An ode to Kate’s Kitchen in the Lower Haight

kate's

Kate’s Kitchen

What little charm and authenticity left in the Upper Haight is barely peeking its head above the noxious, briny waves of retail commerce, the crowds of shopping tourists fresh from Union Square, and the crusty punks badgering them for money while their slobbering dogs shit all over the sidewalks.  There’s Pork Store, which a few years ago was sold by its original owners and has since took a dive in quality.  Aub Zam Zam is a stubbornly cantankerous cave of a bar, a flower whose black pedals are as-yet un-wilted by the discouraging spectacle outside its doors. My favorite diner up there is still All You Knead, completely unchanged the ten years I’ve been frequenting its cavernous interior.

These days, if I want something to eat on Haight Street, I hop on my bike and head east, past Masonic, down the steep grade at 30 mph through Divisadero Street to the lower and better half of that storied street, where things still feel somewhat real.  Old favorites (Toronado, Noc Noc, Rosamunde, Nicky’s) coexist with newer establishments (Maven, Ricky Bobby) with relative ease.  You don’t get the sense that these newer, shinier joints signal the creeping demise of the neighborhood as we know it, something you can’t say about The Mission.

There are few spots more emblematic of The Lower Haight than Kate’s Kitchen, located at the eastern edge of the commercial strip.  It’s been there nigh on 20 years, a fixture of a neighborhood once considered a dangerous place to be after dark.  In that respect, The Lower Haight has seen change, even in the ten years I’ve called S.F home.  Safe or not, Kate’s has been there, ensconced among pipe shops and ramshackle storefronts, serving up good diner food for the masses.  And they be masses; you can count on a thick swath of humanity crowding the sidewalk any day of the week, jockeying for a spot between the hours of 8 a.m. and about 1 p.m., which is why I usually roll in about two o’clock for a late breakfast.  Standard fare is in the offering in addition to an array of different pancakes and french toasts, among which is the notable pumpkin french toast, a confection for which I’d gladly give myself a preemptive foot amputation.  If savory is your preferred profile of flavor, go for the corn beef hash and eggs, which includes big slices of glassy, caramelized onion, potatoes and sliced carrots seemingly poached in butter.  The decor inside is all over the place in a manner endemic to S.F, featuring work by (presumably) local artists and a smattering of kitschy knicknacks.   While the food is very good for the price, I give the coffee (by San Francisco Coffee Company) my unequivocal endorsement.  It blows that other coffee company (whatsitsface? Horse Fly?) people have been fetishizing of late out of the water.

Kate’s Kitchen
471 Haight Street (@ Fillmore)
[Lower Haight]
SF

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About the author

Matt Fink - Fatt Mink

I grew up in San Jose, only 50 minutes away from S.F. My dad, brother and I came up often to visit family and/or to fart around, and whenever the car came over the rise on Hwy. 101 just after Candlestick Park, I could hear an almost audible "Click" in my brain. The blinding, beautifully rolling blanket of diverse urbanity spread out before our speeding automobile, coupled with draughts of the clean, cool air conspired to instill in me a growing discontent with San Jose. Add access to hitherto unknown strata of music, booze and food culture, not to mention pet-deification and testicular-separators, and I couldn't be kept away for long. Even after ten years of residency, the sight of a glistening pair of moose-knuckles swinging down Market St. still makes my heart swell with pride.

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