The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
December 1, 2020
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Red Window’s Manzana verde 50/50. Instagram photo via @redwindowsf.

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You’ll find canned low-ABV cocktails and wine through Little Red Window. Instagram photo via @redwindowsf.

A quick coming soon project for you to be aware of: taking over the former Caffe Delucchi in North Beach is well-known bartender and consultant Elmer Mejicanos (Tony’s, Capo’s) and chef Adam Rosenblum (Causwells), who are opening a dual project together: ~RED WINDOW~, and ~LITTLE RED WINDOW~ (on the Stockton Street side). They took over the location in February, with the hopes of opening in May, but the pandemic obviously had a different plan.

The concept is all about modern, Spanish-influenced aperitivo cocktails and tapas/bites, highlighting NorCal ingredients. When they’re able to officially open, there will be 80-plus seats including their alfresco patio, but they’re going to launch through the to-go window to start—the Little Red Window will eventually be focused on empanadas (offering Spanish, Argentine, and Mexican empanadas) and drinks to go.

Once they make it through their next inspection, hopefully in a couple weeks, they will be offering a variety of to-go options from Red Window (small bites like patatas bravas, a chopped salad, and olives, all easy to take to the park or home) through the Little Red Window—they want to extend neighborhood-friendly pricing, while offering support to their restaurant industry colleagues with their side hustles, so expect to find some items like a Basque cheesecake and a special salsa to go with the Mexican empanada.

A fun component will be the canned low-ABV cocktails they’re making to go, and they’re also going to be canning wines from their tap selections. You can actually pick up some cocktails at Nana’s Pop-Up Market at Little Red Window on Sundays, featuring some of these restaurant industry colleagues and their wares, starting this Sunday December 6th, 12pm-3pm. I’ll follow up with more details about the main opening soon, but here’s your aperitivo teaser for now! 500 Columbus Ave. at Stockton.

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The Big Fresser package from Mark ‘n’ Mike’s. Photo: Hardy Wilson.

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It’s a Winter Wonderland at The Vault Garden. Photo: Timofei Osipenko.

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Autumn panettone from Emporio Rulli.

Want to get into the holiday spirit? Some twinkly lights and latke tots and panettone can help. Here are a few special meals and treats, stand by for more in a couple weeks (and follow me @tablehopper on Instagram for more updates.

Great news: One Market’s New York-style deli pop-up, Mark ‘n Mike’s, has been held over by popular demand though the end of the year, and will also be open the first three Saturdays in December (Dec. 5th, 12th, and 19th) from 11:30am-7pm. Latkes are coming for Hanukkah, there are all the meats and sides you could want, and there’s a new smoked trout on a Boichik sesame bagel with herb cream cheese, avocado, pickle, and arugula.

Of course, Wise Sons has you covered, with roasted brisket, latkes, sufganiyot, matzo ball soup, and the option of a complete Hanukkah dinner. You can preorder and read all the Bay Area pickup details here.

Canela has a couple of Hanukkah-at-home meal options, with latkes by the dozen and mandel bread, and if you’re in the East Bay, Pomella has a meal for four, which includes matzo ball soup, brisket tagine with dry fruits and preserved lemons, housemade frozen latkes, and more; vegetarian options available, too.

I was just about to hit send on this newsletter and noticed La Cocina is offering an awesome spin on their weekly community food box, offering a variety of Hanukkah boxes for 12/9 and 12/11!

Che Fico has a Chanukah to-go menu available for pick-up at Che Fico Alimentari on December 10th-11th (order by December 8th). It serves 4 guests and is $200: potato latkes with heirloom applesauce and housemade sour cream; winter market insalata; roasted chicken with cabbage, apples, potatoes; sesame challah; and Chanukah gelt. You can also order a gianduja babka for $35.

How about latkes from around the world, with three different dips from Shuk Shuka (On Everything Tahini, Spicy Kick Zhug, and Goat Cheese Labneh balls)? Sounds so delicious! Orders are requested by December 14th and will be delivered on December 16th-17th. ($65.)

~THE VAULT GARDEN~ has launched a Winter Wonderland, with a weather-protected outdoor space full of seasonal lights, and a view of the 555 California Christmas tree in the plaza. You can make a reservation for their à la carte/all-day menu with seasonal cocktails and schmaltz latke tots topped with Caviar Co. smoked trout roe and crème fraîche, or weekend brunch, or spring for the $75 prix-fixe menu, which includes their fantastic prime rib roast, Yorkshire pudding, and more.

There are a variety of special dinners, from a truffle dinner on 12/6, a sparkling dinner with Bay Grape on 12/20, a Christmas Eve celebration (either Feast of Seven Fishes or prime rib four-course menu for $110/person) and more. Open Tue-Wed 4pm-9pm, Thu 12pm-9pm, Fri 12pm-9:30pm, Sat 11am-9:30pm, and Sun 11am-2:30pm. 555 California St. at Kearny.

Need something to make you happy in the morning? It’s time to buy an Emporio Rulli panettone (available for shipping here), and gift one to someone you love, but be sure to keep one for yourself. It makes the best breakfast, and you can even make eggy French toast or bread pudding out of it when you start getting to the end of the magic loaf.

In the East Bay, Starter Bakery makes an incredible panettone (and stollen!), available for ordering online soon, but they’re at Berkeley Bow and Cheese Plus in SF now. You can also find an amazing selection of imported panettone and panforte at Market Hall Foods.

And then if you really want to go over the top, Gio Gelati is making a gelato-stuffed panettone that is making my eyes pop out of my head.

There’s a new and fourth-generation Master Boulanger, Gontran Cherrier, ensconced at Le Marais Bakery, and I’ve been eyeballing his latest creations on Instagram and mon dieu, are they gorgeous. The holiday lineup includes Parisian vanilla flan and tarts, viennoiseries, brioches, galette des rois, as well as a special holiday tasting box so you can try all the thingsssss. His family’s bakery is in Normandy, so expect some exquisite apple creations too, like an 
apple tarte normande and apple-chestnut-yuzu chausson. Coming December, they will be launching an artisanal crêperie at 1138 Sutter St., with sarasin salé crêpes bretonne and farine de froment sucré crêpes. GET EXCITED!

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The new Hot Sloth CBD sauce from chef Mike Bagale and Kat Odell with Pot d’Huile. Photo via PDH.

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The Cuzen Matcha Holiday Starter Kit. Photo via Cuzen Matcha.

If there was ever a season to shop local and support our makers, this is it. I have thrown together a few quick gift ideas here, more to come!

I am a complete hot sauce fanatic—I have upwards of 15 kinds of hot sauces and oils and chile crunches at home, maybe 20. I know, crazy lady. I want to point you to the line of hot sauces, Side Hustle Condiments, from Sean Thomas, a talented local chef you may remember from Blue Plate. He makes Sichuan Sizzle Crunch, Peanut Vadouvan Crunch (North African curry-ish; medium spicy), and Hot Fire Calypso Crunch (Caribbean/Jerk spices—real hot!). He pops up around town, and you can order here.

Our friends at Mister Jiu’s have a new chili garlic crisp oil in partnership with Williams Sonoma—it’s more of an oil than a chile crisp, and it’s great to drizzle on pretty much everything since it isn’t too assertive. Love it on dumplings.

Earlier this year, I worked with local Pot d’Huile on writing copy for their website, featuring their line of hemp CBD-infused olive oil and chef collaborative hot sauces (their THC line is coming soon!). Their line of CBD olive oil is top-notch, with excellent sourcing, and their fruity Hot Sloth hot sauce with chef Mike Bagale and Kat Odell is unlike any hot sauce I previously had in my stash—I can’t eat fried chicken without it. There’s also Loud Grandma CBD chili crisp oil, which is keeping my dumplings and burgers and fried rice bowls company.

Now, here are a couple ideas from afar. First, my fellow Italophile Coral Sisk of Curious Appetite Travel is offering a few food boxes full of Italian gourmet specialties, check them out here! (There are awesome online classes, too!) Coral is currently located in Italy, and doing the culinary souvenir shopping for us! (Your purchase also helps local and artisan businesses who are suffering from the downturn in business.)

A couple weeks ago, I was given an in-person demo of the new Cuzen Matcha machine from co-founder Eijiro Tsukada, and I know many people who would be thrilled to have this chic machine in their kitchen or office (or home office, who are we kidding?). And…it was just named on TIME’s list of the 100 Best Inventions of 2020, after launching a month ago! Off to the races.

Instead of using pre-ground matcha that you whisk up yourself, this brilliant system mimics the qualities of a traditional stone mill but uses a compact ceramic mill instead. You just load the hopper with Cuzen’s organic, shade-grown, matcha tea leaves (from their partnership with sustainable farms in Kagoshima prefecture on Japan’s Kyushu Island). It will grind the entire leaf into a fine powder into the spinning glass container below (from a rotating magnet base) that you fill with room temp water (you get more umami and less bitterness if the water isn’t hot). Check out the video on their site to see it in action!

You can easily decide the quantity/potency, and then pour the beautifully blended matcha into a glass of sparkling water, or over ice, or drink it straight, or make an Americano with hot water, or steam some milk to make a matcha latte. Cuzen has some mocktail and drink recipes on their site. It’s also good for smoothies, or adding to dough!

There are two grades of matcha you can order with your Cuzen machine that are specially prepared to fit the ceramic mill: premium (considered “ceremonial grade”) from a spring harvest, and the signature, which is from spring and summer harvest and best for milk drinks. The flavor is so fresh and balanced, and it’s lightly energizing—perfect for a gentle start to the day, or an afternoon pick-me-up. What a cool thing to offer anyone who comes to visit, and it’s now in-room at Single Thread’s inn!

Cuzen is offering a limited-edition, Holiday Starter Kit, with guaranteed arrival in time for the holidays if ordered by 12/10 ($369). The Cuzen Matcha Maker comes in a gift bag, along with a holiday mocktail recipe card, one 20-gram packet of Premium Matcha Leaf and two 20-gram packets of Signature Matcha Leaf, enough for up to 60 cups of matcha. To your health!

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New 2020 releases on Fort Point Direct.

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Some of the new bottled cocktails from Small Hand Cocktails.

If we’re going to be holed up for the next month on curfew, I know I’m not the only one who will need some good cheer at home. The pandemic has created some new delivery services and boozy products, check ‘em out:

If you looked at my recent Sipsend omakase sushi dinner with Ju-Ni, then you should know about this new delivery service that allows you access to the wine collections of restaurants (Birdsong, Gozu, Ju-Ni, Hina), and the awesome wine store, DecantSF. Enter code SIPONE for free delivery on incredible-value wines! Deliveries in SF Wed-Sun, and you can also “ask a somm” for recommendations.

Another new delivery service is from Fort Point, called Fort Point Direct, delivering beer right from their Presidio brewery to anywhere in California, next-day! And if you live in SF, you can get your beer in less than an hour. BEER MAGIC! ($3 flat shipping within SF, $12 flat shipping throughout California.) Their full line-up is available (including their flagship Kolsch-Style-Ale: KSA—which you can get in tallboys), as well as their newest 2020 releases: Sfizio (an Italian-style pilsner), Dipper, Strawberry Darling, and Cool. They’re also offering limited Fort Point Direct exclusive beers—which currently includes their version of the Black is Beautiful Imperial Stout—a multi-brewery national collaboration beer. Cheers!

It was a definite bummer when one of our best bartenders, Jennifer Colliau, had to close her Uptown Oakland bar, Here’s How, due to NIMBY neighbors early this year. But, you can’t keep a talented genie in the bottle, although in this case, you can put some of Colliau’s trademark gimlets into a bottle. Meet Small Hand Cocktails, her new line of already award-winning bottled cocktails, seven in all, that you can pour (over ice, or perhaps stir) and drink. These are the best bottled cocktails I have tasted, they are so bright with citrus and flavor—she is using real ingredients, and not a flavor house. And they are clear and bright—for example, her process of citrus zest infusion and then clarification prevents oxidization.

There’s a Gin-Lime, Vodka-Lime, and Tequila-Grapefruit Gimlet, collect all three (tip: Jennifer says try adding three drops of absinthe to the Gin-Lime Gimlet). The Pineapple Paloma is my personal fave—I loved the tangy-tropical balance of this one, made with tequila, fresh-pressed pineapple juice, pineapple gum syrup, and clarified grapefruit, with a touch of salt—you can also add a splash of Aperol or Campari to change things up. The Marina (vodka, fresh-crushed cucumber, basil, elderflower) is sparkling and crisp and unexpectedly delightful for “a vodka drink.” And the Plum Blossom is a gorgeous highball from salted preserved plum, you gotta try it. Each bottle serves one (highballs) or two (gimlets)—it depends how you serve and drink—and you can find them in this retail location-finder (and on Good Eggs)! Keep some chilled in your fridge for instant gratification. Follow @smallhandcocktails for updates.

One more tip: have you seen the incredible list of to-go cocktails from ~ABV~? From their trademark Gin & Celery (one of my favorite SF cocktails, serves four) to their wonderfully refreshing Mumbai Mule, to a 750ml, wax-sealed bottle of their Fogerty, they have you covered (and they make great holiday gifts). There are even a couple non-alcoholic options, including a zero-proof Negroni!

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The airy and colorful style of AL’s Deli. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

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Bun rieu noodle soup with a Sunset roll, from Sunset Slurps. Photo: Sunset Slurps.

I was so bummed when the cheerful location of AL’s Deli closed, taking its awesome Montreal brisket with it. But now, chef Aaron London (AL’s Place) is partnering with industry vets and brothers GM José and chef Juan Rigau to open Tripleta, a new and limited-run pop-up featuring the cuisine of Puerto Rico, something we have to search far and wide for out here. (Look for some Bay Area influences on the menu as well.) The concept and menu are designed for takeout and delivery, available through the website, DoorDash, or Caviar for pickup or delivery.

The menu includes the namesake tripleta, a sandwich made of equal parts chicken, beef, and ham, wrapped in a pan sobao with garlicky mayo-ketchup and potato sticks for an extra hit of crunch and salt. There’s also the pobrecito sandwich (crispy battered rotisserie chicken, Puerto Rican remoulade, shaved cabbage, and AL’s Red Hot on a fluffy roll); adobo-rubbed half-rotisserie chicken with caramelized amarillos (super-ripe plantains), shaved fennel, pickled peppers, and chimichurri; chili-cheese alcapurrias (traditional Puerto Rican fritters similar to jalapeño poppers, wrapped in a fresh plantain dough and served with pique salsa); blistered delicata squash with chimichurri mayo, taro chip crumble, cilantro, and lime; and a house salad of grilled savoy cabbage, sliced avocado, spinach, scallion, cucumber, and queso fresco, tossed in a bay leaf and orange vinaigrette.

Hours will be Wed-Sun 11:30am-9pm, starting December 11th, through the end of the year. If it’s popular, they will extend the run, so check it out. 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

There’s a new pop-up serving Vietnamese noodle soups like bun bo Hue and bun rieu called Sunset Slurps, serving out of Joint Venture Kitchen in SoMa. You can look at the menu here, and read more in the Eater post here. Available Tue-Thu 5:30pm-8:30pm for pickup and delivery. 167 11th St. at Natoma.

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The Epicurean Trader’s location in Cow Hollow. Photo via Instagram.

Fans of the well-stocked shelves at ~THE EPICUREAN TRADER~ will have a new (and fourth) location at the Ferry Building Marketplace, starting December 2nd. Not only will you find their selection of artisan culinary, sustainable wine, and craft spirits, but they will also be offering organic produce, prepared foods, farmstead cheeses, and charcuterie, along with small-batch sweets, coffees, teas, and pantry items. (They have a “Best of the Ferry Building” basket you can ship nationwide, FYI!) There is also a full-service café, serving artisan coffee and pastries in the morning, and wine, craft beer, and small plates in the evening. Find the shop in the Market Hall, across from Miette Patisserie and Heath Ceramics. Open daily 7:30am-5pm.

Another expansion is ~LUKE’S LOCAL~, who just opened a second market on Union Street in Cow Hollow. Not only will you find all your grocery needs taken care of, but they also have a butcher counter and sandwiches to go. Open daily 8am-9pm. 2190 Union St. at Fillmore.

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Pulling the noodles at M.Y. China. Photo courtesy Creative Mint.

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Interior of Mozzeria; photo courtesy of Mozzeria.

This is such a big ugh: one year ago, we were feasting on seven kinds of crab for a tablehopper crab and Cognac dinner with Rémy Martin at ~M.Y. CHINA~, and now the restaurant from owners Martin Yan and Ronny and Willy Ng (Koi Palace) has sadly closed after eight years in business, according to Eater. (It’s tough to imagine how they could survive while being tucked away upstairs in the Westfield Centre with barely any foot traffic.) I will miss seeing chef Tony Wu’s smile and amazing noodle-stretching skills, and all their delicious dishes, from the wild boar scissor-cut noodles to their dumplings and egg sugar puffs. Thanks for all the fun meals and memories, I hope this concept returns in some way.

Another unfortunate closure is the shuttering of ~MOZZERIA~, the deaf-owned-and-operated pizzeria in the Mission. KQED reports they are closing after nine years of making their Neapolitan pizzas, but will fortunately continue operating their food truck, as well as their new location that recently opened in Washington, DC. You can read more in their Instagram post here.

Vietnamese pop-up Rice Paper Scissors has called it quits in light of all the difficulties of running a food business during a pandemic; you can read more in this post on Eater about what founders Valerie Luu and Katie Kwan hope to be working on next (more project-based work). Thanks for all the happy food memories on your little red stools!

I received a note from John Quintos of Cafe Lambretta, Vega, and Cento Coffee, who wrote in to tell me after months of being temporarily closed, he has permanently closed his ~CENTO COFFEE~ location at 372 Ritch Street. He said his “amazing landlords helped out adjusting our rent since April [but it] wasn’t enough” and decided not to renew their lease “after an amazing run catering to the tech industry since 2008.” He says he’s “optimistic for the future of our neighborhood but not necessarily for me operating multiple locations in a two-block radius.”

You can still visit Cafe Lambretta (700 2nd St.) with the help of chef Toby Shimizu, who continues to create new pastries and lunch menu to-go items; Vega (1246 Folsom St.); Cento Clutch (242 Townsend St.); and their online store at centocoffee.com all continue forward (location hours here). He thanks his staff over the years who stayed true to their Cento coffee brand and hopes to see companies come back next year. Thank you for keeping us all well-caffeinated, John!

With the closure of indoor dining, the cold winter weather, and the end of their PPP loan funds, ~PIPERADE~ has made the tough decision to temporarily close its doors. Chef-owner Gerald Hirigoyen writes: “It was a very difficult decision to make, but a necessary one to give us time to reassess the situation and move forward as best as we can from here. We will miss everyone dearly this holiday season, but the health of our staff and guests remains our highest priority. Those dining inside these last few weeks rarely followed the proper protocols, and we hope that changes when restaurants are open again.” Take care, chef and team!

Another rotten thing happening in the city is a number of restaurant break-ins, reminiscent of the first few weeks of the stay-at-home order in March. I have seen exasperated posts on social media from owners Tony Gemignani about Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House in North Beach being hit a couple weeks ago (he said it was the second time in three weeks they were vandalized and now broken into—yes, the register was already empty), as well as Hing Lung in Chinatown (the perp busted the door for an empty till), and poor Nightbird and the Linden Room were hit three times in two weeks (fortunately, they just reopened, so show some support and pick up a Nightburger). As if it wasn’t hard enough for these businesses to survive (and feed others)—please show them your support, and keep your eyes open for your neighborhood businesses.

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An earlier chicken wrap from Shawarmaji (while at Forage Kitchen) with cheddar cheese, spicy shatta, cucumber pickles, and toum. Instagram photo by @theshawarmaji.

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The Lost in Patagonia cocktail at Sobre Mesa. Photo: Kevin Le.

I was happy to see ~SHAWARMAJI~ post on Instagram that his new brick-and-mortar location has opened in Uptown Oakland (in the former Gastropig space)! You may have experienced Jordanian Mohammad Abutaha’s awesome wraps during his pop-up at Forage Kitchen or at Reem’s here in SF, and I’m thrilled his Kickstarter was successful so he could open his own place so quickly. You gotta scroll through the pics in the recent Instagram post to see his incredible rotating spits of lamb and chicken, and take a peek at the menu of wraps and plates and shawarma fries (all the meats are halal) and there’s also falafel for any vegetarians/falafel lovers. Hours are Wed-Sun 11am-10pm. 2123 Franklin St., Oakland.

More good news: one of my favorite Oakland noodle shops, ~HUANGCHENG NOODLE HOUSE~, will be reopening in Swan’s Market (previously Rosamunde Sausage Grill’s space) after suffering damage in their original location from a fire earlier this year in Chinatown. Eater’s piece says, “Good Good Eatz, the Oakland Chinatown-based initiative that has been supporting the neighborhood’s restaurants and markets, first told [owner Jimmy] Huang about the available space at Swan’s Market and introduced him to the landlord, the nonprofit East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC).” (You can learn more about the incredible Good Good Eatz in this episode of the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast.) Huangcheng plans to reopen and be serving their Shanxi knife-cut noodles before the end of the year. 911 Washington St. at 10th St. in Old Oakland.

A quick update to let you know that ~SOBRE MESA~ in Oakland has reopened with a parklet (with heaters), takeout, and delivery. The beautiful Afro-Latino cocktail lounge from chef Nelson German opened and closed at the very beginning of the pandemic, and is now offering a menu of tostones with ‘nduja, empanadas, maduros, Dungeness crab al ajillo, lobster Thermidor, bone marrow with beef tartare and jerk cassava, and chef Nelson’s signature chimichurri-jerk wings. Don’t miss their inventive cocktails made with small-production spirits. A limited takeout and delivery menu is available through Caviar, DoorDash, and another company I refuse to mention. Open Thu-Sat 5pm-10pm, and Sun brunch 11am-4pm. 1618 Franklin St. at 17th St., Oakland.

November 10, 2020
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Aquitaine’s moules marmandes—Mediterranean mussels, chorizo, tomato concassè, grilled tartine. Photo courtesy of Aquitaine.

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There’s no shortage of wine to choose from (and bring home) and Aquitaine’s new Castro location. Photo courtesy of Aquitaine.

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The spacious patio at Bacco’s new location. Photo courtesy of Bacco via Yelp.

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Falafel salad and side dishes at the new Abu Salim Middle Eastern Grill. Photo courtesy of Abu Salim via Yelp.

One year ago, at the end of 2019, chef-owner Laurent Manrique (Cafe de la Presse) and business partner Andrew Fidelman closed the Financial District location of their Southwest French wine bar and bistro, ~AQUITAINE~, and put everything into storage until their new Castro location was ready. Of course, the pandemic caused further delays. But now, there’s a new and open business on Church Street, which has been feeling quite desolate lately—the sunflower sign and colorful umbrellas are already cheering up this stretch of the street.

You’ll find an extensive wine list and retail selection (30 percent off all wines to go), while the all-day menu is the perfect format for enjoying a few bites with your wine (like cheese and charcuterie, deviled eggs, prawn tartine, smoked bacon tart), or go full-on with a Gascon burger, mussels, Basque chicken, or a ribeye for two. Take a look at the all-day menu here.

There’s a shared space with tables outside (and the umbrellas). Happy hour is Tue-Sat 2pm-5pm ($6 snacks and beer, $8 wine selections), open until 9pm. They accept reservations by phone or email for now: 415-658-7863. 210 Church St. at Market.

After 27 years on Diamond Street in Noe Valley, ~BACCO~ has moved to a new location at 3913 24th Street, previously Savor Open Kitchen (which closed earlier this year, in January). Owner Shari Dominici continues to run the restaurant after the tragic passing of her husband Paolo Dominici in 2009, working with the former co-owner/opening chef and now ongoing consulting chef Vincenzo Cucco (Divino in Belmont), who has updated the menu. You’ll still find their extensive menu of housemade pasta dishes, but they’ve added pizza as well (five different choices). Take a look at their spacious and enclosed patio, nice. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-8pm. 3913 24th St. at Sanchez.

While the new location of ~OLD JERUSALEM RESTAURANT~ remains closed in the Mission due to roof and water damage from fireworks (they hope to reopen in a couple months), they just gave us a wonderful surprise and have opened a new business, ~ABU SALIM MIDDLE EASTERN GRILL~ in the Upper Haight (in the former Burger Urge location).

The menu includes their classic dishes of hummus with fluffy pita, falafel, shawarma, kebabs, and their awesome wraps and platters with their delicious turmeric rice, plus special Palestinean dishes, like their mosbaha (hummus with garlic, lemon, and whole chickpeas), their musakhan sumac chicken (a fave), and Ramallah-style falafel. Everything always tastes so fresh and handmade, and the price is right. There are also some loaded shawarma fries, which should please any stoners in the neighborhood (LOL). There are tables outside, with takeout as well. Open daily 11am-9pm and until 10pm on weekends. 1599 Haight St. at Clayton.

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Scallop crudo at Gardenias with blood orange satsuma, yuzu salt, ponzu, crispy shallots, shiso, extra virgin olive oil. Photo courtesy of Gardenias.

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The oxtail bo kho at Lily, demonstrated with the pro move of ordering it with the banh mi/baguette, pâté, and shallot mayo. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The bun cha Hanoi barbecue platter comes with Sakura Farms heritage pork. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Lime sinh to yogurt drink with salty kumquat. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I’m so happy to report that ~GARDENIAS~ has reopened in Lower Pacific Heights/Upper Fillmore. Chef-owners Dana Tommasino and Margie Conard (previously Woodward’s Garden) have opened for dining in their new outdoor shared space and on their charming back patio, serving their seasonal magic with dishes like scallop crudo, blood orange satsuma, yuzu salt, ponzu, crispy shallots, shiso, extra virgin olive oil; a pappa al pomodoro (tomato-bread soup) with roasted yellow romas, leeks, and Parmigiano; and ricotta gnocchi, roasted maitake mushrooms, spinach gorgonzola, and truffle zest. Sign me up. Dinner service begins at 5:30pm. They’d love to see you. 1963 Sutter St. at Fillmore.

Over in the Inner Richmond, the recently opened ~LILY~ from Lily and Lucy Lieu has expanded to offer takeout dinner service as well. Chef Rob Lam’s dinner menu is as full-on delicious as their daytime chao (you have to try the forbidden rice jook/porridge with succulent rock shrimp, housemade XO with prosciutto and lap cheong, and some of the best century egg I’ve tasted—plus the surprise bonus of youtiao/fried dough) and alllll the banh mi.

The new dinner menu includes braised oxtail bo kho, a tomato-y stew fragrant with lemongrass and a hit of shrimp paste and so rich—once you flake away the tender meat from the bone, you gotta pile it into one of their baguettes (slather on the shallot mayo and housemade pâté for the ultimate, decadent banh mi)—or you can have it with buttery rice. Another wintery dish is the vegetarian curry chay with bamboo heart, cabbage, and fried taro, served with a bountiful mix of herbs like culantro, rau ram, and Thai basil. All the fresh vegetables here really shine.

The bun cha Hanoi barbecue platter features Sakura Farms heritage pork, grilled over binchotan charcoal (and there are also springy herb-studded meatballs), which you wrap up with rice noodles, herbs, and tender sliced onion into fresh Little Gem leaves. And there’s a version of the classic cha ca la Vong, with turmeric-scented fried fish, a bunch of herbs with this dish’s trademark dill, and a one-way ticket to funky town with the pineapple fermented shrimp sauce that you dollop on your lettuce wraps.

Don’t miss the shaking beef salad, available for lunch or a main dish salad for dinner, with the most tender cubes of Creekstone filet mignon, and they’ve added a couple more sinh to yogurt drinks, now made with Alexandre Farms extra-creamy milk, including the bright lime version with salty kumquat. Rob may be a good friend of mine, but I am so obsessed with his food right now—check it out! Takeout hours are Wed-Sun 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm. 225 Clement St. at 4th Ave.

The Señor Sisig crew announced their new Señor Sisig Vegano truck on Instagram, and just had their launch this past weekend. For now, you can find the truck in the parking lot for Cherin’s Appliances at 701 Valencia Street, Sat 2pm-8pm and Sun 11am-5pm; look for additional locations later on. You can read more about the menu and their R&D in this Eater piece. And have a listen to the On the Fly by tablehopper episode with CEO Evan Kidera.

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A pic with Madame Cecilia Chiang at Meals on Wheels Star Chefs & Vintners Gala in 2012. Horrors, her glass was empty!

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Cecilia Chiang in “Soul of a Banquet.” Be sure to watch this beautiful documentary about her. Photo via Facebook.

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Yelp photo by Heather W.

The day after I sent my previous tablehopper newsletter, one of our city’s most treasured culinary icons departed this mortal plane, our matriarch of Chinese cuisine, Madame Cecilia Chiang. What a force. She made being 100 years old look youthful—and the way she lived, it was like she packed numerous lives into those rich, deeply textured, experience-filled years of hers. She was a mentor to many, and had an impact on so many chefs, businesses, restaurant industry folks, and fortunate friends. You can read my earlier homage to her here.

The evening she passed, I called a couple of her dear friends to check in: Patricia Unterman, who dined with Cecilia often, and has provided me with so many wonderful recommendations for banquet dinner locations with my friends over the years; and George Chen (China Live), who told me she affectionately called him her “problem child,” who has known her for over 50 years, and even worked for her at her groundbreaking Mandarin restaurant. It was so good to connect with both of them, and hear their stories and love and respect for her. You can read some remembrances in this Eater piece, and I loved some of the pics Hoodline dug up in their post. Cecilia was one of a kind, from an era that can’t be revisited, and her impact on our culinary scene will live on—what a life, what a legacy, what a lady.

Last week, I was so sorry to hear of the passing of restaurateur Sylvie Le Mer, the visionary behind our city’s beloved Ti Couz, which closed in 2011. That restaurant was so unique and was one of my favorite hangouts in the 90s and early aughts. The candlelight, the busy bar, the fantastic crepes, the music, the fun crowd, and it was where I first learned about French cider. I had fun looking at this old menu, reminiscing over old favorite dishes. I loved going there on dates, and always brought friends from out of town there so they could experience a slice of SF I adored, bookended with drinks at Dalva (I vaguely remember servers from Ti Couz would come get you when your table or counter seat was ready). Reading this homage in Mission Local, you read what a true heart of the neighborhood Sylvie was, helping her fellow business owners and more. RIP, Sylvie. Just 60 years old. May she be at peace.

And on Sunday November 1st, restaurateur Sam DuVall passed away at 80. He was known for many atmospheric restaurants, including Elite Cafe, Cafe Royale, The Front Room, and Izzy’s Steaks and Chops. The team at Izzy’s shared this farewell post to him on Instagram (which mentions this website, where people are sharing tributes), and you’ll enjoy reading his career history in this Chronicle piece.

I just realized each one of these precious folks have passed at twenty-year gaps: 60, 80, and 100. Thank you to each of them for contributing to our city’s culture, and condolences to their family and friends and fans.

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Take your pick from a variety of dinners to enjoy at home from local chefs for this year’s virtual Cochon555. Photo courtesy of Cochon555.

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White truffles. Flickr photo from Erika Kerekes.

Currently underway this week is a special online version of the annual Cochon555 event: Carryout with Cochon555, running in San Francisco from now until Sunday November 15th, with curated carry-out meals, wine, spirits, and a virtual experience. You can order meals from remaining chefs: Thursday, November 12th: chef Lorenzo Caamal (Merkado); Saturday, November 14th: chef Francis Ang (Pinoy Heritage) and Kevin Diedrich (Pacific Cocktail Heaven); and Sunday, November 15th: chef Mark Sullivan and chef Jake Burkhardt (Village Pub, Woodside). The menus look great! And folks in the Peninsula, you can easily access the Village Pub meal!

Guests will purchase tickets ($100 for one; $185 for two—use code COCHON25 for 25 percent off!), which will include a multi-course meal prepared by the featured chef, with most of the ingredients sourced from heritage breed pig farms; a bottle of wine (red or white) from Patz & Hall; and a cocktail kit or pre-mixed cocktail comprised of either Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Wheatley Vodka, Johnnie Walker, or Mount Gay Rum. During a 45-minute live Zoom, the chefs will recreate one of the featured dishes (guests will cook along); the other dishes will be pre-prepared and ready to heat and/or serve. You can choose to pick up your kit at the chef’s designated restaurant or have it delivered for an additional fee. Cochon555 has committed to donating 80 percent of the ticket proceeds to the participating restaurants. Purchasing a “Carry Out with Cochon555” ticket also gets you a 50 percent discount to one 2021 Cochon555 event!

Smell that earthy and expensive fragrance in the air? It’s white truffle season, and I’m seeing some mentions of dishes and dinners pop up at the Piemontese Perbacco (always a classic for the best dishes topped with tartufi!), Mezzaluna in Princeton by the Sea is hosting a festival from November 13th-22nd, and you can always count on Acquerello to do something fabulous. Donato Enoteca in Redwood City has a special menu starting Friday! I’ll be updating my Instagram Stories with more truffle sightings (and sniffs).

October 27, 2020
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The exterior of Horn Barbecue (the paint color is “Black Panther”). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Chef-owner Leilani Baugh of Magnolia Street Wine Lounge and Kitchen. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A sampling of dishes from Magnolia Street Wine Lounge & Kitchen. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The latest Townhouse burger at Townhouse Bar & Grill. Photo courtesy of Townhouse Bar & Grill.

In case you don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, which is where you will find all the latest updates, I wanted to be sure you knew that ~HORN BARBECUE~ has officially opened! Pitmaster and chef-owner Matt Horn has survived the endless, hair-pulling bureaucracy and now the brisket can be yours—if you’re willing to get there early and stand in line for a few hours. (It’s actually so worth it! Just bring a chair and wear a hat so the sun doesn’t fatigue you.)

You can read my original piece here. The outdoor picnic tables are open, or you can bring the goods home. And I hear the beef ribs will be on this Saturday’s menu! (To be clear, the preorder situation is no longer happening—it’s all in person now.) Congrats to Matt and the team! Whew. They’re open Fri-Sun 11am for now, until selling out. 2534 Mandela Parkway at 26th St., Oakland.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting chef-owner Leilani Baugh of the new ~MAGNOLIA STREET WINE LOUNGE & KITCHEN~, who is known for Roux and Vine Catering, which was chosen by ESPN (2017-2019) to be the official caterer for ESPN, NBA Entertainment, NBA TV, and the Turner Network for the NBA Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals for the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Boom! This past June, she appeared on the Food Network’s “Super Market Stakeout” and is one of Square’s small business featured stories. Yeah, she’s a real go-getter.

An Oakland native, she was raised by her two grandmothers (one is a Chinese immigrant—who only spoke Cantonese—and the other African American), and grew up around the corner on Magnolia Street, hence the name. The location is her first brick and mortar in West Oakland, just below the historic California Hotel, offering takeout, outdoor dining, and limited indoor dining is coming this Friday October 30th (during the pandemic, she has been offering weekly pop-ups with food to go). In honor of the musicians and artists and bohemian scene that used to be in the hotel, she is going to be hosting live music a few nights per week, DJs, and rotating art shows. For now, she’s starting with Friday Night Live, with DJs and heat lamps so you can linger outside.

Her menu celebrates her diverse background and family recipes and flavors, spanning Southern, Asian, Creole, and Cajun cuisines (she’s calling it “Casian!”), with dishes like dirty rice arancini, salmon croquettes, shrimp and grits with braised oxtails, and peach cobbler lumpia, plus let’s hope she continues with wing and wine Wednesdays and fish fry Fridays (the menu looks so good)—brunch is featuring oxtail hash and her honey butter biscuits. Leilani pours a variety of BIPOC-owned and -made wines, including Wachira, McBride Sisters, P. Harrell Wines, and Housley.

She has been busy working with World Central Kitchen to help feed the community, although that will be winding down soon and she’s eager to have you come by—help support her in her goal to revitalize the San Pablo corridor, and preserve its original culture. Be sure to follow for updates at @magnoliastwinelounge, and you can hire her for catering. Open Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-9pm for now—look for expanded hours soon. You can text your orders in as well: 510-205-8540. 3443 San Pablo Ave. at 35th St., Oakland.

In an interesting twist, DoorDash has partnered up for their first time and invested in a new project from Burma Superstar: ~BURMA BITES~, a quick-service restaurant built for delivery only (plus takeout). It’s opening on Wednesday October 28th on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, offering some Burma Superstar favorites (like their tea leaf salad, of course) and new menu items too, like Superstar Spicy Mango Wings and Balachaung Fries. Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm and dinner 5pm-9pm daily. 4911 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St.

Another SF restaurant expanding into the East Bay delivery scene is ~MONTESACRO OAKLAND~, this time via CloudKitchens. No website at this moment, but you will see Montesacro on all the major delivery platforms, offering all kinds of their pinsa (I love them all), cacio e pepe, a meatball sandwich, and more.

There’s a new chef and owner at ~TOWNHOUSE BAR & GRILL~ in Emeryville. Chef Jake Kwan Rosenbush, (Hardwood, Stock and Trade, 15 Romolo) has given the menu an update, with new sourcing and housemade items, with a smoker firing up soon, too. The Townhouse Burger is a tavern-style, seven-ounce patty, served with caramelized onions, bacon bits, aged Grafton cheddar from Vermont, and housemade bread and butter pickles, served on an Acme bun; the Townhouse crispy fried chicken wings are Chinese-style, dry-fried chicken wings, served with fried garlic, jalapeño, and spices; and for brunch: there are chilaquiles, and a bacon and egg panzanella salad with two poached eggs on top of grilled Acme pain de mie, served with frisée, bacon vinaigrette, and topped with crispy capers (yum). They’re also making a trendy Basque-style burnt cheesecake. Open for takeout and dining in the parking lot patio, Wed-Fri 12pm-8pm and Sat-Sun 11am-8pm. 5862 Doyle St. at 59th St., Emeryville.   Vegans, you’ll want to read this piece in Nosh about ~THE KING’S FEET~ from The Butcher’s Son team, serving a plant-based, Italian-influenced menu (primarily a bunch of tasty-sounding pizza and a few pasta dishes until they can return to their original fresh pasta plan). 1401 University Ave. at Acton, Berkeley.

Sad news: after five years of awesome programming, ~STARLINE SOCIAL CLUB~ is up for sale. Damn, Miss Rona! You are 86’ed from this club! You can read more in this KQED post here. 2236 Martin Luther King Way at W. Grand, Oakland.

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The brioche feuilletée from the upcoming Maison Nico. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Enjoy cannelés from Le Dix-Sept’s first brick-and-mortar pâtisserie in the Mission. Photo: Le-Dix Sept.

Just because you need more goodies in your life…especially NOW. A few weeks ago, I mentioned the latest project at Nico, now ~MAISON NICO~, a French-inspired market, épicerie, and café from chef-owner Nicolas Delaroque and Paul Einbund (The Morris), offering French pâtés and terrines, viennoiserie, sweets, coffee (including Paul’s Chartreuse cappuccino), French and Californian wines, and their popular brioche feuilletée (just wait until you bite into it). Grand opening is this Wednesday October 28th, you can read more in this Eater preview. Open Wed-Sun 9am-4pm. 710 Montgomery St. at Washington.

Fans of the gorg cannelés from Michelle Hernandez will be thrilled with the news that after years of pop-ups, she has opened her Mission bakery, ~LE DIX-SEPT PATISSERIE~, serving pastries, confections, breads, and some savory treats as well, plus some beverages. I say order a weekend pastry box and taste your way through the offering. You can read more in this piece on Eater. Open Sat-Sun 10am-3pm for now. 3376 18th St. at Mission.

There’s also a new pop-up in the former Barcino space in Hayes Valley, ~AKNA~, serving Mexican-Mayan cuisine from a father-son duo (Eddie and Ivan Arriaga) who have been part The Absinthe Group for a combined 38 years. The menu features Mexican and Mayan/Yucatecan dishes, including botanas like ceviche and nopalito salad, tacos (including quesabirria tacos) and tamales, and traditional entrées of braised beef, prawns, and a daily special, plus handmade blue corn tortillas, freshly made salsas, and desserts like buñuelos de viento and dulce de papaya. Outside dining on their “palapa,” takeout, and delivery are available Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm. 399 Grove St. at Gough.

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The famed neon sign will be lit up once again at Tommy’s Joynt. Photo via Tommy’s Facebook page.

Just a quick note to report the happy news that ~TOMMY’S JOYNT~ “is reopening Oct. 29 with reduced hours and a smaller menu,” according to this post on SFGate. The beloved hofbrau temporarily shut down, sending everyone into a tizzy that is was permanent, but thankfully they’ll be back in action, and will be serving their Thanksgiving dinner and more (“the restaurant’s voicemail alerts customers that to-go meals featuring fresh-carved turkey will be available for Thanksgiving day”). Tommy’s Joynt has been open since 1947, much respect. 1101 Geary Blvd. at Van Ness.

And in North Beach, did you know ~VESUVIO CAFE~ has reopened with tables in Jack Kerouac Alley? They are offering limited hours in partnership with Bulgara Restaurant: Wed-Thu 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-9pm. As they say on their page: “Serving all wanderers since 1948.” They could really use your support after months of being closed. 255 Columbus Ave. at Pacific.

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A look into Cockscomb, with the communal table to the left and wood-burning oven in the open kitchen. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Calm in the Alfred’s dining room (just before we took it over for our Blue Fox dinner!). Photo: Blair Heagerty Photography.

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The swanky bar at Selby’s (with green mohair underneath). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Ugh, writing about these closures is just the worst. I’m keeping these brief, we all know why everything is closing. How can restaurants be expected to survive this impossible business climate without federal assistance? The Senate has gone home and failed to pass the $120B restaurant revitalization fund. It’s infuriating.

Last week, chef and co-owner Chris Cosentino took to Instagram to announce the closure of ~COCKSCOMB~ in SoMa, after opening six years ago (and suffering through that endless Central Subway construction mess on Fourth Street). They tried to survive with takeout pizza, meal kits, and provisions, while cooking for World Central Kitchen, Frontline Foods, and other aid organizations. But, Miss Rona racks up a huge bill everywhere she goes, making it impossible to keep things going. As winter approaches, things will only get worse.

After Al Petri came out of retirement and took ~ALFRED’S STEAKHOUSE~ back over from Daniel Patterson at the end of 2018, SF’s oldest steakhouse (92 years!) has closed yet again, this time permanently. As tablehopper readers well-know, it was once the location of the famed Blue Fox, and I held a fabulous vintage homage dinner event a few years ago! Funnily enough, all the pics in the SFGate story are from my event. I really hope this red-walled vintage palace reopens once again… 659 Merchant St. at Kearny.

In North Beach, chef-owner Joe Lin of ~PESCE E RISO~ has made the hard decision to close his restaurant—he opened this charming spot in the summer of 2017 with his wife, Sherry. Best wishes to them both. You can read his thoughtful farewell note here. According to ABC license activity, it looks like a sushi place is opening in its place, Sancha Sushi, from a sushi chef from Elephant Sushi (Enerel Erdenebat). 1224 Grant Ave. at Columbus.

Over in the Filipino cultural district in SoMa, I was sorry to hear chef and co-owner Reina Montenegro had to close ~NICK’S ON MISSION~, SF’s first and only fully vegan Filipino restaurant (Nick’s on Grand in South San Francisco has also closed). But she is now launching a new and rebranded, delivery-focused business out of a ghost kitchen, Chef Reina, where folks in the Peninsula/Daly City will be able to order vegan Filipino dishes, meal kits, and her vegan meats for delivery and pickup Wed-Sat 5pm-8pm.

This is a temporary closure, but I was terribly sorry to see that ~THE ARGENTUM PROJECT~ in SoMa suffered significant damage from a fire on October 17th. This Greek café, bakery, and market is such a special business—owners Catherine and Dimitrios Kalessis put so much heart into it. It’s looking like they will be closed through the busy holidays, so a friend launched a GoFundMe to help them get through this challenging time until they can reopen. Best wishes to them, here’s hoping they can reopen as soon as possible. 47 6th St. at Market.

Another unfortunate temporary closure is the glam ~SELBY’S~ in Atherton, who has decided to pause their takeout and delivery model until spring 2021 since they can’t offer outdoor seating and indoor seating would be extremely limited. (But they are offering a special Thanksgiving feast to go.) In the meantime, Selby’s team members will be supporting sister restaurants The Village Pub in Woodside, and Spruce in San Francisco.

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Some xiao long bao and pork and chive dumplings from Palette Tea House via Feastin. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Tonkotsu ramen from Angry Ramen on Feastin. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A box of meaty (and eggy) treasures from Roam Butcher Shop. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I wanted to let you know about a couple new ways you can stock your fridge and enjoy some tasty meals at home while helping to support restaurants. First, there’s Feastin, a new delivery platform offering a variety of restaurant meals and dishes and kits, plus groceries and cocktails. What’s great is you can support restaurants and enjoy the convenience of delivery without having to use the primary delivery apps and see the restaurant lose with commission fees—with Feastin, you pay a 20 percent fee that covers contactless delivery throughout the Bay Area, service, tax, and tip for the company’s full-time drivers, all of whom are food handler-certified and wear masks. (Just be sure you’re home for your delivery, since things are held in refrigerated trucks, but aren’t delivered on ice packs.)

Co-founders Sebastiaan Van De Rijt and Hannah Wagner set out on a mission to build a better delivery partnership to support the Bay Area restaurant community. “2020 devastated the restaurant industry in ways no one could have ever predicted and forever changed the way people eat and cook at home,” said Sebastiaan Van De Rijt, Feastin co-founder and restaurateur behind the Bay Area’s Bamboo Asia restaurants. “Even the most exclusive restaurants started selling meal kits, prepared foods, and specialty provisions in order to survive. These restaurants have to rely on doing their own deliveries or working with third-party platforms that take up to 30% of their profits. Feastin is a commission-free platform built to help restaurants thrive and grow revenue opportunities.”   You can order heat-up-at-home dishes like two kinds of lasagna from Che Fico, or steam-your-own xiao long bao from Palette Tea House (they come out perfectly), and a hearty tonkotsu ramen from Angry Ramen, plus you can stash some beef noodle soup from Mama Liang’s in the freezer for that night when you have no idea what to cook. Other restaurants include Pinoy Heritage, alaMar, 620 Jones, Atelier Crenn, Zero Zero, Izzy’s Steakhouse, and more.

I also picked up some smoked Nova salmon from Acme at a great price (3 oz. for just $3.29), blueberries for cheap (groceries can be up to 70 percent off), and then you can buy things like a quart of queso dip ($6) that ended up coming in really handy for egg dishes, midnight snack attacks, and drizzling into tacos. I also got a quart of their tikka masala ($6) which I spiked up a bit and used it for four dishes: two quick dinners with seasoned chicken thighs that I sautéed and threw in and served with rice, plus in scrambled eggs with sliced cherry tomatoes (soooo good), and I even made a pasta dish one night with it. Love having things like that on hand. New restaurants are being added (like Presidio Social Club Exchange), and there are also cocktails, pantry items, and more. Check it out.

Meat lovers, you’ll want to check out the goods at Roam Butcher Shop! The folks known for their tasty burgers around town are now offering quality, pasture-raised meats from reputable small-family-owned farms in the U.S. you can buy for cooking at home. You’ll see an array of steaks, tasty grass-fed lamb chops, sausages from Llano Seco, heirloom chicken, and, of course, some grass-fed ground beef from 4K Ranch ($11/lb.), plus a lot more. There are also some themed butcher boxes. Get a $20 gift card to Roam Artisan Burgers and free local delivery in SF, Lafayette, and San Ramon areas (for a limited time for orders $100 or more). Otherwise, you can arrange for local pick-up and delivery, details here.