Things to Do in the Mission District

One night we wanted to go out in our San Francisco neighborhood but not spend a lot.

“How much is a lot?” asked Rachel.

“Just the money in this small change-purse,” I excalimed.

San Francisco on a Tight Budget

“That’s the laundry money,” protested Rachel, but…it was already too late: the gauntlet had been laid down: How much fun can we have for $20 in the most expensive city in North America?

We first thought the obvious: let’s grab a burrito. After all, SF’s Mission is the birthplace of the burrito: it was first commercialized here after the wrapped meal was invented by migrant farmhands in nearby pastoral lands.

Totally delicious and amazing, a Mission burrito is not a meal, but an evening in itself.

One of these suckers and we would spend the rest of the night planked on the couch watching On-Demand Cable. Denied!

 Mission Burrito

When you only have a change-purse of Nebraska quarters (weird, huh?) to fuel your evening’s activities and consumptions, nothing beats free.

That’s why we were ecstatic to see a New Orleans-style Gypsy Jazz band at Amnesia. Despite the bar’s name, the Wednesday nights are unforgettable.

Gypsy Jazz at Amnesia in San Francisco

We definitely didn’t have the cash to shop, but we window-shopped so hard you could see dotted lines materialize before us as we gawked and gandered at the retail oddities of our adopted neighborhood.

Keys Made Here

Is there a “Keys Made Here” shop in North America that doesn’t have at least one thing overtly creepy going on in it?

Sometimes, it’s an oddly-placed African fertility statue…but usually it’s something far worse (contact me for details).

Thrift Store 80's Toys

Rachel and I agreed, seeing this thrift store’s extensive display of 80’s and 90’s cheap plastic toys felt like you were holding a mirror up to our deepest senses of identity and being.

Pretty tragic, I know.

Elbo Room

 This seemed like the perfect time to check out this cleverly-named neighborhood bar. I’ve been curious since one of my favorite Schoolhouse Rock songs is “Elbow Room.”

 The bar was cool, but the real evening-making moment occurred when, $20 in quarters on hand, we stumbled upon a corridor of pinball machines.

Suddenly, everything made sense.

Pinball Wizards

Is it my imagination, or did this high-scoring Grand Champion squander this opportunity to leave his mark on the world to instead spell “penis” with his initials?

Grand Champion High Score

After realizing we were not very good at pinball, we took our leave and stumbled upon Elixir, the city’s second-oldest saloon that dates back to the 1850’s Old West and describes its elaborate mixology concoctions  in paragraph form on their menu.

Your senses romanced by nonsensical Jabberwocky like “Sonoma Lavender Syrup” and “St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram”  and “Barrel-aged Leblon Cachaca” make their drink menu impossible to interpret.

Pisco Sour

Needless to say, we spent the rest of our dough here minus the $.50 the Simpsons pinball game gobbled up.

White Russian++

On the way out, I noticed this sign:

Little Green Bird

Wow, we could’ve even got a free green bird out of the deal.

Let this evening be a beacon for the Stay-cation: with a small chunk of change, we were able to walk down the street (albeit, in one of the hippest and cheapest neighborhoods in the country) and drum up one hell of a good time.

What does your flying-by-the-seat-of-your pants $20 in quarters-fueled evening look like?


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