Pastel Fog and Bluster
A Lovely July In North Beach
By Joe Bonadio
North Beach in July is always sort of a toss-up in terms of weather. Anyone who has been here for more than one season knows that our summers are famously fickle, and so far this year, we’ve had little to complain about. June was much sunnier than usual, and so far July has been on the same warm and pleasant track, if a bit windy.
But there is one thing that seems relatively consistent: the fog almost always shows up just in time to thwart the Independence Day fireworks. And lo, this year was no exception. Though the weather had been clear all week, our man Karl stole in just after the sun went down, blanketing the Embarcadero from end to end. And once again, most of us were left toasting a noisy, nebulous light show.
Happily, that didn’t appear to put any damper on neighborhood spirit, and it was a blessing that the Fourth fell on a Thursday this year. It made for a barnburner night in the Beach, and the merrymaking (and plenty of scarily unofficial fireworks) continued throughout the weekend.
All of the celebrating came just in time to assuage the neighborhood’s temporary loss of its beloved Washington Square Park, which of course closed at the beginning of the month for a long-awaited six-month irrigation project. We’ve reported in detail on this closure, and the hard work we’ve done at the SFNBBA to ensure that the project’s negative impact on the neighborhood would be minimal.
Rec & Park appear to be making significant progress on the job, and so far it seems to be going according to schedule. But it has been a little tough on the locals. I was just down there watching workers remove an old tree, and there’s just no denying that it’s hard to watch things change. That being said, may the job go smoothly and quickly–so our park can return, hopefully better than ever.
Meanwhile, there is plenty afoot in the neighborhood. The newcomers at The Showdown are finally up and running, in the former Tamarind Hall space at 1268 Grant Avenue. The project is the fourth outpost of local hospitality outfit The Pour Guys, who also operate The Tempest in SoMa, Louie’s in FiDi and Connecticut Yankee in Potrero Hill. The group evidently knows how to run a successful tavern, and they were packed for opening night on Thursday.
The new layout is completely different, and they’ve really opened the space up, making for a lot more light. It feels bigger, and more like one cohesive space, and they’ve installed a pool table on the lower level just inside the door.
The menu is also not what you’d expect, with items as varied as Strawberries with Lemon Verbena & Ricotta, Grilled English Peas and a Thai Chicken Bahn Mi. Far from your typical bar fare, and that’s just a tiny sample. The ‘tenders even mix a cocktail named after the Italian restaurant that once occupied the space, the La Pantera (tequila, dry curaçao, bitters, mezcal rinse). The Showdown is open seven days, so make sure to stop in and pay them a hearty North Beach welcome.
Meanwhile, congratulations to North Beach favorites Il Pollaio, who have just announced plans for a second location in the Mission District! Giuseppe Castellucci opened the restaurant on Columbus Avenue way back in 1984, and his daughter Maria and her husband Alejandro have run it faithfully since his retirement. Their grilled chicken has long been a neighborhood staple here in North Beach, and now the couple will be bringing it to a brand-new audience. The new spot: Mission Street between 24th and 25th Streets. Kudos!
Lastly, the people at Specs’ 12 Adler Museum Cafe ́ have just put up a GoFundMe page, as they work to finish their upcoming feature documentary about the iconic bar’s founder, Specs Simmons. As the page states, all funds raised will go towards editing the documentary “about a man, a neighborhood, and his bar.” We encourage you to donate and share with your friends in the community!
I’ll be back with more local scuttlebutt soon, so don’t forget to bookmark us. And see you on the street!