XYZ at the W Hotel – Or as Dad Would Say, X-ray Yankee Zulu

xyz bar at the w hotel, san francisco, ca - french fries
LAX to SFO, no. 3

My sisters always tell me that I should say nicer things about Dad on the blog, otherwise, I shouldn’t write about him at all. Apparently, I make him out to be some sort of Nazi parent who has caused as much need for therapy as growing up the bigger, fatter, uglier older sister to two very cute twin baby sisters and getting rejected from every Medical school to which I applied.

Dad is not a Nazi parent, but I could still use some therapy.

So yes, though he may not be short and German, Dad is still somewhat militaristic. As I have mentioned before, Dad calls himself the Captain because when our family is not a corporation that is run by him as the CEO, our family is the military and he is the Captain. Strangely, he is neither the Commander-in-Chief nor a General, but that is beside the point, since we all know that the true Commander-in-Chief of every family is the hyper-bladdered shih-tzu Buffy, pronounced “Buppy,” since Koreans can’t say “f.”

When my family communicates with one another, we do not use our real names. We use code names, like in the military. Granted, we don’t go around calling each other Goose and Maverick, but in emails, text, and voice messages, I am not Sarah. I am 621. The number codes were chosen for a couple of very Dad-logical reasons. Number codes are easier to remember and write, though I am not sure what is so difficult about remembering that one of your three daughters is named “Sarah.” However, the number codes are easier to transmit via Morse code. If it weren’t for cell phones, each one of us would have little tapper tappy Morse code machines so that we could tap out messages to each other, all of which would just be “SOS,” since that is the only thing I know in Morse code (…—…). And for God’s sake, I only know that because my Dad taught it to us just in case we are ever on the Titanic and need to cry for help from a sinking ship, and every single passenger’s cell phone service happens to be Verizon, which we all know doesn’t work in the North Atlantic because Verizon has the worst service in the world.

Aside from the ease of communication, number codes offer a higher level of security. You know, security, so that when our family makes plans to have brunch together, if the enemy happens to intercept our messages, they won’t be able to figure out where we are meeting to sabotage our eggs Benedict.

Dad believes that we need to use military forms of communication because it is the most efficient, accurate form of communication. “F.” Koreans have this problem with pronouncing some of the letters of the English alphabet. That is to say, Koreans who use ESL eat who-rench who-ries. Apparently, our whole family is ESL, even though my Dad speaks perfect, no-accent English, which is very unusual for a first generation Korean, but he is brilliant. My sisters were born in New York and I was born in Detroit, which I guess, means I am ESL because my Dad thinks I speak ghetto jive.

A few weeks ago, Dad sent me and my sisters an email explaining that since we are ESL, and there are often times “when we talk in a noisy environment, like when the soldiers keep on talking out in the war zone,” we need to communicate the way soldiers do to avoid any risk of confusion that could thwart carefully planned strategies. (I am guessing about the “strategies” part, but the “war zone” part is a direct quote pulled from Dad’s email). Dad sent us a copy of the military alphabet.

Alpha Bravo Charlie.

When Jason mentioned that we would stop for “one more” at XYZ in the W Hotel, it took everything within my shy, quiet Asian demeanor to not scream out in confirmation, “Roger, Roger! X-ray Yankee Zulu, Whiskey Hotel at 2:00, 10-4!” All of which have nothing to do with the military alphabet and everything to do with the crazy confused pop culture mashup that happens in my head when I’ve had too many tapas.

So we stepped out into the wind tunnel that is Howard Street and though they said that XYZ is “around the corner,” based on my previous experience with a reassuring “only five blocks,” I was heading for the curb, ready to throw myself at any cab that happened to be careening down the street. “No, Sarah, XYZ is li’trally around the corner.” Oh really? You mean like it’s li’trally around the corner just like it’s li’trally 56 miles spread over five blocks?!?! Checker, Yellow, Pumpkin? Anyone? Please.

But drinks make a girl give it up fairly easily, so we walked, and they were right. X-ray Yankee Zulu is literally around the corner from Thirsty Bear. It took all of, oh, about 90 seconds. I was bitter that I couldn’t be mad at them.

W Hotels are always nice and trendy and all black and make me feel like I have just taken the Red Pill. Or the Blue Pill. I do not remember. XYZ, the bar, is simply in the lobby of the hotel. At the tail end of happy hour on a Friday afternoon in San Francisco, XYZ was a happening place, but a very different type of “happening” from the Thirsty Bear from whence we came.

xyz at the w hotel, san francisco, ca
lets in enough light to wear sunglasses

It was clearly not a group of after-work Happy Hour people, unless everyone inside works at trendy retail clothing store and uses their employee discount to the max. Or maybe a Sunglass Hut, because the first guy I spotted when I walked through the door had sunglasses on. Inside. I can’t be so snarky, because the sun had not yet set, and was filtering through the gorgeous lobby dome overhead. Maybe he has sensitive eyes.

We were there only to see the place and have a drink, and of course, order the French fries that Jason said were pretty good. XYZ has an enormous “signature cocktail catalog,” which I don’t quite understand because doesn’t everyone have one signature< /strong>? At least, that’s what my bank recommended when I opened an account with them. Multiple versions of your signature make it easier for someone to steal your money.

xyz at the w hotel, san francisco, ca- citron and soda and monkey
lushy monkey
xyz at the w hotel, san francisco, ca - french fries
McXYZ almost as good as the clown’s

Some of the cocktails sounded like dessert in a martini glass: Velvet Fog made of Absolut Vanil, Kahlua, and white Creme de Cacao, Key Lime Pie made with Skyy Vanilla, lime juice, and pineapple juice, and the Raspberry Truffle, made with Stoli Razberi, Creme de Cacao, and Chambord. The overly sweet and fruity concoctions are not quite my bag, soI ordered another one of my signature cocktails. When the French fries arrived to our smart, sleek leather ottoman with contrast sticthing, I gasped. They were beautiful, in a paper cone that was supported by a wire frame. They were hot, crisp, and went wonderfully well with the Sauce de Tamate Amercaine. Whether they were better than the French fries we had earlier in the day on the drive up, though, is still under consideration.

If I lived in San Francisco, I could see myself hanging out at XYZ on occasion, but only on rare occasions, when I didn’t feel the need to don camouflage and communicate via a CB radio.

XYZ Lounge
at the W Hotel
181 Third Street (@ Howard)
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 817-7823

** a year ago today, the beverly hills honey man was bitter, and the cheesecake factory would never hire me **

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  • FooDcrazEE

    nice way to serve the anchovies and fries

  • peachiee

    LOL. There is a Mexican restaurant in Southwest Harbor, Maine also named XYZ. They served up the meanest margaritas!

  • Phil

    So, are ya coming to Napa?

  • Darkenrahlin

    nice post…. another cool site you might want to check out is


  • Sam

    i reviewed XYZ for SFist X. Well the restaurant bit. I think the bar has had its heyday, but that does not stop me from hanging out there occasionally, from time to time.

  • KT

    Your dad obviously hasn’t made his way to military TIME yet, since you didn’t go to X-Ray Yankee Zulu at “oh-fourteen hundred hours,” or whatever it is. Hopefully he doesn’t read my comment.

    How did he come up with 621, anyway? Your dad must have a different brain than me, if that is more memorable than “Sarah.” At least he didn’t REALLY name you that.

  • sarah

    foodcrazee: yes, actually, anchovies IN the fries would have been lovely, huh?

    peach: do you mean equis, y griega zeta??

    phil: summer!

    darkenrahlin: thank you for the tip!

    sam: if i were there in san francisco, i’d go there too. French fries pair amazingly well with vodka/soda!

    kt: actually, he has. the “2:00” was for the direction (like “bogey at 2:00, maverick!”) lol!

    621 is my birthday. everyone’s code is their birthday, which when i think about it, is silly, becasue my sisters are twins so they have the SAME code, and well, my dad keeps calling my mom 306, and her birthday is march 9.

  • hermz

    My dad did the military letter codes with me too, but I’m not going to say for what here.

  • Anonymous

    Miss Sarah, this post is so full of funny sentences, I cannot begin to comment. However, I just had to highlight these because they made me practically fall out of my chair:

    “every single passenger’s cell phone service happens to be Verizon, which we all know doesn’t work in the North Atlantic because Verizon has the worst service in the world.”

    “I was born in Detroit, which I guess, means I am ESL because my Dad thinks I speak ghetto jive.”

    “But drinks make a girl give it up fairly easily”

    You are just too funny.

  • sarah

    hermz: you can’t do that. you can’t tease like that. that’s against the rules. now tell us!

    anonymous: funny. i wasn’t trying to be funny. strange. ;)

    and i HATE verizon. can you tell?

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