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Jitters and Shakes

In Goodwill, Family Serves Up Food Without A Fuss

A cup of tea, a bowl of homemade chicken soup to calm one's nerves -- this warm and soothing fare is where Jitters and Shakes hits the spot. Attached to the Goodwill store on South Van Ness between Mission and Market, Jitters and Shakes is a breakfast and lunch café and deli.

Though it's not much to look at -- its interior is a hodge podge of seasonal decorations, several small rectangular tables crowded together, and large silver air ducts towering from the ceiling -- the food at Jitters and Shakes is much greater than the packaging.

All the workers at the café are family members of the founder, Patty Rosales. Originally from El Salvador, the Rosales family makes most of the dishes onsite. Portions are hearty and tend to have an El Salvadoran twist. While the homemade lasagna and salads are among the more popular dishes, the pair of tamales ($6) are particularly unique. Their texture is smooth and the full corn flavor has an added punch because of real bits of chicken and whole green olives packed into each tamale.

Another meal is the baked chicken, a spicy red-sauce covered thigh that comes with yellow rice and pinto beans. Served piping hot, the different parts of the meal compliment one another; the beans temper the deliciously salty chicken. Other dishes include enchiladas ($6), ribs ($9), and a variety of sandwiches, like the "Designer's Sandwich" that includes grilled chicken breast, pesto, mayo red onion, swiss cheese, and avocado all on open-faced focaccia ($6).

Desserts come from area bakeries and include an ever-changing variety of pies and cakes ($3). A recent visit included a plain cheesecake, a holiday chocolate cheesecake, and lemon meringue pie.

The café also sells a variety of coffee drinks, sandwiches, box lunches, and does catering. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, beginning at 11:00 am, a cart is rolled outside the restaurant and fresh chicken and beef tacos and quesadillas are grilled and sold outdoors.

Though not formally affiliated ideologically with the Goodwill store, the café's mission is similar. Rosales is well known for supporting the community through her food donations to area causes.

Rather than full walls, a gray curtain over metal rods divides the restaurant and the store. The two share a bathroom, so restaurant customers must descend the stairs and have a restaurant employee open a gate to enter the Goodwill to use the bathroom. Customers are given a maraca to shake in order to signal a Jitters and Shakes employee to unlock the gate and allow them to return.

Despite these complications -- the sounds of car and foot traffic outside on South Van Ness, and the people milling about searching for clothes just next door at the Goodwill -- the warm food at Jitters and Shakes is all you need to relax.

Perhaps because it's a family run operation and customers can see how hard employees are working, the breakfast and lunch clientele may feel taken care of, just sitting and eating tasty, warm food without a fuss.