The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
February 23, 2021
LazySusan-GeneralTsoChicken.jpg

General Tso’s chicken at Lazy Susan. Photo: Joseph Weaver.

Lazysusan-groupfood.jpg

A selection of dishes at Lazy Susan. Photo: Joseph Weaver.

totalmeltdown.jpg

Seoul Food! kimchi and gochujang-braised beef grilled cheese at Total Meltdown SF. Yelp photo by business owner.

Now open in the temporarily closed B-Side at SFJAZZ in Hayes Valley is ~LAZY SUSAN~, a takeout and delivery concept from Salt Partners (Crenn Dining Group, Horsefeather, Humphry Slocombe), with chef Eric Ehler (Fort Point Beer, Mister Jiu’s) behind the menu of Chinese-American takeout classics (think General Tso’s chicken, crab Rangoon, and chow mein, with a contemporary touch). There has been a bit of a dust-up on Instagram over an obnoxious post that grossly misrepresented Eric, and I’m not going to dedicate many pixels or links to it except to point to Eric’s poignant video, and to say Eric is a helluva chef who is going to crush this menu (like he does everywhere he works), and I can’t wait to dig into his version of beef with two kinds of broccoli and chow mein.

Check the menu here, featuring 25 dishes with housemade sauces and developed to travel well for delivery—and all entrées are gluten-free (you’ll also see Impossible meat in the ma po tofu). Dishes are designed to be approachable at $8-$9 for apps and $11-$15 (for entrées). Open Wed-Sun 5pm-9:30pm. 208 Fell St. at Franklin.

I heard there was a new Mexican spot opening in the former Finn Town in the Castro, and Hoodline has the update: it’s ~SANTERIA~, from owner Eduardo Sandoval of the nearby Tacorgasmico. They won’t be serving their full menu just yet—just brunch on the weekend at the moment. For now, pop-up Tejas Forever is offering a menu of Tex-Mex dishes (which will continue to be available on delivery/takeout apps once Santeria’s menu fully rolls out—they’re operating like a ghost kitchen in the space). Consultant Samantha Kharma has put together the cocktail list, with drinks available to go and out front, like the Relentless Sinner (spiced hibiscus, tequila, Cynar, Campari, agave, lemon, bitters, $13), and Mexican Gringo (tamarindo-chile tequila, mango cordial, lime, $12), and frozen margaritas. The interior was lightly refreshed and there’s outdoor seating. Open Sun-Thu 11am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. 2251 Market St. at Sanchez.

Just in case you missed the amazing news: beloved ~ART’S CAFE~, home of the hash brown sandwich (that’s my old review from 2009!), has reopened with a Korean couple who kept the space and most of the menu the same, from the diner counter with vintage postcards to the Samurai omelet, plus some new additions! I tweeted the great news about their opening before leaving town, and now it’s time to head over for some takeout and to welcome this marvelous couple (Lee and Young Lee) to the neighborhood. You can read more about them in this Eater piece. Talk about saving the day, and the diner! The little Korean-American diner that could! Open Tue-Sun 7:30am-3pm for takeout only. 747 Irving St. at 9th St.

I was trying to get some info from the owners of the new ~HINOYA CURRY~ in the Marina back in January, but they weren’t very forthcoming with details at that time. They have since opened in the former Mac’d, serving “curry rice, pork katsu curry, chicken katsu curry, and chicken karaage over curry” for now—along with beer and sake. You can read more about this relatively well-known curry spot in Japan in this Eater piece. Takeout and outdoor searing are available. Open Fri-Sat 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm, and Sun 11am-3pm for now. 3347 Fillmore St. at Chestnut.

How’s this for a pandemic-themed opening? There’s a new spot popping up in the evening in Mission Picnic on Valencia called ~TOTAL MELTDOWN SF~, specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches (including The Millionaire, with gochujang-maple glazed, thick-cut bacon and gouda), mac and cheese, and cheesy tots with all kinds of toppings, from pulled pork to Brussels sprouts (with Green Goddess drizzle, goat cheese). And, of course, there’s a birria grilled cheese. May as well call the place Totally Baked. (Oh hey, I just found this piece by Mission Local if you’d like to read more.) Open Tue-Sun 4pm-9pm. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St.

sushihakko.png

A preview of the new Sushi Hakko. Instagram photo by @sushihakko.

z-hamandcheese.png

The Joe Formaggio at the upcoming Ham & Cheese: cold cuts, roasted garlic artichoke tapenade, dried tomato purée, lettuce, pepperoncini, provolone. Instagram photo by @hamandcheesesf.

I have a few upcoming projects for you, starting with ~SUSHI HAKKO~ from the Mins Group (Sushi Hon, Sushi Shio, Tamashisoul, Barnzu, and Sushi Ondo). It will be a contemporary-fine Japanese restaurant, offering omakase (a 14-course chef’s tasting menu for $90: 2 starters, 10 pieces seasonal sushi, middle dish, dessert; $45 supplement available with truffle, caviar, uni, wagyu add-ons), sashimi omakase, a special tuna menu, individual nigiri, a few maki, and some cold and hot dishes. The kitchen team is led by chef Alex Kim, the current executive head chef at Mins Group. It’s opening in the former Little Gem on Union Street, and they’re planning to open in the first week of March. Reservations will be available on OpenTable, and delivery will also be offered. They will be open six nights a week, 5pm-10pm. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore.

There’s a new Pakistani and Indian restaurant opening in the former Dosa on Valencia (sniff sniff) on Thursday February 25th: ~BIRIANI HOUSE~, from Five Eric Brothers. Their website mentions their chef has “more than 20 years of experience cooking in the finest restaurants.” You may recognize them from their food stand at various events. Take a look at the affordably priced menu here. 995 Valencia St. at 21st St.

My fellow sandwich lovers, we’ll find each other at the upcoming ~HAM & CHEESE~ coming to the Richmond in March. The menu spans Italian, California, French, and Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches, plus some simpler torpedo roll numbers for $7. According to their Instagram account, some breakfast sandwiches, vegan nachos, and coffee service from Sight Glass are also in the works. 5501 California St. at 17th Ave.

I’m cracking up over this article that has an Aussie thinking his rotisserie chicken concept coming to Noe Valley is something completely new and unfamiliar to us. May I introduce you to Il Pollaio (since 1984!), Limón, RT Rotisserie, and others, Mr. Schulte?! Anyway, this rotisserie chook spot and wine bar (DBA as ~NOE BIRDS~ on their ABC license) is coming to the former Le Zinc from some folks behind Hotel San Francisco. 4063 24th St. at Castro. [Via Noe Valley SF]

According to some posts on Nextdoor, I learned ~SUPER DUPER~ is planning to open a location in Laurel Village, in the former Miz Brown’s Feed Bag, most recently Beautifull. 3401 California St. at Laurel.

laurence-nopa.jpeg

A pic of chef-owner Laurence Jossel of Nopa handing me my takeout dinner, most likely their fried chicken. (I asked him to remove his mask for the pic, FYI.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

There are some big changes over in the Nopa/Nopalito universe. As ~NOPA~ approaches fifteen years (this April!), Laurence Jossel is now the sole owner of the restaurant, while former group partners Jeff Hanak and Allyson Jossel, and Gonzalo Guzman, will remain owners/partners of Nopalito (which is coming up on twelve years). Hanak also remains a partner of Liholiho Yacht Club and Dear Inga. Laurence Jossel (with his wife, Holly Rhodes) have been sprucing up Nopa’s space in advance of their big birthday, with a new floor that has been revealed, and they’re also going to be setting up outdoor seating on that wide sidewalk on the Hayes Street side.

Meanwhile, the new ~NOPALITO~ on 18th Street (3674 18th St. at Dolores) is now offering Café y Conchas, their new coffee and pastry service, featuring Mexican postres from Raquel Goldman/Norte54, Andytown drip coffee, and two Mexican specialties made by chef Gonzalo Guzman (café de olla with spiced piloncillo syrup, and champurrado, a masa-based hot chocolate). Service starts at 8am (closed Mon-Tue); look for service at Broderick Street soon.

Commissary_Exterior_APick.jpg

Photo of The Commissary exterior by Aubrie Pick.

Chef Traci Des Jardins recently announced on Instagram: “I am saddened to share the news that the restaurants (in partnership with Bon Appétit Management Co. and the Presidio Trust) ~ARGUELLO~, ~THE COMMISSARY~, and Presidio Foods Catering, will not be reopening. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to every single staff member, farmer, vendor, and patron who contributed to making the restaurants a joyous and special place to be. I am very proud of what we achieved during our time there and I will miss the community we built.” Sigh. It ends up The Presidio Trust changed their leasing structure for the restaurants, and is now looking for new tenants, you can read more details in this SFGATE post.

It broke my heart to learn that the kind owner of ~TAKARA~ in Japantown was unable to negotiate a penny of rent relief from her (%#*!) landlord, 3D Investments, and was forced to close after more than 20 years of business. (I swear, what is happening to Japantown businesses because of that evil developer—and the other corporate landlord, Kinokuniya Bookstores of America—is a travesty. I curse them with 100 years of bad fish and splintery chopsticks.) Takara was a homey and traditional spot, and I have chef Michael Black (Sebo) to thank for turning me on to it many years ago. You have to hand it to the plucky 91-year-old owner, Lena Turner, who originally “opened the very first restaurant in the Japan Center, Sapporo-ya Ramen, in 1976”—the Eater piece says she has bought the nearby Kiss Seafood (another old-school spot I used to love, which closed at the beginning of the pandemic), and will reopen Takara in its place soon, offering lunchtime takeout. You can’t keep a hospitality angel down. 1700 Laguna St. at Sutter.

I know a number of SF old-timers and Mission residents have been saddened by the news in Mission Local that ~MUDDY’S COFFEE HOUSE~ is closing after 27 years. Unfortunately, owner Elham Massarweh was unable to negotiate a rent reduction with her landlord. The stalwart café at 24th Street and Valencia is closing February 25th; the sister café, Muddy’s Coffee House (521 Valencia St.), which she also runs with her husband, will remain open, 30 years and counting.

1-alicecollective.JPG

The Alice Collective is now The Alice Market (until events return!). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

squarePieGuys-Oakland-Architectural_AlbertLaw.jpg

The interior of the new Square Pie Guys Oakland. Photo: Albert Law.

z-casaBarotti-recco.jpg

Recco-style focaccia at Casa Barotti. Photo courtesy of Bureau Jules.

There are some changes at ~THE ALICE COLLECTIVE~ in Oakland. Obviously, this event space has taken a hit during the pandemic, and is now converting into The Alice Market, featuring small businesses offering food and drink on Thursdays (6pm-8pm) and Saturdays (11am-1pm). Take a look at this post for links to some of the awesome businesses at the weekly market, like Edith’s Pie and Bolita masa. 272 14th St. at Alice, Oakland.

Opening Monday March 1st in Old Oakland is a second location of ~SQUARE PIE GUYS~ in the former Benchmark Pizzeria location from Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter. They’re bringing over their popular menu of Detroit-style pizzas with creative toppings and their square and crispy-cheesy edges (including their collaborative pizza with NBA star Jeremy Lin, the JLIN, with lemon-garlic ricotta cream, Pavone pepperoni, Green Goddess Caesar, grana, parsley, and red chili flake), and they’ve even developed a gluten-free pizza dough with various vegan toppings, like the Vegan Beet-An-Esca (with no-cream beet cream, Good Planet vegan cheese, and more)—they also make some great salads.

They’ll be bringing their Hot Calabrese fried chicken sandwich (from their Hetchy’s Hots Sandwiches business) too, plus wings, and there’s a liquor license, so they’ll be offering some equally creative cocktails: the Bianco DiMary features vodka, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, signature spice blend, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, a hot spice rim, and a roni and mozzarella garnish. Sign me up! Then there’s the Bold Fashioned, with a Mike’s Hot Honey infusion, bourbon, and Angostura bitters.

They’re working closely with local community partners (Hijas del Campo, Prospera, Co-Fed, Frontline Foods, and Homeless Action Center), donating both food and proceeds, while partners such as Co-Fed will also be providing support to management and staff with anti-racist training. They will also continue to partner with Dispatch Goods to offer a zero waste alternative for to-go packaging. They’re starting with takeout and delivery only (outdoor will come later), Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm and Sun 11:30am-8pm. 499 9th St. at Washington, Old Oakland.

Great news for fans of ~LA PERLA~—the adored Puerto Rican takeout counter inside Two Star Market now has their own brick-and-mortar location right around the corner. The father-son duo of Cheo and Gabriel Ortiz are not only open for business, but they have been selling out of their delicious food! Bring on the pernil. Read more in this Eater report. Open Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm and 4pm-7pm and Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm. 3409 Fruitvale Ave. at Bienati, Oakland.

Over in Berkeley, I’ve been eagerly tracking the opening of ~CASA BAROTTI~ for quite a while, a spizzicheria offering a variety of regional Italian snacks and focaccia, pizza al taglio, tramezzini, farinata, panzerotti, and more. They will even have a Recco-style focaccia, a crisp and thin bread round filled with stracchino cheese, a specialty I have been missing since Farina closed many years ago in the Mission. (It’s a magnificent thing.) The proprietor is Daniele Carsano (co-owner of 54 Mint Forno Italiano in Walnut Creek) who is collaborating with two longtime friends from Torino who currently can’t be here due to the pandemic. Read more in this detailed piece from Nosh. They open today! Open Tue-Sat 11am-5pm. 3204 College Ave. at Alcatraz, Berkeley.

January 29, 2021
1-thankyou-15years-graphic.jpg

THANK YOU! Custom graphic by studio1500 for the commemorative tablehopper tote bag!

2-nastar-CNY2021-1000layer.png

Nastar pineapple tartlets from 1000 Layer Bakery. Photo: 1000 Layer Bakery.

2d-socola-oxbox_1024x1024.jpg

You’ll enjoy a box of four of Socola Chocolatier’s Lunar New Year chocolates (but not the box of 12 pictured here, to be clear!). Photo: Socola Chocolatier.

3-chezpanisse-glass.jpeg

Etched water glass from Chez Panisse. Photo: Chez Panisse.

4-brendas-redpepperjelly.JPG

Hot pepper jelly from Brenda’s Meat & Three. Photo: Brenda’s Meat & Three.

5-sidehustle-calabrian.jpg

Porcini Peperoncino A’Cruncha from Side Hustle Condiments. Photo: Side Hustle Condiments.

5d-teranga-cacao-baobar.JPG

The all-organic, cacao superfood Baobar from Teranga. Photo: Teranga.

5g-redbay-combo-pack.jpg

Three-pack of whole beans from Red Bay Coffee Roasters. Photo: Red Bay Coffee Roasters.

5m-saboresdelsur-alfajores.jpg

Dark chocolate-covered alfajores from Sabores del Sur. Photo: Larissa Cleveland. Styling: Colin Gent.

9-eastern-mooncake.jpeg

Eastern Bakery lotus moon cake with egg yolk (the one in the gift bag will just be lotus paste). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

9d-chinalive-JasminePearlMoulihuacha.jpg

Jasmine pearl tea from China Live. Photo: China Live.

z-thecheeseschool-pin-1.jpeg

Ha! It’s true. Cheeky enamel pin from The Cheese School. Photo: The Cheese School.

The Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag was such a hit (thanks to you!) that I’m doing it again, although this time we’re celebrating tablehopper’s fifteenth anniversary! Can you believe it? February will be tablehopper’s quinceañera—along with the Lunar New Year (Happy Year of the Ox!), Valentine’s Day, and it’s Black History Month! Let’s celebrate and honor allllll the things with the tablehopper thank you x 15 gift bag!

We all know how much our independent restaurants and bars and food businesses are hurting, so here’s one way to support and celebrate them! This abundant gift bag is packed full of delicious, local, hand-crafted, unique, and exclusive treats! I’m talking about fifteen stellar San Francisco Bay Area food products. I’m happy to have so many wonderful La Cocina entrepreneurs in this one! And, we will be making another $10 donation to SF New Deal with each bag sold. It all comes in a commemorative tablehopper 15th anniversary tote bag! (Thanks to studio1500 for generously designing another fun graphic for me!)

Who wants a dozen red roses for Valentine’s Day when you can eat your way through this bag of treasures instead?! It’s much more fun. You can order it for yourself, or you can split up the gift bag and share with friends (perfect for Galentine’s Day). Check out the goodies:

  • Half-dozen nastar pineapple tartlets from 1000 Layer Bakery: baker Jennifer Huang (a La Cocina entrepreneur) made this festive Lunar New Year cookie that’s popular in Southeast Asia, filling it with housemade, Indonesian, spiced pineapple jam. The round, golden-colored tartlet and its pineapple filling symbolize fullness and wealth, and bring good luck and success in the coming year.

  • Lunar New Year chocolates from Socola Chocolatier (four): celebrate the Year of the Ox with these exquisite chocolates made with candied ginger-peanut, pandan-coconut, preserved kumquat, and tamarind-sesame. Founders and sisters Wendy and Susan Lieu will be celebrating Socola’s 20th birthday this year!

  • Etched water glass from Chez Panisse: this classic water glass with the Chez Panisse logo will become your favorite glass for your nightstand (and for sipping wine while you cook).

  • Ginger syrup from Rye on the Road (4 oz.): you’re going to need this simple syrup to make the special tablehopper anniversary cocktail, the Hop to It. The recipe will be enclosed for this refreshing buck cocktail! Cheers!

  • Hot pepper jelly from Brenda’s Meat & Three (12 oz.): this spicy and sweet jelly is magic on Brenda’s famous cream biscuits. Fun fact: Brenda Buenviaje was the first chef I ever interviewed!

  • Blue and red tortilla chips from La Palma (4 oz.): thanks to SF’s beloved tortilleria and masa-makers (and our only Mexicatessen—since 1953!), we can enjoy their delicious corn tortilla chips in tablehopper’s trademark blue and red colors!

  • Porcini Peperoncino A’Cruncha from Side Hustle Condiments (6 oz.): be the first to taste the latest chile crunch sauce from chef Sean Thomas! Try drizzling it on avocado toast, eggs, pork chops, pasta, garlic bread, and roasted crab!

  • Superfood Baobar from Teranga (1.4 oz.): power up with this top-selling energy bar from Senegal-born (and La Cocina entrepreneur) Nafy Flately, made with all organic ingredients (dates, baobab fruit powder, almonds, cashews, dried cherries, cacao nibs, coconut oil, vanilla, and Himalayan salt).

  • Truffle XO sauce from the new Lily on Clement (3 oz.): my dear friend, chef Rob Lam made this custom (and very complex) XO sauce for the gift bag, with black Périgord truffle, dried shrimp and scallops, fermented black beans, prosciutto, green and red Szechuan peppercorns, Urbani Black Truffle Perlage “caviar,” and a whole lot more. (Wait until you see the full ingredient list, wowza.)

  • Three-pack of whole beans from Red Bay Coffee Roasters (4 oz. each): explore three different farms and roasts in this combo pack (East Fourteenth—dark; Coltrane—medium; and Slow Burn—espresso) from Keba Konte’s famed, fourth-wave, Oakland roastery.

  • Chocolate alfajores from Sabores del Sur (four): La Cocina entrepreneur and Chilean chef Guisell Osorio is famous for her alfajores, and she dipped her dulce de leche sandwich cookies into Guittard dark chocolate to take these South American delights to the next level. ¡Qué rico!

  • Lotus moon cake from Eastern Bakery: enjoy a slice of moon cake for the Lunar New Year, made with handmade lotus paste from Chinatown’s oldest bakery (since 1924!). (I didn’t order them with the traditional egg yolk, since some people don’t prefer it. Go visit the bakery and try it out, along with many other flavors.)

  • Jasmine pearl tea from China Live (2 oz.): owners George and Cindy Chen source some fantastic products for China Live’s retail shop, and this tea is organically sourced and handpicked for the restaurant. Enjoy a cup with your moon cake.

  • Fortune cookies from Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Co.: handmade in San Francisco, since 1962! I had a few made with custom fortunes, from me to you! Please visit them soon, order some cookies, and good fortune will come your way.

  • “I’m well-aged and a little crunchy” enamel pin from The Cheese School of San Francisco: It kind of says everything, right? (I laughed.) It’ll look great pinned onto your tablehopper tote! Visit The Cheese School for a well-aged cheese to go with it.

  • $10 donation to SF New Deal: your gift bag includes a donation to this remarkable organization that has been helping restaurants feed our communities in need during the pandemic. Thank you for supporting them in their work! If you want to make a bigger donation, please click here. XO

  • Everything comes in an oversized, canvas tablehopper 15th anniversary tote! In honor of the occasion, and all the takeout and doggie bags I have brought home over the years, I asked studio1500 to design a custom tablehopper version of the classic THANK YOU takeout bag graphic. THANK YOU! Thank you to all of you who got me to 15! Have a nice day.

PURCHASING DETAILS
Whew! So how’s that for a celebration of flavor from our wonderful SF Bay Area businesses? The tablehopper thank you x 15 gift bag is $225 (click to order), and 100 percent fabulous. All sales are final, no refunds or returns.

Everything will be shelf-stable, so you don’t have to worry about getting anything into the fridge after you receive it (but a couple items will need to be refrigerated after you open them). An ingredient list will be included (or noted on some items).

Unfortunately, there are no substitutions or custom orders. If there’s something you can’t eat or enjoy, I’m sure you can find someone who will! Thanks for understanding. If you need more details about any ingredients, please get in touch.

Items are subject to change and availability—since we’re dealing with so many items here (15!), there’s a small chance we’ll need to make a change or swap an item. Please trust it will be delicious. Thank you for understanding, we’ll keep you informed of any changes.

Like last time, quantities are limited, so you’ll want to hop to it. You have until Monday February 8th at 3pm PST to order (unless it sells out first). Email me to be added to a waitlist if it’s sold out, but please note we won’t be doing a second run like last time.

In-person, pre-paid pick ups will be available at China Live Friday February 12th, Saturday February 13th, and Sunday February 14th, from 4pm-8pm each day. The bag will be listed under the name on your order. Order $50 or more in food and cocktails online from China Live to pick up at the same time and you’ll receive a free chili bean sauce with code tablehopper (this offer is available to anyone purchasing a tablehopper bag, for pick up or delivery, Feb 12th-14th! Order food for delivery here.). Xie xie to China Live for hosting.

China Live: 644 Broadway St. (between Stockton and Grant). There is a parking zone where you can pull up. Please don’t contact the restaurant for any questions you have about the bag.

Delivery in San Francisco will also be available Friday February 12th through Sunday February 14th for an additional fee of $12. We will finalize your delivery time window after we get all orders in and can map things out. Please specify your preferred day and timeframe to start (morning is 9am-12pm; afternoon is 12pm-5pm, evening is 5pm-8pm). Available time slots will be Fri afternoon, evening; Sat morning, afternoon, evening; Sun morning, afternoon. (Stand by for more details and a better ETA soon if you choose this option.) If you miss your delivery (things happen!) and there’s nowhere safe for us to leave it, you’ll be able to pick up your bag at China Live. No delivery fee refunds (unless it’s totally our fault).

Sorry, no shipping, and we won’t be able to offer the gift bags any earlier than Friday February 12th.

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

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

January 27, 2021
Lacocina-municipal-sign.jpeg

The new La Cocina neon sign at the Municipal Marketplace is lit! Photo courtesy of Jay Foster.

islavida-jay.jpg

Jay Foster doing his magic (while at Isla Vida). Photo: Melissa de Mata.

jay-and-lacocina-sign.jpeg

A selfie from Jay Foster with the new sign. Photo courtesy of Jay Foster.

Some uplifting news over here (my favorite): I know many of you listened to Jay Foster’s episode of On the Fly (our second-most-listened-to episode!), and it was a particular kind of heartbreak to hear about the discrimination he was subjected to in the workplace as a Black man and skilled restaurateur seeking work at an executive level. It was a rough episode, and one that has stayed with me, which is why I am particularly thrilled to learn about his new position as Marketplace manager for the upcoming La Cocina Municipal Marketplace in the Tenderloin. It’s the perfect position for him, in many ways. (Shout-out to La Cocina executive director Caleb Zigas on this hire!)

Right now, Jay is working closely with the six La Cocina entrepreneurs who will be opening kiosks in the Marketplace, and as of this week, they will start moving into the building. The Marketplace will be the country’s first women-led food hall, and the lineup includes BOUG Cali (a West Coast Creole shack from Bayview’s Tiffany Carter, known for her gumbo and po’boys), Estrellita’s Snacks (Salvadoran pupusas, tamales, and tostadas from chef Maria del Carmen Flores and her daughter Estrella), KAYMA (Algerian dishes—from soups to flatbreads to couscous, and baked goods and coffee—from chef Wafa and Mounir Bahloul), Los Cilantros (Mexican homestyle dishes from Dilsa Lugo, including her pozole and tamales, all gluten-free and featuring many vegan dishes, too), Mi Morena (chef Guadalupe Moreno brings her Mexico City guisados, handmade tortillas, and chilaquiles to the heart of SF), and Teranga (you may know chef Nafy Ba Flatley’s baobab drinks and energy bars, but she will be cooking her healthy Senegalese dishes here). In time, chef Bini Pradhan will be bringing Bini’s Kitchen Nepalese momos and stews and more. You can read about each business on this profile page. There will also be a bar—Jay is talking to some consultants right now.

Jay is so “blessed and honored and joyful” to be working with the entrepreneurs as they make these next steps into formalizing their businesses. He is honored to learn their stories and their family histories that are so entwined in these recipes and dishes—each entrepreneur has their own heritage and unique story, and they are all so committed to the upcoming work. You can look at my previous post from a couple years ago for a backgrounder on the project.

The plan is to start cooking in mid-February, and they’re look at early spring for an opening. It has been a long and arduous journey to get this project funded and built out—we all owe many thanks to Linda Tay Esposito, who tirelessly worked on the project for the past two-and-a-half years, managing the entire build-out, fundraising, and financing, all the way to permitting. Whew. What a superwoman. She has passed the torch to Jay, who is in awe of everything she got done and how deftly she navigated city bureaucracy. (She is currently consulting, if you’re looking for a powerhouse project lead and more.)

I was teasing Jay about being back in the Tenderloin—after 15 years of running farmerbrown at Turk and Mason, now he’s just a few blocks away, at 101 Hyde Street at Golden Gate Ave. As he says, “The Tenderloin won’t let me go!” He also has a long-view perspective on the neighborhood. When he opened farmerbrown, he mentions, “how everyone always thought the neighborhood would get better.” And instead, things are actually much worse, especially due to the pandemic, from the blatant drug dealing to the extreme suffering on the streets. Jay tells me more people have died from drug overdoses than Covid-19 the past year in the neighborhood. One of the city’s most notorious open-air drug markets is right around the corner from the Municipal Marketplace.

Jay knows it’s going to be a journey, but they are so committed to being a vibrant part of the neighborhood, to serve the community, and offer employment opportunities as well as provide affordable, nutritious, and delicious meals, especially for the many residents living in nearby SROs. In fact, Jay hired back his former doorman, Damian, who knows many folks in the neighborhood, and was a big reason farmerbrown didn’t get vandalized and tagged for the 10 years he ran the door.

I look forward to updating you as the project takes shape, but for now, I am so thrilled to see this next phase happening of this visionary project, with Jay leading the helm.

damnfine-margherita.jpeg

The Margherita from DamnFine. Photo courtesy of DamnFine.

Now open in the Outer Sunset is a wood-fired pizza place, ~DAMNFINE~ serving some classics like a Margherita, to a pesto and purple potato pizza (with pancetta and Parmesan, alllll the Ps), to a clam pizza with garlic butter, mozzarella, and herbed ricotta, eight pizzas in all. You can read more about owner and (newly minted) pizzaiola Laura Seymour and partner Colin O’Malley (John Colins), who’s running the bar program (just a spritz and Negroni for now). Yup, there’s liquor. Coffee service coming soon, too. Keep track of updates at @damnfineco. Open Wed-Sun 4:30pm-9pm. 3410 Judah St. at 39th Ave. [Via Eater]

I mentioned ~JARANITA~ in my previous column, and this is just a quick note to let you know this Peruvian wood-fired spot is opening in the Marina this Friday January 29th, with takeout (the hours are now to 11am-8:30pm; last pickup at 9pm) and delivery to come soon, as well as an outdoor dining Shared Space. 3340 Steiner St. at Chestnut.

palette-chineseny.jpg

The opulent Chinese New Year menu from Palette Tea House includes baked Maine lobster over ‘longevity” noodle. Photo courtesy of Palette Tea House.

sfproper-brisket.jpeg

The new SF Proper weekly family meal. This week’s includes seaweed-rubbed brisket with sprouting broccoli and Japanese potato salad. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

In my previous column, I mentioned how supervisors Aaron Peskin and Sandra Lee Fewer—along with Chinatown neighborhood groups and SF New Deal—were trying to help keep ~FAR EAST CAFE~ supported through this challenging time after they announced they were closing (during their 100th birthday year, too tragic). One additional way you can help show them your support is by ordering one of their special Lunar New Year menus, ranging from $88 for four to $228 for eight. They’re featuring a special poon choi meal: a traditional Cantonese festival meal with layers of ingredients, served in large basins called poon (perfect to share with your pod). You can read more and view the menus here. (There’s also stuffed chicken with sticky rice, always a treat.) You need to order by 2/5 (5pm) for pickup from 2/10-2/12. Call Wing at 415-269-3960 to place your order. 631 Grant Ave. at Sacramento, 415-982-3245.

There are many more Lunar New Year menus and treats I am and will continue to be posting in my @tablehopper Instagram Highlights, from a fantastic Chinese New Year menu for 4 or 6, (and a set crab menu, featuring live Dungeness cooked in garlic butter sauce) from Palette Tea House (which is also opening their outdoor seating Thursday!), to a sure-to-be-elegant option from Eight Tables, to a treasure box from the awesome Koi Palace in Daly City, to a special Tết menu from Lily. Happy year of the ox!

Over at San Francisco Proper Hotel, chef Jason Fox has started offering a weekly menu based off their team family meals, which are often inspired by past trips and cuisines from abroad. Dishes have included pork belly rice bowl with soft-cooked egg, kimchee, and sesame; smoked paprika and yogurt-marinated chicken, roasted fingerling potatoes, and Brussels sprouts slaw; and last night, I tried seaweed-rubbed brisket with sprouting broccoli and Japanese potato salad (which came with an awesome yuzu kosho sauce I want the recipe for!)—it’s available through Jan. 31; and Feb 1st-7th is shrimp and chicken paella with chorizo, peppers, and aioli. All cost $23 for one serving. Instructions for easy reheating are included. Order through the SF Proper website, Tock, or with a free delivery special on Postmates. 

Sarahkirnon-missollies.jpeg

Chef-owner Sarah Kirnon seated at her altar honoring her ancestors and community at Miss Ollie’s. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

missollies-crab.png

Jerk crab awaits at Miss Ollie’s. Instagram photo via @missolliesoakland.

z-4505_macarthur.jpg

The 4505 Burgers & BBQ sign in Oakland. Photo courtesy of 4505 Burgers & BBQ.

I got a chance to catch up with chef-owner Sarah Kirnon of ~MISS OLLIE’S~ in Old Oakland, and she tells me things are in process for the next iteration, Sanctuary, with co-founder Miles Dotson. A recent mission statement states: “Sanctuary was birthed from chef Sarah Kirnon’s passion to provide a homestead to nurture, empower, and sustain the dreams of Black art and food creators in her Bay Area community. As a non-profit organization, Sanctuary will activate the talent of these creators to serve and feed the community in a series of active initiatives hosted in and around Oakland.”

This reconcepting of Miss Ollie’s from a restaurant to a community nonprofit was brought about because “they have been forced to rethink their purpose and impact on residents of the East Bay, and what it will look like to continue business into the future now, chasing meager revenue due to reduction of traffic by patrons and visitors to the city. In parallel, there is an increasing number of Bay Area families who now are unable to put food on the table and an unhoused population of people on their last limb as cold temperatures make survival that much harder.”

Sarah shares some difficulties that have come with the new year, beyond the usual endless pandemic challenges. It ends up their contract with World Central Kitchen—which had Miss Ollie’s preparing 1,500 meals a month for their unhoused neighbors (at $10/meal)—wrapped up at the end of December (as it did for other East Bay partners in the initiative). So, a significant part of steady income they were depending upon to weather this stage of the pandemic has dried up, and they’re looking for a way to continue to feed the community, which is an important part of their ethos at Miss Ollie’s (Sarah has always offered patrons who could not afford a meal the opportunity to receive a community plate).

Let’s support Sarah in her passion to do much more impactful work. Kindred will be the first initiative of Sanctuary, working to mobilize food distribution and CSA boxes for community members in need, starting next month (February). If there are any donors/companies interested and able made a tax-deductible contribution of $5K-$50K in order to help fund Kindred’s food program operations (and maintain their staff), please get in touch with Miles Dotson, who can send you a deck. Thank you for thinking about how to assist Sanctuary/Miss Ollie’s, and the community!

In the meantime, she is still operating Miss Ollie’s with her dedicated team Wed-Sat 12pm-7pm, and you should know she has a jerk crab that has been popping up on the menu lately! (She said it’s spicy, mmmhmmm.) She was selling the two-and-a-half pound crab for $40, serving it with yucca, sweet potato fries, chicory salad, homemade ketchup, sour cream, and grilled lemons. All the things! Keep your eyes peeled on their online menu and you can hope to crack some jerk crab soon. (I also see Dungeness crab and grits!) 901 Washington St. at 9th St., Oakland, 510-285-6188.

Some great news for Sarah’s new neighbors at Swan’s Market in Old Oakland: after suffering a tragic fire last year, ~HUANGCHENG NOODLE HOUSE~ has opened their new location in the the former Rosamunde Sausage Grill space (thanks in part to Good Good Eatz, Save Our Chinatowns, and so many generous community members for making this happen so quickly). Come by for chef-owner Jimmy Huang’s Shanxi knife-cut noodles, body-and-soul-warming soups, and more. Perfect for these wet and chilly days. Stand by for new dishes to be added in time. Open daily 10am-9pm. There are also some outdoor seats (coming soon). 911 Washington St. at 10th St. in Old Oakland. [Via Eater]

Something to track for later this winter: ~GHOST TOWN BREWING~ is opening a second location in the former 4505 Burgers & BBQ in Oakland’s Laurel District. They will be opening a taphouse and beer garden soon—the restaurant part of the concept is forthcoming. You can read further details in this Nosh piece. 3506 MacArthur Blvd. at 35th Ave, Oakland.

Another upcoming project will be the permanent brick-and-mortar location of the Salvadoran (and wood-fire-based) ~POPOCA~ from chef-owner Anthony Salguero at Classic Cars West in Uptown Oakland (read more in this Eater piece here). He launched a Kickstarter to get this exciting project off the ground (the plans include a restaurant, bar, retail hub, and micro-business incubator), please take a look and support if you can—$50 will get you a bomb Salvadoran breakfast for two! 411 26th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.