Dolores Park & Pearl's Burgers

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is a famous painting by Georges Seurat. (Or maybe you remember this scene from Ferris Bueller's Day off?) Whenever I walk through the middle of Dolores Park in San Francisco, I'm immediately reminded of this painting. The original is often called by the misnomer "Sunday in the Park", and depicts a crowd relaxing on a grassy riverbank. It's meant to portray ordinary people in the midst of "idle leisure", with blankets spread out on the grass, dogs running around, and very little else going on other than lounging. Last Sunday afternoon, this was particularly appropriate.

My sister, brother-in-law, and I went to Dolores Park to meet up with my cousin Miko and his friend Steve. Instead of Ile de la Jatte, the urban oasis was Dolores Park. And rather than a view of the Seine River, city dwellers have a panoramic view of downtown. But all the different types of personalities that you could come across, from groups of friends to dogs? All still relevant. And the laying around on blankets while soaking up the sun? Definitely still relevant. The modern twists begin to show when you dig a little deeper, past the picturesque surface.

Someone strumming their guitar, a DJ set up by the tennis courts, random jugglers... This place is a prime spot for people-watching, and the entertainment that ensues can be oh so priceless.

My sister & I

I'm pretty sure we spent a good 1/3 of our time providing commentary for some kite-fliers. (One kite may have actually been made of tin foil and toilet paper?...) Then, some people started sledding down the hill...on ice blocks. And the dogs that I was talking about? There were so many running around, when we happened to come across this adorable puppy. He was only five weeks old, but he attracted women like a stud.

Right: My sister, Miko, & I

My breakfast (and lunch) was essentially beer and chocolate that I bought off of some little girl for a fundraiser. (Seriously.) But I hear that Bi-Rite Creamery is fabulous on a sunny day and completely worth the long line.

When I finally couldn't take it anymore and wanted real food in my stomach, Steve suggested that we head over to Pearl's. I was craving burgers, and he insisted that this place never fails. A few more of Miko's friends also joined us.

With a distinct "mom 'n' pop" vibe, Pearl's is a small spot on the corner of Jones and Post, right on the edges of the Tenderloin. There are only a few two-toppers inside and counter-seating at the window. Steve talked up how good the milkshakes are here, so the first thing I did was look at what flavors they had. Cheesecake, Nutella, Peanut Butter...I stopped at peanut butter. Yes. (I have such a weak spot for peanut butter anything.)

Then, I ordered the Teriyaki Burger. This beautiful burger has a 1/4 lb beef patty (1/2 lb, if you ask for the "Deluxe" size) topped with teriyaki sauce, sauteed mushrooms, and jack cheese, and it's all sandwiched between a toasted sesame bun. My only request when I asked our human-Yelp, Steve, was that there would be options for toppings, and this definitely hit the spot.

My brother-in-law had the King Burger, which is a 1/2 lb beef patty topped with a whole hot dog, American cheese, and thousand island dressing. After he sat down at the table to wait for his order, he literally said, "Did I really just order a burger with a hot dog on it?" It's one of those things that you feel guilty about at first...until you eat it. Jeremiah was perfectly pleased with his King Burger. Another burger that deserves an honorable mention, but did not get photographed, is the Bula Burger. It has their "award-winning" spicy pineapple teriyaki sauce, bacon, mayo, and Swiss cheese. Pearl's patrons can also help themselves to the pickle bin or the bottles of Tapatio on every table.

When you're looking for a burger fix and find yourself somewhere in the Tenderloin, stop by Pearl's Deluxe Burgers and have one of their interesting creations.

Afterwards, we all decided to find a bar and have a few more beers. Since it was within walking distance and pretty much right in front of us, we went to High Tide. (Semi-hilarious moment when we all walked in: the bartender eyed us suspiciously, "Are you all over 21?") A couple of Stellas and a free birthday shot for me (which I'm pretty sure was Bailey's and Jameson topped with whipped cream) later, we were good to go. It's an oddball joint, with christmas lights and signed dollar bills on the ceiling beams and barstools that look about as stable as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but I will say one thing...Our bartender made popcorn for us.

Later on, Miko brought us out to Buckshot. It was either that or Trad'r Sam, but no one was particularly enthusiastic about getting smashed on a Sunday night. (Scorpion Bowl, anyone?) So, it was Buckshot Restaurant, Bar, and Gameroom for the rest of the evening. I was totally okay with this because a) Skee Ball and b) Guinness Floats. Yes, skee ball. You read that right. (They even have a tournament league.) I didn't get the chance to play, though, because this group decked out in karate uniforms had a pretty passionate game going...Yes, you read that right too...I'll just have to come back for a round. I'm also putting Buckshot on my "Come Back Soon for the Full Experience" list because their menu is a bit of a wild card. Chicken-fried bacon with maple syrup..."Miss Piggy's" Mac N' Cheese with 3 cheeses, bacon, and garlic bread crumbs...Guinness floats with coffee ice cream...What I'm saying here is, I will come back to this bar one day. For food...

This day had the ultimate relaxation trifecta: good company, good food, and good drinks. And just like a "Sunday in the Park", it was all about slowing down, sitting back and just enjoying what's around you. Cheers, and here's to more Sunday afternoons!