Novelists in Restaurants Eating Food

Credit: Victor Vazquez

Union Square Sports Bar

An adventure of food and drink in San Francisco naturally expands to include Ornette Coleman, Mexican wedding cookies, and a pet monkey admiring the ocean.

In our series, we send novelists into the field to eat in restaurants and report back, as long as they file something that fits two criteria: It is a restaurant review; it is not a restaurant review. Otherwise they’re free to go wherever inspiration takes them.


Went to Union Square Sports Bar on Eddy and Mason in San Francisco with my wife, an internationally acclaimed Islamo-futurist science fiction novelist. The Padres beat the Dodgers and the Oilers beat the Kings. There was a fight at the Oilers/Kings game. We ordered two champagnes, drank those suckers then ordered a Modelo tall can and a pint of Blue Moon with the orange slice in it. The Modelo was slushy, like a BBQ beer from the cooler. I considered ordering lemon pepper wings but didn’t see a menu and didn’t go out of my way to look for one. I was super-stoned off a weed cookie, feeling pretty good.

We had a long sidewinding conversation about essentially nothing. I barely remember the details, touched her leg and butt a bit. We left before finishing our beers. We drove over the bridge, got some gas at that gas station on West Grand and Market, drove down San Pablo. It was raining. We listened to Sunny and the Sunsets on the radio. We ended up on MLK, we ended up in the hills by the woods, we stopped and rolled a swisher. We lit that shit. It was lit. We smoked that shit. We listened to Purple Haze and 36 Chambers. We listened to Tony! Toni! Toné! and Radiohead. 

We drove over, hit Rasputin, copped Supreme Clientele on vinyl, walked down to Amoeba and sold it, copped My Ghetto Report Card on CD, drove down to Econo Jam, sold it, copped Negative Approach’s Total Recall on cassette tape, went to Stork Club, ordered a Pacifico and a soda water. They didn’t have either and gave us two Arnold Palmers. The jukebox played Santana then Rush then Maná then Journey then Sublime then Steve Miller Band then AC/DC then Queen then Elton John then the Beatles then the Rolling Stones then Creedence Clearwater Revival then Ray Charles, decent set.

We rolled up another swisher and stepped outside to smoke it. A falcon landed on a telephone wire and skreeked. Maybe it was a hawk. A bird of prey, regardless. A Korean crucifix glowed neon red down the block. Somebody asked somebody else for a dollar. A 100-year-old man in a throwback ‘80s Guess jean jacket was smoking a Black and Mild and drinking a Steel Reserve tall can in a brown paper bag on the corner.

We chiefed the doja/puffed the cheeba/sipped the doobie/blew dat yurple/got high/bit o’ the ol’ jah bless jah Rastafari/etc. Dingo chuckled and looked around.

We decided to get fucked up on tequila, I forget which brand. I told them to bring some Don Julio but it was dark and I was already zooming so it might have been something else, who knows/cares. It got late. We headed home.

Woke up next morning, remembered I had left my card at Union Square Sports Bar, called them up. The lady was cheery and remembered me from the day before, said swing on by. We drove back over the bridge with our pet monkey (a small female douroucoulis, a cute type of critter in the genus of Aotus, a New World monkey, monotypic in the Aotidae family, colloquially referred to as a Night Monkey or Owl Monkey) and scooped the card up, then took Dingo (the monkey’s name is Dingo) over to La Taqueria on Mission and 25th, got two super chicken tacos and two super carne asada tacos con todo los fixins, agua fresca de fresa, Pacifico, chips.

Two ranchero types came in and played some slappers, corridos I believe they call them, Norteño-style I think they call it, although I could be wrong. Sick steel string and accordion power duo como Simon y Garfunkel. Dingo clapped her hands in approval.

We stopped into Dianda’s, got two Mexican wedding cookies and one con sprinkles for Dingo.

We drove over to Bayview-Hunter’s Point and looked at the sundial.

We drove over to Treasure Island and rolled a swisher in the car, gazed at the waves. A strong, decidedly southern breeze was blowing. My wife got a Turkish rug from the trunk and laid it on some grass, plopped Dingo down on it. We chiefed the doja/puffed the cheeba/sipped the doobie/blew dat yurple/got high/bit o’ the ol’ jah bless jah Rastafari/etc. Dingo chuckled and looked around.

There was a giant steel statue of a naked woman about 40 yards away, maybe something like 50 feet tall. I remembered the movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Never saw it but I always thought it was a good title. Dingo was digging the sculpture so I carried her over to it. The sucker was huge. We gazed and then walked over to where the waves were hitting the rocks and peeped at the San Francisco skyline. Solid vista. Dingo seemed more interested in how the sun sparkled off the waves.

We drove back to El Cerrito, got home, set Dingo up in front of her easel and popped out a few new paintings while we made dinner (steaks, carrot salad). We sell her art for some weekend money, you know, “diversification,” “multiple income streams,” etc. We also import rugs and tea from Turkey, Bahrain, and Iran.

Choice premium cuts. Fire emoji, prayer hands emoji, 100 emoji.

Made a couple calls, the monkey fell asleep. My wife was in her office working. She had been hired to doctor a big-budget Hollywood sci-fi script called Nazis in Space (working title). She hated the script and was doing a radical overhaul, trying to make it more of a Palestine/Israel allegory but it seemed to be getting messy. The money was good but I could tell she’d rather be working on the third novel of her Shiraz trilogy.

I watched some TV. The Giants beat the Diamondbacks out in Phoenix and the A’s beat the Rangers over at the Coliseum. The year wasn’t looking so bad.

Put on Gounod’s Faust, drank some red wine, sent some emails.

Put on Ray Charles, sent a fax.

Put on Ornette Coleman’s seminal 1968 album Free Jazz, flipped through James Joyce’s semi-autobiographical debut novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Killer stuff in there. #BARS. Choice premium cuts. Fire emoji, prayer hands emoji, 100 emoji.

Cracked a fortune cookie from some take-out potstickers the other night that said: “Forgive the act, forget the intention.”

I had an intern make a copy of the fortune.

I tied the original fortune with twine to the leg of a dove.

I whispered in the dove’s ear: “Alhamdulillah. Fly east to Mecca, Inshallah.”

I tied the copy of the fortune with twine to the leg of a second dove.

I whispered in the second dove’s ear: “Alhamdulillah. Fly west, over the Pacific, over the Asian continent, over Europe and the Atlantic, to America’s King Barack Hussein Obama, Inshallah.”

The birds flew off in their respective directions.

All in all, I’d say Union Square Sports Bar was fun. 10/10, would recommend.

Union Square Sports Bar, 115 Mason St., San Francisco, Calif. Telephone: 415-345-8484. Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.