Avenue/Mission St., SF
hearing at a nearby bar
-- we're back! Miss us? Well it's great to be back. It's been, oh,
nine months or so since we've rendered a verdict, and boy, are
we hungry. Unfortunately, we're passing judgment on a nine-month old
meal. But I remember it like it was only seven months ago. As to why
we've been out of action, let's just say that a certain judge was impeached
and did a stint in the hoosegow on falsified charges. But now we're
all exonerated, reinstated, peckish, and ready to preside.
Which brings me
to Emmy's Spaghetti Shack. I hope it's still in business. I imagine
it is, because it seemed to be quite popular when we blew
in there last fall. Here's a tip: GET THE SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS.
About as good a plate of spaghetti and meatballs as I've ever had.
Quite a sauce they have. Pretty sure that was marinara, not meat
sauce. But it was quite spicy and somewhat sweet and full of complex
and all that. As were the meatballs, come to think of it. Maybe they
weren't sweet. And as my culinary cohorts will mention, it's the
best deal on the menu, at $8.50. Nice big shavings of parmesan cheese
There were some
other pretty expensive things on the menu, but they escape me now.
Hey, it's been nine freaking months. Oh, wait, check
out this giant version of the menu if you want to read it. You'll
note that the gourmetness of these dishes belies the "spaghetti shack" moniker.
And there you have it. We're talking about a high-brow/low-brow
amalgam of total hipness. Seems like movies stars would hang out
they probably do.
Anyway, aside from
the spag-n-balls, we had some real solid crusty artisan style garlic
bread ($3.50) and some alright fried parsnips
($4.50). Fried = good. Oh and a fine Caesar salad, with little
bread sticks, but I can't find that on the menu, so I don't know
it cost. Probably $3.50 or something. And we had a very good
burger with organic sharp cheddar. Cheddar tastes so much better without
hormones, you know? Good burger and good fries for $9. Now, that's
you do get fries and it was all big and good.
And, of course we
made the mistake of ordering shrimp in a restaurant. Apparently these
shrimp were hand raised, bottle fed, and massaged
daily, because it cost $9.50 for like FOUR SHRIMP!!! Oh, I
mean PRAWNS. Never again. I will never order shrimp in a restaurant
it's a shrimp poboy in Louisiana, where shrimp is priced properly.
check out Emmy's, if you can find it, and as long as you get the
spaghetti and meatballs, you'll be fine. Skip the prawns.
When I first ate
at Emmy's a couple years ago, I feared that it might be too hidden
in its weird little spot out there in the deep Mission where the streets
go haywire and Valencia intersects Mission. Plus, Emmy's is on the
little-known Virginia Street. That's some street madness out there.
Of course, quirks like these are in line with Emmy's unique interior
and food, which account for the restaurant's appeal in the first place.
So, it all kind of works. And on this trip I was pleased to find the
tiny place as jammed with diners as it was two years ago.
is something out of your parents' house: Gauzy white curtains with
hanging plants in front of them. Running the length of
the ceiling are a series of odd aprons, strung up on clothesline. On
the table, hand-drawn menus next to candles, marbles sliced in half
and stuck to their holders. (Is there another name for candle holders
Probably.) These menus list a concise yet eclectic offering, with prices
running the gamut as well. (I'm sure Judge Turner's review mentions
The Prawn Travesty.)
Always on the menu
is Emmy's classic, spaghetti and meatballs. It's not only great, it's
also the best value on the menu, at $8.50. It's
comparing Emmy's version to Chow's.
Emmy's seems a denser affair all-around, and I'm not sure why, but
my guess is that they
it for a spell.
and sticky, whereas Chow's is more soupy. Emmy is also going for
it more, reaching in a good way, with more complicated spices. I
it's really a matter of preference, but I'd definitely call Emmy's
The burger, one of
the finest I've had in this town, comes with some equally impressive "big" fries.
Chunky half-moon wedges crisped expertly out while staying fluffy and
in. Dipped in the chunky
homemade (?) ketchup, they're a real treat. The burger, like the
spaghetti and meatballs, seemed to have some interesting spices,
at least for a
burger. Every bite burst, and the meat was very fresh.
We had a side of
fried parsnips, a bit of a risky order, because none of us had ever
tried such a thing. They turned out to be quite
(what isn't when fried?), almost sweet in the manner of plantains,
and came with a nice little dipping sauce.
ate here once.
Other quirks: You
can drink a 40. Yes, a 4-oh. Remember when Olde English released the
64-ounce, with the handle?
they stop at
40 here, and it can be malt liquor (Mickey's) or not (Bud).
Remember Mickey's "bullets" (also called grenades), those
little stout six-pack versions? Designed to erase the lukewarm backwash
issue of your
40's last few ounces without sacrificing the malt liquor kick,
I think this product caught on much better than the handled
Anyway, the 40
at Emmy's is fun. And economical, at 5 bucks (although a drastic
mark-up from your corner store), compared to 4 bucks a bottle
for stuff like
Speakeasy or Red Stripe. Finer beers, to be sure, but that's
only one buck less -- for 28 fewer ounces of beer. It'd be
a nice touch if they
nestled the 40 on ice in one of those champagne ice buckets,
but they don't. Plus, it's a lot easier to drink that crap
By the time we got
outside, it was dark and the weather had turned wild with wind. McC
hung on to his Hurricane Betty cap
life. I drew up my hood but it was no match. So maybe this
is fall, I thought. It would have to do, anyway. And hiding
a crowded Emmy's behind the family-like curtains, seated
under the funny aprons, that will do as well as any fall evening
Shotgun, Love, Suicide, no no no -- Spaghetti Shack is a place I've
always enjoyed dining. Especially when I learned to go at "off" hours
to avoid waiting. It's a tiny place, 10-12 tables, and I've never seen
it with more than a few tables empty and usually not for long.
dish is, ha, the spaghetti and meatballs. It's a great meal and not
a bad deal at $8.50 (sans the MB's it's only $6.00). You get
a good-sized portion of pasta with a light red sauce that is pretty
flavorful with herbs and spices and such, topped with some yummy shaved
and three good-sized meatballs (not fist size but big enough to fit
delight was the burger: great tasting meat with an organic sharp cheddar
served on a focaccia roll, $9.00. I'm not
a big fan of
the focaccia being used as a bun but in this case it pretty much
was a bun: nice, soft, and didn't get in the way of the meat. It came
some very good fries, big and thick-cut and I think the waitress
said the ketchup was house-made.
disappointed in the penko breaded prawns, $9.50. They were fine, but
as usual not enough shrimp for the
price. When will we
was served on a winter radish salad with soy tamarind dressing.
The salad was the best part of the dish -- nice sesame flavor in that
parsnips, $4.50, were new to me and once again, if you fry it how bad
can it be. They are bland, kinda like fried plantains,
aioli dippin' sauce flavored 'em right up.
let's not forget the beginning. The garlic bread, $3.50, was good:
super crunchy slices.
The meal came with free focaccia
so if you're not a fan of the crunch, stick to the freebie.
The Caesar salad, $7.50, is great: large Romain lettuce leaves with
dressing and crispy/fried bits of cheese crumbled on top. For
more crispy, they
add some hard breadsticks.
not Radio Shack but that's alright 'cause you don't need electronics
anyway. Emmy's is a hole in the street
mind falling into
for a bite and I believe you can fall in late 'cause they
serve past midnight
(might call to check and make sure, 415-206-2086). Emmy deserves
an Oscar or a Sam or a Fred.