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Why SF’s Mayor Is Tweeting About Garlic Noodles, Rum Cake, and Beer

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Hint: It has to do with the Super Bowl

Thanh Long’s garlic noodles

Yes, it’s true: San Francisco’s city hall is mired in a restaurant-related corruption scandal virtually unheard of since, well, its last restaurant-related corruption scandal. But that’s not the only dining drama on Mayor London Breed’s plate this week, as Thursday, she announced that if the SF 49ers were to somehow lose to the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV, she’d hook Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas with delicacies from three iconic local venues.

It’s a longstanding tradition that high-ranking city officials will make a friendly bet on the outcome of the big game, and this year, Lucas “challenged” Breed by saying that he’d send some of his city’s famous ribs to her, should the Chiefs lose. In a video from what appears to be Crissy Field, Breed accepted Lucas’s rib bet, and said that if the Niners lost, she’d send him roasted crab and garlic noodles from Thanh Long, rum cake from Dianda’s Bakery, and beer from Anchor Brewing. Some might wonder why, out of every spot in San Francisco, Breed chose items from those venues. Here are some reasons these food and drink purveyors are institutions worthy of a Super Bowl bet.

Thanh Long

When it opened at 4101 Judah Street back in 1971, Thanh Long’s Outer Sunset block as about a barren as any San Francisco neighborhood’s could be — hard to believe when one sees how buzzy the area is today. The restaurant’s story began when Helene An fled Vietnam and landed in SF, purchasing what was then a 20-seat Italian diner at the western edge of the city, and eventually turned it into the city’s first Vietnamese restaurant.

As the Chron noted in 1999 and again just last week, the spot draws one of the city’s most ethnically diverse crowds, with actor Danny Glover telling the paper that it’s a favorite of “the Bay Area’s relatively small African American community.” And, according to Los Angeles Magazine, its roasted crab and garlic noodles are made in a “secret kitchen” constructed to keep its recipe from falling into the wrong hands. All these data points, plus SF’s longstanding crab-fishing traditions, make it an extremely solid local choice.

Dianda’s Italian American Pastry

Dianda’s Bakery might not be as buzzy as some of the city’s newer bakeries, but, honestly, does SF need Mayor Breed betting a meal from a baker that might decide to bust out of town tomorrow? SInce 1962, Dianda’s has sold some of the city’s best sheet cakes from its 2883 Mission Street storefront, as well as 35 different kinds of cookies, over 20 different types of pastries, and other baked goods with roots in a multitude of cultural traditions. The unionized bakery’s (employees are members of BCTGM Local 24 San Francisco) rum torte is especially popular with East African customers, and was characterized by local food writer Ruth Gebreyesus as “a bittersweet reminder that someplace like home can exist here too.” Enough said.

Anchor Brewing Company

Anchor was founded in 1896, and moved to its current location in Potrero Hill in 1979. It’s changed hands numerous times over the years, most recently acquired by Sapporo Holdings Ltd. That’s a big — and non-local — enough brand to give one pause when it comes to naming it as an ongoing San Francisco icon, but hold on a second: Not only is Anchor still one of the only places that still produces California common beer (aka steam beer), it’s known as the country’s first craft brewery (a designation it lost as the company grew). Like Dianda’s, Anchor is an organized shop, as the brewery voted to unionize in the summer of 2019. Are there perhaps more specific beers Breed could have highlighted in her Super Bowl challenge? Perhaps, but it’s a smart political move to appease the city’s powerful organized labor interests with another nod to a unionized business, so it’s understandable why she made that choice.

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