It’s hard to believe that the woman celebrated as the Candle in the Wind, once had ties to the greatest of American pastimes; even harder to believe that she did so in a city that boasted a Candlestick Park in her days.
Yet, Marilyn Monroe’s legacy lives on in an expected way. Try a restaurant where sport is the theme, and the Irish coffee, strong; as locals and visitors alike, rub shoulders under her gaze together with those of some of baseball’s early legends.
Situated in the heart of San Francisco near the corner of Union Square, at Geary and Powell, Lefty O’Doul’s Tavern beckons the passerby with an old town presence that spans the clock.
Dinner service boasts a triple play buffet that you know must be good, when outside you’ll find squad cars of the SFPD, their exhausted officers busily squaring away roast beef and potatoes in a welcome respite from Twinkies and cold brew.
San Francisco, as its reputation goes, is known for its over-presence of the homeless and the eccentric.
One night, looking for a place to dine, a deep, graveled voice rattled at my back: “You don’t want to eat there. Go to Lefty’s.”
I turned my head, and it might have been the great Satchmo—Louis Armstrong—himself. But there stood a short, elderly man—his overcoat having seen better days, with sagacity in his eyes.
“What?” I replied.
“Go to Lefty’s,” he said with a slight nod, then looked me up and down (probably knowing I could never accompany him on the piano— or more likely thinking I could eat a small cow) and shuffled off into the lights.
Four visits to the City by the Bay later and I still eat at Lefty’s, breakfast usually, and make sure of a regular late night tipple.
I don’t know who this guy was; of gastronomic erudition I harness no doubt.
But in a place known for its restaurant rows, there’s nothing like a story from an eating-house that honors baseball in the presence of the bubbling: such was the hallmark of Marilyn Monroe.
For a special night’s gastronomic experience, I recommend hopping across the road to the Bourbon Grill inside the Westin St Francis. Try any one of their $$$ signature steaks and a brilliant glass of $$ local red. You’ll have just enough remaining for a couple of happy $ Irish brews at Lefty’s later.
© 2014 Adam Parker. You’ve just read a Parkerpinion.
Main picture: Lefty’s early morning, author’s picture.