SF Chronicle Columnist Calls the La Lengua Autonomous Zone “San Francisco in Miniature” (and “La Lingua”)



San Francisco Chronicle columnist Carl Nolte recently discovered the tasty abundance and colorful plenty found in the La Lengua Autonomous Zone:

You could argue that parklets are this San Francisco generation’s greatest invention. They are usually near some neighborhood coffee or lunch place and are open to anyone – a man feeding bits of his sandwich to his dog, a mother with a tiny kid in a stroller, older kids with their thumbs flying, texting away, old men soaking up the sun.

This particular parklet is at 29th and Tiffany Avenue, a block off Mission Street, a sidewalk oasis in a neighborhood that is San Francisco in miniature.

Everything is within a block or two: a big supermarket, a hardware emporium, half a dozen restaurants, a branch post office, a UPS store, four or five bars, a marijuana dispensary, an osteopath’s office, a bike repair place, and the Cafe Seventy8, where serious-looking people sit with laptops working on the Great American Novel or the Great American Spreadsheet.

You can have hash for breakfast (at Al’s Good Food), falafel for lunch (at Good Frickin Chicken), Dungeness crab and grits for dinner (at the Front Porch). You can have a sloe gin sour ($9 at the Rock Bar) or a Sailor Jerry rum and Coke ($6 at the 3300 Club). For dessert, an ice cream at Mitchell’s at 29th and San Jose Avenue, one of San Francisco’s secret treasures.

This little neighborhood, tucked between the Mission and Bernal Heights, has no name. There was an attempt a couple of years ago to call the neighborhood SoCha – for South of Cesar Chavez street – or La Lingua [sic], Spanish for “the tongue,” but neither caught on.

“Sometimes we call the neighborhood Safeway Flats, after the supermarket and its big parking lot,” said Rory, the bartender at the Rock Bar. The Rock, which features a selection of eight specialty cocktails, has been open for only a year, and is an example of the demographic shift in the area. It used to be a Nicaraguan place; across the street was another joint with a rough reputation, but that morphed into the Front Porch, which offers fried chicken and what they call “Southern Mission hospitality.”

Hmmm. It is certainly true that there is much to recommend the western flatlands of the Dominion of Bernalwood, and we are most grateful for the recognition.

However, under normal circumstances, we would expect Nolte’s column to generate a rowdy dissent from Burrito Justice, chief spokeblogger of the La Lengua separatists, on the basis of Nolte’s strange misspelling (La Lingua???) and his politically volatile assertion that the preferred nomenclature has not “caught on.”

Yet these are not normal circumstances. Bernalwood has learned that as part of his campaign to secure La Lengua’s patrimony through the demographic logic of elevated birthrates, the Burrito Justice family welcomed a new set of twins into the world last weekend. So feisty rebellion will have to wait, because Burrito Justice is just a little bit busy right now.

Nevertheless, on behalf of all the Citizens of Bernalwood, we send the Burrito Justice family our wary congratulations.

PHOTOS: Top, Paul Chinn for the San Francisco Chronicle. Below, Pete Kiehart for the San Francisco Chronicle

13 thoughts on “SF Chronicle Columnist Calls the La Lengua Autonomous Zone “San Francisco in Miniature” (and “La Lingua”)

  1. Carl Nolte attended St. Peter’s parochial school in the Mission so Latin is his first language, thus it’s easy to understand why he would call the neighborhood “La Lingua.”

  2. Weird that they would claim that calling La Lengua by its name would somehow have “not caught on”…. Unless they mean that calling it by their own mis-spelling has not caught on, which is demonstrably true.

  3. Congratulations to the Burrito Justices! arto wants to know if their names are Taco and Enchilada!

  4. While we consider our residence (Prospect/Eugenia) to be in Bernal proper, when we use Google on our phones at home, it says our current location is La Lengua…

    • First, that’s hilarious.

      Second, both are true: Since La Lengua is a treaty-recognized autonomous territory within the Dominion of Bernalwood, you have the luxury of describing your location as either Bernal or La Lengua.

    • I would call that definitely Bernal Heights, as it is well and truly on the hill. The only portion of Bernal Hill that is part of La Lengua and not Bernal Heights is the eastern side of Mission Street.

  5. Pingback: Interviewing Carl Nolte who was worked at the San Francisco Chronicle since 1961 | howdoyoupaint.com

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