San Francisco Food Secrets of Daniel Handler & Lisa Brown

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lisa brown and daniel handler

Author Daniel Handler (who often uses the pen name of Lemony Snicket) and his wife author/illustrator Lisa Brown live with their young son in the same upper Haight neighborhood as Mayor Gavin Newsom. The duo is active in the arts community, and Handler is on the Board of Advisors for LitPAC, which uses noteworthy authors and lit events to support Democratic causes and politicians. Handler is a San Francisco native who has penned the popular Lemony Snicket series of books, as well as Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth and Adverbs. Brown hails from Connecticut and is the bestselling author and/or illustrator of books including Vampire Boy's Good Night, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, Baby Mix Me a Drink and Picture the Dead, an illustrated Civil War ghost story for teens. She sporadically draws the (soon to be syndicated) Three Panel Book Review cartoon for the
 San Francisco Chronicle. The two met as undergrads at Wesleyan and have been married for twelve years. Here are the food favorites of the literary power couple.

Life's not life without papaya salad, and the best papaya salad we've found is at Marnee Thai, at 9th and Irving. Have one with some Thai iced coffee and then go a few doors down to Le Video and, with the caffeine raging through your system, rent an old monster movie that you would never rent while in your right mind. Enjoy!

Crab season means it's time to head down to Anchor Oyster Bar and have oysters and crab and a bottle of white wine in the middle of the day. Why not? You're self-employed. (Note: only applies to self-employed people.)

Puerto Alegre on Valencia. Don't even ask.


Andronico's on Funston and Irving is the market we go to for just about everything. Bobby's behind the meat counter. Ask him about Prince, but pay attention while he's answering you or you will go home with three times as much skirt steak as you need.

The cheese section at Rainbow Grocery is an oasis of sophistication and delight. True, you have to push your way through hippies buying bulk foods to put in the Mason jars they brought from home. Life is not perfect.

Alembic has the best cocktails, plus roasted shishito peppers and whatever form of deviled or pickled eggs they're trying out at any given time. We can be found there at a ridiculously early hour. If you see us, pick up the tab.

Tosca Café is another great bar, perfect for buying gimlets, stumbling across the street to City Lights Books to purchase poetry, and then stumbling back for another gimlet while reading poetry purchased at City Lights Books. Repeat and fade.

Okazu Ya on Taraval has a special nigiri called Midnight Express that should not be eaten in the presence of someone with whom you are not sleeping. Halibut, black caviar and a raw quail egg is more erotic than the Castro and North Beach combined.

The Balboa Theater is the easiest movie theater to sneak food into. You should not sneak food into movie theaters. It is against the rules and rude. If you do it with hot and sour soup do not put it in a backpack.

A stovetop espresso maker is a necessary defense against the coffee of New England. We won't say whose coffee we stock it with, because we don't want Ritual, Four Barrel or Blue Bottle mad at us.

Food guilt is for wimps and Gentiles.