The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
May 3, 2016

The rustic-industrial décor of Homage. Yelp photo by Meredith B.


The Kiawe wood-smoked salmon at ‘Aina. Photo via Facebook.


Loco moco at the new ‘Aina in Dogpatch. Yelp photo by Simon F.

Here are some new spots for you to check out, starting with ~HOMAGE~ from David Kurtz (Maven). We broke the news about the project back in November, mentioning the daytime spot was moving in the former Galette 88 space in the FiDi. Well, it’s now open, and you can check out the opening menu here.

To recap, the menu will pay homage to local farmers by featuring a different farmer every two weeks. Guests will learn about the farmer’s backstory, products, location, and more, while seeing their products highlighted throughout the menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches, using housemade bread Homage is naturally fermenting for three days and baking in-house, using house-ground wheat. (Hello, Cubano, and eight-layer lasagna, and duck congee. And avocado toast, of course.) Breakfast, coffee (from a variety of roasters), tea, juices, pastries, hand pies, robust WiFi, and beer and wine round out the offerings.

The 49-seat rustic-industrial space was designed by Gi Paoletti, with reclaimed wood floors, smaller tables, high-top communal tables, a kitchen counter, and outdoor seats. Hours for now are Mon-Fri 8am-4pm; look for expanded hours soon. 88 Hardie Pl. at Kearny, 415-800-8741.

In our last issue, we mentioned Hawaiian brunch pop-up ~‘AINA~ was close to opening their brick-and-mortar spot in Dogpatch, and they are now open. The project is from Hawaii-born-and-raised chef Jordan Keao (who also worked at La Folie here in SF) and his wife Cheryl Lieu. In case you are wondering, ‘āina is a Hawaiian word meaning “that which feeds us.”

The modern Hawaiian menu includes malasadas (a filled Portuguese doughnut), loco moco made with braised short rib, Portuguese sausage hash, and their Spam musubi is served ssam style with housemade spam wrapped in a lettuce leaf with kimchi and egg yolk furikake. There’s also a smoked honshimeji and king oyster mushroom dish with slow-poached eggs. Look for many local ingredients, mixed with imports from Hawaii, like fresh hearts of palm from Puna Gardens and Kiawe wood for all of the smoked items on the menu.

Inventive low-ABV cocktails (from Jason Alonzo) featuring housemade syrups and shrubs, larger-format punches, and wine, beer, and sake will be available. ‘Aina will open with brunch service five days a week, Wed-Fri 10am-3pm and Sat-Sun 9am-3pm. 900 22nd St. at Minnesota, 415-814-3815.

When the craving for mac and cheese strikes, restaurateur Jocelyn Bulow (Chez Maman) has opened ~MAC DADDY~ in the former Chez Maman on Potrero Hill. Chef Brandon Peacock’s menu include 12 mac and cheese combos, from pesto mac to smokin mac and of course truffled mac, $12-$15. All items can be made gluten-free. Add-in options, plus soup, salads, vegetable sides, and a small number of entrées such as cassoulet, fried chicken, and fish and chips are available too. Open daily 11:30am-10pm. 1453 18th St. at Connecticut, 415-872-6670.

Fans of the pizza from Tony Gemignani’s slice shop, ~TONY’S SLICE HOUSE~, will find a location now at ~THE MARKET~ in the Twitter building, serving five to eight selections a day. Open 11am-9pm daily. (Via Scoop.) 1355 Market St. at 10th St.

And sports fans will want to note that John Caine of Hi Dive has opened ~ATWATER TAVERN~ today (May 3rd) in the former Jelly’s at Pier 50 near AT&T Park. There are two stories, great views, outdoor seating, and lots of shellfish and classic SF seafood dishes on the menu. [Via Scoop.] Open Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 4:30pm-10pm; bar from 4am until 12am and later on game days. 295 Terry A Francois Blvd. at Pier 50, 415-512-7153.

We don’t cover chains in tablehopper, but since ~LEMONADE~, the fast-casual, made-in-California, vegetable-centric restaurant from SoCal is coming to a lot of former La Boulange locations, we thought we’d quickly mention the first location is opening at The Metreon on Thursday May 5th. Open daily 10am-9:05pm (and not a minute more!). 781 Mission St. at 4th St., 415-522-0191.


The interior of Aster. Photo by Michael David Rose, courtesy UrbanDaddy.


The Hot Wes. Photo: Wes Rowe Photography.

Well this seems like the perfect place for brunch: ~ASTER~ in the Mission just turned one, and has decided to launch weekend brunch (the first day was this past Sunday). Chef-owner Brett Cooper’s delicious-sounding menu can be viewed here, and low-ABV cocktails will be available too. Hours are Sat-Sun 10:30am-2pm. If you procrastinated on Mother’s Day brunch reservations, here’s one idea… 1001 Guerrero St at 22nd St., 415-875-9810.

And then there’s lunch! ~WESBURGER N’ MORE~ has launched lunch, running daily 11:30am-3pm. You can get his badass burgers, sandwiches, fried chicken, and salads (the turkey club salad sounds righteous), but here’s the bonus round: free tots! Yup, the man loves his tots, so they will be free for all guests with each order during lunch service. 2240 Mission St. at 18th St.

Many of us remember late nights at ~SAM WO~, and that will be happening once again in their new location. Hours have expanded to Wed-Sat 11am-4pm and 6pm-12am, Sun until 5pm, Mon until 4pm, and Tue closed. Starting May 20th, the real late nights will begin, with hours until 3am Fri-Sat. Also: look for their restored neon sign to be lit up—they got permission to transfer it from the original location. [Via Hoodline.] 713 Clay St. at Kearny, 415-989-8898.


The bar area at Caputo. Photo courtesy of Caputo.


Seating and the smaller bar in the Viking Room.

A few programming notes for you: fans of the Neapolitan pizzas at ~CAPUTO~ will need to find another spot in the neighborhood. Scoop reports the restaurant from Marin’s Boca Pizzeria and Boca Tavern team has closed after six months in biz. And so, the bad juju of that space continues. 100 Brannan St. at Embarcadero.

Looks like there are some changes at ~CAFE DU NORD~: the Ne Timeas and Bon Vivants teams have decided to close the Viking Room, which operated like a 30-seat supper club in the space. They are going to use it for private events and other programming instead—stand by for announcements about future music and other public events. You can still order food elsewhere in Cafe du Nord. (Via Eater.)

Just in case you swing by ~COWGIRL CREAMERY~ in the Ferry Building Marketplace and see the cheese shop is closed, they are doing a renovation! The new design will have the cheesemongers in a central island stacked with whole wheels of cut-to-order artisan and farmstead cheeses. Yay, cheese island! The perimeter will be outfitted with ready-to-go cuts, small-format cheeses, and accompaniments. The shop is slated to reopen in June. During the closure, you’ll find a pop-up store in front of their current space with a select lineup of their favorite cheeses.

Sidekick Café & Milk Bar is also having a little refresh and will reopen on Friday May 6th.


Shoyu ramen with Jidori egg at the new Itani Ramen. Photo: Jessica Warner.


A pic from the new Delage. Yelp photo by Jenn B.

Well, East Bay, I have some good news and I have some bad news. Let’s start with the good stuff: opening today in Uptown Oakland is ~ITANI RAMEN~ from Kyle Itani of Hopscotch, working with executive chef Brian Ikenoyama. And how handy, it’s right by the Fox Theater.

To recap, the seasonal menu will highlight ramen from different regions (prefectures) of Japan while showcasing seasonal Bay Area ingredients and housemade noodles. Some menu items include shoyu (soy) spring ramen with ground chicken, yu choy, bamboo shoots, and green onion ($12); and nanban zuke ramen (cold) with pickled sardines, jicama, peppers, and green onion ($12). Starters like pork gyoza ($7 for 5) and mini rice bowls with uni, ikura, and jidori chicken egg ($15) will be on offer, plus an in-restaurant vending machine offers desserts like Kracie Soy Ice, Pocky, It’s-It Ice Cream, Baumkuchen roll cakes, and other Japanese treats. Local and Japanese beers, sake, shochu, and beer-and-a-shot combos, plus cold-brew coffee on tap, cans of green tea, Ramune soda, and Calpico yogurt drink will be available too. Open daily for dinner 6pm-12am. 1736 Telegraph Ave. at 18th St., Oakland, 510-788-7489.

The East Bay Express mentions that Chikara Ono of the popular AS B-Dama at Swan’s Market has soft-opened his next project, ~DELAGE~, also in Swan’s, in a former bubble tea shop adjacent to the food court area. This is a sushi-based project (AS B-Dama is more of an izakaya), and the sushi chef is Masa Sasaki, previously at Maruya in SF’s Mission. There will also be some modern appetizers from Keisuke Akabori, previously at Spago in Beverly Hills. It sounds like it will be omakase to start (an affordably priced one, this isn’t about crazy SF omakase pricing), and dishes will be added in time. There are 10 seats at the bar and 12 seats at four-tops. Hours sound a bit TBD as well, starting Wed-Fri 5:30pm-9pm. 536 9th St. at Clay, Oakland, 510-823-2050.

More good news: fans of Mica Talmor’s delicious Israeli and Mediterranean dishes at ~BA-BITE~ will be happy to have a new weekend brunch to hit. Shakshuka in the house! Open Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. [Via EBX.] 3905 Piedmont Ave. at Montell, Oakland, 510-250-9526.

We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t diminish the sadness: after 90 years (yes, 90) in business, ~GENOVA DELICATESSEN~ has closed. The DeVincenzi family is looking for another location where they won’t have to raise prices, and reportedly the landlord is looking for another local deli to take over the space. BIG, LONG, SLOW SIGH. [Via Mercury News.] 5095 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland.

Over the weekend, North Oakland’s ~SALSIPUEDES~ closed. Owner Jay Porter, who is also behind The Half Orange restaurant in Fruitvale, has not decided on the future of the space yet, so it’s currently available for one-off events and pop-ups. 4201 Market St. at 42nd St., North Oakland.

April 19, 2016

The eggs Benedict that makes everyone line up on the weekend at Mission Beach Cafe. Yelp photo by Hasaney S.

We have been waiting to hear from Bill Clarke of ~MISSION BEACH CAFE~ about his plans for the former Luna Park space, and a tablehopper reader just forwarded a letter sent to people in the neighborhood. It’s going to be called ~MISSION BEACH VALENCIA~, and they plan to offer a similar style of food to MBC, but with different menus.

One fun option: they will be serving brunch until very late at night, like 1am. So yes, it sounds like you’ll be able to get Mission Beach Cafe’s famed eggs Benedict on a housemade English muffin (with crab or bay shrimp or mushrooms) until laaaaate. There will also be a full bar, so expect some cocktails too—which will help drive the need for that late-night brunch. We’ll keep you posted as we hear more. 694 Valencia St. at 17th St.


The new Barbary Coast Gastropub. Photo via Facebook.


Loco moco at the new ‘Aina in Dogpatch. Yelp photo by Simon F.

It looks like ~BARBARY COAST GASTROPUB~ has finally opened in the former Bocce Cafe in North Beach, just in time for everyone to enjoy that big outdoor patio. It’s from the owners of the Grant & Green Saloon.

The dinner menu from chef James Liles includes a variety of wings (buffalo, Korean, and more), pizzas, a few salads like a kale Caesar, and sandwiches, from fried chicken to duck confit banh mi, and a grain bowl for you healthy types. They also just launched brunch, which is not your typical lineup. It includes Moroccan baked eggs, an egg hopper made with crêpe batter, horchata pain perdu, and biscuits with chorizo gravy. There’s a full bar, happy hour runs 5pm-7pm (draft beers from $4, house wines from $5, and craft cocktails from $8), and again, that patio! Also, for those who remember, this was the historic location of the Old Spaghetti Factory back in the day. Hours: Mon, Wed-Thu, Sun 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm; brunch Fri-Sun 10am-2:30pm; closed Tue. 478 Green St. at Grant, 415-788-0115.

It looks like ~AINA~ is holding some soft opening meals in their new location in Dogpatch. Over the weekend, their modern Hawaiian brunch included dishes like kalua pork belly with kimchi, poached eggs, arugula purée, and asparagus; taro French toast; kalbi loco moco with fried eggs and a mushroom sauce; smoked king salmon with tea egg and quinoa; Spam musubi; chicken katsu; and Saint Frank coffee. We’ll update you with details and grand opening info soon. 900 22nd St. at Minnesota, 415-814-3815.

We mentioned ~MORTY’S DELICATESSEN~ was getting new owners, and it’s now open. Sounds like they updated the dining room, but the favorites on the menu remain. Hours are Mon-Fri 10am-4pm. Check out the menu and more here.


The iconic exterior of Grubstake. Yelp photo by トモ T.


The many slices you can get at The Pizza Shop, and now for lunch too! Photo via Facebook.

I received a press release stating the new owners of the beloved old-school ~GRUBSTAKE~ diner, Nick Pigott and Jimmy Consos, have revised their redevelopment proposal, and it sounds like the Grubstake may survive in some form after all. The proposed 15-unit building will have its entrance on Austin Alley, instead of Pine Street.

It also sounds like they will be operating the diner as is until groundbreaking (looking like late spring or early summer of 2017) and are looking into a pop-up or temporary location for the diner during construction. They will be upgrading the restaurant to “2016 standards for seismic integrity, accessibility, and water and electrical infrastructure.” But then this is where it sounds like things will be changed: “The reimagined restaurant mirrors Grubstake’s classic railcar theme, maintains the menu and vibe, and ensures Grubstake remains a neighborhood institution.”
We’ll have to find out what reimagined really means. In the meantime, get your caldo verde in the original funky interior while you can. 1525 Pine St. at Polk.

Fellow fans of the New York-style slices at ~THE PIZZA SHOP~ in the Mission can now come by during the day for a slice or two. Thanks to a tablehopper tip, we learned they are now offering lunch, and open daily 11am-10pm. You’re welcome. 3104 24th St. at Folsom, 415-824-1840.


A look inside the upcoming Foodhall. Photo via Instagram.


A look inside the spacious Duc Loi’s Pantry location (from a few months ago). Photo via Facebook.

A couple of new projects for your consideration. First, opening mid-May at the prime corner of Valencia and 16th Street will be ~FOODHALL~, a 2,500-square-foot indoor market founded by two “passionate foodies” and ex-investment bankers from London, Bilal Mannaa and Yasmin Murtadha.

Scoop’s piece mentions they are taking their inspiration from “the great food halls of Europe” and will stock charcuterie, cheese (selected by British cheese expert Julie Harbutt), coffee, pastries, pantry staples, craft beers, wines selected by Master Sommelier Eric Entrikin, and spirits. Products from local food purveyors will be available, and there will also be prepared foods, recipes, and ingredients to cook at home, classes, and more. So, yeah, it’s going to be a far cry from the Val 16 Latino market that held down that corner for years and was forced out a couple of years ago—I miss seeing the piñatas and overflowing fruit stands on that corner. But one good thing: Eater’s piece mentions, “Any prepared food not sold each day will be donated.” 3100 16th St. at Valencia.

Meanwhile, I’m really happy to hear Bayview is going to be getting a market to replace the Fresh & Easy that closed on Third Street. And not just any market, but SF’s very own ~DUC LOI MARKET~ (family-owned since 1987!). ~DUC LOI’S PANTRY~ will open in May, and will be a full-service (and affordable) grocery store, with meat, fish, produce, and more, plus household items, beer, wine, and spirits, and a deli serving their banh mi sandwiches. Read Hoodline’s piece about founder Howard Ngo, a refugee who left Vietnam in 1979, for maximum inspiration. Hours will be 8am-8pm. 5900 3rd St. at Carroll Ave.


A few items for the food lover’s calendar (that would be yours):

Katie Parla is in town from Rome on Thursday April 28th to talk about and sign her beautiful new book, Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors & Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City, at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ at 6:30pm.

Local writer Sarah Henry has a new book, Farmsteads of the California Coast. The book features a behind-the-scenes look at a dozen of our favorite Golden State farms that hug the coast (Hog Island, Pie Ranch, Swanton, and more), with recipes too. There will be an Edible Excursions-sponsored book signing and family-style dinner on Wednesday May 11th from 6:30-9:30pm at the Cook and Her Farmer, prepared by chef Romney Steele. 6:30pm-9pm. $115 all-inclusive: dinner, drinks, tip, and tax, and a copy of Farmsteads. Swan’s Marketplace, 510 9th St., Oakland.

JCCSF Arts & Ideas and the San Francisco Film Society are co-presenting a cool program called Food on Film, featuring notable chefs and a film matched to the theme of each event. The May 4th Chef’s Table event with Dominique Crenn is sold out, but don’t miss tickets for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover with Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski on Wednesday June 1st at the JCCSF. Tickets: $27, Premium: $37, and JCCSF and SFFS members get 10 percent off.


Smoky time at Hina Yakitori. Photo via Facebook.


Bowls at Sweetgreen. Photo courtesy of Sweetgreen.

There is a new izakaya in Oakland that pays homage to grilled chicken (yakitori) called ~HINA YAKITORI~. Owner Jonathan Moon has brought on Tommy Clearly, previously at Tori + Salon in Tokyo, and Ippuku and B-Dama in the 510. There is a limited number of whole chickens they break down each night and cook over binchotan. You can look at an early sample menu here. The soft opening is still under way, so when they run out, they run out. Open Wed-Sat 5:45pm-9:30pm (for now). Via Scoop. 4828 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-593-2004.  

Opening today (April 19th) in the former Oscar’s in Berkeley is ~SWEETGREEN~, a fast-casual place focused on serving seasonal, fresh, and healthy food. They strive to take an active part in contributing to and investing in the communities they serve. In Berkeley, they aim to revitalize school gardens in the neighborhood and have an ongoing partnership with Edible Schoolyard. Sample dishes include their vegan umami grain bowl with portobello mushrooms and roasted organic sesame tofu from Hodo Soy, a falafel and feta dish using local feta, a salad with roasted chicken from Mary’s, and more—and everything is reasonably priced. Open daily 10:30am-10pm. 1890 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.

April 12, 2016

The modern lines of Mister Jiu’s dining room. All photos: Kassie Borreson.


Chef and owner Brandon Jew.


A look at the art installation.


The custom teak tables with built-in lazy Susans.


Sizzling rice soup with chicken consommé, water chestnuts, spring veggies, rock shrimp, and schmaltz.


Tea-smoked Liberty Farm duck with pancake.

Ladies and gents, it makes me happy to report that ~MISTER JIU’S~ is now open in Chinatown. I’d like to give a slow clap to Brandon Jew and his entire team for getting this beast of a project open—it was a huge undertaking and will continue to be so as the project ramps up, but you gotta start somewhere. And when you’re opening in a historic space in the city’s most densely textured neighborhood, the scale of the project would make most well-seasoned restaurateurs question their sanity.

Jew says it has been an amazing experience to get this project up and running—it’s an enormous team, from the landlord (Betty Louie of China Bazaar) to his architect to kitchen team to construction to graphic designers to the Chinese community. He has reached out to many people along the way, and his family has been an immeasurable help.

Brandon Jew is a San Francisco-born Chinese American (his family’s last name was originally Jiu, but of course immigration messed up the spelling). He remembers shopping in Chinatown with his grandmother, an all-day project, as they would go from place to place, only buying the best on her very specific grocery list. She taught him a lot about how to cook and source, something that has stayed with him on his culinary journey (which includes a year cooking in Shanghai, plus learning about Italian cuisine at Quince and California cuisine and whole animal butchery as he cooked in places like Zuni Cafe and Bar Agricole).

Jew’s cuisine at Mister Jiu’s will reflect his multifaceted culinary journey and experience—this is not about creating a facsimile of a Chinese restaurant, it’s not how he was trained. He will be integrating his Cantonese family roots, Chinese American experience, and California training. We’ll be tasting his interpretation and memories of many classic Cantonese dishes, plus dishes from other regions, too, but with his own perspective and ingredient sourcing.

For example, his XO sauce is made with La Quercia prosciutto, and Oregon bay shrimp and Mexican bay scallops they dehydrated. Jew has learned the importance of knowing where your ingredients come from and isn’t inspired to buy dried scallops from a jar in a shop where he doesn’t know a thing about them or even how long they have been sitting around. It’s about the integrity of everything used in the kitchen, so the kitchen’s four dehydrators have been running full time.

Like the Lee brothers with Namu Gaji, Pim of Kin Khao, and Charles Phan of Slanted Door, these chefs have created a new style of their native and beloved cuisines that is told through the lens of San Francisco ingredients. And then there’s Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, with his completely own freestyle take and expression of dishes, from Chinese American classics to Shanghaiese.

Of course Jew is going to be under a lot of scrutiny from the Chinese American community: it’s a big deal for him to be opening a new restaurant on such a big scale in the historic Four Seas location. It’s a legacy building, one that is so important to the community—so many families and friends would dine there, making a night out of it with dinner and entertainment. As Jew says, “This place deserves people in it and celebrating again.”

The menu is a choose-your-own banquet menu that starts at $69 for five courses. You can select dishes like crispy daikon cake with oil-cured black olives and shiitake mushrooms; hot and sour soup with fish cake, nasturtium, lily buds, and green tomato; cheong fun (rice noodle roll) with Mendocino sea urchin and sprouts (can’t wait to try it); Four Seas fried chicken with sorrel, hot mustard, and red chile; plus supplemental dishes like Heart Arrow Ranch barbecue pork (char siu pork belly, black garlic spareribs, mantou buns, cucumber and daikon pickles) and tea-smoked Liberty Farm duck (pancakes, peanut hoisin, chopped liver, 12-day aged duck breast, confit legs, and gizzards).

As you can see, it’s not about being “Chinese-Chinese, but Chinese for San Francisco,” as Jew puts it. He didn’t want a Chinese experience you could have anywhere; he wanted it to be specific to San Francisco, using quality and local ingredients in a Chinese format. He also wants to keep things simple enough so that the ingredients can really shine.

They are making so many things in-house, including all the noodles, buns, pancakes, and sauces, and are building the pantry as they go along, which will include making their own lap cheong sausage (they are butchering whole pigs). He is also going to be working with farmers to grow vegetables for the restaurant and plans to grow plants on the roof.

He has quite the team with him, including sous chef Sara Hauman (previously Huxley; she worked with Jew at Bar Agricole) and desserts by pastry chef Melissa Chou (formerly of Mourad and Aziza). In the ultimate plug-and-play move, the beverage director and bar manager is Danny Louie, previously at Chino, who also has some great SF/Chinese-American roots—his father was a bartender at Cecilia Chiang’s The Mandarin. The two of them will be working closely on creating culinary ingredients for the bar to use (check out the cocktail menu here).

Congrats to John Herbstritt, who has made the move from the wine aisle at Bi-Rite Market to the role of wine director at the restaurant (scroll down here to see the wine and beer list). (Although I will miss his smiling face and great recos at Bi-Rite.) And ultimate opener Liz Subauste (previously Al’s Place) is the GM.

The 10,000-square-foot space space was redesigned by Boor Bridges Architecture (Lord Stanley, Trou Normand, Sightglass Coffee) and has a clean, midcentury look, a reference to the period when Chinatown was in its heyday. You can only imagine the work it took to restore the multilevel space, which was previously Hang Far Low and dates back to the late 1800s.

For now, there are 85 seats, with 15 at the bar (although the seats aren’t coming for a couple of weeks, so it’s a standing bar at the moment)—a bar menu will also be coming soon. There are three custom­-made teak tables (by Brandon’s uncle) with built­-in lazy Susans, and you can’t miss the massive brass chandeliers, which are from the original space and were refurbished locally. There’s also a 20-foot-long black-and-white piece by artist Afton Love that runs along an entire wall. Also: the original entrance on Grant has been moved to the alley side, on Waverly Place.

As for future plans, the upper floor will possibly be converted into a bar and lounge and private event space during the week, with dim sum on the weekends—plus Jew scored the bar and lounge furnishings from the Empress of China, amazing. And there’s talk of having a window on Waverly, where you can get late-night sweet and sour pork and other drink-friendly food to eat upstairs or to go.

Hours for now: Tue-Thu 5:30pm-10:30pm, bar opens at 5pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm, bar opens at 5pm. Closed Sun-Mon. A portion of the dining room and the entire bar are reserved for walk-­ins every night.

Note that the entrance is at 28 Waverly Place (not 731 Grant as indicated for the moment on Google), between Stockton and Grant, Clay and Sacramento.


Bar San Pancho’s pierna enchilada torta. Photo courtesy of Bar San Pancho.


A look at the new graphic mural at Bar San Pancho. Photo courtesy of BSP.


Buffalo mac and cheese at the new Lodge on Haight. Photo via Facebook.

I broke the news about a month ago that the former ~CHINO~ was transforming into ~BAR SAN PANCHO~, and the Cal-Mex cantina is now open.

To recap, the Tacolicious team is offering a booze-friendly menu that includes tortas, the totally irresistible-sounding quesoburguesa (a chile con queso-stuffed burger, with ancho fries), jalapeño popper tacos (yassss), MF hot wings (and MF hotter wings!), chopped salad, clam chowder Mexi-style, Frito pie, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and more. Take a look here.

The bar will have simple but well-crafted cocktails designed by beverage director Jeremy Harris, plus a few micheladas, 12 beers on tap, and the option to have a build-your-own cocktail using spirits (mezcal, tequila, or rum) that gets mixed with housemade seasonal syrups of your choice (strawberry-rhubarb with black pepper, Meyer lemon-basil, or blood orange-ginger). You may recognize Manny Ramirez as the bar manager, who came over from Tacolicious.

It’s a sports bar, but without all that cliché sports bar atmosphere. There will be TVs with the game on, but kids are also welcome too (there’s a kid’s menu). The space has a new mural by Nigel Sussman, plus a new bar and tables. Upstairs on the mezzanine, foosball tables are coming, and don’t forget the bar up there too—which is great for private events.

Hours for this first week are 4pm to midnight, and starting Saturday April 16th they will be open until 12pm to 2am (unless otherwise noted due to game days). 3198 16th St. at Guererro.

Newly open in the Lower Haight is ~THE LODGE ON HAIGHT~, in the former Rickybobby. As we mentioned earlier, this casual American eatery is from former Greenburger’s chef-owner Matthew Nudelman and Timothy Felkner (Oro). The menu includes approachable dishes like a triple-decker club, Szechuan lamb burger, vegan sloppy joe, and of course a burger, which comes with bacon and cheddar cheese for $12, plus there’s a housemade veggie burger too. A fun item is the all-day breakfast fix: two eggs, house-cured Canadian bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato, served on an English muffin. Oh, and buffalo mac and cheese, with a spicy blue cheese béchamel sauce.

After 5pm, you can get fish and chips, fried chicken (the most expensive item, at $17), and baked stuffed shells. There’s also beer and wine. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am, closed Mon. Brunch is served Sun 11:30-3pm. 400 Haight St. at Webster, 415-872-9502.


Wake up and smell the caffè at Fiorella. Photo courtesy of Fiorella.


Let’s talk about the brunch toast situation at Fiorella. Photo courtesy of Fiorella.

The folks at ~FIORELLA~ have been happily cooking up pizzas and more for the Richmond, and now it’s time to fry up some eggs! Starting Saturday April 16th, Fiorella will be offering brunch Sat-Sun 10am-2pm. The menu includes Italian-inspired eggs (like with polenta), pizza, pasta, specialty cocktails (like a white peach Bellini), and you can also get Ritual coffee, to stay and to go. Check out the full sample menu here. 2339 Clement St. at 25th Ave., 415-340-3049.

~MARLA BAKERY~ is bringing back dinner service, starting Friday April 15th. Dinner will run Wednesday through Saturday, and the monthly Sunday Supper Series will continue as well. Wednesday and Thursday nights will be casual, while Friday and Saturday will feature a slightly more sophisticated menu, 5:30pm-9pm. 

There are also a few changes and additions: extended weekday breakfast hours now run Tue-Fri 8:30am-2:30pm, and lighter fare is available in the afternoons (2:30pm-5pm), with bagel chips and dip, soup, a baker’s board, salads, and more.

It’s ball game season, which also means ~MERIGAN SUB SHOP~ is running longer hours. You can come by for breakfast in the mornings and more, Mon-Fri 8:30am-7pm and Sat 10am-4pm. They are also open limited hours on Sundays for home Giants games only. I am already pining for my Terrina sandwich, which I plan on getting before the day game I’m attending next week, whooooo!


The new outdoor tables at Al’s Place. Photo via Facebook.

Good news for folks trying to get a coveted seat at Aaron London’s delicious ~AL’S PLACE~ in the Mission. Starting Wednesday April 13th, they are opening an outdoor dining area on the sidewalk. What this means is that when dinner service starts at 5:30pm, there will now be 24 seats available for walk-ins (when you include the chef’s counter inside). And gas heaters. Yay. Plus palm trees, raised planters and succulent beds, and string lights. The full menu and beverages are available outside. (Via Scoop.) 1499 Valencia St. at 26th St., 415-416-6136. 

According to ABC license transfer activity, it looks like there’s a taker for the former ~LOCAL MISSION EATERY~ space: Rupam Bhagat, who is behind the popular Indian food truck, Dum, known for its dum chicken biryani, plus kati rolls, dahi puri, and ragda patties. Scoop confirmed the news, and Bhagat plans to open a brick-and-mortar location in the space in mid-May, offering an expanded menu of the truck’s offerings. Hours will be Tue-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-9pm. 3111 24th St. at Folsom.


Put a knife in it: the chicken amaranth waffle at Reverb. Photo by Carmen Troesser.

Over the weekend, the Gather team’s comfort food replacement for ~VERBENA~, ~REVERB KITCHEN & BAR~, closed. 2323 Polk St. at Green.

Meanwhile, the SF location of Sachin Chopra and Shoshana Wolff’s ~ALL SPICE~, which replaced their restaurant Game in the former Masa’s space, has closed. 648 Bush St. at Stockton.

Good news: it ends up Chinatown’s no-frills dim sum spot ~DOL HO~ has reopened after being closed by the Health Department after all—and got a new awning in the process—according to Chowhound. 808 Pacific Ave. at Stockton, 415-392-2828.


Photo courtesy of A16.

Here’s a quick roundup of all kinds of fun food events and tastings around the bay—click the links for more info if something catches your eye.

City College of San Francisco’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Studies Department is hosting their annual Wok on the Wild Side fundraiser on Sunday April 17th. Past alums, including Rocky Maselli and Hannah Bouye of A16, Sarah Lau and Mike Zopf of Nopa, and others will be serving bites with current students, along with wine and a silent auction in the mix (there are some great lots, including SF Giants tickets, a two-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, magnums and cases of wine from Kistler and Vieux Télégraphe, and more). Proceeds benefit scholarships and student programs. 4pm-7pm. Tickets: $75. City College of San Francisco-Statler Wing, Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Ave.

On Monday April 18th, Lucky Peach is hosting a fun book launch party at ~ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE~ in honor of The Wurst of Lucky Peach: A Treasury of Encased Meats. Guests will enjoy a screening of “Best in Show,” with dressed-up hot dogs by Anthony Myint (The Perennial, Mission Chinese Food) and Tiger beer. Tickets include admission to the movie, food, drinks, a copy of The Wurst of Lucky Peach, and a one-year subscription to Lucky Peach. $45. 6pm-9pm.

~A16~ and ~A16 ROCKRIDGE~ are hosting Artichoke Week from April 18th-24th. There will not only be a slew of beautiful dishes like shaved raw artichoke salad, fritto misto, artichoke pizza, and stuffed artichokes, but there will also be Cynar-spiked drinks and a tiramisu with Cynar as the base and in the mascarpone, whut?

Fans of Devil’s Gulch Ranch won’t want to miss this dinner on Monday April 18th at ~JARDINIÈRE~, who are featuring Northern California farms as part of their Monday Night Supper Club series. Three courses (porchetta di testa with fava beans, roasted capicola, and clafoutis) with wine pairings, just $55. Star Route Farms is next week.

Curious about the upcoming ~HITACHINO BEER & WAGYU~? (You can read about this project on tablehopper here.) The restaurant will be opening soon, but in the meantime, chef Noriyuki Sugie is hosting a pop-up sneak peek at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, with bites and flights of Hitachino. Thursday April 21st, 4:30pm-7:30pm.

For a taste of New York in SF, Feastly is going to be hosting 22-year-old Theo Friedman of Theory Kitchen for a pop-up April 23rd and 24th, offering a 10-course menu at two seatings each night (6pm and 9pm). Theory Kitchen has been noted for hosting a range of events, each event different, from the location to the menu, with a varying crew of artists, creators, cooks, and guests. More here. Tickets are almost gone!

April 5, 2016

Looking into the dining room. Photo: Wes Rowe Photography.


Shot of the counter at The Den. Photo via CAW’s Instagram.

Well folks, it’s time to release the burgers. We gave you the full write-up and sneak peek of ~WESBURGER ‘N’ MORE~ opening in the Mission, and now you get to get your Wes Burger on and queso tots and Nashville hot fried chicken on and and and…It has been doing some soft opening hours, but the grand opening will be Wednesday April 6th. Hours will be 5pm to 10pm nightly for now. 2240 Mission St. at 18th St., 415-745-WES1.

We broke the news back in December that the Craftsman and Wolves team was going to be opening a grab-and-go café in Bayview next to their commercial kitchen. ~THE DEN~ is now softly open. You can get their kouign amann, Rebel Within, Thai scone, famous brownie, and other baked treats, plus sandwiches, and coffee and espresso (from Highwire), and Scoop mentions there will also be vegetarian pizza by the slice, which you can pay forward for people in need to enjoy (i.e., prepay a slice for someone else). Initial hours are Mon-Fri 6:30am-2pm. 1598 Yosemite Ave. at Keith, 415-423-3337.


The interior at Red Dog. Photo via Facebook.

Looks like there is something going on at SoMa’s ~RED DOG~, which opened just shy of two years ago. Lauren Kiino has temporarily closed the restaurant as of March 29th, but she tells me it’s not officially closed and they are looking at options for moving forward. Stand by for the fate of the famed egg salad, happy hour, Scotch egg, and brunch—I should have an update for you next week or so. (Tip via Chowhound.) 303 2nd St. at Folsom.

Sadly Kiino decided not to renew the lease for ~IL CANE ROSSO~ in the Ferry Building Marketplace (it was going to be too expensive to maintain their commitment to using local and sustainable ingredients), so the restaurant has closed as of Sunday April 3rd.

BUT, some good news: Kiino’s ~FEARLESS~ remains open, serving coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, and more. 303 2nd St. at Harrison, 415-692-0181.

Was sorry to read ~MORTY’S DELICATESSEN~ in the Tenderloin has closed after 10 years—according to Hoodline, there’s a new (and experienced) owner who will be reopening the business after some upgrades. The Reuben and many other favorites on the menu will remain, and look for new additions (like espresso drinks) as well.

Another closure tip via Chowhound: looks like Chinatown’s pocket-sized dim sum restaurant, ~DOL HO~, has been closed by the Health Department since March 8th. No word if the restaurant is going to pull a dramatic makeover à la Tu Lan and reopen or not. 808 Pacific Ave. at Stockton, 415-392-2828.

And after less than two months, Dominique Crenn is no longer involved/advising in the short-lived ~ANTOINETTE~ in the Claremont Hotel and Spa. As of tomorrow, April 6th, the restaurant will close for a reconcepting. 41 Tunnel Rd. at Claremont, Berkeley, 510-843-3000.

March 29, 2016

The exterior of Arsenal, with the Noodle Bar to the left. Rendering courtesy of Erik Sun.


Erik Sun and a broomtail grouper. Photo courtesy of Erik Sun.


Santa Barbara sea urchin. Photo courtesy of Erik Sun.


A potential dish for The Hunted: handmade pasta with uni served in an uni shell. Photo courtesy of Erik Sun.


Erik Sun (left) at Dario Cecchini’s restaurant in Panzano. Photo courtesy of Erik Sun.

Back in November, we mentioned Los Angeles-based Erik Sun has two upcoming projects in San Francisco, ~ARSENAL~ and ~THE HUNTED~, and now I have an update to share with you about these exciting projects coming to SoMa.

Sun’s background is in Southern California: he’s a self-taught chef who is known for the 10-course house meals he’d make from his hunting/fishing excursions. He has staged for Gino Angelini (Osteria Angelini) and is a partner, collaborator, and close friend of the folks at Bestia in Los Angeles.

First up will be Arsenal, targeting a July/early summer opening in SoMa at 715 Brannan Street, in a 2,000-square-foot space that is kitty-corner to the Flower Mart. There will be a focus on Asian flavors, and the dining room will have smokeless individual barbecue grills. The room will have around 45-55 seats, with a couple of eight-tops, a chef’s table, and some four-tops too.

There will be an omakase tasting menu that will be higher end in style, but is meant to be approachable and not just for special occasions—the vibe is going to be fun. And it won’t just be meat-focused—there will potentially be dishes like dan dan noodles with ground Iberico to follow those Iberico pork ribs you had earlier. There will be the option to order omakase or à la carte too. Beer, wine, and sake will be served.

They will be using whole animals and are sourcing a Kobe-certified beef, as well as very rare beef from a small operation (funded by a billionaire who wanted to produce high-quality beef)—they will be one of the few places in the U.S. to have it. They will have a special refrigerator to dry-age the meats; they are also having a custom wok station fabricated too.

There will be a 10-seat Arsenal noodle bar that will feature a rich three-day broth (but not tonkotsu)—look for something that is more on the beefy side, with braised flavors from root vegetables and beef, plus a bit of spice/heat—with noodles made in-house. He hopes to have the noodle bar open for lunch and late nights too.

Meanwhile, The Hunted is targeting a late summer or fall opening in an old warehouse at 445 Harriet, just 50 yards away. It’s a spacious one: there’s a wine cellar and basement, plus a 6,000-foot mezzanine. There will be large tables, with a private table in the wine cellar and an open kitchen. The design will be rustic, with a Japanese aesthetic of clean lines and lots of wood. Sun is working with architect Alan Tse, and the furniture is being custom made.

Sun, who is a spearfisher (for the past 20 years), as well as a hunter, wants to feature as much live seafood as possible, like lobster and sea urchin—his family is from Hong Kong, and live seafood is something he holds dear; he also loves fishing in Southern California. He dives for abalone and had a spearfishing company in South Africa, with free-diving equipment, too, so he’s really into all kinds of fishing.

Anyone who follows Sun on Instagram (@pursuitoffood) or his blog knows he doesn’t believe in just posting pictures of his catch: he shares the full story, featuring the food he makes from his wild pig or elk or deer hunts—he says the multicourse meals he would make with his catch really taught him how to cook. Since he likes to eat everything from his hunts, he says the animal has to taste good or he won’t hunt it. He adds: “My philosophy is that everything is good on the animal as long as you take the time to respect it.”

At The Hunted, he also wants to feature whole animals, plus wild game, with a duck oven, rotisserie, and large-format and aged meats. It will be very ingredient-driven, with great sourcing. He loves to cook meats over wood and charcoal, and says the experience at Dario Cecchini’s restaurant in Panzano in Italy (across the street from his famous butcher shop) was a big inspiration, one of his favorite meals ever.

There will be grain-finished bison (in the form of a tomahawk rib-eye), and seasonal seafood too, like handmade bucatini with uni, served in an uni shell (for an extra boost of smell of the ocean), or pasta with cured pork cheek and live scallop. A highly trained/advanced sommelier from New York will be overseeing the list, look for a focus on old-world wines; they also plan to have full liquor. The restaurant will be open for dinner and eventually lunch too.

Looking forward to seeing these two places take shape in the coming months; stand by for more updates. Arsenal: 715 Brannan St. at Harriet. The Hunted: 445 Harriet St. at Brannan.


The manual lever espresso machine at The Temporarium. Yelp photo by Scout T.

It’s time for your afternoon jolt! Fans of espresso won’t want to miss a visit to ~THE TEMPORARIUM~, a new little sliver of a spot that opened in the former Sweet Mue space on 22nd Street. Owner Avery Burke is making espresso on a rare, handmade Kees van der Westen manual machine from Netherlands (you may have seen one like this at Andytown). The extra time with the pull makes for a more oily, fatty, buttery shot. He’s using espresso from Contraband, and you’ll find three kinds of coffee for pour-over too (tea is coming soon). He was previously with Contraband, as well as Barefoot Coffee Roasters back in the early days.

Another special thing Burke is doing is a creative and signature espresso drink each month. Right now, you can try his brûléed sage drink—he torches some sage leaves in a dish with cream, then adds it to milk with honey and anise extract. The cappuccino-sized drink features a rim with a compote of pomegranate molasses, chipotle, and curry. Dude!

There’s a small window bench all tricked out in seafoam green where you can sit, plus there’s another bench outside.There’s also a gluten-free mochi muffin from Sam’s Patisserie in Berkeley, which has a muffin-like exterior but a soft inside, with coconut and sesame seeds. Sounds groovy. Hours are shifting to Mon-Fri 7am-1pm and Sat-Sun 8am-6pm. 3414 22nd St. at Guerrero, 415-547-0616.

If you work anywhere near the War Memorial Opera House, there’s a new café that opened called ~C+M~ (Coffee and Milk), which is serving Intelligentsia espresso and coffee, plus pastries, sandwiches, salads, and more (menu here). Open Mon-Fri 7am-3pm. 401 Van Ness Ave. at McAllister, 415-578-3755.

There’s a new coffee subscription app that launched today in SF, CUPS, which allows users to get discounts at local and indie cafés. Here’s the best part: SF coffee drinkers who download the app at launch will get three days of unlimited free coffee at their 30-plus starting locations, including Sextant, Hearth, Artis, Contraband, and Flywheel. You’ll also be able to enjoy a big discount on their prepaid 15-cup plan, check it out (here’s my referral code for you: akcx3).

Your picnic options just expanded with the release of Blue Bottle Coffee’s new ready-to-drink cold brew that comes in an 8-oz. can. Starting in April, you’ll be able to purchase cans at select Whole Foods and all Blue Bottle cafés for $4 each.


Presidio Picnic fun. Photo via Facebook.


Chef Tu David Phu at Naked Kitchen. Photo: Kat Ma.

There are more pop-ups and food events than your waistband can probably handle, but here’s a quick roundup for you.

Starting April 3rd, the fourth season of Off the Grid’s Presidio Picnic returns to Sunday afternoons! You can enjoy food and drink from 34 local vendors (like Bacon Bacon, Wing Wings, and Shorty Goldstein’s), gorgeous views, fresh air, and a fun party scene that is also family-friendly. 11am-4pm, through October 9th.

Check out this seven-course dinner with food inspired by the Persian spring equinox celebration, Nowruz, on Saturday April 2nd. Tickets for Drunk Supper are $75. Check out a preview of the bountiful menu here.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say hello to Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm? It sure would. There will be a family-style farm dinner on the patio at ~BAR AGRICOLE~ on Tuesday April 5th, 6:30pm. Tickets are $99.

Saturday April 9th, chef Tu David Phu (most recently executive chef at Gather Restaurant) is hosting a five-course Vietnamese dinner at ~NAKED KITCHEN~, featuring a whole pig and dishes that are known as nhau (beer food). Fun fact: he ages fish sauce direct from a family business in Vietnam and uses it in his cooking. Tickets are $85 for the dining room and $100 for the chef’s counter.

On Thursday April 21st, SF arts nonprofit Root Division is hosting their annual food and drink gala, Taste, at their new Mission Street facility. There will be over guest chefs, bartenders, artwork, and live music. VIPs can check out chef demos and get a limited edition artist-designed tote bag and access to the Diamond Lounge. Every dollar they earn at this fundraiser will benefit Root Division’s mission of keeping artists and arts education alive in San Francisco—they offer youth arts classes and more! Tickets start at $100, with $200 for VIPs, which also gains you early admission at 6:30pm. Main event 7:30pm-10pm. 1131 Mission St. at 7th St.

And the pork feast to end all pork feasts, Cochon 555, returns to SF on Sunday May 1st. The standing tasting reception will feature 5 competing chefs, offering 36 dishes from 5 heritage breed pigs. There will also be a couple of guest chef dinners that will benefit a charitable cause, Piggy Bank, to bring awareness to socially responsible farming. The Late-Nite Asian Speakeasy will happen the Friday before the event, and on Saturday evening, there will be a three-hour Chef’s Course Dinner. Cochon 555 tickets range from $125 to $200. Get your tickets, because this one sells out! Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison St. at 1st St.                                


The busy lunchtime scene at Tacos Cala. Photo via @calasf on Instagram.

Have you had a chance to check out the delicious tacos guisados during the week in the space behind ~CALA~ on Hickory Street? Well then, you should be well acquainted with the space, which is now going to be open on Friday and Saturday evenings as Tapas Cala. You can come by for appetizers (oysters on the half shell, the famed trout tostadas, ceviche tostadas, and smoked trout croquetas) and drinks (the margarita, Paloma, Sangria Abeja, and Tonica Classica, as well as a selection of bottled beers and wines by the glass are available). It will be handy if you’re waiting for a table and the bar is full, or maybe you want a quick bite before popping into the Symphony. Open Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 

One more note: Saturday brunch has been added, so Cala now serves weekend brunch 11am-3pm.