Action City
Everybody's always talking about the restaurant action on Chestnut Street, but Valencia and 21st is the true beehive of activity lately. Three new places have cropped up in an area the Marsh owner Stephanie Weisman has christened VAC (Valencia Arts Corridor). Valencia Crepes (1007 1/2 Valencia) opened this week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Owner Hani Jweinat, formerly of the Marina Day and Nite deli, and brother Mike are teaming up to give Ti Couz, the creperie way down at Valencia and 16th, a run for its money. Five doors up from Valencia Crepes, construction is under way for Rasoi Fine Indian Cuisine. And across the street, Marie's Gourmet Foods and Coffee just opened its doors. Owner Marie Doran, who worked for Has Beans for five years, is offering coffee drinks, along with whole beans plus international “packaged goods” (olive oil, crackers, candies, etc.).

Politically Correct Java
As you sip your morning latte, consider this: Conventionally produced coffee is the third-largest pesticide crop in the world, behind cotton and tobacco. That's according to Sam, Sal, and Frieda Mogannam (of Rendezvous du Monde), whose Organic Grounds coffeehouse and juice bar serves certified organic coffee, grown with “sustainable farming methods” and without pesticides. The beans are roasted by Coast Roast, a family-owned outfit in Tomales. And, unlike produce, organic in this case doesn't mean more expensive. By-the-cup and per-pound prices are comparable with Peet's. Organic Grounds is at Ninth and Irving, familiar stomping grounds for the Mogannams, who grew up in the Sunset.

Cheap Eats on Nob Hill
Here's something to make you early diners feel like a Nob Hill swell without busting the bank. Masons, that elegant eatery in the Fairmont Hotel, hosts happy hours, Monday-Friday from 5-7 p.m., with bar menu items for half-price: beef carpaccio, steamed mussels and clams, pizza, and beef brochette all at $3; spring rolls or spicy chicken wings for $2.25; and oysters at 70 cents each. All that plus jazz singer Denise Perrier Monday nights, Scotty Wright Tuesday-Friday.

When You're Hot
Hawthorne Lane, the new SOMA restaurant brought to you by Anne and David Gingrass, formerly of Postrio, is already hot. A call Monday revealed that this weekend was almost completely reserved. Dish thinks it best to wait until the feeding frenzy dies down. Where's Hawthorne Lane? Off Hawthorne Street between Second and Third streets, a block east of Moscone and a block south of SFMOMA.

By Barbara Lane

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