On National Cheesecake Day, Finding the Old-Fashioned Variety in S.F. Can Be Tricky

Even if you hadn't marked today as National Cheesecake Day on your calendar, the Cheesecake Factory did. Dine there today — the San Francisco location is on the eighth floor of Macy's (251 Geary at Stockton) — any slice is half-price. In further celebration of the big day, the Factory is introducing its newest flavor today: Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake cheesecake, named for the winner of an online contest (for the next year, 25 cents from each sales will got to Feeding America). Since a slice of Factory cheesecake starts at $6.50, escalating quickly to $7.95, today might be the day to try it.

Normally we'd head straight for the soufflé-like version at Zanze's. Alas, it's closed for summer vacation until August 20. The city does offer a few intriguing alternatives, although it seems easier to find a frozen Thai basil soufflé with chocolate ganache and blackberry soup (Zinnia) or chocolate-cherry baked Alaska with beet cake and cocoa nib paper (Absinthe) than the old-fashioned version. Even the steakhouses, where cheesecake used to be the inevitable sweet ending, are hit-or-miss in this town: Harris Ranch, Acme Chophouse, Lark Creek Steak, no; Morton's, yes — New York cheesecake for an eye- (and no doubt stomach-) popping $9.

Mission Beach Café has a modish honey lavender cheesecake ($7) — they've been known to do a Blue Bottle mocha flavor, too. Our pick for Best New Bakery in 2008, Thorough Bread and Pastry Co., offers individual cheesecakes topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries ($5.50). And there's always the cream cheese ice cream at Humphry Slocombe ($3.25/scoop) — that is, as long as it's one of the dozen or so available flavors. Today, it's not, though you might glimpse a bit of cheesecake deliciousness in the Straus plum yogurt, which you can get. Don't you just love San Francisco?

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