The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
November 26, 2019
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The minimalist counter at Gozu. Photo courtesy of Gozu.

Have we hit peak beef yet? Nope. Now open in SoMa is ~ITTORYU GOZU~ from chef/owner Marc Zimmerman of MZ Dining Group (previously Alexander’s Steakhouse SF), who has opened his paean to the wagyu breed with co-founder Ben Jorgensen. Look for a whole-animal approach, featuring lesser-known parts and cuts, served in a traditional kappo-style tasting menu format (which includes five different cooking techniques: raw, grilling, steaming, frying, and simmering, but the main focus is the robatayaki style of open-fire cooking). The Gozu menu ($120-$150 per person) spans two-and-a-half hours, with 15 items over 10 courses, and includes local and Japanese seafood, wild foods, and more.

There is room for 25 guests to be seated around the horseshoe counter, circling the open-fire robata grills; there’s also a private dining room for 12; the Kitchen Table, with a family-style feeling for 6-8 guests; and a lounge area. Design agency a l m project (Benu) is behind the design.

Beverage director, Lindsey Young, has created pairing menus, and the bar also has cocktails with a Japanese sensibility; a forty-bottle sake collection of nihonshu, highlighting rare female toji (master brewers); 40 whiskies (including rare and exclusive Japanese whisky, Scotch, and local distilleries); high-quality wines, beer, and more. Tickets are available on TOCK. Open Tue-Sat 5pm to close; lunch coming soon. 201 Spear St. at Howard.

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Ful (fava beans) with an egg and pita at Beit Rima. Yelp photo by Dan B..

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The new Lupulandia brewpub in the Mission. Photo courtesy of Lupulandia.

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A selection of dishes from the plant-based Nick’s on Mission. Photo: Albert Law.

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The new Bob’s Donuts on Baker has pink boxes ready and waiting for you. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The mural by Miguel Herrera Dominguez at Bhoga.

There are a bunch of new openings happening, so let’s breeze through ‘em:

Now open in Cole Valley is the second ~BEIT RIMA~ in the former Burgermeister. The neighborhood should be so stoked to have Samir Mogannam’s fantastic Arabic comfort food. Crazy-delicious food. Open Wed-Mon 5pm-9:30pm, closed Tue, and lunch/brunch is coming soon. 86 Carl St. at Cole.

I received word from owner Anthony La Via (Southern Pacific) that he has just opened ~LUPULANDIA~, a brewpub in the Mission with his wife, Marisol Gonzalez. There’s a brewery on-site, plus a full kitchen and bar. (In case you’re wondering about the name, the word for hops in Spanish is “lupulos,” so they “Spanglished it up.”)

The Baja and Mexican-American menu sounds awesome—it ends up they are partners in a similar restaurant-brewery operation in Tijuana called Tras Horizonte with the Campos brothers, Pablo and Oso, who have a little mini-chain of taquerias called Kokopelli. Chef Oso has influenced the menu here in SF, which has ceviches (including a green ceviche from Tijuana), aguachiles, Tijuana-style chilaquiles, chicharron de pargo (fried fish fillets, a dish from Tijuana), and I gotta try his menudo in crispy tacos (tacos de panza)—Anthony says, “He cooks the tripas in caldo like you would normally, but then takes it out and puts it in a crispy taco, with the reduced caldo as a dipping sauce.” And then there’s a burger with green chile, and American-style buttermilk fried chicken, but with Mexican chile and a touch of mesquite smoke. And churros. And Mexican-influenced cocktails from LaVia’s brother-in-law, Sal Gonzalez. And their beer should be ready this week: a hazy IPA, a West Coast IPA, a fruity tropical pale ale, a dark brown lager, a grapefruit lager, a sour blonde ale, and a tropical India Pale Lager. There’s an outdoor patio, plenty of tables for dining, and they’re open for lunch and dinner Wed-Sun (closing at 12am Wed and Sun, open until 2am Thu-Sat). Fun! 2243 Mission St. at 18th St.

Now open in the FiDi is ~TACOLICIOUS CHICO~, a casual, counter-service spot specializing in tacos de guisado. Basically, dreamy, drippy tacos with stewed meats and vegetables. Selections include T-lish’s famed guajillo-braised beef, Rancho Gordo yellow eye beans and winter greens, chicken tinga, pork chile verde, and lamb birria—and everything is just $3.75! Tortillas are made by hand on-site using fresh masa brought in daily from La Finca in Oakland, and all the meats are responsibly sourced (no antibiotics, vegetarian-fed, and humanely raised). Beverages include horchata made with HighWire cold brew and hibiscus lemonade. It’s all to-go, but you can grab a seat at a few sidewalk tables. 685 Market St. at 3rd St.

This is both wonderful and dangerous: ~BOB’S DONUTS~ has opened a second location in NoPa, just blocks from my apartment, in the former Green Chile Pies. Yup, their apple fritters and famed crumb doughnuts are making the neighborhood smell really nice. There are seats where you can sit and have a coffee and hang out. Open Sun-Mon and Wed 7am-9pm, Thu-Sat 7am-10pm, closed Tue. 601 Baker St. at Fulton.

Also in the neighborhood, a new sandwich shop has opened that is making locals happy: inside the recently upgraded ~MCBAKER MARKET~ (it got a new owner last year) is now a deli counter, serving a variety of sandwiches, from creative deli combos to meatball sandwiches, plus housemade hummus and baba ghanoush. 1800 McAllister St. at Baker.

There’s a new plant-based Filipino restaurant that opened: ~NICK’S ON MISSION~, a second location of the original in Daly City. Partners Reina Montenegro and Kenny Annis are serving breakfast and lunch in the heart of San Francisco’s Filipino Cultural Heritage district: ​SOMA Pilipinas​. This “turo-turo” restaurant (Filipino for “point point”) is hofbrau-style, where guests survey the counter for what they want. Look for vegan lumpia, pancit, sisig, and kaldereta (stew), plus ube pancakes, leche flan, and some packaged foods—it’s to-go to start, with seating coming later. Open Mon-Sat 7am-3pm. 996 Mission St. at 6th St.

The Castro has been having a rough go of restaurants lately, but the new ~BHOGA RESTAURANT~ is hopefully going to help elevate things, serving progressive, upscale Indian cuisine. Chef Mel Oza (previously Copper in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Mantra in Palo Alto) is serving dishes like Cauli Lollis (battered and fried cauliflower florets, soy-chile-ginger glaze); Pondicherry Escargot (Burgundy snails, Indian “mirepoix,” tamarind-peanut ketchup); Duck Leg “Bhoona” (slow-roasted duck leg, spiced cashew-roasted onion purée); Black Masala Pao Bhaji (mashed vegetable medley, Mumbai-style black masala, buttered pao); and large plates like King Mackerel Rechado (Goan-style spicy rub, root vegetable sukka); plus Shrikhand “Cannoli” and Cacao-Walnut “Kulfi” for dessert. One of each, please.

There’s a full bar—with cocktails created by Brian Howard (August (1) Five)—along with house-brewed beer, and Oza has quite the background in wine, so the list features 12 wines poured by the glass, with a focus on Old World wines. Bhoga is right by the Castro Theater, and the late hours will make it a good spot for pre- and post-show dining. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-1am. 468 Castro St. at 18th St.

Over in the Lower Haight, ~BERLINER BERLINER~ has opened in the former Rosamunde Sausage Grill from employee Christine Blunck (she was born in Berlin). You’ll still be able to enjoy sausages (from a new Kringel bratwurst to vegan sausage), Tuesday burgers, plus some new additions. Hours: 11am-10pm. 545 Haight St. at Fillmore. [Via Hoodline.]

Over in North Beach, Pete Mrabe continues his restaurant musical chairs, and has now moved ~CHUBBY NOODLE~ into his former Pete’s on Green. Look for a new menu (with Chubby classics) and full liquor. Open for dinner 5pm-11pm; 12/1 marks the beginning of bottomless brunch (Sat-Sun 10am-3pm, and then dinner 5pm-11pm) and hours will shift to Mon-Fri 11am-11pm. 570 Green St. at Grant.

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The beautiful bar at Noosh. Photo: Audrey Ma.

Damn, we really can’t have nice things. I was so dismayed to see how things have completely imploded over at ~NOOSH~, with a terrible conflict between the owner (John Litz) and the two executive chef-owners (Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz). Litz is suing them, has locked them out, temporarily closed the restaurant, installed Emily Luchetti as culinary advisor, and employees don’t know what to do and what’s next.

Meanwhile, the talented Laura and Sayat allege they have been wrongfully accused (and locked out) and claim that Litz has threatened them in the past. There is a fundraiser for them to get help with legal representation, and for now, they have retained control of the @nooshsf account as their mouthpiece.

You can read the whole sordid mess in these pieces in the Chronicle, and on Eater. So sad to have one of the most delicious restaurants in the city suddenly fall apart like this. Stay tuned. 2001 Fillmore St. at Pine.

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Reem Assil of Reem’s California. Photo: Luke Beard.

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In Spring 2020, you’ll be able to enjoy cannelés from Le Dix-Sept’s first brick-and-mortar pâtisserie in the Mission. Photo: Le-Dix Sept.

A few quick updates on projects that are opening soon: while it was incredibly disappointing to have Mission Pie close, it’s amazing to hear that Reem Assil of Reem’s is going to be opening a second ~REEM’S~ and creating a full Arab bakery and more in the location. The opening is targeted for late February 2020, and she’s excited to be able to offer the breakfast and expanded bread/pastry menu she originally envisioned for her business. She’s also going to serve her popular mana’eesh (flatbreads) and wraps, as well as offer dinner service, and beer, wine, and coffee. She’s going to be in the location soon to support her catering business. Congrats on the expanded vision and space, Reem! 2901 Mission St. at 25th St. [Via Hoodline and Eater.]

Another female-owned business who just found a space in the Mission is Michelle Hernández of ~LE DIX-SEPT PÂTISSERIE~, who will be opening in the spring at 18th Street and Mission. She’s known for her pop-ups, serving unique pastries that unite French classics with creative, botanical flavors. She just launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for equipment and buildout of the space—please take a look and support this woman of color, solo entrepreneur, and Bay Area native. The shop will be open Tue-Sun, serving brioche love knots, her popular cannelés, banana cake, almond tarts, quiche, macarons, meringue clouds, and Le Dix-Sept nougat, plus celebration cakes in slices and full cakes, and more, of course. 3376 18th St. at Mission.

Just around the corner, look for ~PRUBECHU~ to open in the former Commonwealth on December 3rd, with a new Fiesta Table dinner format, expanded kelaguen menu, and more. If you’re looking for a place for a fun holiday gathering and meal, take a look. 2224 Mission St. at 18th St.

According to some ABC license activity, ~FIORELLA~ is opening a third location in the former Park Chow in the Inner Sunset. I reached out to owner Boris Nemchenok about timing, but haven’t heard back yet on when you can expect their tasty pasta and pizzas in the neighborhood. UPDATE: I heard back from his PR, and he’s targeting a summer 2020 opening date. 1240 9th Ave. at Lincoln.

I received an invite to check out the new ~SEVEN HILLS~ location in Russian Hill next week from owner Alexis Solomou, which means things are close (it opens December 5th)! The restaurant has moved into the former Stones Throw, and chef Anthony Florian is going to have more room to make more pasta, run a whole-animal program, and Eater reports they will be adding breakfast and brunch. This is also around the time of year I start praying Florian puts their osso buco back on the menu—I’m still dreaming about the time I had it last winter. As for the original space (at 1550 Hyde), it’s reportedly going to be a more-Californian concept opening in 2020, with chef Christopher Ratcliff (who, like Florian, also came through Quince and Cotogna) leading the helm. 1896 Hyde St. at Green.

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The cheerful dining room at Marla Bakery. Photo courtesy of Marla Bakery.

Well, shoot, closing this Wednesday November 27th is the beloved ~MARLA BAKERY~ in the Outer Richmond. At least it’s not another “we tried but SF is too awful for restaurants” tale. It ends up owners Amy Brown and Joe Wolf are moving up to Santa Rosa in order to have a more-balanced life with their two kids and dial down the work grind. They plan to do some pop-ups in Wine Country until they find a brick-and-mortar location, and will continue with their catering business. No word on who is going to buy their space yet. Thanks for all the wonderful breads and vermouth and pop-ups and moments these past five years in your cozy space, Amy and Joe! 3619 Balboa St. at 37th Ave. [Via The Chronicle]

A longtime tablehopper reader and fellow writer (love you, dude) let me know ~INNERFOG~, a neighborhood wine bar, has closed in the Inner Sunset. Owner John Nettesheim posted this on their site: “It is with a heavy heart that I close the doors to InnerFog. The people of the Inner Sunset welcomed us with open arms, and we have proudly served the community for the last 10 years, for which we will be forever grateful. We have developed many friendships and loyal customers over the years, and shall miss you all, but the time has come for me to pursue other endeavors and say goodbye. The climate of San Francisco has dramatically changed over the last 3 to 5 years and with the rapid changes in the cost of doing business in San Francisco, it is just not feasible to stay in business.” Best wishes, John! You tried! 545 Irving St. at 7th Ave.

And in Cow Hollow, my neighborhood tipster the Hamburglar let me know ~HOLLOW COW~ has closed. They posted this farewell note on their Facebook page: “After just three years in business, Hollow Cow, located at 1875 Union Street has permanently closed. After facing the challenges that come with owning a restaurant on Union Street (labor costs, over-regulation, declining foot traffic, high rent, difficult neighbors, and the growing popularity of the food delivery services), Hollow Cow was forced to close its doors. Despite best efforts of launching a new menu and an interior refresh just two months ago, the business could never overcome the challenges it faced and never achieved profitability.” You can read more here. Tough times. 1875 Union St. at Laguna.

Some tablehopper readers also let me know ~RED HILL STATION~ (803 Cortland Ave.) has closed on Bernal, and ~DIM SUM CLUB~ (2550 Van Ness Ave.) has also closed, bummer.

October 22, 2019
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The previous dining room at Lavash. Photo: Maloos Khonsarian, courtesy of Lavash.

I love stories of phoenixes rising from the ashes! After being closed from a fire back on January 24th, 2018, beloved neighborhood restaurant ~LAVASH~ is returning this November. This family-run business, with parents Nazila and Saeed Talai and their son Kaivon, has been working hard to reopen, dealing with a long list of the usual issues, from permits to construction and more, which can be especially burdensome for a small business that doesn’t have any investors. The fire was between the walls in the kitchen, which caused a lot of damage, but fortunately no one was injured.

Nazila and Saeed came to the United States from Iran in the late 1970s after the Iranian Revolution, and started selling flowers on the street, and eventually opened a flower shop. They have had many businesses over the past 30 years—this enterprising couple even owned an award-winning taqueria at one point! Lavash—which they opened in 2008—is known for their soulful Iranian cooking, featuring dishes and family recipes from home, with quality and fresh ingredients and an eye on health (Saeed, a self-taught chef, was also an athlete). Lavash favorites include their koobideh (skewers of mixed ground beef and lamb), jeweled rice, and fesenjan (chicken with ground walnut and sour-sweet pomegranate sauce), and they will all be returning, plus some new specials.

Lavash was also adored for its warm hospitality and welcoming dining room, which had a cozy, residential style (and was full of fresh flowers). The space has been renovated, and the dining room will have more space, and the kitchen got an upgrade, too.

I’ll let you know when they set their opening date! They’re going to start with dinner first, and hope to add lunch soon. You can follow their new Instagram account at @lavashsf for updates. Welcome back, Lavash! 511 Irving St. at 6th Ave.

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The magical view from the Empress of China (never mind what else may be happening in the bar…). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Back in 2014, it was a sad day when it was announced the Chinatown icon ~EMPRESS OF CHINA~ was closing, and offices were going to take over the space. Seriously, noooo. Things were looking up when news came out that City View Restaurant was planning to open in the ground floor.

And now the latest is that Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon (of Hakkasan fame, although this is a solo project) and Asianova Hospitality Group, Inc. are opening a 7,500-square-foot restaurant on the top floor, ~EMPRESS BY BOON~. So happy to hear we aren’t losing access to that jaw-dropping, gorgeous view, and since the Empress of China was known for its fine dining, it’s a nice continuation of that legacy. Look for modern Cantonese cuisine, featuring organic produce grown on the restaurant’s farm in Gilroy, plus some “unexpected ingredients.” Pastry chef Rory MacDonald (Dessert Bar, Gordon Ramsey, Hakkasan) is also on the team.

Look for fine tableware by Ruyi, a contemporary Chinese tableware line from French brand Legle. Bring on some Chinese banquet elegance. UK-based design studio Atelier LLYS is behind the design, which will feature modern elements alongside restored features from the previous Empress, including the beautifully carved panels and the original wooden pergola, which will house the new bar lounge. Yes! They are gunning for an opening in early 2020, we’ll have to see how that timing goes. 838 Grant St. at Clay.

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A killer spread at Prubechu. Instagram photo via @restaurantprubechu.

Some quick updates for you, I’ll share more details when they open: ~PRUBECHU~ is going to reopen in the Mission in the former Commonwealth space. (Not sure how they’re going to manage that jacked-up rent that reportedly squeezed Commonwealth out?) They’re currently renovating and plan to be open for the holidays, stand by for news on upcoming pig feasts. 2224 Mission St. at 18th St. 

Opening November 7th is ~SEÑOR SISIG~’s first brick and mortar, also in the Mission. The popular food truck from co-founders Evan Kidera (CEO) and Gil Payumo (chief culinary officer) are opening in the former The Blue Fig space, and will be adding some new dishes like nacho-rrones and the beastmode Sisig Crunchwrap (pork, chicken, or tofu on a crispy tostada with monterey jack cheese, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole, all wrapped in a griddled tortilla and served with a side of spicy nacho cheese). I’ll share more details at opening-time. 990 Valencia St. at 21st St.

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Flora in Oakland. Photo via Facebook.

Wow, sorry to hear that ~FLORA~ in Uptown Oakland is closing on November 9th (along with sister bar Fauna), after 13 years in business. Owner Thomas Schnetz cited personal reasons for closing. Flora was a trailblazer in the cocktail scene, and was always a great place to visit before a show at the Fox. Thanks for all the meals and moments at your fabulous bar. No word on chef Rebecca Boice’s plans—will let you know once I hear back. I was hoping to make it for one of her Book Club Dinners—there’s actually the last one this Thursday October 24th, highlighting Joan Didion’s Slouching Toward Bethlehem (good one!).

Fortunately, there is a taker of the gorg Art Deco restaurant: “former Flora bar manager Christ Aivaliotis, now co-owner of the tiki-inspired downtown Oakland bar the Kon-Tiki, will take over, reopening with new businesses in the space this spring.” 1900 Telegraph Ave. at 19th St., Oakland. [Via Eater.]

A reader wrote in to let me know old-timer ~HOWARD’S CAFE~ in the Inner Sunset has closed (the diner was almost 60!). My tipster said word is that it will reopen as a dumpling place. You can read more in this piece in Hoodline. 1309 9th Ave. at Irving.

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The interior of Boavida in the Outer Sunset. Photo courtesy of Boavida.

I’d been tracking the opening of ~BOAVIDA CAFE & MARKET~ for a bit, and after taking their first baby steps, it’s open and running more smoothly. This Ocean Beach café in the former Streamline is from Andrea de Francisco, who previously opened the Portuguese-focused Cafe St. Jorge in Bernal (she also has the record shop down the street with her husband). She envisions Boavida as a community hub: a café, wine bar (coming soon), and curated market. 

They’re serving healthy California-style food with a European twist, offering a menu of smoothies, breakfast bowls, a breakfast roll, as well as a couple salads and sandwiches, and lots of grab and go for those heading to the beach. Look for house-baked pastries, including traditional Portuguese items (pastéis de nata!), as well as specialty vegan items. Coffee service features Craftsman Coffee from Pacifica. You’ll also find some items like fresh baguettes, bananas, and more so neighbors can grab something for home—and they hope to be able to serve wine and beer to go as well. Open Wed-Sun 7am-3pm for now. 3560 Taraval St. at 46th Ave.

Over in Bayview, ~BLOOMSTOCK~ has taken over the former Trouble Coffee (and then Greaser Coffee) location. Owner Ross Rayala is serving waffles and coffee, and check out the 420-friendly artwork in the space (some of it is his own). Open Tue-Sat 7am-3pm. 1730 Yosemite Ave. at Lane. [Via Eater]

Fans of açaí-and-fruit bowls and chia pudding will want to check out ~PALMETTO SUPERFOODS~ in the Inner Richmond. Here’s their menu of options. You can read the backstory of how this concept came to be. Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat-Sun 8am-6pm. 202 Clement St. at 3rd Ave.

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Wayfare Tavern’s famed buttermilk fried chicken is available with waffles for brunch. Photo courtesy of Wayfare Tavern.

Looking for a new brunch spot? ~WAYFARE TAVERN~ recently started offering weekend brunch. Executive chef Scott Quinn’s menu includes challah French toast, bananas Foster pancakes, and, of course, their famed buttermilk fried chicken and waffles. You can also have some healthier picks, like a three-egg omelette or a vitality bowl. There’s a full bar, which means you can go for a Bloody Mary with house-infused bacon vodka or a peach spritzer and more. Brunch is Sat-Sun 11am-3pm.  

Can’t afford an Imperial wagyu tomahawk for dinner at the counter at ~NIKU STEAKHOUSE~? You’re not alone. But you will want to check out their new special evening menu in the bar area, available nightly from 4:30pm-6pm. There’s the Niku burger ($15), made with a blend of 50 percent domestic Imperial wagyu and 50 percent Japanese A5 wagyu; a half-dozen oysters for $10 (hello!), and other bites.

Find happy hour pricing on select glasses of beer and wine, plus a rotating featured cocktail, currently a Toki Highball ($10). And every Thursday is a dedicated Whisky Social, with brand reps sharing distillery stories and offering special pours and cocktails. This month is with Bruichladdich (with Michter’s in November). 61 Division St. at Rhode Island.

This weekend (Fri-Sat Octover 25th-26th), chef Heena Patel of ~BESHARAM~ is celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, with a multi-course, family-style dinner menu. The four-course menu is completely vegetarian (with vegan and dairy/gluten-free substitutions available), $50 per person (two appetizers, salad, two mains served with rice and paratha, and dessert). Expect special Diwali desserts that chef Heena grew up eating. Don’t miss it!