Stephan Jenkins. You know this guy. The main dude in Third Eye Blind. Leads a [wink emoji] "Semi-Charmed Life." Well, one day not too long ago he tweeted a photo of the old VICE office in New York City. He was staying in a hotel across the street. Someone on staff noticed, and tweeted back at him, told him to get his ass inside our office and have a beer, a proposal we thought would be rejected outright or simply ignored. Instead, Jenkins surprised us all and walked to the front door, came in, and knocked a few back with the staff.
Needless to say, we've been chummy ever since. So when it came time to knock out our VICE Guide to San Francisco, he was naturally one of the first people we called. He didn't disappoint.
As a longtime resident of the Mission, Jenkins walked us down Valencia Street, a main artery that cuts through the neighborhood. What follows are his recommendations down Valencia, from the best burritos to who makes the most potent margaritas. Take it away, SJ! And don't be a stranger.
You've been in San Francisco a long long time. What neighborhood are you in now?
I currently live in the Mission, and I've lived in lots of different areas. I surf over in Sunset at Ocean Beach. I've got all kinds of spots. Once we're done with this conversation, I just know I'm going to remember something I forgot, and it's going to drive me crazy. But let's just take a trip through the Mission. If you start up in Dolores Park, in the southwest corner, they put in some new benches recently, and it's like, you know—Rachel Maddow said it's the best view in the world. I go running up there. It's right by my house, and I'm there every morning. It's the kind of place you go to take stock of things. If you've got kids, it's got a great kids' park. Also a great park to bring a dog. I'm getting a new puppy and can't wait to bring my puppy up there.
How long have you been in the Mission this go around?
I've been here a couple years, but I've moved all over. I lived in North Beach, and Lower Haight—Lower Haight is where I really came up. I lived there, I squatted there. I lived in Tack Heights. I've lived in Hayes Valley, Upper Haight. I've lived in Dogpatch. Yeah, I've lived all over the place.
Does each neighborhood have its own pulse?
San Francisco is a place that has more names for neighborhoods than anywhere, including London. Because every time you go up even a slight grading in hill, you're in a different neighborhood. So there are microclimates and micro-vibes that go on from place to place. It's very changeable. I like being part of the different cultures. I'll get up in the morning and go over 17th Street and down Sloat [Boulevard] to surf, and they've got really great surf shops down there. The ocean's right there. And it's a fierce and mighty ocean, so it's mostly for watching. It's very self selecting for surfing, because most people who would go out there would drown. But I love the whole scene down there. But I'm getting off track. We're talking about the Mission.
Either place is fine.
We'll just walk down Valencia in my neighborhood: If you walk down from the park, just below 18th, you can get a burrito bowl at El Toro. And that is just, like, food I've had ever since I was a little kid. La Taqueria gets all the press, and really, truly, they do make the best burrito—it's kind of incredible. There's so much good coffee down on Valencia. It's kind of like places you go and sit—old school cafes. There are a lot of the new cafes too, where you feel like you're putting on performance when you walk into them. That said, Four Barrel is this really great place to bring your pitbull and hang out in front with your ten speed while you drink really powerful coffee.
And then, if you're walking down the street, I like Self Edge. They've got really great denim and stuff that's made in Oakland and San Francisco. They've got Roy Jeans, which are made by one guy named Roy, and he makes every pair entirely by himself.
Another good place to shop for clothes is Gravel & Gold. It's kind of hipster shit, but it's really great. All the stuff you need, everything you don't. It's the kind of place where you can get a really great pair of jeans—they're expensive, but you can wear them for five years. You wash them once every two months. It's that kind of story. Gravel & Gold has everything you want to wear at Outside Lands or Treasure Island Music Festival—it will be available at Gravel & Gold. There's a place called 826 [Valencia Pirate Supply Store], which is Dave Eggers's pirate store. It's got all the answers to your pirate needs at that store. It's a really good place to get gifts. They help kids with reading.
Mission Bikes is really cool. The thing about Valencia Street is: They're really fierce about keeping it actually San Francisco. So they're aren't a lot of outside shops or chains rolling in. Even though it's gentrifying in a lot of ways, so many of the shops on Valencia are run by people who live in San Francisco, and work in San Francisco, and they're making things here, and they are not carpetbaggers coming in and imposing a Sunglass Hut or Jamba Juice.
Speaking of juice! Go to Sidewalk Juice and order the Jake Shields. He's an MMA fighter. This juice has seven stalks of kale in it. It's got more kale than any juice you could imagine. It's great.
There's a new and not very well-known restaurant there called Fat Angel, which is really good.
What kind of food do they serve at Fat Angel?
It's kind of the food that fat angels would eat. It's California. But if it's warm, you can go down to Zaytoons, and all their food is non-GMO. All their lamb is grass-fed. You get the lamb plate there, and it's really good. Get it with the baba ghanoush.
What about night time? Where on Valencia are you taking an out-of-towner when the sun goes down?
I don't know who this out-of-towner is, so that would depend. But I like the Latin American Club. It's kind of like the Mission's down and dirty version of Tosca. They make a margarita there that has six fucking shots of tequila in it, and it will fuck you if you drink it. You'll have one margarita, and you'll be like, 'Wait, did you just pour me a margarita in a pint glass?' And they're delicious. So you get another one, and you've just had 12 shots of tequila. You are literally, literally leaning into furniture. It's good times.
And the morning after, for hungover breakfast?
You wouldn't want to show your face in the Mission, so you'd probably want to get down to Dogpatch for that. There's a place called Pork Store that's really great. The woman who runs it is so into everything being good, and I love the pride that goes into that. Come to think of it, there's a Pork Store on Valencia, too.
Hell of a street.
Hell of a street.
Read the entire VICE Guide to San Francisco here.