Nov 16

Flowery Fruit & Cake Creations At New(ish) Bakery

Our first taste of Fancy Wheat Field’s beautiful and yummy cakes

It’s Cheap, It’s Nice & Most Importantly, It’s Good!

I’ll just come right out and admit it, I turned my nose up at Fancy Wheat Field Bakery before it moved into its new location, the cramped old space serving hotdog filled pastries wasn’t calling my name. That all changed several months back when a neighbor brought over a cake from their new space at 2668 San Bruno Ave.  The cake which I would describe as “mango sponge” was not only tasty but arrived  intricately decorated with fresh fruits carved and assembled into a little work of art. Surprisingly, as we later learned, the entire cake was only $26 which is a relative steal compared to any San Francisco bakery, and it even came with candles

Fancy Wheat Field now open in the space once occupied by Lido Pastry, Photo courtesy of

The new location which opened about a year ago, occupies a space that’s operated as a bakery since the Muni 9 was a streetcar.  The revamped Fancy Wheat Field has brought a fresh look to the old brick building with marble counters and a wood ceiling inside and a new facade that helps spruce up a changing San Bruno Ave.  Popping in any morning, especially weekends, you will typically find a bustling atmosphere of deliveries going out the front door, a line of customers with trays of treats in hand and small groups chatting over coffee around the handful of tables.

The cakes and confections baked fresh daily at Fancy Wheat Field are a twist on familiar classic American style desserts.  Expect assortments of cakes, mousses, breads and all kinds of buns that range in flavor from “blueberry and cheese” to ingredients new to my desert palette like red beans.  Which to my surprise, tastes very much like peanut butter. For those a bit more adventurous, the savory side of the counter features items such as crab salad, sausage or pork baked into a savory bun.  While some of the selections aren’t for everyone, there is definitely something here to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth and it’s great to have this place in the neighborhood when you need a dessert in a pinch that won’e break the bank.

Words aside, we’ll let the gallery below tempt you into stopping by sometime.  Heads up though, it’s cash only and the buns go fast on the weekend.


And Now, Photos Of Delicious Cake (and more)…




Permanent link to this article:

Nov 08

Portola Receives Two S.F. Beautiful Awards!

The impressive amount of community work being done in the neighborhood has received some larger citywide recognition at the 2017 S.F. Beautiful Awards. S.F. Beautiful is a non-profit that dates back to 1947 and advocates for beautification and the preservation of S.F.’s character. Over the years the group has managed to save the cable cars from removal and bringing art to Muni buses most recently.

Of the 21 awards handed out in recognition of beautification efforts going on around the city, one was awarded to the Avenue Theater and the other to a very dedicated Portolan.  A third award was also given to a group in neighboring Excelsior for their work transforming a neglected public space. Check out the winners below with a quick write-up from S.F. Beautiful on why these are so deserving. Congratulations to all three and thank you!

Unsung Hero Award: Chuck Farrugia

Chuck Farrugia has, for many years, been a tireless volunteer advocate and promoter for McLaren Park. He has worked to secure donations and has coordinated improvements including the fountain installation on Gambier. – S.F. Beautiful 

Find out more about Chuck’s group, Help McLaren Park here. Join Chuck’s email list to stay in the know on everything happening in the park.

Renovation Award: The Avenue Theater & P.N.A.

The Avenue Theater has been the literal and figurative heart of the Portola for more than 90 years. It sits in the geographical center of the neighborhood’s commercial corridor and is the tallest and most notable building around. Despite that, it has spent the last thirty plus years decaying and in disrepair. Over the past several years the PNA worked with the City and the property owner to form an agreement that would lead to the renovation of the historic facade and the relighting of the theater’s classic neon lights. The PNA fought for and won grant funding for the project, and struck an agreement with the owner that they would fix the facade in exchange for an extremely generous lease on the empty retail space on the ground floor of the theater. Over the past six months, the PNA has worked with electricians, painters, neon benders and many others to create a project that honors the history of the building and has attracted an ice cream shop to the empty retail space. For the first time in more than 30 years, the community can see the theater and the street lit up once more. The Portola Neighborhood Association and its Corridor Manager Luke Spray have revived and activated the facade of the Portola’s Avenue Theater. – S.F. Beautiful

Learn all about the Avenue project here.

Activation Award: Friends Of Kenny Alley

The Kenny Alley Beautification Project is a multi-phased effort to revitalize and beautify the Kenny Alley Stairs, a small, passage located between a car lot and an apartment building on Mission Street in San Francisco’s Excelsior District. Friends of Kenny Alley have made significant improvements to the Kenny Alley stairs over the past 18 months, including neighborhood and community activation, public pathway improvements, working with local artists and students, and beautifying and greening a blighted and neglected public walkway. – S.F. Beautiful 

Learn more about the project and the group behind it here

Permanent link to this article:

Nov 07

Brighter White L.E.D. Street Lights Arriving In The Portola Now


In the foreground are the new L.E.D street lights casting light down on the street. In the background are the old orange sodium vapor lights on Bernal, casting their light out in a wider spread. Which do you like better?

The nighttime cityscape is in the beginning stages of a complete transformation as the S.F.P.U.C. and P.G.&E. switch their street lamps over to higher efficiency L.E.D. bulbs.

Start saying your goodbyes to the ubiquitous sodium vapor bulbs that have washed cities in an orange glow for decades. The new L.E.D.s selected for San Francisco’s streetlights are a soft white 3000k color temperature bulb that creates a warmer light as opposed to a cold blueish light that many other cities are installing in their street lights. The new bulbs also do a better job of focusing light on the street which helps darken the sky while still providing a brighter, more evenly lit street. Better for safety and also better on the environment as the new lights in California alone, will save enough energy to power 500,000 homes a year according to PG&E.

Top: Dimmer sodium vapor lights on Brussels St. Bottom: Brighter L.E.D. lights on Burrows St.  (In person the old is much dinner, I think my phone adjusts for the light.) 

We reached out to PG&E about the project and learned that D-10 and a portion of the Portola will be the first to receive the lights in the pilot program. Installation of the first phase has already begun and will be complete by Thanksgiving at which time discussions will begin with the city on the next areas to be upgraded. Last we heard though, P.G.&E. has no timeline to change over the entire city or finish the Portola, but given that the new bulbs are saving them money, we assume that it will occur fairly rapidly.

If you hand any questions about the program or lights, you can reach out to PG&E here.

Courtesy of PG&E, map of Portola showing locations of new L.E.D. street lights in pilot upgrade program.


Permanent link to this article:

Nov 03

The G.O. Annual Wine Sale & Portola Store Update

Attention Neighborhood Winos

If you enjoy wine and haven’t checked out the deals and variety at the Grocery Outlet (1390 Silver Ave), you are missing out. As we have reported in the past, their wine following is so strong that someone has dedicated a blog to reviewing their selections .

For any newbies or dedicated G.O. sommeliers out there, the big annual wine sale is going on now at all G.O. locations including Portola.  20% off all bottles through Tuesday means deep discounts on already well priced bottles.

How Is The Portola Store Doing?

Glad you asked, in short, they are doing phenomenally one year into the new location. After a series of markers in the Silver Ave. location have come and gone, it appears this one will stick. We spoke to Ray, the life long Portolan and owner of the Silver Ave store, who informed us that this location has had the strongest opening in the local chain’s recent expansion. The Portola store also has the most sales of organic and specialty items at 19% of total sales versus s 14% at other S.F. G.O. stores.  Good news because this means G.O. will continue to stock more of those items in the Portola store as the brand expands its offerings.

As you may have heard, the Berkeley based Grocery Outlet chain is in the midst of a giant expansion program, adding more locations all over the western U.S.  This should give the chain more buying power with high quality brands. Ray also shared that store owners are pushing the company to also use this expansion opportunity to begin featuring items such as fresh-baked local breads commonly found at other specialty markets. As he joked, the brand hopes to be recognized as the Nordstrom Rack of foods, not the Ross.  We think that’s music to everyone’s ears here in the Portola.

If you have any suggestions for the store, Ray is committed to making his location a market for the community. You can email or call with any feedback or specific product requests that you would like to see stocked.

Contact Information

(415) 825-5678

[email protected]

Permanent link to this article:

Nov 02

Wrestling For Charity With A Very S.F. Twist

So here is a new event for the Portola, a wrestling tournament that will take place at El Toro on San Bruno Ave, aired live on YouTube and will all benefit a good cause. Oh and the emcee for the event is Portola’s very own drag queen Pollo Del Mar – only in S.F.! We have no idea what to expect with tonight’s event but we have a feeling that it will be memorable either way. All the details below:

Wrestling For Charity Debuts in San Francisco! See WFC champion “Metalhead Maniac” Sledge, WFC Sapphire division champion Thunder Rosa (aka Kobra Moon), Jeckles, Jheri Gigalow, Chicano Flame, Mantiz Lee, “Wrestling Personified” Rik Luxury, Rock Lobster, The Honor Society, WFC GM “The Voice” Donovan Troi, WFC Assistant GM and San Francisco’s own Pollo Del Mar & much more! A portion of the proceeds benefits the Portola Neighborhood Association. All-ages event! 21-and-over to drink.

Permanent link to this article:

Nov 01

The Portola Is Getting A Flag, Submit Your Design By November 15th!

Our little urban enclave tucked between the hills of McLaren Park and the freeways is getting a flag. The folks at the Portola Urban Greening (P.U.G.) community group are hosting a competition in which neighbors can create and submit their design for a flag that represents the community. P.U.G. will be hosting a free workshop open to everyone for those who would like to design in the company of others or for anyone who isn’t feeling confident in their artistic skills but has an idea. The winning design will fly at Burrows Pocket park as well as businesses and homes throughout the neighborhood.  All the details including submission dates and how to get templates in the release from P.U.G. below.

All The Details & How To Enter Your Design

The Portola’s Getting a Neighborhood Flag!
The Portola neighborhood is hosting an open competition for all residents to create a Portola Garden District flag. The flag will hang proudly in Burrows Pocket Park, along San Bruno Ave, and in local businesses and residences.
We Stand Together
As a diverse neighborhood, recently united after years of being split into different supervisor districts, we’re excited to build upon the city’s recent recognition of the Portola’s identity as San Francisco’s Garden District.
But I’m Not an Artist…
Don’t worry! This Thursday, 11/2 from 5:30-8:30, there’ll be professional designers to help advise and workshop your flag ideas. This competition is about highlighting the Portola’s values through a shared visual symbol – if you bring the inspiration, they’ll bring the artistry.
Let’s Do It!
You can find more details about the design competition HERE and download a PDF with specific instructions and a template to either draw, collage, or digitally paste your design. Completed designs can be turned in to the Portola Branch Library or submitted online.
Design Workshop Info:
When? This Thursday November 2nd from 5:30-8:30pm
Where? Ferment Drink Repeat’s upstairs community space (because who’s not more artistic after a few brews) at 2636 San Bruno Ave
Who? You + professional designers who love making flags
What? Learn about how to make the best flag (it is a competition…), meet your neighbors, and enjoy some snacks and beer.
Key Dates: 
Submission Period Opens: 10/26
Workshop: 11/2
Submission Deadline: 12pm on 11/15
Voting Period: 11/16-11/30

Permanent link to this article:

Oct 31

Crafty Woolsey St. Cemetery Returns, Stop by Tonight

Back again, the creepiest Halloween display in the Portola has been conjured up around the little Victorian at 309 Woolsey Street.  Neighbor Larry Winum has dialed up the spook factor with more eerie lighting, rubber rates and personalized tombstones to make this year’s display the best yet..

Unlike many other Halloween displays, Larry doesn’t buy his decorations, he makes them all with found objects and a playfully weird imagination.  The resulting “Woolsey Street Cemetery” is completely dreamed up by Larry, down to the chilling candle lit woman hunched over on the front steps.

Larry will be giving out candy tonight if you would like to stop by and give the kids a scare or just check out his crafty Halloween talents. Display will be up until the rains start late this week, Happy Halloween Portola!


Permanent link to this article:

Oct 27

4 Locations, 11 Bands & Over 20 Artists: Open Studios Comes To The Portola

Portola Art Fest & Open Studios At Frame Art

Local artists Lisa Balsamo Magrudedr and Arthur Koch have been working with Art Span to get Portola on the Open Studios map and have pulled off quite an event this year. Teaming up with the Ukrainian Hall across the street from their studio space, they are hosting a two-day event in the neighborhood that will feature 10 live bands and a wide variety of art and handmade crafts. It all starts this Friday with no entrance fee but donations will be welcome when they pass the hat for the bands. See all the details in the flyer below:

When: Friday (10/27), tonight) 5pm-9pm & Saturday (10/28) 11am-6pm

Where: Portola Art Fest @ The Ukrainian Hall 100 Brussels Street and Open Studios at Frame Art Studio 150 Silliman St,  Both locations are at the intersection of Silliman & Brussels so you can attend both.

Why:  Support art and Portola artists!

Open Studios At Phillip Hua’s & Ferment Drink Repeat Brewery

Portola artist Phillip Hua will also have an open studio at his home at 360 Sought Street from 11am-6pm this Saturday and Sunday.  Phillip designed the popular Portola t-shirt and he will be selling them at his open studio.

Ferment Drink Repeat Brewery will also be hosting work from artist Andrea Berger and Irene Schlesinger.  F.D.R. is at 2636 San Bruno Ave and the official open studios portion is Saturday from 11am to 6pm and live music will begin at 7pm.  A 5 piece garage rock band called “The Basementals”.


Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «