my way out. So I shopped around, and on my way out, I noticed it was gone. I was cursing “fuck — I should have bought it — FUCK!” The guy at the register told me someone else bought it. So we got in the car and I moped the whole way home. When I was getting out of the car, my friend handed me the blue vase from the back seat. I’ll never forget that.
Pescadero :: My favorite coastal town in northern California, south of San Francisco, down highway 1, past Half Moon Bay. I get down there maybe once a month. The green chili soup at Duarte’s is the best thing I ever tasted. I have lots of beautiful memories of times spent here.
Telegraph Hill :: An old, historic neighborhood in SF. A handful of buildings survived the 1906 earthquake on this hill, so some of it still has that old feel, especially Napier Lane, off of the Filbert steps. This is where all of the Barbary Coast mayhem took place in the mid 1800s. I like to walk around up there sometimes, smell the gardens, and listen to the parrots.
Hyde Street Studios :: I’ve recorded so much music down there – from “Shadows” to “All Mixed up” to “Salvador Sanchez” to “Lucky Man.” I can’t go wrong in this place. Rumor has it that this historic studio — where Jefferson Airplane recorded “White Rabbit” – may be turned into Condos. I’ve seen the city go through so many changes — but this would be tough to take.
Tomaso’s on Kearny :: My favorite Italian restaurant in North Beach. No reservations and the line takes forever. But the food is worth it. My favorite is the coo-coo clams.
Bob’s Donuts on Polk Street :: This has been a regular spot for me for 20 years. Me and the RHP guys used to hang out here at 1:00 a.m. after rehearsals, talking to the stoic Eleanor, who ran the counter from midnight to to 8 a.m. (these are the hours when the donut’s are the freshest). She never let me use the bathroom in all the years I went there. She ran a tight ship. No change for a dollar, none of that. I came home from Europe once, and there was a sign that she had passed away. Now I go in there and bother her niece. She let me use the bathroom once.