By Mollie McWilliams
By Molly Gore
By Pete Kane
By Pete Kane
By Anna Roth
By Alex Hochman
By Joseph Geha
By Anna Roth
I liked the place. It was homey and eccentric, not wildly comfy (the tables are just a little bit smaller than I'd like, and there are no booths in which to lounge), but welcoming all the same. I didn't return right away, but over the months I kept turning in its direction, most often on a Monday, leaving the office with no particular hunger or new restaurant in mind, remembering Just for You as a nearby place for an affordable treat. One day I had a fat burger topped with both cheddar and jack cheese; on another, a windy, chilly day, I had a good bowl of split pea soup with half a ham sandwich, which felt, sentimentally, like school lunch.
But most often I had breakfast for lunch, enjoying the multiple-choice questions: Home fries or grits? Home-baked white, whole wheat, or cinnamon-raisin toast (also sold by the loaf, befitting the "bakery" of the restaurant's name), or biscuits, corn bread, or scone? One of the dozen alternatives of breakfast meats, among them six different kinds of sausage, or pork chop and eggs, or steak and eggs, or nine different kinds of scramble, or the lone frittata (fully loaded with half a dozen vegetables and nicely called Frittata of the Decade)? Buttermilk, cornmeal, or buckwheat pancakes? I was impressed with the depth and quality of the larder, particularly in what seemed to be a smallish kitchen. (With its customary generosity, Just for You has even given its clientele a choice of nomenclature, for on the awning, the Web site, and the to-go menu another name appears: Mabel's Just for You, in honor of the owner's grandmother.)
732 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
Region: Potrero Hill
Soup and half sandwich $5.95
Cowgirl (pancakes, eggs, bacon) $8.95
Breakfast burrito $8.95
Huevos rancheros $8.95
Beignets 3 for $3
Open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Parking: moderately easy
Muni: 15, 48
Noise level: moderate
So. The perfect place for breakfast at 10 with Craig. I choose the Cowgirl -- two pancakes, two eggs, sausage or bacon: I say eggs over easy with soggy bacon, and am annoyed with myself later because I acquiesce too quickly when the server says, "Buttermilk pancakes OK?"; I'd forgotten about the mildly crunchy cornmeal option, though the buttermilk version is just fine (and there are three big strips of bacon). Craig has a breakfast burrito: two eggs scrambled with cream cheese, plus bacon, rolled up in a flour tortilla with grits on the side. He, too, hails from Louisiana. I offer to get beignets, made to order here, but he's not in the mood.
We could even have ordered champagne (on the tiny alcohol list, which also includes five beers along with red, white, and pink wine) to toast Craig's book, a unique, uniquely interesting, and totally personal examination of the work of two writers he knows backward and forward, Susan Sontag and Pauline Kael. The latter is the mutual friend through whom Craig and I met, and I had considered our sharing breakfast to be a tiny homage to Pauline's famous childhood on a chicken farm in Petaluma. I tell Craig I was surprised to learn from his book that Kael eggs were sold as such in the Bay Area; I hadn't ever seen them, and an empty carton would be a fetish item for me. (I never met Sontag, but nearly every time I ate at Miss Ruby's -- a now-vanished, much-missed, excellent American restaurant in Chelsea -- I would see her there, enjoying her dinner in animated conversation. Fetish sightings.)
Over the years, I had countless meals with Pauline, who enjoyed restaurants both for good food and as a backdrop for conversation -- about movies, of course, but also about everything else of interest in the world. (I remember one lunch at Le Dome in Hollywood, when a depressed writer of cheerful songs, among them "How Much Is That Doggy in the Window?," asked Pauline, "Do you get bored?," and she laughed, "Honey, I'm not going to live long enough to read everything I want to.") In her honor the breakfast should have started with Irish whiskey and ended with raspberries. Instead Tom drops by, semi-unexpectedly, to share reminiscences of Pauline's repertory cinemas on Telegraph Avenue and demolish an enormous plate of very saucy huevos rancheros. And when Silvana arrives from his own breakfast with his sister at Tartine to drive Craig to his afternoon reading and signing at Book Passage in Corte Madera, Just for You accommodatingly whips up a crisp-crusted crab cake to go, just for him.
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