The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
January 18, 2022
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Kowbird’s fried chicken and buckwheat waffle with honey butter. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The Southern Bird sandwich. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The Nashville-inspired Hot Bird. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Timeless candy apples. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The vintage horseshoe counter and new murals. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The exterior of Kowbird, with music playing inside and outside. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last Wednesday, I headed over to West Oakland for a preview lunch to check out the latest addition to the Horn Hospitality Group, ~KOWBIRD~. Founder and CEO Matt Horn’s fried chicken joint is a celebration of chicken and an homage to family gatherings, Sundays after church, and backyard meals with friends—he says, “To open a fried chicken concept in my home of Oakland is personal to me, it bridges family, love, soul, and good food.”

Kowbird opened last Friday for takeout, with a line that started at 7am and extended for blocks, just like when Horn Barbecue first opened. But what the public didn’t know is they were down two fryers over the weekend, which severely impacted service. How’s that for some Mercury retrograde shenanigans? Ugh. They are also changing their hours to be respectful of their team and output and are putting in a break in service—with such long lines, it’s a big push and they need to catch their breath.

Kowbird is on the corner of Peralta and 18th Street, where the former Pretty Lady diner has been feeding the neighborhood since 1949. The team kept the horseshoe counter with the vintage linoleum intact, plus some other original details, while adding murals with images of Black farmers and a soundsystem that plays both inside and outside. The music feels so personal—it’s a highly curated playlist of Etta James, Count Basie, Coltrane, Wycliffe Gordon, and others, “bringing the soul and love,” as Horn puts it. Horn Barbecue is about a 10-minute walk away, and their original pop-up was just across the street, so they are very committed to being part of the neighborhood and supporting the local community. Nina Horn, Matt’s wife, tells me they would eat at Pretty Lady often, and are honored that they had the opportunity to keep the location’s historic legacy in the neighborhood going.

They’re opening indoor seating this week (please be respectful and safe and don’t crowd, folks!), and will be placing benches along the perimeter of the building. They hope for approval for a parklet soon so they can offer outdoor seating.

The menu is centered on fried chicken, available in a variety of flavor combinations and either as a sandwich, plate, or with waffles! Call me a classic girl, but I love loved the Southern Bird, a downright huge, deboned, buttermilk fried chicken thigh that has layers of flavor in the crunchy, craggy dredge—they fry the chicken in aromatic rice bran oil, with chicken fat, herbs, garlic, and more. It comes on a Martin’s potato roll with housemade compressed pickles and their Kowbird sauce, which has a touch of tomato and honey to it, and that’s all I could be told (wink). This bird is major, so juicy and craggy and well-seasoned.

There’s also a Honey Bird, finished in a pickled mustard seed and aged honey sauce, and the Early Bird, with Southern-style gravy and a fried egg.

I was excited to try the Hot Bird, their West Oakland version inspired by Nashville hot chicken, which is brined for two-three days with buttermilk from the cultured butter they make, dredged, and finished with a dusting of a dehydrated, lacto-fermented chile powder. It’s fiery, but not too much—it has that kind of addictive heat that keeps you coming back for another bite, even though your mouth is getting progressively hotter (this happens to me when I eat Z&Y Restaurant’s chicken fried in explosive pepper, I just can’t stop). Good thing they have some housemade sweet tea here to cool your jets. I love that they use Duke’s mayo (my fave) and the bread-and-butter pickles are crucial to the balance and magic of this sandwich. Depending upon who made your sandwich, the pickles will either be on top of or below the chicken. On Sundays, you can get a fried catfish sandwich, with the option to order it Nashville hot.

Chef de cuisine Adam Lawrence walked me through their creative oyster mushroom vegan sandwich, which comes with a bean-based vegan aioli (instead of using aquafaba) that you drizzle over the hearty clusters of fried and seasoned mushrooms and carrot slaw. The dredge is full of cumin and coriander (which plays well with the cilantro in the slaw)—it also has a kick from serrano pepper juice. He has cooked vegan for over eight years, so he really wanted to help create a sandwich that would be as good as the chicken.

There’s a unique chicken-and-waffle combo, with a buckwheat waffle made with puffed buckwheat in a beignet-style batter, and a couple wings of that insanely good fried chicken. The hearty waffle is par-cooked and then fried (!) and served with their honey butter, which is made with caramelized honey and cultured butter, so it has a lot of deep flavor. (This reheats well at home, by the way.)

The sides are next-level: the rich fried cabbage with smoky country bacon is pretty special—I say get an order to bring home and put in your grilled cheese or try it on an English muffin topped with an egg (yes, I really heart leftovers). The three-cheese mac and cheese comes topped with crunchy dehydrated chicken skin, and I was telling a friend the dank fried gizzards are what gizzards aspire to be—they’re so good, don’t be afraid to try them, they’re the true chicken nuggets.

Dessert includes a variety of pies in the vintage pie fridge in the center of the restaurant, like sweet potato and pecan, and Key lime pie, and apple, but what will catch your eye are the glistening candy apples, an homage to Horn’s grandmother, who used to make and sell them at church and in the neighborhood. Horn remembers being a kid and he could barely get his chin on her dining table so he could gaze upon all the candy apples—you’ll have a similar feeling when you see them. I ended up cutting mine up into pieces at home because just in case you have a meeting, the red will stain your lips (and fingers!), which will make you look and feel like a kid again. You’ll find more pics of everything in my post on Instagram.

A couple more things: this spring will welcome Matty’s Old Fashioned, Horn’s Oakland burger joint (check out a pic of a preview burger I enjoyed last spring), and the release of his first cookbook: Horn Barbecue: Recipes And Techniques From A Master of The Art of Barbecue—presale available now via Amazon, or wait to buy it from a local bookseller when it comes out in April.

Open Wed-Sun 11am-3pm and 5pm-8pm. Follow updates at @kowbird. 1733 Peralta St. at 18th St., Oakland.  

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Bodega SF’s Sunday special of banh cuon, stuffed with wood ear mushrooms and pork. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Dry hu tieu noodles from Bodega SF (which I like to “elevate” with some Potli sriracha). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Some SF old-timers and industry folks should recall the much-adored ~BODEGA BISTRO~, a fantastic Vietnamese spot on Larkin Street that closed some years ago, and was known for the kind and talented chef Jimmie Kwok (RIP). But thankfully, some extended family members have been running a Bodega Bistro pop-up out of the Rooster & Rice location on 18th Street in the Castro called ~BODEGA SF~, featuring original Bodega recipes and more for takeout (like their Sunday special of banh cuon, plus dry hu tieu noodles that help scratch the Ha Nam Ninh itch—I miss them and their dry #25 noodles so much—with phenomenal fish cake). The food is SO GOOD, and made with a deft touch.

But their time at this location is winding to a close—their last day will be Monday January 31st, and they hope to reopen in an interim location they just found around February 4th (at 590 Van Ness Ave. #304 at Golden Gate Ave.) while they work on their upcoming brick and mortar! That’s right, they’re opening a permanent spot! The new location is going to be in the Tenderloin/Union Square, formerly Mason House, which was only open for a couple months until Miss Rona cruelly closed it.

Chef Matt Ho and partners Eugene Kim and Adrienne Fornier (Nobu Palo Alto) will be opening a full-service restaurant, offering some modern/updated Northern Vietnamese dishes (Ho’s family is from Hanoi), with small bites and family-style dinners (with a mini pho for folks who just gotta have it at night—their beef pho really is on another level), plus a casual lunch, and there’s a full bar and lounge that will come later (plus: happy hour!). This also means the famous squab will be able to return! (This dish was a classic from Uncle Jimmie on Larkin Street!)

The space was a new build-out, so they’re just going to be doing some light updates, like a new paint job. There are 70 seats, and they will also continue to offer takeout and delivery. They’re aiming to open in March or April, and will be open six days a week for lunch and dinner, with a break in between service around 2:30pm. Follow their Instagram for updates, order takeout and delivery Wed-Mon 11am-8pm in the meantime, and don’t miss that banh cuon on Sundays! 140 Mason St. at Eddy.

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It’s time for SF to meet the Sloppy Joe at Little Red Window’s new East Coast Jewish deli pop-up. Photo: Little Red Window.

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These sandwiches will require two hands and lots of napkins. Photo: Little Red Window.

Pastrami lovers and my fellow sandwich fanatics: get excited. Coming in early February will be the latest concept to rotate through ~LITTLE RED WINDOW~, the takeout window attached to the Spanish Red Window restaurant in North Beach on the Stockton Street side. Chef Adam Rosenblum has been wanting to do this project all his life (he said to me, “This is my retirement plan!”), but lucky us, he’s rolling this out now.

He grew up eating in New Jersey and Maryland Jewish delis, so he understands the East Coast sensibility, and knows some insider dishes: like the Sloppy Joe, a deli sandwich that is like a Jewish deli club sandwich (not the sloppy beef-and-tomato sauce kind of sandwich) that he hasn’t seen outside of Jersey. It comes with three pieces of rye bread, two to three kinds of meats (it can be a combo of corned beef, ham, roast beef, or turkey), Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing. Adam will be doing turkey, roast beef, and corned beef on housemade rye. SIGN ME UP. (Read more about the origin of this awesome sandwich here, which has its roots in Havana!)

He has been dabbling with a pastrami recipe over the years, his favorite thing in life “besides my wife and kids” (cute comment there, Adam)! He was thinking it’s something the city could use more of, and he really loves the intersection of nostalgia and comfort that a Jewish deli brings. He notes, “It brings great comfort. It’s so simple, but when it’s done right, it’s so good.” With a city full of transplants, and the endless pandemic, it feels like the right time to launch. (It has been slim pickings—I was missing Shorty Goldstein’s so much, and am thankful Mark ‘n Mike’s came along to help fill the pastrami void.)

They will be curing their meats, baking their own breads (Rosenblum is currently trying some rye flour milled by Bayview Pasta), and making their own pickles and sauces. The window will offer sandwiches (the Sloppy Joe, a Reuben, pastrami, a tuna melt, and a build-your-own), plus chicken and matzo ball soup, smoked salmon plates (both hot-smoked and cold-smoked), and kreplach (Jewish dumplings he’s planning to fill with potato and onion). You may have noted no mention of bagels—it’s something he pondered, but the setup to serve bagels is kind of its own beast, and he’s choosing to focus on the deli side of things (for now).

Hours will be Tue-Thu 12pm-9pm or so, and Fri-Sun 10am-10pm (whenever the restaurant closes). There are some tables outside in the “spritz garden,” and you can enjoy adult beverages from Red Window, too. They’ll be wrapping up Little Red Window’s burger service (Adam is behind the epic Causwells burger), and plan to launch the Jewish deli menu on Tuesday February 1st. Follow @littleredwindow for updates and get ready to NOSH! 1500 Stockton St. at Columbus.

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The lightly updated interior of Key Klub (previously Hopwater Distribution). Photo courtesy of Key Klub.

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Nothing like a sunny Mission day on the rooftop. Photo courtesy of Good Good Culture Club.

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A capricciosa pizza napoletana from ‘Na Pizza. Photo courtesy of ‘Na Pizza.

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A birria pizza from Don Pancho Pizzeria. Instagram photo via @donpanchopizzeria.

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Fish cake bánh mì from Banh Mi Viet. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

There are a bunch of openings happening, so I wanted to make sure these are on your radar—you can go back to my earlier stories (linked) for details. Here’s a quickfire round:

I broke the news about the opening of the ~KEY KLUB~ back before the holidays, and they have officially opened/ended their soft opening period. Check out the menu (OMG, can we talk about the Key bumps? They did not! Cracking up over here.) The natural wine and beer list is so much fun, with plenty of small or larger plates to pair with them. Hours are Tue-Wed 5pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 5pm-12am. 850 Bush St. at Taylor.

Like I mentioned in my column in December, the colorful ~GOOD GOOD CULTURE CLUB~ was opening in the former Dear Inga/ temp Liholiho pop-up space in the Mission. It’s now open, check out the appetizing menus with Laotian and Filipino inspiration here. Rooftop seating, yes! Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm. 3560 18th St. at Dearborn.

Back in October, I announced ~‘NA PIZZA~ from the Roma Antica crew was opening in the former Pluto’s, and it’s now open, serving authentic pizza napoletana, as well as calzone, appetizers like mozzarella in carozza (fried mozzarella croquettes), and more. Open daily 12pm-10pm. 3258 Scott St. at Chestnut.

More pizza: opening inside La Vaca Birria in the Mission this Thursday January 20th is ~DON PANCHO PIZZERIA~, with a lineup of 12 pizzas with Latinx ingredients and inspiration, like one with birria (of course), the elotero with corn and cotija, a mole verde and chicken pizza, and there’s even one that pays homage to the space’s former incarnation as Discolandia. Sabrocito!! Here’s the menu. The pizzas feature housemade sausage and chorizo and is halal. 2962 24th St. at Alabama.

I was happy to receive an invite to a preview of the reopening ~FORT POINT VALENCIA~, a stylish taproom that was only open for five months before the pandemic struck. Chef Eric Ehler has moved on to That’s Outta Sight (party bread, we miss you), but they’ll be releasing a new menu soon. I didn’t hear back in time with their official reopening day, but I imagine it’s in the next couple weeks or so—the preview is at the end of this month. Will share more details once I receive them. 742 Valencia St. at 18th St.

After reading in Hoodline about the bánh mì shop that finally opened in the former nail salon on Divisadero, ~BANH MI VIET~, I reached out to speak with one of the owners for deets, but they didn’t get back to me in time for my deadline. No matter, I checked it out last week with a friend—it’s a tiny takeout spot. It’s great to have some well-assembled bánh mì in the neighborhood ($9-$10)—we tried their very fresh shrimp spring roll, fish cake bánh mì (with tasty fish cake—and the baguette is light and fluffy, with a somewhat crackly exterior), and we loved their lemongrass beef vermicelli, the perfect lunch dish. Also dug their Vietnamese iced coffee. You can grab a sandwich and easily head to Alamo Square. Open daily 8am-5pm. 518 Divisadero St. at Hayes.

This is sweet: some former customers (with restaurant industry experience) of Halu, the beloved izakaya spot that closed last year in the Inner Richmond, have reopened it as a yakitori spot: ~MOKU YAKITORI-YA~. (The rock posters have repoertedly come down, however.) Open Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm. 312 8th Ave. at Clement.

And in the Mission, the tiny ~MR. POLLO~ is back with a new chef, Graham Bellefeuille (Contigo) at the helm. He’s offering the space’s affordable menu (it’s four courses for $40)—the signature arepa course is still part of the experience. Open Tue-Sat 6pm-10pm. Book via Yelp reservations. 2823 Mission St. at 24th St. [Via Eater]

According to a post, the plant-based/gluten-free ~WHOLESOME BAKERY~ on Divis is going to start serving dinner Friday through Sunday in February as Wholesome Kitchen, offering housemade pizza, lasagna, soup, salad, along with a beer and wine list. 295 Divisadero St. at Page.

Across the Bay, ~SPLIT~ has opened their third location, this time in Uptown Oakland (the former dosa by dosa spot, sniff sniff), serving lunch to start, with breakfast and dinner coming at the end of January. There are also cocktails and boozy slushies, and outdoor seating. 2301 Broadway Ave. at 23rd St., Oakland.

The former Kebabery in Oakland is now ~JOODOOBOO~, focused on housemade tofu and a rotating selection of seasonal banchan available by the pound from chef Steve Joo. Open Wed-Sat 11am-5pm. 4201 Market St. at 42nd St.

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Chef Tanya Holland; photo via Facebook.

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The Ham on the Run sandwich in a gougère! Photo courtesy of Daughter’s Diner.

Some really unfortunate closures to report on, starting with ~FAMILY CAFE~ in North Beach, who announced they are closing January 29th. Customers have been coming out of the woodwork to say goodbye to this beloved Japanese daytime restaurant, so co-owners Jessica and Tada Furui (along with Ray Lee of Akiko’s) have been a bit overwhelmed and are running out of dishes early, FYI. They are currently open Tue-Sat 12pm-3pm, offering outdoor dining in their parklet only, and no take out. They are grateful for everyone’s love and support. 362 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo.

Across the Bay, the news that Tanya Holland had to close her iconic ~BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN~, after nearly 15 years in business, hit hard. Not only are her legions of fans already missing her epic buttermilk fried chicken and cornmeal waffles, but it’s really tough to see a longtime, Black, female-owned business that has been such a flagship business in Oakland close its doors. Read more in the Nosh piece here. Town Fare, Holland’s plant-based restaurant in the Oakland Museum of California, remains open.

I was very saddened to learn my lunch at ~DAUGHTER’S DINER~ a couple weeks ago was going to be my last. The family-owned, all-day restaurant from Justyna and chef Keven Wilson opened during the pandemic, and they gave it their best to make it through. The creative diner fare was so delicious, from the steak tartare to the brilliant warm duck confit salad to the hearty burgers, and will be missed by so many folks who were lucky to live nearby. Best wishes to them. 326 23rd St. at Webster, Oakland.

A tablehopper reader reported the neighborhood organic rotisserie spot, ~SPINNERIE~, has closed. 1401 Polk St. at Pine.

December 22, 2021
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The coveted outdoor tables for a sunny brunch at Universal Cafe. Photo: Charlie Villyard.

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The iconic dining room and counter at Universal Cafe. Photo: Charlie Villyard.

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We’re going to miss seeing this star. Photo: Erika Castaneda.

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Longtime business partners Wendy St. John and chef Leslie Carr-Avalos.

The news of some restaurant closures can feel like such a big thud, and the closure of ~UNIVERSAL CAFE~ certainly did that for a number of longtime customers and locals. This cherished and off-the-beaten-path restaurant just served their last brunch on Sunday—my friend Julia let me know that they were quietly closing their doors after the weekend.

This iconic neighborhood restaurant opened in April of 1994, the same year I moved to San Francisco. The Multimedia Gulch area of the Mission was a buzzy tech hotspot—there was so much happening over there, with Slow Club and Gordon’s House of Fine Eats, all with that burgeoning industrial modern style that was also at the nearby 42 Degrees in Esprit Park in Dogpatch, and later, Foreign Cinema in 1999. It was such a lively time, with late-night dining and lots of frites and Cosmos—it was also a loud time, with all that laughter bouncing off the concrete floors at these places. At Universal, they evolved into serving such a uniquely San Franciscan and well-sourced style of NorCal cuisine. It was our own kind of SF bistro.

I’m grateful I had the opportunity to connect with chef-partner Leslie Carr-Avalos, who has been at Universal Cafe since 1996. She told me Universal was originally opened by Bob Vorhees and Gail Deferrari, who envisioned an edgy café where they’d roast their own coffee, serve sandwiches, and foster an artistic and creative scene. When chef Julia McClaskey came on board, she really elevated the profile of the place and her Rising Star Chef accolade helped put Universal on the map. Leslie was a sous chef there during the dot com boom, and was also there when the dot bomb crash came, along with 9/11 and the recession, such tough times. But in 2004, she partnered up with her then-husband Armando Avalos and Wendy St. John to buy the restaurant, and they have owned and managed and shepherded it as a trio since.

But here we are, in even tougher times, once again, and due to many reasons, they made the difficult decision to close the restaurant. Leslie said throughout the pandemic, all three of them worked every shift, and tried so hard to roll with all the punches. They did takeout and prix-fixe meals and greatly diminished their operating hours and fed frontline workers. Wendy was busy applying for federal government assistance and loans and grants (it was extremely time consuming, but it also helped them a lot). They are so thankful for their staff—many of them stayed on through the years and then the pandemic—but additional staffing issues have been problematic (as it is for everyone in the industry). The place was also in need of a renovation. As Leslie noted, you really have to do a lot to make it in the restaurant business these days, with savvy marketing and the formation of restaurant groups, but that wasn’t their path.

Instead, they were a restaurant beloved by many regulars, longtime San Franciscans, and in-the-know brunch fans. Leslie said when they started telling their customers they were closing, there were some who came in to eat every night. She was very moved by her customers’ reactions, with some of them crying over the closure: “I didn’t expect that. But we’re like an old friend, we always showed up. You don’t survive for 28 years without caring for people.” Their dishwasher and a server have both been there for 20 years. It says a lot.

As for what’s next, Leslie says she’s going to focus on building something more sustainable for herself, and should have some projects she can talk about hopefully soon. For now, they are dismantling the restaurant until the end of January and sifting through so many memories. Meanwhile, we’ll be left with our memories of their herb-roasted chicken under a brick and charcoal-grilled hanger steak and impeccable soft-scrambled eggs. It felt good to be in that lively dining room or at their sunny front tables. You could always tell what season it was by the dishes on the menu. Thanks to the entire team for feeding us like close friends for all these years. It really feels like the end of a certain era of SF with this closure—but as Leslie shared, “Cities change, and I have to change.” Indeed. We all do. 2814 19th St. at Bryant.

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A moment and dish from Osito’s R&D period. Photo: Rob Schanz.

Call it a Christmas miracle: chef Seth Stowaway just opened his first restaurant this past weekend, ~OSITO~, as well as sister cocktail bar Liliana. This 100-percent, live-fire restaurant offers one extensive tasting menu nightly ($295), paying homage to his Texas upbringing (and many years living in the Mission), while highlighting peak seasonal produce and top local purveyors, with everything cooked over the fire. The opening menu will be focused on winter game birds, while February will bring a menu dedicated to local seafood. Stowaway has worked in the Bay Area for the past 15 years; he was a sous chef for Brandon Jew at Mister Jiu’s, and was executive chef of Bar Agricole Group.

He has most recently been hosting pop-ups as he developed the concept and was fundraising (which is still ongoing). He’s working with director of operations Lucia Camarda and service director Madison Michael (previously Merchant Roots), with beverage director Jon Prange and wine director Maz Naba—optional wine pairings are available for $95, or reserve wine pairings for $125.

You’ll be able to enjoy cocktails and “nostalgic coastal cuisine” from Osito chef de cuisine Bethany Hunt at sister bar Liliana, which is meant to be a place for folks to drop by for a more-casual experience. You can look at the menu (and cocktails and wines by the glass) here.

Studio Terpeluk designed the restaurant and bar, which features sustainably harvested sugar pine and dark reclaimed redwood, a communal table handmade by Yvonne Mouser, and custom brass chandeliers from Kurtis Major. All eyes will be on the steel and brick hearth created by blacksmith Jorgen Harle. There are two seatings nightly (5pm and 8:30pm). 2875 18th St. at Florida.

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Nothing like a sunny Mission day on the rooftop. Photo courtesy of Good Good Culture Club.

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A new mural by Kalani Ware at the upcoming Good Good Culture Club. Photo courtesy of GGCC.

I ran out of time at my last deadline to include this news, but the Liholiho crew has a big update: they’re ending the Liholiho Yacht Club pop-up on 18th Street in the Mission on December 31st and opening ~GOOD GOOD CULTURE CLUB~ in the space on January 11th, 2022. Boor Projects is behind the colorful and uplifting update to the space, which they began in 2019 with Liholiho’s move there.

For these last days, there will be a special holiday menu with original Liholiho classics and favorites until they close on New Year’s Eve. We’ll have to wait for Liholiho Yacht Club to reopen in its original Sutter Street location in spring/summer 2022.

Now, I don’t ever do this, but this press release was so thoughtfully written and personal that I thought I’d share it verbatim so you can really get a sense of the vision and reasoning and changes they’re making with this new project. (Also: I am exhausted and I don’t think my rewrite will add much.)

“Liholiho Yacht Club opened in 2015 with a goal of celebrating heritage and spreading aloha. We have been fortunate to be, by many standards, a successful restaurant. Now, as we reemerge from a brutal shutdown, we have realized that we don’t want to go back to the ways things were. We want to build something better.

“In our decades in the restaurant industry, we accepted and enabled so much of an archaic culture: The wage gaps, the long hours, the inequities, the lack of mental health, and so much more. Why does our industry have to be this way? Can it not grow and evolve, like so many others?

“Since reopening Liholiho Yacht Club in its temporary home on 18th Street earlier this year, we have been actively and thoughtfully implementing many changes in pursuit of this vision. As owners, we understand it requires us to be more inclusive, both operationally and financially. We have raised wages for staff, because a living wage is not sufficient; it’s our duty to provide a thriving wage. We no longer accept gratuity, and have executed an equitable compensation fee (20%) that allows for us to achieve more equality in wages. Our hiring practices have been overhauled to allow for a more diverse pool of applicants. We have shortened our hours of operation from 5 to 9 p.m. in an effort to enable healthy and full lifestyles for our staff. Our day-to-day operations are more collaborative, as we are constantly reminded of the strength of our dynamic leadership team, like Nana Guardia, Kristina Garbett, Sarah Lau, Heather Murphy, Millie Boonkokua, Hannah Montazeri.

“Above all, we are trying to broaden the definition of what it means to be leaders, while empowering—and sustaining—new voices. New voices who will be the future of this industry.

“We feel these initial changes are working. In other words: Change is good. So that’s why Liholiho Yacht Club on 18th Street will evolve into a new concept called Good Good Culture Club.

“With Good Good Culture Club, we will support and amplify the next generation of Bay Area rising talent in Aimee Arcilla, Kevin Keovanpheng, and Brett Shaw. This evolution will enable more creativity for these three, who have long been a crucial part of Liholiho operations, and now will have the opportunity to transition into larger roles and share their own heritage-driven cooking and hospitality.

“At this new restaurant, you’ll get a fun backyard vibe, infused with their exciting Laotian and Filipino flavors, wood-fired cooking, California produce, the Liholiho pantry, and of course, a quality bar program, anchored by Janice Bailon.

“Liholiho Yacht Club is not going away—that original mindset of heritage and hospitality through our San Francisco home remains our guiding principle, our ethos, now more than ever. But to allow our team to truly flourish, we don’t want them operating under the shadow of the Liholiho sign. We want to celebrate their voices, to nurture them as the restaurant industry leaders of tomorrow.

“We don’t know if these changes will work, but we do know that we don’t want to go back to the old ways. We are so grateful to have developed a strong following of diners and regulars in our six years of business. It takes a community to implement change, and we hope you can be part of it, too. That’s what Good Good Culture Club is about: positive change, heritage, love, aloha.”
— Ravi Kapur, April Storm, and Jeff Hanak

That was a good read, right? I hope it inspires some other restaurateurs and owners to be part of the change happening in hospitality and restaurant operations. Good Good Culture Club will be open Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm. Reservations open January 4th. 3560 18th St. at Dearborn.

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Next-level barley waffle from Poppy. Instagram photo via @poppysfca.

It looks like team behind the “California breakfast” pop-up ~POPPY~ (maybe you caught them at Fig & Thistle this past spring and summer?) just got the keys to an amazing location! They’re moving into the classic Evergreen Garden location in the Mission—the longtime, neighborhood standby Vietnamese restaurant closed in May—according to their ABC license, Evergreen has been around since 2003, but possibly even sooner. Pour some out for their imperial roll bun and big bowls of pho.

As for the Poppy team, it’s Jessica Sullivan—the OG pastry chef for Boulevard Restaurant, Prospect, and the Delfina Restaurant Group, as well as Octavia and Frances—and Laurel Robinson, a restaurant consultant for bars and restaurants (including Anina, Tosca, Elda, and Trick Dog), previously a manager at Delfina for eight years. Yeah, these ladies know their stuff.

You can peek at their latest pop-up menu here, although you know the concept is going to be greatly expanded at this location, which comes with a nice atrium/patio. I’ll share more details soon. 3100 18th St. at Harrison.

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Ramen from the new Jikasei Mensho. Instagram photo by @trocadero152.

~MENSHO TOKYO~ (some of my favorite ramen in the city) just opened a shop (today!) in The Market in the Twitter building, ~JIKASEI MENSHO~. Jikasei, which means homemade, is offering a few kinds of ramen geared for takeout (after a great deal of R&D). They all come in takeout containers—you specify if you’re going to eat them within 15 minutes or later and they prepare them accordingly. You can choose your own broth and chashu toppings, including roasted chicken or spiced ground lamb. There are also a few sides, like chicken karaage and potato salad. Check out a pic of the menu here. Open Tue-Sat 11am-3pm. 1355 Market St. at 9th St.

~SUPER DUPER BURGERS~ is opening a location in Laurel Village, and they’re offering a free mini burger to the first 50 guests who line up at lunch (11am) or dinner (4:30pm) Wednesday December 22nd and Thursday December 23rd. Open 10:30am-9pm daily. 3401 California St. at Laurel.

I had been hearing rumors that longtime brunch spot ~DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFE~ was closing their 6th Street location, and SFGate confirmed the news. Former (and longtime) owner Kurt Abney sold the business to new owners back in 2017, and sadly they couldn’t weather the “tough times brought on by the pandemic.” Truly the toughest times. 28 6th St. at Market.

December 17, 2021
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2-ledix-nougat.jpg

Your bag will have either a bar of Le Dix-Sept’s blanc or chocolat nougat! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

2d-cinderella-honeycookies.jpg

Cinderella Bakery’s Russian golden honey cookies.

2h-neococoa-marshmallow.jpg

Double chocolate peppermint marshmallow quartet from NeoCocoa.

2m-humphryslocombe-bourbon.jpeg

Humphry Slocombe’s bourbon caramel will take the edge off.

2p-daybreak-shichimi.jpg

Shichimi togarashi from Daybreak Seaweed Co. and Soba Ichi.

2t-otra-chingona.png

Chingona salsa macha from Otra.

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Cambodia Dirt lemongrass pepper seasoning from Shlap Muan.

3d-redssauce1.jpg

Red’s House Hot Sauce No. 1.

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Omnivore Sicilia sauce (it’s like an Italian harissa).

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Holiday Gingerbread Cookie Mix from Le Marais Bakery.

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Holiday Blend: Paleo Chocolate Cheer Granola from Nana Joe’s Granola.

3p-maisondanel-almond.JPG

A selection of petit fours sec from Maison Danel (these are their tuiles aux amandes almond “tiles”).

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Organic cotton canvas Queens market tote (this is our beautiful back-up bag when we run out of the tablehopper tote).

WE ARE SOLD OUT! Thanks to all of you for supporting this year’s Hopper Holiday Gift Bag!

One year ago, I launched the first Hopper Holiday Gift Bag, and it was such a success—thanks to YOU—that I decided to do it again this year. We all know how much our independent restaurants and pop-ups and food businesses continue to suffer from the pandemic, and yet they still manage to make beautiful food and holiday treats that fill us with delight. Let’s support and celebrate them with this year’s Hopper Holiday Gift Bag!

This abundant gift bag is packed full of some of the most delicious, local, hand-crafted, and festive treats, all curated by yours truly! I’m talking about 13 stellar, San Francisco Bay Area-made products, many of them from BIPOC, queer, and women makers, as well as small businesses that I know have been hustling extra hard to stay afloat.

You can order it for yourself, or you can split up the gift bag into stocking stuffers for your friends or as host/ess gifts, share a bag with a friend, or give a gift bag to someone who could really use a lift (and maybe can’t afford it right now). And there’s a donation included with each bag sold to La Cocina’s Stock the Pot fundraiser!

Check out the tasty goods:

  • Le Dix-Sept Pâtisserie’s Nougat (2.8 oz.): Michelle Hernandez is the talented baker and maker behind her hot pink café that opened in the Mission last fall. Her sublime European-style blanc nougat highlights the quality of the organic honey she uses, with flavor notes and textures from mango, cacao nibs, and almond, while the nougat chocolat features dark chocolate, black mission figs, pumpkin seeds, and hazelnuts. One bar of either of these two flavors will be in your bag! Surprise!

  • Golden Honey Cookies from Cinderella Bakery & Café (12 oz.): This Inner Richmond Russian bakery has been around and filling our bellies with piroshki since 1953! These traditional Russian “pryaniki” are honey-spice cookies covered with a glaze, giving them a festive look and taste—I love the soft texture and rustic flavor with notes of cinnamon. They’re fantastic with tea (or a hot toddy).

  • Neococoa Double Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallow Quartet (4 oz., 4 pieces): Founder (and La Cocina grad) Christine Doerr has taken a quintessential childhood treat and given it a sophisticated make-over. Made with Guittard Chocolate’s cocoa rouge powder and peppermint extract, these fluffy marshmallows have a robust, fudge-like flavor, thanks to a 72% dark chocolate exterior. Both your inner child and adult gourmand self will be happy.

  • Bourbon Caramel from Humphry Slocombe (9 oz.): Just like the gents of this 13-year-old, innovative ice cream shop and brand say, “Ice cream never had it so good.” Seriously! It’s so great to be an adult. You can also drizzle this boozy caramel on brownies, chocolate, pancakes/waffles, buttered toast, cakes, pies, muffins, or have a spoonful right down the gullet in case of any/all emotional emergencies.

  • Shichimi Togarashi from Daybreak Seaweed Co. and Soba Ichi (1.9 oz.): This women-owned, Bay Area seaweed company teamed up with the chefs of Soba Ichi in Oakland for a California take on the classic Japanese shichimi togarashi. Also known as seven-spice seasoning, this spicy blend highlights the rich flavors of red chiles, roasted sesame, citrusy yuzu, and umami-packed West Coast seaweed. Sprinkle it on soba, ramen, stir-frys, steamed vegetables, popcorn, and fried eggs! It packs a punch, so start with just a pinch.

  • Chingona salsa macha from Otra (8 oz.): 
Chef Nick Cobarruvias of the recently opened Otra in the Lower Haight is behind this crunchy, spicy salsa that is THE hot item (har) of the year. It’s made with roasted peanuts, garlic, and sesame. I love how versatile it is—it’s great drizzled on everything from eggs to meat or vegetable dishes to rice porridge.

  • Cambodian Dirt from Shlap Muan (3.5 oz.): No, you aren’t getting a shaker of dirt—this is Cambodian Dirt! It’s a wonderful spin on lemon pepper seasoning from downtown’s Cambodian fried wing shop from the kind husband-and-wife team of Hawk and Sophia, with earthy bass notes that contrast the bright hit of lemongrass. I love shaking this pepper to liven things up with a little acidic pop, from marinades to stir-frys to roast pork to soups, and it’s great on raw fruit and vegetables, but yeah, fried chicken is the move.

  • Red’s House Hot Sauce #1 (5 oz.): Red’s House started as a Jamaican pop-up dinner series from mother-and-son duo Sharon and Christopher Russell, and they’re currently raising money for their first-ever brick and mortar (please check out their raise). They bring the flavors of the Caribbean to the Bay Area with this knockout sauce made with fiery Scotch Bonnet peppers, fresh ginger, garlic, lime juice, salt, and various spices. It packs a reasonable punch, while having a rich and developed taste, so it doesn’t overwhelm your food. Enjoy and lively up yourself!

  • Sicilia Sauce from Omnivore (8 oz.): Local culinary icon and maestro Angelo Garro is behind the Omnivore line of salts and handmade sauces. His Sicilia sauce is like a concentrated Italian harissa, made with organic balsamic vinegar, fennel, ancho peppers, tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and spices, slowly cooked for a day to create this versatile, unique cooking base—a little goes a long way! Brush it on meats and vegetables before grilling or roasting, or add it to melted butter and white wine to create a finger-lickin’ sauce over seafood. Perfect for rubs, braises, sauces, and roasts.

  • Holiday Gingerbread Cookie Mix from Le Marais Bakery (1 lb. 15 oz.): There’s nothing like freshly made gingerbread cookies to get you into a holiday mood. Whether you bake them as a gift or to enjoy at home, your house will smell wonderful (and you’ll be showing your support to this beloved local French bakery that has had an extra-rough year, like so many of us, ugh, let’s all eat some cookies). This deliciously spiced, traditional gingerbread mix is based on a French pain d’épices recipe, mixed with Giusto’s organic pastry flour, Valrhona cocoa powder, and freshly ground spices. Packaged in their lovely blue bakery box. Makes 12-24 cookies.

  • Holiday Blend: Paleo Chocolate Cheer Granola from Nana Joe’s Granola (8 oz.): Michelle Pusateri makes my favorite granola in town (Sunset Blend, all the way), and here’s her first-ever Holiday Blend, with nut and seed clusters (including pistachio!) and notes of chocolate peppermint (but not too much—it’s just right)! Here’s how busy elves need to start their day.

  • Petit Fours Sec from Maison Danel (3.5 oz.): This Polk Gulch French pâtisserie and tea salon opened just before the pandemic (oof). But they have fought to survive and fulfill their dream of making a variety of baked goods and viennoiserie in an elegant space (you’ll need to check out their freshly made treats on your own). We’re doing a variety pack of their tuiles aux amandes (almond “tiles”) and langues de chat (butter and pistachio “cat tongue” cookies). These light and crisp cookies are perfect with tea, or for an afternoon or midnight snack.

  • Queens Market Tote: Since we only had a limited quantity of the tablehopper tote bag available, the final orders of the gift bag come in this bright cobalt blue, organic cotton, canvas tote from Queens, a neighborhood Korean superette in the Inner Sunset (who will be opening a restaurant in the Outer Sunset in 2022)! It’s a sturdy and spacious tote (15” x 17”), with enough room for all your goodies.

  • $10 donation to La Cocina: Your gift bag includes a donation to this incredible organization that has been helping over 130 low-income food entrepreneurs grow their businesses, since 2005! Right now, La Cocina is hosting a Stock the Pot fundraiser to update their 16-year-old kitchen! Their goal is to raise $75,000 for new equipment, appliances, and plumbing work. If you want to make a bigger donation, please click here. XO

PURCHASING DETAILS
Whew! So how’s that for a festive celebration of flavor from our wonderful SF Bay Area businesses? The hopper holiday gift bag is $225 (click to order), and 100 percent fabulous. All sales are final, no refunds or returns. Sales tax and fees are all included.

Everything will be shelf-stable, so you don’t have to worry about getting anything into the fridge after you receive it (but a couple items will need to be refrigerated after you open them, and don’t leave any cookies sitting around for too long). An ingredient list will be included (or listed on some items).

Unfortunately, there are no substitutions or custom orders. If there’s something you can’t eat or enjoy, I’m sure you can find someone who will! Thanks for understanding.

Items are subject to change and availability—since we’re dealing with so many items here (13!), there’s a small chance we’ll need to make a change or swap an item. Please trust it will be delicious. We’ll keep you informed of any changes.

In-person, pre-paid PICK-UPS will be available at Merkado in SoMa Tuesday December 21st, Wednesday December 22nd, and Thursday December 23rd, from 4pm-6pm each day. The bag will be listed under the name on your order.

Merkado is offering special takeout holiday meals (did someone say tamales?) and cocktail kits that you can pre-order and pick up when you get your bag, and there will also be holiday sausages from Sean Lackey. (Stand by for more details from me on how to order these additional tasty items.) It’s a great way to say “gracias” to Merkado for hosting us.

Merkado: 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St.
There’s a parking zone where you can pull up. Please don’t contact the restaurant for any questions you have about the bag.

DELIVERY in San Francisco will be available Tuesday December 21st, Wednesday December 22nd, and Thursday December 23rd, for an additional fee of $12. (If you’re in the East Bay, please reach out and we’ll see what we can do, but the fee will be more.)

We’ll finalize your delivery time window after we get all orders in and can map things out. You will specify your preferred day and timeframe to start (morning is 9am-12pm; afternoon is 12pm-5pm, evening is 5pm-8pm). Available time slots will be Tue afternoon, evening; Wed morning, afternoon, evening; Thu morning. (Stand by for more details and a better ETA from us if you choose delivery.)

If you miss your delivery (things happen!) and there’s nowhere safe for us to leave it, you’ll be able to pick up your bag at Merkado. No delivery fee refunds (unless it’s totally our fault). Sorry, no shipping—it’s too much to manage.

On behalf of all our local restaurants, businesses, makers, and me, thank you so much. We appreciate all your generous support, and this gift bag is a kind way to share holiday cheer and show and feel the love. Our Bay Area hospitality industry is so special, let’s do everything we can to show up for it.

Thank you for reading my column and supporting my venture in so many ways these past fifteen years. It has been quite an adventure, and you are such an incredible community! The best! I raise my glass to you. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

December 10, 2021
1-2021hoppergiftbag.jpg
2-ledix-nougat.jpg

Your bag will have either a bar of Le Dix-Sept’s blanc or chocolat nougat! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

2d-cinderella-honeycookies.jpg

Cinderella Bakery’s Russian golden honey cookies.

2h-neococoa-marshmallow.jpg

Double chocolate peppermint marshmallow quartet from NeoCocoa.

2m-humphryslocombe-bourbon.jpeg

Humphry Slocombe’s bourbon caramel will take the edge off.

2p-daybreak-shichimi.jpg

Shichimi togarashi from Daybreak Seaweed Co. and Soba Ichi.

2t-otra-chingona.png

Chingona salsa macha from Otra.

3a-shlapmuan-dirt.jpeg

Cambodia Dirt lemongrass pepper seasoning from Shlap Muan.

3d-redssauce1.jpg

Red’s House Hot Sauce No. 1.

3g-omnivore-Sicilia.jpg

Omnivore Sicilia sauce (it’s like an Italian harissa).

3j-lemaraismix.jpg

Holiday Gingerbread Cookie Mix from Le Marais Bakery.

3m-nanajoes-holiday.png

Holiday Blend: Paleo Chocolate Cheer Granola from Nana Joe’s Granola.

3p-maisondanel-almond.JPG

A selection of petit fours sec from Maison Danel (these are their tuiles aux amandes almond “tiles”).

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The tablehopper 15-year anniversary market tote.

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Organic cotton canvas Queens market tote (this is our beautiful back-up bag when we run out of the tablehopper tote).

One year ago, I launched the first Hopper Holiday Gift Bag, and it was such a success—thanks to YOU—that I decided to do it again this year. We all know how much our independent restaurants and pop-ups and food businesses continue to suffer from the pandemic, and yet they still manage to make beautiful food and holiday treats that fill us with delight. Let’s support and celebrate them with this year’s Hopper Holiday Gift Bag!

This abundant gift bag is packed full of some of the most delicious, local, hand-crafted, and festive treats, all curated by yours truly! I’m talking about 13 stellar, San Francisco Bay Area-made products, many of them from BIPOC, queer, and women makers, as well as small businesses that I know have been hustling extra hard to stay afloat.

You can order it for yourself, or you can split up the gift bag into stocking stuffers for your friends or as host/ess gifts, share a bag with a friend, or give a gift bag to someone who could really use a lift (and maybe can’t afford it right now). And there’s a donation included with each bag sold to La Cocina’s Stock the Pot fundraiser!

Check out the tasty goods:

  • Le Dix-Sept Pâtisserie’s Nougat (2.8 oz.): Michelle Hernandez is the talented baker and maker behind her hot pink café that opened in the Mission last fall. Her sublime European-style blanc nougat highlights the quality of the organic honey she uses, with flavor notes and textures from mango, cacao nibs, and almond, while the nougat chocolat features dark chocolate, black mission figs, pumpkin seeds, and hazelnuts. One bar of either of these two flavors will be in your bag! Surprise!

  • Golden Honey Cookies from Cinderella Bakery & Café (12 oz.): This Inner Richmond Russian bakery has been around and filling our bellies with piroshki since 1953! These traditional Russian “pryaniki” are honey-spice cookies covered with a glaze, giving them a festive look and taste—I love the soft texture and rustic flavor with notes of cinnamon. They’re fantastic with tea (or a hot toddy).

  • Neococoa Double Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallow Quartet (4 oz., 4 pieces): Founder (and La Cocina grad) Christine Doerr has taken a quintessential childhood treat and given it a sophisticated make-over. Made with Guittard Chocolate’s cocoa rouge powder and peppermint extract, these fluffy marshmallows have a robust, fudge-like flavor, thanks to a 72% dark chocolate exterior. Both your inner child and adult gourmand self will be happy.

  • Bourbon Caramel from Humphry Slocombe (9 oz.): Just like the gents of this 13-year-old, innovative ice cream shop and brand say, “Ice cream never had it so good.” Seriously! It’s so great to be an adult. You can also drizzle this boozy caramel on brownies, chocolate, pancakes/waffles, buttered toast, cakes, pies, muffins, or have a spoonful right down the gullet in case of any/all emotional emergencies.

  • Shichimi Togarashi from Daybreak Seaweed Co. and Soba Ichi (1.9 oz.): This women-owned, Bay Area seaweed company teamed up with the chefs of Soba Ichi in Oakland for a California take on the classic Japanese shichimi togarashi. Also known as seven-spice seasoning, this spicy blend highlights the rich flavors of red chiles, roasted sesame, citrusy yuzu, and umami-packed West Coast seaweed. Sprinkle it on soba, ramen, stir-frys, steamed vegetables, popcorn, and fried eggs! It packs a punch, so start with just a pinch.

  • Chingona salsa macha from Otra (8 oz.): 
Chef Nick Cobarruvias of the recently opened Otra in the Lower Haight is behind this crunchy, spicy salsa that is THE hot item (har) of the year. It’s made with roasted peanuts, garlic, and sesame. I love how versatile it is—it’s great drizzled on everything from eggs to meat or vegetable dishes to rice porridge.

  • Cambodian Dirt from Shlaup Muan (3.5 oz.): No, you aren’t getting a shaker of dirt—this is Cambodian Dirt! It’s a wonderful spin on lemon pepper seasoning from downtown’s Cambodian fried wing shop from the kind husband-and-wife team of Hawk and Sophia, with earthy bass notes that contrast the bright hit of lemongrass. I love shaking this pepper to liven things up with a little acidic pop, from marinades to stir-frys to roast pork to soups, and it’s great on raw fruit and vegetables, but yeah, fried chicken is the move.

  • Red’s House Hot Sauce #1 (5 oz.): Red’s House started as a Jamaican pop-up dinner series from mother-and-son duo Sharon and Christopher Russell, and they’re currently raising money for their first-ever brick and mortar (please check out their raise). They bring the flavors of the Caribbean to the Bay Area with this knockout sauce made with fiery Scotch Bonnet peppers, fresh ginger, garlic, lime juice, salt, and various spices. It packs a reasonable punch, while having a rich and developed taste, so it doesn’t overwhelm your food. Enjoy and lively up yourself!

  • Sicilia Sauce from Omnivore (8 oz.): Local culinary icon and maestro Angelo Garro is behind the Omnivore line of salts and handmade sauces. His Sicilia sauce is like a concentrated Italian harissa, made with organic balsamic vinegar, fennel, ancho peppers, tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and spices, slowly cooked for a day to create this versatile, unique cooking base—a little goes a long way! Brush it on meats and vegetables before grilling or roasting, or add it to melted butter and white wine to create a finger-lickin’ sauce over seafood. Perfect for rubs, braises, sauces, and roasts.

  • Holiday Gingerbread Cookie Mix from Le Marais Bakery (1 lb. 15 oz.): There’s nothing like freshly made gingerbread cookies to get you into a holiday mood. Whether you bake them as a gift or to enjoy at home, your house will smell wonderful (and you’ll be showing your support to this beloved local French bakery that has had an extra-rough year, like so many of us, ugh, let’s all eat some cookies). This deliciously spiced, traditional gingerbread mix is based on a French pain d’épices recipe, mixed with Giusto’s organic pastry flour, Valrhona cocoa powder, and freshly ground spices. Packaged in their lovely blue bakery box. Makes 12-24 cookies.

  • Holiday Blend: Paleo Chocolate Cheer Granola from Nana Joe’s Granola (8 oz.): Michelle Pusateri makes my favorite granola in town (Sunset Blend, all the way), and here’s her first-ever Holiday Blend, with nut and seed clusters (including pistachio!) and notes of chocolate peppermint (but not too much—it’s just right)! Here’s how busy elves need to start their day.

  • Petit Fours Sec from Maison Danel (3.5 oz.): This Polk Gulch French pâtisserie and tea salon opened just before the pandemic (oof). But they have fought to survive and fulfill their dream of making a variety of baked goods and viennoiserie in an elegant space (you’ll need to check out their freshly made treats on your own). We’re doing a variety pack of their tuiles aux amandes (almond “tiles”) and langues de chat (butter and pistachio “cat tongue” cookies). These light and crisp cookies are perfect with tea, or for an afternoon or midnight snack.

  • Everything comes in an oversized, tablehopper 15th Anniversary Canvas Market Tote! In honor of all the takeout and doggie bags I have brought home over the years, I asked studio1500 to design a custom tablehopper version of the classic THANK YOU takeout bag graphic. Thank you to all of you who got me to 15! We have a FINAL, LIMITED QUANTITY of 26 bags. Once the hopper totes run out, we’ll be swapping in the fab Queens tote below!

  • Queens Market Tote: Since we only have a limited quantity of the tablehopper tote bag available, our beautiful back-up is this bright cobalt blue, organic cotton, canvas tote from Queens, a neighborhood Korean superette in the Inner Sunset (who will be opening a restaurant in the Outer Sunset in 2022)! It’s a sturdy and spacious tote (15” x 17”), with enough room for all your goodies.

  • $10 donation to La Cocina: Your gift bag includes a donation to this incredible organization that has been helping over 130 low-income food entrepreneurs grow their businesses, since 2005! Right now, La Cocina is hosting a Stock the Pot fundraiser to update their 16-year-old kitchen! Their goal is to raise $75,000 for new equipment, appliances, and plumbing work. If you want to make a bigger donation, please click here. XO

PURCHASING DETAILS
Whew! So how’s that for a festive celebration of flavor from our wonderful SF Bay Area businesses? The hopper holiday gift bag is $225 (click to order), and 100 percent fabulous. All sales are final, no refunds or returns. Sales tax and fees are all included.

Everything will be shelf-stable, so you don’t have to worry about getting anything into the fridge after you receive it (but a couple items will need to be refrigerated after you open them, and don’t leave any cookies sitting around for too long). An ingredient list will be included (or listed on some items).

Unfortunately, there are no substitutions or custom orders. If there’s something you can’t eat or enjoy, I’m sure you can find someone who will! Thanks for understanding.

Items are subject to change and availability—since we’re dealing with so many items here (13!), there’s a small chance we’ll need to make a change or swap an item. Please trust it will be delicious. Thank you for understanding, we’ll keep you informed of any changes.

Like last time, quantities are limited, so you’ll want to hop to it. Email me to be added to a waitlist if the bag is sold out.

In-person, pre-paid PICK-UPS will be available at Merkado in SoMa Tuesday December 21st, Wednesday December 22nd, and Thursday December 23rd, from 4pm-6pm each day. The bag will be listed under the name on your order.

Merkado is going to be offering special takeout holiday meals (did someone say tamales?) and cocktail kits that you can pre-order and pick up when you get your bag, and there will also be lumpia from The Lumpia Company, and holiday sausages from Sean Lackey. (Stand by for more details from me on how to order these additional tasty items.) It’s a great way to say “gracias” to Merkado for hosting us.

Merkado: 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St.
There’s a parking zone where you can pull up. Please don’t contact the restaurant for any questions you have about the bag.

DELIVERY in San Francisco will be available Tuesday December 21st, Wednesday December 22nd, and Thursday December 23rd, for an additional fee of $12. (If you’re in the East Bay, please reach out and we’ll see what we can do, but the fee will be more.)

We’ll finalize your delivery time window after we get all orders in and can map things out. You will specify your preferred day and timeframe to start (morning is 9am-12pm; afternoon is 12pm-5pm, evening is 5pm-8pm). Available time slots will be Tue afternoon, evening; Wed morning, afternoon, evening; Thu morning. (Stand by for more details and a better ETA from us if you choose delivery.)

If you miss your delivery (things happen!) and there’s nowhere safe for us to leave it, you’ll be able to pick up your bag at Merkado. No delivery fee refunds (unless it’s totally our fault). Sorry, no shipping, and we won’t be able to offer the gift bags any earlier than Tuesday December 22nd.

On behalf of all our local restaurants, businesses, makers, and me, thank you so much. We appreciate all your generous support, and this gift bag is a kind way to share holiday cheer and show and feel the love. Our Bay Area hospitality industry is so special, let’s do everything we can to show up for it.

Thank you for reading my column and supporting my venture in so many ways these past fifteen years. It has been quite an adventure, and you are such an incredible community! The best! I raise my glass to you. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

(If there are any elves who have spare hands to help me out with bag assembly on Sunday December 19th, I’d be so grateful! Please send me an email and I’ll get back to you. Mwah!!)