My mother was here for Thanksgiving and, bless her, she urged me and Joy to go out on Saturday night while she took care of the munchkin. We were going to pick a nice restaurant, but Joy wasn’t feeling so well, so we opted for a cafe where we could just sit and have an actual uninterrupted adult conversation. We headed for the Mission District, where cafes are plentiful, and walked around in search of the right place.

My criteria were (1) food substantial enough to constitute dinner for me, since my stomach was fine and empty, and (2) a nice atmosphere. We walked by a place neither of us had been to or heard of before, which, judging from the outside, had atmosphere galore. I like Cuban, and there were veggie options, so in we went. I had an interestingly international veggie plate: samosa (always black-humorous in a Latin American context), Cuban black beans, basmati rice, and salad. The interior decor was very entertaining.


Our table was covered with life-size anatomical drawings of the muscles of the leg. The walls included memorial altars to Roque Dalton and John Lennon–twenty years later, I still painful to see the front page of the next day’s New York Post, which was the Lennon altar’s backdrop. Altered Barbies were much in evidence, some of them engaging in activities that you wouldn’t want your prepubescent Barbie-loving daughter to see. (We missed last month’s Altered Barbie show,so this was a nice consolation.) A very determined octopus threatened to come into the bathroom via the air vent. All in all, atmosphere out the wazoo.

Also, the exterior alone makes it a place that should be on my upcoming tour of public art in the Mission, which seven generous and lucky bidders won in our church auction. I’ve also been looking for a lunch place that has vegan dishes, since one of the seven is vegan, so I asked Radio Habana if they were open for lunch, but alas, no. So, returning to Plan A (a taqueria), today I researched a taqueria that has a lot of vegan options. How burdensome and laborious. It was delicious.