The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
September 15, 2020

Just a few of the many, many toys at Toy Boat by Jane. Photo courtesy of Amanda Michael.


Butterscotch the horse is ready to welcome you (back) to Toy Boat by Jane! Photo courtesy of Amanda Michael.

When the news came out in June that the 38-year-old ~TOY BOAT DESSERT CAFE~ on Clement Street was closing, there was a sadness that swept through the city. SF native Amanda Michael of Jane the Bakery and Jane cafés tells me she was really depressed about it—she used to go there in high school, and fast forward to her taking her kids there. She says she was really down about it, and a friend sent her an article about the closure and said, “You need to take this on.”

As someone who has been struggling and in survival mode (like any food business right now), she says, “There were a million reasons why not to do it, and a million others why I should do it.” She notes they weren’t looking to expand, at all, but she liked the idea of stepping into a positive project for the city, noting “the pandemic has been so hard on everyone, in so many ways.” So, after working with the former owners Jesse and Roberta Fink, she took the torch, and is opening ~ TOY BOAT BY JANE~.

Toy Boat served a simple menu of salads, sandwiches, coffee, and of course, ice cream—all things Jane already serves at their bakeries and cafés—except for the ice cream, but that’s the fun part! Michael wanted to keep the tradition of serving Double Rainbow ice cream, but they’re now making all the sauces and caramel for sundaes, plus adding fun toppings, like Jane’s crazy cookie. She is planning to make sundae kits for home, too. There will also be Jane’s cookies, take-home cookie dough, pastries, breads, butter, cheeses, soup, and more. The other Jane locations will be supplying all the grab-and-go salads and sandwiches, which will keep things pretty streamlined—and they’re all located pretty close to the Geary corridor, a straight shot.

As for the interior, which was packed tight with a massive and dense collection of vintage toys, they had to take everything down for a deep cleaning and repainting. They have been carefully editing down the collection of toys and need to declutter the space for ease of cleaning and sanitization, a requisite these days. Any of the toys that didn’t make the cut will be returned to previous owner Jesse Fink, so fear not—if you don’t see one of your favorites, it wasn’t heartlessly cast away to the toy heap! They have also added a mural.

The hope is to open this Friday September 18th (thanks to Eater for the tip-off about the opening date), once they get their health department inspection and sign-off. Follow @toyboatbyjane for the official opening announcement!

Initial hours will be 8am-8pm—they want to see what the neighborhood needs (online ordering is coming soon). Michael’s hope is that people will come by for an ice cream after dinner at home, and it would be a fun field trip for kids (and adults, let’s be real here). Because: ice cream! She is so touched by the neighborhood’s excitement to see Toy Boat reopen—she said people have even been slipping notes under the door. Awwww! Here’s to keeping an SF treasure box open—both for the kids, and our inner children. 401 Clement St. at 5th Ave.


Buttermilk biscuits and country gravy for brunch at Town Hall. Photo courtesy of Town Hall Restaurant.


Town Hall’s new outdoor plaza seating. Photo courtesy of Town Hall Restaurant.


The new bayside patio at Boulevard. Instagram photo via @blvdsf.


Nigiri at Kuma. Photo via Kuma on Feastly.

After being closed the past six months, it’s great to hear that 17-year-old ~TOWN HALL~ (since 2003!) has dusted off the pass and is back in action. Chef-owner Mitchell Rosenthal was interviewed by Eater about all the changes happening at the collection of restaurants he operates with his brother, Steven (Salt House—closed; Anchor & Hope—maybe returning as a beer hall; and Jersey—which I reported is temporarily closed), and Town Hall, which has reopened and is returning to its deep New Orleans roots with a new menu that has dishes that pay homage to chef Paul Prudhomme’s famed K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen (he was a mentor to Mitchell), as well as offering weekend brunch (Fri-Sun) for the first time. While the long bar at Town Hall was always the spot to be, now it’s all about their patio and plaza, with plenty of room for distanced seating and heaters.

Take a look at the dinner and brunch menus, with Town Hall favorites like their Benton’s Tennessee country ham served with buttermilk biscuits and red pepper jelly, and their buttermilk fried chicken, plus K-Paul dishes like Cajun popcorn shrimp (arugula, green beans, peanuts, ham, harissa benne vinaigrette), shrimp and crawfish gumbo (okra, scallions, Carolina gold rice), BBQ Gulf shrimp (Worcestershire sauce, garlic herb toast), and blackened rib-eye (brown butter garlic sauce, French fries). Plus oysters on the half shell, because I know how we all miss those. Brunch has a Hangtown fry, eggs Benedict, and more. Bring on the Sazeracs—they really look forward to seeing their regulars! And parking is easy down there for a change. Takeout and delivery are also available. Dinner: Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm, brunch: Fri-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm. 342 Howard St. at Fremont.

Do you follow @tablehopper on Instagram? It’s where I post a bunch of reopenings in my Stories, but I want to make sure you knew that ~BOULEVARD~ has reopened with a full-service patio (make reservations and read the terms and peek at the menus here); the soft-shell crab BLT awaits. Lunch: Sat-Sun 11:30am-2pm, dinner Wed-Sun 4pm-8:30pm. Takeout is also available. 1 Mission St. at Steuart.

Lower Polk’s ~KUMA SUSHI~ is back open for takeout and delivery Thu-Sun. Ryo and Cory have put a lot of thought into their offering (and decision to reopen)—they swapped out their nigiri selection with their own take on chirashi, which will travel further and maintain quality longer than nigiri, and they are also offering some maki that holds up. They’ll be updating their great list of sake regularly, available by the bottle or a take-out “carafe.” The next soft-open run is this Thursday 9/17 through Sunday 9/20, 5pm-9pm. I love this place, be sure to read the personal note on their site. 1040 Polk St. at Post.


The new Quik Dog mascot by Ferris Plock.


The Alpine pizza from Heirloom Pizza. Photo courtesy of Heirloom Pizza.


Nigiri at Saru Sushi in Noe Valley. Yelp photo by Grace C.

Closed since the beginning of the pandemic, the ever-busy ~TRICK DOG~ bar is coming back this Thursday September 17th as a new, interim concept: ~QUIK DOG~, operating out of Trick Dog’s space. The Bon Vivants Hospitality team is trying out this quick-food, takeout concept, focusing on burgers, hot dogs, salads, and fries (thrice-cooked Kennebec potatoes, to be exact), with the return of a couple of their classics: the kale salad, and their Trick Dog burger in a hot dog bun is now the Quik Dog Burger (house-ground blend of chuck and brisket with lettuce, onion, pickles, cheddar, and Doggie sauce on a hot dog bun—also available as a meatless “Beyond” version).

They brought on chef Timmy Malloy (The Douglas Room), who is adding new items like the QD Mission Dog, inspired by bacon-wrapped Mission hot dogs (butterflied all-beef hot dog, applewood bacon, fire-roasted jalepeño, sautéed onions, mustard, and Doggie sauce) and QuikNuggets (boneless buttermilk-brined crispy chicken nuggets, served à la carte or with lettuce, onion, pickles, and Doggie sauce as a sandwich). In SFGate’s article, you can read about all the R&D they have been doing to make sure the food travels well.

As for their famed cocktail list, things are pared down, although the new to-go bottles serve six—they’re designed to be an easy pour and to last in your fridge. You can order a Negroni Bianco with gin, bitter bianco, and blanc vermouth; and the Cruel Summer, with reposado tequila, amaro, and sweet vermouth. There are two-ingredient highballs as well, like mezcal + grapefruit soda; rye + BubbleUp; or aged rum + pineapple soda. You can also order these highball combos as full-sized setups with complete bottles, six-packs of mixers, and fruit. (Some top spirits will be available for sale as well.) Beer and wine will be offered by the can and bottle, and a selection of sodas, like Moxie and Cel-Ray.

You can also pick up their new branded merch, featuring Ferris Plock’s snappy Quik Dog. Keep track of updates at @quik_dog. Open Wed-Sun 4pm-9pm for takeout. 3010 20th St. at Florida.

Also in the Mission, owner Matt Straus of ~HEIRLOOM CAFÉ~ has expanded their weekly Saturday Wine offering with some food—pizza, in fact. They’ve been busy workshopping the ingredients and pairings and just launched Heirloom Pizza, selling a variety of 10-inch pizzas to go, like a summer pizza with corn, zucchini, fresh ricotta, and pesto; the Alpine with chanterelles, bacon, sherried onion, Alpine cheeses (uh huh); and the Gettin’ Figgy, with fennel sausage, broccoli rabe, and mission figs. There are also a couple salads, and, of course, a selection of wines to bring home, with a few splurge bottles. Hours for now are Tue-Fri 4pm-8pm and Sat 2pm-5pm. Order ahead for pick-up or delivery. 2500 Folsom St. at 21st St.

Over in Russian Hill, Hoodline reports the chic Kinjo sushi bar has closed, and the owners have opened a second location of ~SARU SUSHI BAR~ in its place, the popular Noe Valley sushi spot. You can order takeout and delivery (limited area) from their menu here. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo.


One of the upcoming picnic options from Marlena.

Back in July, I wrote about the upcoming ~MARLENA RESTAURANT~ opening in the former Hillside Supper Club on Precita Park (read all the details here), and they’re now offering their picnic basket service every Thu-Sun afternoon, starting this Thursday September 17th (just in time for the clearing skies!). Each basket comes with everything you’ll need for a picnic, including a blanket, plateware, and different food and beverage offerings. All baskets serve two people.

There are three options: cheese and charcuterie ($25 per person), the sandwich picnic basket ($27.50/pp), and the deluxe picnic basket ($45/pp). You can reserve your basket here (select a pickup time between 12pm-3pm), and note there is a $35 refundable fee to reserve the picnic experience, which will be refunded to you upon return of the basket and blanket. 300 Precita Ave. at Folsom.

It was definitely tragic when Lower Haight’s Cafe du Soleil was forced to close in the beginning of April (after 15 years!) due to an inability to come to an agreement with the landlord. But, hope really springs eternal, and thanks to a tip-off from @lowerhaightsf, I see that ~TARRAGON CAFÉ~ has opened in the corner space. Hoodline previously shared some details about the couple opening the space. Take a look at their menu here, which includes breakfast items, panini, salads, pizza, and shared plates, like charcuterie or a hummus plate, plus Mr. Espresso coffee service, pastries from Starter Bakery, beer, and wine. Outdoor seating and takeout are available. Hours are 8am-6pm. 200 Fillmore St. at Waller.


The show-stopping Andhra Fish Stew at Besharam—coconut, local seafood, basil, ginger. Photo: Alicia Fischer.


Celebrating Diwali at Dosa in 2012. Photo via Facebook.


Turkish coffee at Pera. Photo: ©


The bar and seating at Trou Normand, including art pieces. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

I was so, so sorry to read chef-owner Heena Patel’s post on Instagram that they were temporarily closing ~BESHARAM~ in Dogpatch due to alllll the difficulties of running a restaurant right now (please click to read it). Her soulful Gujarati dishes are one of our city’s treasures. Which is why I was thrilled to see a follow-up post that announces: “For a very (very) limited time, we will be serving a pick up menu steeped in the traditions of Gujarati comfort food.” Stand by, follow @besharamsf, and prepare to show as much support as you can to her upcoming takeout offering!

Over in the Inner Sunset, Eater reports that local Thai favorite ~BUSSABA~ has closed after 10 years in business, according to a farewell note on their website. But like Besharam, it sounds like they are going to try a home-delivery service: “Sometime in the near future we will be kicking off a new home-delivery food service project which we hope will be a better fit for our sheltered-in-place way of life whilst COVID-19 persists (and perhaps beyond!). It will be called Bussabasf.Baan (Baan means “home” in Thai and feels like an appropriate homage to our original name). More details will come soon, so please check back here in the future.” You can sign up for their mailing list for updates.

The charming Turkish ~PERA~ in Potrero Hill has closed after ten years of business (and serving their beautiful stuffed apricots), but Hoodline reports that the kindly owner Irfan Yalcin is going to move his Papito taqueria (currently at 317 Connecticut Street) into the location. No word on timing. (There is also a Papito location in Hayes Valley, under different ownership.) 1457 18th St. at Connecticut.

Such a bummer: Anjan Mitra has made the hard decision to close the glam ~DOSA ON FILLMORE~, after 12 years on the corner of Fillmore and Post (Dosa on Valencia closed last year, after 14 years). The Chronicle article mentions the Fillmore lease was coming up for renewal, and this Eater piece goes deeper into the financial issues Dosa has been facing (and almost any restaurant in SF, for that matter).

I have many fond memories sitting at the bar, eating vada pav after a movie at the Kabuki, and Todd “Spor” Smith sharing his latest inspired wine pairings to go with the uttapam. So many star sightings! It was an important culinary anchor in the neighborhood. Thanks for all the fantastic meals, and I loved the Indian street food event I hosted there, ten years ago… Sigh. Fortunately, Dosa by Dosa remains open in Oakland for now, and some Dosa dishes are available for delivery throughout the Bay Area via virtual/ghost kitchens; you can also find some of their products in Whole Foods. 1700 Fillmore St. at Post.

It’s hard enough to close one business, but in this Chronicle interview with Thad Vogler, he talks frankly about the permanent closure of three of his businesses: ~TROU NORMAND~, ~NOMMO~, and his most recent project, ~OBISPO~ in the Mission. It’s a tough read, and I know many folks await the reopening of Bar Agricole in its new location next year (at 1550 Mission St.), where he’s also “planning to add a liquor store there, too, where he’ll sell single-origin spirits imported under his own label.”


The Cassata from Simone Mims at Port Kitchens Marketplace (for Negroni Week!). Read more in her Instagram post at @simonemims.


Gorgeous vegan dishes from Lion Dance Cafe! Instagram photo via @liondancecafe.


The Lost in Patagonia cocktail at Sobre Mesa. Photo: Thomas Kuoh Photography.


It’s time for boots of beer and sausages at the new Hofkuche biergarten at Forage Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Forage Kitchen.

There have been a bunch of happenings in the East Bay, and I want to give you a quick round-up of updates. Apologies for not personally following up with these owners for deeper stories here—I didn’t have cell service in the mountains this past week (it was great!) and I didn’t have time to call for more details before my deadline. Too much catch-up going on here. One story I am definitely going to have details on in the next tablehopper is about the opening of ~HORN BARBECUE~ in Oakland at the end of this month, stand by. I’ve been avidly tracking Matt Horn’s updates on Instagram—his brisket and ribs were some of the most magical things I ate last year. Here’s an update from Eater in the meantime.

I’m happy to see bartender extraordinaire Simone Mims is the beverage manager at the newly open ~PORT KITCHENS MARKETPLACE~ in Jack London Square in Oakland—it was originally going to be an event space, and now it’s a marketplace, serving cocktails, coffee service featuring 3-19 Roasters, fried chicken sandwiches and more from Fowl + Fare, and plenty of ingredients to stock your fridge, pantry, and bar. Look for other micro-businesses to join the co-working kitchen lineup, like Poppy Bagels (follow @portkitchensmarketplace for updates as they grow). Order for takeout or pull up a chair at their outdoor tables. Open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm. 101 Broadway at Embarcadero, Oakland.

Just in case you’ve been missing my updates on Instagram, the S+M Vegan crew have soft-opened their new brick-and-mortar location, ~LION DANCE CAFE~. You can preorder from their menu on Wed at noon (yes, their crazy-popular shaobing sandwich is on the menu, snag it!), and pick up your order on Friday and Saturday evenings (5pm-9pm). They’re keeping things limited as they get their sea legs, look for expanded hours and more soon. 380 17th St. at Franklin, Oakland.

I loved reading about this new Trinidadian restaurant in Oakland, ~COCOBREEZE~ from chef Annabelle Goodridge. Eater reports you’ll find “a whole lineup of traditional dishes from its owner’s native Trinidad and Tobago: the savory split-pea fritters known as pholourie; chicken or goat served over pelau, the classic Trinidadian rice dish; and yes, roti with a choice of several different fillings.” She also makes a variety of drinks and baked goods, be sure to read all about the things. Open for outdoor dining and takeout Wed, Fri-Sat 11am-8pm. 2370 High Street at Lyon, Oakland.

Melissa Axelrod and William Johnson have reopened ~MOCKINGBIRD~, with “To the Nest by Mockingbird,” a collection of take-home-and-heat offerings, and cocktails, too; check out the menu here. (Inside tip: chef Rebecca Boice, previously at Zuni and Flora, has been working with them part-time, alongside sous chef Oscar Suarez!) Available for pickup Thu-Sat 4pm-8pm and Sun 2pm-6pm. 416 13th St. at Franklin, Oakland.

Chef-owner Nelson German’s gorgeous ~SOBRE MESA COCKTAIL LOUNGE~—which opened just before the pandemic hit and then sadly had to close a week and a half later—is reopening tomorrow, Wednesday September 16th for takeout and delivery! You’ll find breakfast items and pastries and coffee, plus specialty cocktails in 8 oz. bottles, and three kinds of wings. Open Wed-Thu 8:30am-1:30pm and 5pm-10pm; Fri 8:30am-1:30pm and 5pm-11pm; Sat 10am-3pm and 5pm-11pm; Sun 10am-3pm and 5pm-10pm. 1618 Franklin St. at 17th St., Oakland.

I was happy to read in Nosh about the comeback of Marco Senghor and Bissab Baobab in Oakland, now ~BISSAP BAOBAB OAKLAND COLLECTIVE KITCHEN~, with a new collective model of female-owned businesses joining him (including Kasa Indian Eatery, Mama Juju Tea, and Marina’s Sweet Catering). 381 15th St. at Franklin, Oakland.

Iso Rabins and Matt Johansen of ~FORAGE KITCHEN~ have partnered with Fabricius (Fabi) Wiest and Matt Johansen (Suppenküche, Hayes Valley Biergarten) to open a German biergarten, Hofkuche, which means “outdoor kitchen.” Expect boots of beer, sausage platters, potato salad, wienerschnitzel, weekly live music, and family-friendly, outdoor, socially distanced seating. Opening Saturday September 19th. Hours: Wed-Fri 12pm-7:30pm, Sat-Sun 2pm-8pm. (In case you’re looking for the former Shawarmaji pop-up, he’s trying to open a brick-and-mortar location in October, check out his Kickstarter here.) 478 25th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

Due to open next week in Alameda is ~THE PREACHER’S DAUGHTER WINE BAR & BISTRO~, with chef Casey Rebecca Nunes (formerly Media Noche, now at Smitten) helping out on the menu! Look for some killer sandwiches to go with Old World wines, craft beers, and craft-roasted coffee, too. Follow @thepreachersdaughterwinebistro for updates on the opening. There’s a parklet outside where you’ll be able to linger. 1629 Park St. at Oak, Alameda.

For more East Bay updates, don’t miss these posts from Nosh.

August 25, 2020

The exterior of AltoVino. Photo courtesy of Sasha Bernstein.


A sampling of tacos from Los Guisados Del Patrón. Instagram photo via @los-guisados-del-patron.

After Claudio Villani sold ~ALTOVINO~ on Nob Hill, new owners (and chef) Nick Kelly and his wife and wine director Calli Martinez Kelly just reopened the restaurant. The modern Italian menu will continue to feature seasonal and local ingredients, along with Kelly’s housemade and stuffed pasta dishes, plus some favorites from the previous menu will come over, like the rabbit ragù and bistecca alla fiorentina. They’ll be launching a tasting menu with wine pairings in a couple weeks—the wine list will be primarily Italian, with some boutique California producers.

During the day, they’re operating a retail store out of the space (from 12pm until dinner), featuring Kelly’s freshly made pastas, housemade pantry items, beautiful vegetables, and wine! Outdoor dining includes heat lamps and a charming SF street scene. Follow their Instagram for updates. Open for dinner Wed-Fri 5pm-9pm (shop open at noon), brunch Sat-Sun 11am-2pm, with aperitivo from 2pm-5pm, and dinner 5pm-9pm. Call for reservations: 415-529-2435. 1358 Mason St. at Pacific.

Fans of the tacos from Tacos El Patrón (known for their quesabirria tacos in the Mission) will want to check out their latest spot, ~LOS GUISADOS DEL PATRÓN~, serving a daily changing lineup of guisados (stewed meats and vegetables, from picadillo de res to calabacitas con queso to pollo en salsa roja), available as a taco (featuring housemade corn tortillas), burrito, bowl, or tostada. Owners Alberto Pineda and Mariana Reza want to keep things affordable: tacos are around $3.25 each. Open daily for takeout 8pm-6pm. 601 S. Van Ness Ave. at 17th St. [Via Chronicle.]

Hoodline shares news of this recent opening: ~HALAL DASTARKHAN~, San Francisco’s first Uzbek restaurant, from first-time restaurateur Ismoil Ochilov. It has opened in the former Yemeni Restaurant, and when you read his story, you’ll want to support this takeout-friendly restaurant, with somsas, soups, kebabs, a popular pilaf dish (look for the sofi osh/plov on the menu), and more. 1098 Sutter St. at Larkin.


Coconut cream pie from the new Presidio Social Club Exchange. Photo via PCX.


A sneak peek of Lily To Go’s chả cá thăng long bánh mì. Photo: ©


The #1 dac biet noodle bowl from Lily To Go. Photo: ©

Some changes over at ~PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB~: after 14 years of business (and countless cocktails and whole pig roasts) in the Presidio, owner Ray Tang has decided to close the restaurant, and has converted it to Presidio Social Club Exchange. Alongside pastry chef Rene Cruz, they are turning the Exchange (or PCX) into a marketplace, based around a carvery, bakery, and to-go bar. It’s like a traditional army PX, but with prepared foods that you want to eat (so, no Shit on a Shingle).

On the menu: dishes like slow-roasted lamb, hot prime rib (Thu-Sat), meatloaf on Tuesdays, roast chicken (available warm or chilled so you can use it in recipes), grill kits, and French dip slider kits. You’ll find family feasts, and a bunch of sides and salads that are designed to serve two. Fresh pasta, pre-made sauces (including prime beef rib sugo), soup (check out the tomato soup and ready-to-cheese toast!), and stocks are also available to have on hand—the kinds of things you’ll be happy to find in your freezer. Basically, they want to make it easy for you to feed your family, friends, or just have a stocked fridge—or great picnic.

The bakery is full of carb-tastic delights, from biscuits to herb focaccia to braided challah on Fridays, and then there’s a coconut cream pie, cookies (baked or pre-made dough), ready-to-bake pie shells, cinnamon rolls, and more. Round out your order with a Bloody Mary kit, batched cocktails, and wine and spirits. Everything is available for preorder, pickup, and delivery. Hours for now are Tue-Sat 4pm-8pm. 563 Ruger St., Presidio.

Back in March, chef Rob Lam was poised to open ~LILY~ in the Inner Richmond (on Clement Street, in the former Q) with Lily Lieu and her sister, Lucy, and then we know what happened next: Miss Rona turned everything upside down. While Lily was designed to be an upscale Vietnamese dining experience, Lam has decided to create a casual Vietnamese concept and daytime menu in the meantime, Lily To Go, which will be geared for takeout.

He’s currently fine-tuning his selection of chao (rice porridge) dishes, and if you ever came to our tablehopper Jook Joint pop-up a few years back, then a few of the dishes will seem happily familiar, like duck confit chao; forbidden rice chao topped with rock shrimp, crispy dry shrimp, XO-roasted Dirty Girl tomatoes, and uni butter; and a vegetarian pea leaf and cilantro chao (all subject to change)—and you can get a fried cruller to dip inside your porridge. Additional breakfast/brunch dishes include the ốp la egg plate with lap cheong sausage, housemade pâté, giò (Vietnamese bologna), and baguette.

Lam’s lineup of bánh mì is where his French training will really be apparent, since he’s making all the charcuterie himself, from the tête de cochon to the pâté in the classic Saigon bánh mì. His version of a chả cá thăng long bánh mì will have turmeric beer-battered black cod, with housemade mayo and a flurry of herbs. And anyone who has ever had Lam’s French dip at Butterfly will recognize this bánh mì, with thinly sliced, five-spice roast beef, which you’ll dunk into a fragrant phở au jus. There will also be some garlic noodles, and a classic yet upgraded #1 dac biet noodle bowl with lemongrass chicken, caramel shrimp, fried pork, a duck spring roll, and some incredible orange-yolked eggs.

There will be some unique drinks, like cold peanut milk with a salty duck egg crema, and a dulce de leche iced coffee, plus a coconut and sinh to (pineapple) milkshake, blended with fresh coconut, yogurt, and passion fruit.

I’ll keep you posted on the launch and hours, which is looking like mid- to late September for now. 225 Clement St. at 4th Ave.


The exterior of Ton Kiang will be going dark forever at the end of August. Yelp photo by Andrew D.


Farallon dining room.


Maize’wich with catira (chicken, sofrito, cheddar). Photo: ©


There will be all kinds of pop at The Riddler. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

What the heck, the last couple weeks have been rough—we have some pretty big closures happening, and one of the biggest heartbreaks for many is ~TON KIANG~, which is throwing in the towel after more than 40 years of serving so many faithful regulars their dim sum and Hakka-style dishes. I remember being so excited when Joyce Goldstein took me there for my first time, back in 2008 (according to my calendar). I had friends and readers sending me pics of Ton Kiang’s farewell sign, and according to the piece in the Chronicle, owner Richard Wong was thinking about retiring soon, and the pandemic just sped his decision up to close (although in this piece by Eater, he mentions he may want to reopen in a couple years if he gets bored with retirement—you gotta love restaurant folks, they just can’t quit). They have been offering takeout and delivery, and will continue to do so this final week, so it’s your last chance for their salt-baked chicken until they close after service on Sunday August 30th. 5821 Geary Blvd. at 22nd Ave.

Another SF classic that has closed permanently is ~FARALLON~, after 23 years in Union Square. The underwater nautical fantasy was another one of Pat Kuleto’s whimsical, transportive designs, and chef-owner Mark Franz provided an elegant seafood experience for guests that was memorable and celebratory—so many special occasions have been held there! (Although the bar always had a fun scene of regulars, and the Oyster Bar had a great happy hour if you were downtown.) SFGate reported employees received an email about the closure. So many folks have worked at Farallon over the years…and I know a number of people want the jellyfish lights for a memento. Thanks for all the Champagne wishes and caviar dreams over the years! 450 Post St. at Powell.

Just a few days ago, owner Jen Pelka of ~THE RIDDLER~ in Hayes Valley announced on Instagram that she has made the hard decision to close her beloved Champagne bar, as well as the West Village location in New York. The current situation is just too tough for the business to survive, it’s truly impossible. While they have already sold through their Champagne inventory, in the fall, they will be auctioning off their tables, gorg vintage Champagne buckets, furniture, art, and lighting. Thank you for the celebratory memories (and Chambong moments!). 528 Laguna St. at Linden.

Some unfortunate closures in the Mission include ~PICA PICA AREPA KITCHEN~, the Venezuelan restaurant on Valencia that has been making gluten-free folks especially happy with their stuffed arepas for the past 10 years. Owner Adriana López Vermut talks to SFGate about how the pandemic and subsequent loss of catering business for tech companies has drastically impacted her business, and she shares how her team helped cook 30,000 meals for the unhoused during shelter in place through money they raised (and were therefore able to retain 17 employees). She also posted a link to a personal note on her website. Best wishes to Adriana and her team, the last day is Sunday August 30th. 401 Valencia St. at 15th St.

And just down the street, ~THE LITTLE CHIHUAHUA~ announced they are closing their Valencia Street location after eight years—they just closed this past Sunday August 23rd. Owner Andrew Johnstone mentions in the post the other locations that remain open: “Our OG location on Divisidero in Lower Haight (it turns 13 in October), 24th Street in Noe Valley and Polk Gulch on Polk Street and California. Fear not, you can still get your favorite burritos delivered via our website if you’re jonesin’ in the Mission. You can also order online for pickup at any of our restaurants.” 581 Valencia St. at 17th St.

I was sorry to read this letter from neighborhood market ~DOUGLAS~ in Noe Valley that “After extensive negotiations, we’ve been unable to find a sustainable arrangement with our landlord that would allow us to weather current conditions and make investments for the longer term.” Owners Maggie Spicer and Michael Molesky plan to vacate at the end of August, and are looking for a new location nearby. In the meantime, they are expanding their supportive restaurant meal pickup program (BENNE) to Biondivino and 18 Reasons. 1598 Sanchez St. at 29th St.

Many restaurants are choosing to hibernate and try to weather the current horrific conditions, and sadly one of my favorite pizza places, ~JERSEY~, has had to temporarily close. A note on their site says: “Jersey is temporarily closed. Unfortunately, we are unable to continue without the aid of a stimulus bill. We anxiously await a decision from the government, and will re-open as soon as one is passed. We sincerely thank all of you for your support, and hope to be back soon. Until then, take care.” You hear that, federal government? Get your act together! Please tell Congress to pass the Restaurants Act here.

Over in Oakland, owners Stevie Stacionis and Josiah Baldivino of ~MAMA OAKLAND~ have come to the same conclusion, ending their #sandwichinplace service this week and are closing up indefinitely in an effort to save resources and keep everyone on their team healthy. It’s a tough post to read. Fortunately, you can still support them at Bay Grape, but man, it just keeps getting worse out there.

August 11, 2020

The entrance at Routier, opening for takeout Friday August 14th. Photo: ©

While I was having brunch on Saturday at Scopo Divino (and taking pics for this week’s giveaway!), I heard the news that after delays (both Covid-related and the usual construction/SF delays), ~ROUTIER~ is finally opening from Belinda Leong and Michel Suas (partners in the neighboring B. Patisserie and B. on the Go) and chef John Paul Carmona (recently a private chef, but formerly chef de cuisine at Manresa, where he worked with Belinda).

Routier is opening in the corner restaurant space that was formerly Wild Hare, kitty corner to B. on the Go. The name refers a French roadside restaurant, although this will be a San Francisco interpretation of one, and obviously more of a to-go style for now. (Think: destination-worthy neighborhood restaurant that is casual and creative.) Their current menu will be designed for pick-up service, available Friday to Sunday (you’ll be able to pre-order starting this Wednesday).

They’re going to start with a set three-course menu (“Formule Routier”) for $39—a traditional “formule” is a quick but satisfying set menu for one, known for its value, and there will be a vegetarian option as well. The first menu will feature roasted beet and strawberry salad with shallot dressing, quinoa; caramelized beef brisket, potato pavé, and creamed kale (or whole-roasted cauliflower, creamed kale, and potato); and dark chocolate mousse, coffee crumble, and Chantilly cream for dessert.

Some à la carte options from a preliminary menu include swordfish rillettes, lightly pickled cucumber, dill ($13); pork rillettes, apple, and mustard ($12); marinated local tomatoes, albacore tuna sauce, capers, and crisp bread ($16); lamb shoulder braised with farro, preserved lemon, and broccoli ($25); and a really fun dish: lobster “Grand Aïoli,” served cold with raw and cooked vegetables, tarragon, and miso ($45). You can also order the dishes in the Formule Routier menu à la carte. Dessert includes fresh-baked Routier financiers ($13)—oui.

There’s going to be a special offering of wines and cocktails, selected by Renée-Nicole Kubin (she was a senior sommelier at Gary Danko for nine years, and the wine director/GM at Chateau du Sureau)—expect both Old and New World wines, and there will be plenty to discover that is new and interesting. The cocktails will put you in a Mediterranean summer mood: look for a variety of spritzes that guests will be able to pour over ice and top off with the tonic, soda, or sparkling wine provided. And we’re not talking about the usual suspects: there will be spirits like La Quintinye Vermouth Royal or Licor Pajarote.

Friday August 14th will be the first day of pick-up, from 5pm-8:30pm. Preordering on their Toast portal on their website should be available starting Wednesday, but guests will be able to order the day of as well. Follow along on Instagram at @routiersf for updates. 2801 California St. at Divisadero.


Khao soi at Kin Khao. Photo: ©


The spacious outdoor patio at Noon All Day. Photo: ©

Now, this is a little teaser, but I thought you’d like a bite of some good news, especially if you live in Dogpatch or Potrero Hill. It ends up Pim Techamuanvivit (who lives in the neighborhood) is going to be taking over the Piccino team’s fast-casual Noon All Day space, which closed at the beginning of the stay-at-home order and sadly won’t be reopening. Pim will be opening a pared-down version of ~KIN KHAO~, her Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, which is temporarily closed at its Union Square location—that neighborhood is pretty desolate at the moment. Kin Khao Dogpatch will just be taking over Noon’s space (and lease) for a year—Kin Khao received a PPP loan, and Pim is happy she can keep a number of folks on her team employed at this new location.

Guests will be able to sit at tables on the plaza and enjoy their food, but there won’t be table service—they will order at a counter and have their food brought to them in disposable containers, fast-casual style. (The staff will clear and clean the tables when guests are finished.)

Stand by for updates from me on the menu (although you can expect the famed wings, khao soi, and khao yum!) and timing and other details, but it’s happening soon. 690 Indiana St. at 19th St.


Plant-based lasagna from the new Baia in Hayes Valley. Photo courtesy of Baia.


Plant-based/vegan sushi from the Woodblock pop-up at Baia. Photo courtesy of Woodblock.


The fried chicken sandwich at Lost Resort on fresh-baked bread with a blended Floridita. Instagram photo via @lostresortsf.

Now open in the former Jardinière in Hayes Valley is ~BAIA~, originally announced in VegNews. This vegan Italian restaurant also launched simultaneously with a vegan sushi pop-up, Woodblock (more on that below). Since the restaurant is launching during Covid, they’re focusing on a casual and takeout-friendly version of their menu for now: A Taste of Baia. Chef Matthew Kenney (Matthew Kenney Cuisine) has developed plant-based menus and concepts for restaurants around the world with his team, and this one is in collaboration with Kyle and Tracy Vogt—Kyle is a co-founder of Cruise (the self-driving car), and Tracy is the founder of farm animal sanctuary Charlie’s Acres in Sonoma.

Baia’s weekly changing menu is focused on plant-based Italian comfort classics, from “mozzarella” sticks to “meatballs” to pasta to pizza, with main dishes like lasagna and a “Milanese Parm.” There are also batched cocktails (3-4 servings), wine, beer, and non-alcoholic options. Takeout/delivery is available Sun-Thu 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm. Call 415-861-0625 to pick up.

Meanwhile, ~WOODBLOCK~ is a plant-based, Japanese concept with bowls, sushi rolls (like spicy yuba or spicy “crab”), and vegetable side dishes, like green beans goma-ae (menu here). More at @woodblocksf. This temporary pop-up is available for takeout/delivery Sun-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm. (You can also order off the same list of cocktails, wine, and beer, plus sake.) Call 415-861-0625 to pick up. 300 Grove St. at Franklin.

The former TRES Tequila Lounge & Mexican Kitchen in SoMa/South Beach is now ~MERKADO~, a tequila and mezcal-focused Mexican restaurant featuring Jaliscan street food from chef de cuisine Lorenzo Cauich. Fabien Santos, who was the general manager for 12 years at Tres, has taken over the location, and converted the parking lot into an outdoor restaurant and open-air market (you can also order takeout and delivery—and look for collabs and pop-up partners, like Eko Kitchen). Updates at @merkadosf. They offer some great pricing for happy hour (Tue-Fri 4pm-6pm), too. Dinner Tue-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat 3pm-7pm, brunch Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St.

Over in the Mission, the classic dive bar Jay ‘n Bee Club, which lasted for 60 years, is now a nautical-themed bar, ~LOST RESORT~, according to Hoodline. There’s a bar menu with dishes like steamed mussels, a Cubano, mojo pulled pork tacos, a smash burger, and a fried chicken sandwich (according to their Instagram, they worked with Kurt Abney of Dottie’s True Blue Cafe fame on the menu).

Cocktails include a Mai Tai, blended drinks like a Floridita, a granita spritz, and wine and beer. And then there’s that enclosed patio, with well-spaced seating, plus some sidewalk seats. Enjoy the Mission sun! Nate Valentine (The Tipsy Pig, Padrecito, Harper & Rye, Fifth Arrow), Jeff Jurow, Britt Miller, and Bradley Burt are on the license. Open Tue-Sun 3pm-10pm for now. 2736 20th St. at York.

In SoMa, ~ROMA’S~ has opened from owner Matt Leum (in honor of Sister Roma), offering seasonal soups and salads, sandwiches, housemade pasta, and a couple mains, like eggplant Parm and a ribeye steak, all available for takeout or delivery (by chef Daniel Kuuk). They also opened an Italian gourmet market, featuring pantry items (including a wide selection of Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta), condiments, cookies, gelato, coffee, and Italian wine and beer. Open daily 11am-8pm. 489 3rd St. at Bryant.

On Potrero Hill, ~LINEA CAFFE~ has opened a café counter inside their recently opened roastery, offering espresso drinks, brewed coffee, and bags of beans, with treats from Neighbor Bakehouse and Dynamo Donuts. For now, the counter is open 7am-3pm. 1125 Mariposa St. at Mississippi.

Over in the Lower Haight, ~FARMHOUSE THAI~ has expanded their footprint with a casual, takeout concept called Farmhouse Thai Express in the former Thep Phanom. They’ve created some fun sets, like a birthday box or lunch set, along with offering some of their favorite dishes, like their panang neua, wings, noodle soups, and egg rolls. Available for pickup or delivery. 400 Waller St. at Fillmore. [Via Hoodline.]


A sneak peek at some fixtures and tableware at Prairie. Instagram photo via @anthonystrong.


Great Gold’s tomato bread a can’t-miss dish. Instagram photo via @greatgold_sf.


Serpentine photo via Facebook.


The cheerful counter at Mauerpark. Yelp photo by Matt B.

Man, we have some tough closures to announce. Some are sadly permanent, while others are going into hibernation to reconcept and try to ride this out until indoor dining returns.

One of the quickest places (if not the first) to flip from a restaurant to a fully stocked general store/market was Anthony Strong’s ~PRAIRIE~ in the Mission. If there is anyone who embodies the true spirit of the pandemic pivot, it’s this guy. If you received his recent emails or read the product descriptions in his online market, you have undoubtedly chuckled at his cheeky humor and sass of late, a bright spot in these dark times.

Sadly, in an email this morning, Anthony announced he is closing Prairie—his first restaurant—this Friday August 14th. Here’s more from his heartbreaking farewell note: “Unfortunately, our restaurant won’t be able to survive the long-term effects of the pandemic. This sucks and it’s not what we wanted, but we’re proud to have given it everything we had, are honored to have served our community, and we greatly appreciate the support you’ve given us throughout all of this.

“We’d love to see you one last time, and if you’re down to help. Please place one more order and help us clear out the rest of our inventory. Alison just bottled her sour cherry grappa, Julian is making his last round of Impossible tamales, and we’re putting together one final dinner kit, calling it “PRAIRIE’s Last Supper” since the occasion seemed deserving of some dark humor…

“We have a GoFundMe setup for our team, most of whom won’t be able to receive state or federal assistance. Please donate if you can, it will help them get through what will undoubtedly be a rough stretch ahead. Swing by, say hi, and maybe do a farewell shot at the window.

“It’s been my dream to have a restaurant of my own in SF since I started cooking here 14 years ago. We were barely over a year old when COVID hit, but although this feels devastating and unfair, I’ll be forever grateful for having had the opportunity, and for all of the memories and lessons learned along the way.”

Please help this brother out, and his Prairie team, who are his family, in any way you can. Thank you for all the delicious meals and fun moments, Anthony. You gave it your all, and we are so sorry this happened. Best wishes to you and your crew.

Another Mission restaurant closing shop is ~GREAT GOLD~ on 24th Street from David Steele. Chef-partner Brandon Kirksey has been making some homey Italian American classics—like an awesome chicken Parm, and his crazy-delicious tomato bread—while using seasonal and quality ingredients, along with housemade pasta dishes. Lately, they’ve been offering meal kits and family meals to try to make it through.

From their Instagram post today: “The world is upside down right now and restaurants are doing all they can to stay afloat. Unfortunately the time has come for us to say goodbye to our home on 24th street. The last three years have been incredible, our neighborhood has been loving and supportive, we’ve met locals that have become close friends, we’ve given the community a place to feel welcomed. Whether you came in for soju slushies and fried chicken or a Nebbiolo and hand cut noodles, we love you and can’t thank you enough for your support in making our dreams come true. We love you 24th street! We love you mission district, we love you San Francisco! This is bitter sweet, big news to come. Stay tuned.”

Great Gold will be available for some final delivery this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so you can get one last fix. Take care, Brandon. Gonna miss your Parm (and sandwiches!) and fun booths.

Over in Dogpatch, Tommy Halvorson has temporarily closed ~SERPENTINE~, which Erin Rooney opened in 2007, and he took it over three years ago. Read the article from Eater for details, and it looks like he’s going to hibernate it for now and see what he can create/rethink that will survive our impossible restaurant climate and current flawed model. For now, he’s focusing on custom food and drink boxes for virtual experiences at home with his catering business, Foxtail Catering.

In SoMa, our classic SF-meets-East Coast seafood spot from Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal, (the owners of Town Hall and Salt House), ~ANCHOR & HOPE~, has closed after 12 years in business. The building they’re in is now for rent, and their restaurant space is up for lease. Be sure to visit the guys at Jersey, where you can pick up their incredible East Coast-style pizza and the famous Town Hall fried chicken. [Via Chronicle.]

Just shy of 30 years in business, ~BAKER STREET BISTRO~ in Cow Hollow has closed. Owners Danel and David de Betelu tried to hang on as long as they could, but have decided to focus their energy on their new venture, patisserie Maison Danel, which recently reopened on Polk Street. They have brought some Baker Street Bistro dishes over, including their beef bourguignon and cassoulet. [Via Hoodline.]

A couple weeks ago, Pam and Richard of ~CATHEAD’S BBQ~ announced their closure after 12-plus years of serving their barbecue and namesake biscuits in SoMa. Their last day was August 2nd. Thanks for feeding us all these years! Best wishes.

And closing this Friday August 14th will be ~MAUERPARK~, the charming three-year-old German café in the Castro. You can read the note from owner Salome Buelow and more in the post on Hoodline. Auf wiedersehen. Sigh.

Over in Oakland, ~4505 BURGERS & BBQ~ announced their indefinite closure in a post on Instagram: “To Our Oakland Community, It is with heavy hearts that we announce our MacArthur location is closing its doors indefinitely beginning today. As you all know, it’s been a tough year, and we are so grateful for our team’s hard work and the support of the Laurel community. Unfortunately this hiatus is the best option available to us. This was not an easy decision, but for the time being, it’s for the best.

“Our San Francisco location will still be open. Our goal is to bring our BBQ back to the East Bay in a new, creative way. There are a few things on the horizon, so stay tuned for more. Until then, stay safe and healthy. We’ll see you later, Oakland.” You can read more in this piece in the Chronicle.

And the eight-year-old Basque ~DUENDE~ from Paul Canales has temporarily closed in Uptown Oakland. Here’s their post on Instagram and more in SF Gate.