Insider tips: Author Jim Provenzano
Writer Jim Provenzano‘s latest novel, Every Time I Think of You, won a 2011 Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance. It’s a coming of age/coming out story that also addresses the challenges of physical disability, without ever feeling didactic or issue-oriented. Former sportswriter Provenzano—perhaps best known for his wrestling novel, PINS—is also the editor of BARtab, the Bay Area Reporter‘s glossy monthly guide to GLBT arts and nightlife, making him an ideal addition to our rogues gallery of Insider Tipsters.
Given his recent fictional focus on a character with disabilities, Provenzano suggested that, in addition to his personal favorite spots in San Francisco, he’d like to share some useful websites for travelers with disabilities. We couldn’t be happier to facilitate that:
- The San Francisco Access Guide: A resource hub from The San Francisco Travel Association
- San Francisco On the Level: Wheelchair accessible tours of the city with no grades of more than 8%
- Ability Trip: San Francisco: SF section of a trusted global guide to accessible travel
And now, on with Provenzano’s picks…
What’s your favorite SF cultural institution?
Aside from the GLBT Historical Society, which Michelle Tea previously spotlighted in your blog, I’d have to say The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, at least the foyer— it’s architect Mario Botta’s masterpiece, and word is that it’s going to be smashed apart to make way for, I dunno, something else. Really a shame. See it while you can, the way it is now.
Treasure Island with a hot Army guy before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was abolished, on July 4, while holding hands. Sorry, that’s sharing a bit too much. Seriously, I’d recommend taking in the skyline while kayaking outside a Giants game in McCovey Cove; or from Angel Island; or from across the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands.
Provenzano’s tips continue, after the jump
What are your favorite places to shop?
I won’t tell you because the lines will double! Well, okay. For unusual grocery fun, try New Way Mah on Clement Street. I try to remember to bring a half-empty duffle bag, so I can stock up on squid eye jellied candies, seaweed crispies, noodles in dozens of shapes, fresh salmon, piles of greens, cookies in cartoon-labeled boxes, and cheap sake, all for $40. And just down the street, a friend got a luggage set for $70 at the discount housewares store.
What would you tell a visitor are SF’s true “must eats”?
Definitely Canela on Market Street; its a great new success in the Castro. I’ve ended up there three times. The servings—most available in half and full portions—allow three or four people to share half a dozen courses, and the tastes and textures of the dishes are marvelous. When I asked about a certain spicy Argentinian wine I’d been served a time before, they were out of it. The list, like the menu, shifts according to seasonal produce and wine discoveries. Yet our waiter offered a perfect substitute.
Where do you recommend for cocktail hour?
Martuni’s. The drinks pack a wallop, and some talented singers are sometimes crooning in the back room. For meeting up before a show in Union Square, I like Grand Café. It’s an Art Nouveau beauty and it’s perfectly located; the nibbly things are good, too.
If you had $50 or more per person to spend for a dinner out, where would you choose?
Farallon. The jellyfish chandeliers echo the nearby Dr. Seuss prints at the Dennis Rae gallery down the street—and the food’s great, too. I’d also recommend Farina, where you should eat fifty bucks worth, or more. Fast beforehand. Get one of each; antipasti, primi piatti, second piatti, etc. Bring your best friends and take your time.
And what if you had less than $15 per person?
La Corneta on Mission Street, or El Delfin on 24th St. Quick, easy, delicious. (To continue Cheap Date Night right nearby, you can enjoy the terpsichorean arts on pay-what-you-can nights at nearby Dance Mission Theatre, an exhibit at Mission Cultural Center, or a movie at the Roxie.)
What would you recommend that visitors to SF should definitely check out that they’d be unlikely to find in a guidebook?
Lots of people already go to see the Victorian Houses at Alamo Square Park, but they should make sure to see the Westerfield House at 1198 Fulton Street, across the park from the clichéed Full House quartet of houses. It’s much more interesting.
The golf cart path down past the Legion of Honor leads to a great ocean view.
And while I know all the major theater companies are in tourist listings, I also like to see smaller shows. One of my favorites is American Conservatory Theater’s student productions. I saw a few great shows with promising young talent. I remember one in particular, in 2005, Shed a Little Light, that included in the cast a cute little curly-haired guy who sang like an angel. His name was Darren Criss.