Friday, October 30, 2009

You Never Know What You're Gonna Get at Cha3

Go to Cha Cha Cha when you don’t feel like “going out.” It’s in the heart of San Francisco’s liveliest neighborhood, The Haight. This in itself will snap anyone out of a home-body funk. The tapas restaurant is mellow enough that you can roll off your couch and walk through the door dressed in footie pajamas and a t-shirt, and no one asks you to leave – or even stares at you, appalled. You’re also free to gussy yourself up and walk through the door clothed in a sparkly tube dress and bright purple pumps, because somehow you’ll still fit in.

But how can the style of one tiny restaurant be so eclectic? My theory is that the diners are too hammered to notice what anyone around them is wearing. After all, Cha3 serves full pitchers of sangria crammed with apples, oranges, bananas, pineapple, and grapes that absorb a dangerous amount of booze. (The menu says to “share some with an enemy.”) Another promising theory is that the folks who frequent The Haight are easy going and accepting of all get-ups, from sweatpants to prom dresses. Most locals wear tie-dyed t-shirts and bell-bottoms, anyway.

After catching up with my DG sisters at Maijken’s apartment, the six of us pranced across the street to Cha3. The working gals had come straight from the office in their pencil skirts and blouses, while others had walked five miles uphill to get to Maijken’s in an effort to save ten dollars on cab fare. (Can you guess who that was?) As sweaty as Alexa and I were from our journey, the restaurant’s waiters and patrons didn’t seem to notice. I immediately fell in love with Cha Cha Cha. We took a seat at the bar and waited for a table.

Now, if eclectic flair and sangria don’t do it for you, go to Cha3 for the people. Every time I’ve been to the restaurant, I’ve meet someone awe-inspiring, humorous, or just plain weird. The last time Darren and I were there, we talked to a 55-year-old man who was visiting the city from the east coast. He stood with a 50-year-old woman, a middle-school teacher from Brisbane. They’d walked for multiple hours across some bridge and then through a beach (or something) to get to Cha3. That's weird, right? The man asked me if I was in fashion – me! A buyer at a big department store, possibly. Obviously I was flattered, as I don’t consider myself a fashionista whatsoever. If anything I’m style retarded. No, I told him, I’m a writer. He was equally impressed.

Anyway, we ended up chatting for an hour about Glide Memorial Church, the homeless shelter and minister in the core of the Tenderloin. Why? I don’t know. (Darren and I shared an entire pitcher of Sangria throughout the conversation, which could have something to do with it.) The odd couple said Glide was the “center of culture in San Francisco” – the place to be. I’d heard just the opposite. They told me to take my family and friends there when they come to visit. I told them, quite frankly, that I’m terrified to walk past the shelter because it gives me the creeps. One time, a scrawny thug (who was dressed as a woman but still the scariest man alive) jumped in front of me and screamed, “Bitch!” for no reason. I burst into tears and ran away.

My point? Cha Cha Cha is awesome. You never know what you’re gonna get.

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  1. haha, I'm so glad to be described as sweaty in your blog! At least you are right there with me!