Image by Rebecca Tillett.
Making a sexy dinner at home here in SF is a snap — a trip to the Ferry Building Marketplace is the height of easy-access food foreplay. Going to a restaurant is something entirely different, especially when it’s amour your’re after. We often dine out when we hope to get lucky with more than just food. Or, we got so lucky we’re starving from all the energy everyone spent getting all that luck. But deciding where to go in any sexy situation has never been an easy thing to figure out.
Which is why I was delighted to meet Marcia Gagliardi — aka the infamous tablehopper — at an underground ramen party. Yes, we have those in San Francisco; it’s like Fight Club for noodles and broth. We’d recently both weighed in on what San Francisco food we thought was “better than sex” in a Citysearch piece. Over beer and steaming bowls of expertly cooked noodles surrounded by restaurant industry peeps having an night off, I fell for Gagliardi as she talked about what would be in her then-upcoming book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco. Most especially because she connected with me about how key sex and dating were going to be in her selections for the guide. I couldn’t wait for the book to come out. Now that it has, I’ve read it several times. If Paul Carr tells us that our next books should be an app, I offer that this book should be first for conversion. It’s that useful.
If you’re not a San Francisco regular or resident, you may want to skip this post, and hope that a book like this comes out for your city. Or, you should file this one away for your next SF visit — hello, Pride, hello Folsom — and keep this guide in mind for your time here, whether it’s sexy or not.
Just a quick perusal of the pertinent sections is exciting: she lists, recommends and mini-reviews restaurants and watering holes for girls nights out, lesbian nights out, guys nights out, and romantic gay dinners. A large section is devoted to “Just the Two of Us” that literally has it all. It includes the perfect places for first online dates, first second and third dates, super-important dates (anniversary, etc), cheap dates, blind dates, late dates, romantic dates, weird dates, sexy dates, where to eat brunch the morning after a hot date (any day of the week) — and scandalously, places that are prefect for meeting and cheating. And she knows The City; she reveals tidbits throughout such as that La Med is the top place for first dates in the Castro.
Tablehopper’s guide qualifies the sections beautifully; for instance, the first date with an online hookup section tells you where you can meet that is safe, places that aren’t too romantic yet are not totally without personality, and are establishments where you can easily stay and talk *or* cut it off after 20 minutes. The late date (always a challenge in SF, she calls “every dater’s secret weapon”) is when you’re tipsy, hungry and flirty and want to keep hanging out after 10pm. The hot date takes place in restaurants that say “you’re dessert” in no uncertain terms to your hottie du jour. Cheating venues have booths and lots of privacy — naughty, naughty.
If that’s not exciting enough, she also lists all the top meat markets for cruising everything including cougars or the silver platypus, plus a section for what she calls “Shituations”. These are places to break up with someone, drowning your sorrows after getting dumped and even dinner with the ex, with a variety of goals: getting back together, or showing them how great you’re doing without them, etc… One section is called “S-EX With the Ex” with restaurants suited to help you pull it off — or play it off if they aren’t taking the bait.
There is so much more to tablehopper’s guide. Got three days in SF? Use her dining guide for all three days and you’ll see and taste the best we have to offer. And it gets this native’s wink of approval; I agree with almost everything she’s got — I was delighted to see new faves (Dynamo Donuts) and longtime standbys (Yank Sing) listed side-by-side. Plus, the ‘slap and tickle’ (that’s drinks + dinner dates) listed by neighborhood is genius. There are many places I have yet to try, which is my deliciously transparent excuse for dinner dates. I now have some research to do… And I really want to have a night out at the meat markets with my naughtiest friends. That would be a fun article. Now I’ll have more tips when I do my yearly SF Pride Guide. Yay!