Share this photo on Twitter Share this photo on Facebook

Hard Knox Cafe

Posted by
Stephen Phillips (San Francisco, United States) on 16 March 2009 in Cityscape & Urban and Portfolio.

'Authentic Soul Food' says the bright blue awning in front. And so it is. Served up by a Vietnamese couple from Texas - for more than a decade. An only in San Francisco experience that is not to be missed. 22nd and 3rd Streets.

I'd just finished dining here on this particular evening. First time in many months. Fried chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes and gravy. Homemade corn bread with butter. Iced tea. Excellent.

Meal finished. I was entering my car - which was parked across the street. I looked back and noticed the young woman in the window, reading. There were the colorful curtains a couple of doors over. And the billboard which had disassembled itself in the recent rains.

This calls for a photograph, I declared - to no one and almost unconsciously. And, so here it is...

Canon 5D w/Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens: ISO 50 - 22mm - f/5.6 @ 8.0 seconds.

To see a larger view of this image:

tomorrow's image contains mild nudity -

© copyright 2018 by Stephen Phillips Photography / Oakland, California /
please respect these rights - do not copy or use these images without permission.

Anthony Lambert from Bielefeld, Germany

A classic American scene and a classic American meal as well.
It seems to me(a European who has never visited the states) that every time we see Americans eating on film or TV they always sit down to Chicken and Mash !! Is this true,I can´t believe really believe it...
and you manage to eat it without using a knife ???? :-)

16 Mar 2009 7:22am

@Anthony Lambert: Well, you've had me pondering this for some while now, Anthony. My big impression of food on American television is of a cop (and sometimes his partner) - grabbing a hot dog. Second would be shakes and fries at a diner. Then would come this chicken dinner you describe. Personally, I use a knife - especially in a restaurant. Must be my east coast upbringing.

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

Well spotted. It was certainly worth getting the camera out for. A really good and interesting shot.

16 Mar 2009 7:22am

yz from Budapest, Hungary

love that light that speeded through

16 Mar 2009 7:45am

Lorraine from Gatineau, Canada

I like the nightscape, and I have never seen a café I didn't like ;)

16 Mar 2009 11:07am

@Lorraine: I'm afraid I have found a few that would have you running. The Canyon Cafe Diner in Napa deserves a huge detour. It has been there for years and the clientele are as scary as the food. The waitresses are more frightening than both of these elements combined. A 'must be missed' experience.

Marcie from United States

Something very wonderful about the ordinariness of the scene..the colors of the lights...the blurr of a car's lights passing. Great eye!

16 Mar 2009 11:46am

@Marcie: Thanks, Marcie.

dogilicious from Millerstown, PA, United States

Great capture. Love the car lights streaking through.

16 Mar 2009 1:20pm

sherri from Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

Exceptional capture. I really like the color combos in this.

16 Mar 2009 1:23pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Great colors & composition! Well worth the effort of getting the gear out :)

16 Mar 2009 2:38pm

melodia from ffm, Germany

interesting your description, made me discover a lot what i haven't seen first. looks like a modern cowboy town or so, i mean the style of the houses. any case what i would think as a european. ,)
and funny with the "lightstripes" through the picture... ,)

16 Mar 2009 2:58pm

@melodia: One thing early settlers of California discovered was that brick and mortar do not do well in earthquakes. So most of residential San Francisco is built of wood. This is very typical of a working-class neighborhood.

Chris from South Jersey, United States

a wonderful scene, and your description of the meal has my mouth watering!
I like the colors and the collection of cars parked on the street.....

16 Mar 2009 3:08pm

Alun Lambert from cheshire, United Kingdom

very good image, great exsposure, sounded a very nice meal as well

16 Mar 2009 5:26pm

Susan from Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States

Great shot, wonderful story to boot..... and very funny too!! Soul Food, by the Vietnamese.... that would make some of my Georgia Good Ole' Boy friends heartsick!!!

16 Mar 2009 7:11pm

@Susan: I promise that if your 'good ol' boys' sat down to 'Hard Knox' jambalaya, ham hocks, or smothered chicken - along with the homemade mac'n'cheese, collard greens, or the other 'in-house' sides - and that yummy cornbread - they'd be blown away by what this charming couple are doing with their kitchen.

Calusarus from St Sorlin en Valloire, France

Very nice long exposure shot… A great result

16 Mar 2009 8:40pm

paulski from Muncie, IN, United States

great shot; the stationary cars really help to make this, highlighting the motion of the other cars. and the colors are brilliant...

16 Mar 2009 10:00pm

Evelyne Dubos from Le Mans, France

I like the "hyper realistic" rendering of this nice night shot.

16 Mar 2009 10:46pm

Walter from Watkinsville, United States

Thank you for directing me to your other site. This photo really came alive for me once I opened it to the 'original' size. A good friend of mine's dad is a modern realistic painter and this photo done at night really gives off that same feeling. Really cool.

17 Mar 2009 1:44am

willow from Chelsea, United States

What a great scene.

17 Mar 2009 4:58pm

grant from kansas city, United States

and what a photo. love it.

17 Mar 2009 10:45pm

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

This wonderful image is so full of detail. It's great! The Hard Knox sounds like a great place.

18 Mar 2009 2:08am