July 12, 2011

July 12, 2011
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584 Valencia St.; photo from Eater.

A weekend tweet (somewhat incorrectly) released the name of Charles Phan’s new restaurant in his original Valencia Street space: ~WO HING GENERAL STORE~. The Feast did a little more research with Phan and found out “while this new restaurant (named after a nickname for his late father) will feature Chinese cooking, it will not be similar to what’s offered at his Heaven’s Dog restaurant. There will be a full cocktail program, and Phan says he would like to also develop a substantial list of original non-alcoholic beverages. He hopes to open in September, pending city approvals. A San Francisco Planning Department hearing for an approved Conditional Use Permit in the space is scheduled for July 14.” As I mentioned in a previous column, Phan has Michelle Mah working with him, so we’ll have to stand by for any formal announcements. 584 Valencia St. at 17th St.

Thanks to a couple tipsters, I learned Ben de Vries of luella has taken on a consulting role at ~CIRCOLO~ in the Mission (this is only a side job—he continues to own and lead the helm at luella). He is teaming up with owner Jon Mayeda and H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir to transform Circolo into more of a cocktail lounge, featuring Ben’s cuisine and H’s drinks. Menus are still in development, but they’ll revolve around small, tasty bites to pair with the cocktails. The team has hired chef de cuisine Livio Velardo (previously at Canteen) to help bring the food and kitchen together. De Vries also mentions plans to launch Eat Me @ Circolo, a lunch program similar to what he did in North Beach, Eat Me @ The Vin Club. 500 Florida St. at Mariposa, 415-553-8521.

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Pressed Brie panino; Yelp photo by Ashley P.

I checked in with the owner of Yabbie’s Coastal Kitchen on Polk a few weeks ago after hearing the space was being sold to “a deli”—and while owner Scott Holley couldn’t reveal to me who the buyer was, permits do: it’s going to be a second location of ~BLUE BARN GOURMET~, the popular (and petite) pressed sandwich and salad spot on Chestnut Street.

Eater caught up with the Blue Barn crew (chef Sam Josi, Nate Valentine, and Stryker Scales), revealing plans for “30 seats inside and six to eight outside (depending how talks with the City go). Menu offerings can expand slightly here too; there’s room to start a catering operation; and Valentine mentions a significantly larger selection of craft beer and wine will fill things out.” I had a quick chat with Valentine, who also mentions they are hoping to add rotisserie chicken to the menu, and is looking forward to creating a space where people can linger over their meal instead of having to grab it and go. Timing is contingent on the ABC—Blue Barn could be opening in the beginning of October, or it could take all the way to 2012. I’ll keep ya posted. 2237 Polk St. at Vallejo.

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A famous Giordano’s all-in-one sandwich (photo from their website).

After waiting to hear back from owner Jeff Jordan about his plans for the second location of ~GIORDANO BROS.~ in the Ti Couz space, he just sent a handy little FAQ about his plans for the Mission location. (You may recall that he originally tried to open a second location in Cow Hollow, which fell through.) The current schedule for the Mission Giordano Bros. is targeting a soft opening in the late summer, and a grand opening in the beginning of September (I’ll keep you posted). In a funny twist, Ti Couz was the first restaurant Jeff Jordan ever went to in the Mission, about 17 years ago.

The sandwich menu is going to be expanded with pierogies that will be made in-house every day, along with homemade pickles, barbecue baked beans, and homemade chips. They also want to start offering a traditional East Coast fish sandwich on Fridays, and there’s talk of brunch down the road. The beer selection is going to be expanded from North Beach’s selection of 10 taps and 15 bottles to 24 taps and a bunch of bottles, with a lot of local beers and a bigger wine list. There will be table service for both lunch and dinner, and you can order take-out at the bar. Large groups will be able to reserve two large, 10-person communal tables (for parties of 10 or 20). On a side note, while Giordano Bros. in North Beach is known for being a Pittsburgh Steelers bar, they want the Mission location to be as neutral as they can be for all pro and college sports. The bigger space means they will also be showing a lot of different channels (as many as seven games simultaneously). Yup, I think a lot of men will be going there. 3108 16th St. at Valencia.

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The Hot Mess; Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

Pedaling my bike up Market Street, I was wondering what ~LITTLE GRIDDLE~ was all about (it just opened in the former Lunch Geek space near Civic Center). Little Griddle’s Facebook page says it’s “Your new favorite mom & pop traditional American eatery with little twists and turns to keep things hot off the griddle.” Well then. The burgers use Niman Ranch beef (including, God help us, another donut burger), and the eggs are from cage-free chickens. Thrillist has additional details: the owner is John Chow, whose family owns Happy Donuts, Ma’velous just next door, and Cafico across the street. They have 28 seats that you can plunk into while deciding which omelet, scramble, sandwich, Spot bagel, or burger you want. There’s also morning coffee service (including espresso). Open Mon-Fri 7am-6pm and Sat-Sun 7am-3pm. 1400 Market St. at Fell, 415-864-4292.

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Photo courtesy of Muka.

French bistro ~MOUSSY’S~ has reopened as ~MUKA~, a subterranean wine bar and dessert lounge on the campus of San Francisco’s Alliance Française. But don’t fret, owner Jean-Luc Kayigire is also putting some beers on the list as well, and Pâtisserie Philippe is doing the desserts. Open Tue-Thu 6pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-2am. 1345 Bush St. at Polk, 415-346-7029.

And tablehopper tipster Jason B. writes in, “Walking around the Richmond today, passed by ~SANMI~ and they had a sign inside saying the owners are retiring. A new spot called ~HISAGO~ will be coming.” 3226 Geary Blvd. at Spruce, 415-668-7711.

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Photo from Ahn Sushi and Soju’s Facebook page.

A new spot in the TL: Inside Scoop mentions ~AHN SUSHI AND SOJU~ has opened from Kash Feng of Live Sushi Bistro in SoMa and Live Sushi Bar in Potrero Hill. It’s a Japanese-Korean restaurant above Pandora Karaoke. Sake. Soju. You do the math. Open nightly 5pm-2am. 177 Eddy St. at Mason, 415-929-1118.

The Tender has been tracking the news that ~DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFÉ~ is going to be relocating. It’s not clear where the new location will be and when the current location will close, so stand by for more salient details. But if you want to get your crack-and-cornbread fix, now is your time. 522 Jones St. at Geary, 415-885-2767.

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Photo of the 2009 SF Street Food Festival from Facebook.

Like the last two years, there’s lots going on with La Cocina’s ~SAN FRANCISCO STREET FOOD FESTIVAL~ coming up August 20th, including the Vote Your Vendor Contest that’s already underway. Now ‘til July 29th, you can vote for your favorite street food vendor, cart, truck, restaurant, or home cook, and the top four will get to participate in the festival for free. Eaters, vote here by July 29th. Potential vendors, the shared booth space is valued at $500, so register here if you want a chance to feed the 50,000 attendees expected at this year’s festival. Winners also receive prep time in La Cocina’s kitchen, and small business training and technical assistance from Wells Fargo and La Cocina. Winners will be announced July 29th at the Media Dinner.

As for the Street Food Festival itself, they’re packing in “all the best food in the Bay Area on one street,” meaning over 30 La Cocina micro-vendors, 25 Bay Area owner-operated restaurants, 5 formerly informal entrepreneurs, at least 10 of the best local food trucks, and, as special guests, 6 mobile vendors hand-picked from across the country. The event is scheduled for August 20th from 11am-7pm on Folsom St. from 22nd to 26th Streets, with communal seating on adjacent streets. It’s free for the public to attend, and all food will be under $8—half will be under $3. TIP: make sure you go with at least a couple people so you can share bites and taste more dishes.

Participants include Lucero Muñoz (bacon-wrapped hot dogs), Chaac Mool, El Buen Comer, Alicia’s Tamales, Estrellita’s Snacks, Sweets Collection (jello shots), and restaurants like Flour + Water and The Slanted Door. The six out-of-town mobile vendors, who are donating all profits to La Cocina, are Big-Ass Sandwiches (Portland), Skillet Street Food (Seattle), Global Soul (Los Angeles), Schnitzel and Things (New York), Ingrid’s Lunch Box (Madison), and Along Came a Slider (Austin). Plus Rye on the Road will be pouring Amstel Lights and Skyy drinks.

Passports for the Street Food Festival range from $50-$250, purchased online. Each passport comes with a souvenir Street Food journal, secret treats for passport holders, and you’ll save some dough, but all vendors accept cash too.

The festival benefits La Cocina, the business incubator helping low-income food entrepreneurs create successful and sustainable small businesses. La Cocina will also host the National Street Food Conference August 21st-August 22nd at Fort Mason Center, focusing on the culture, economics, and policy of street food with an extended look at small business incubation nationally. It all starts with brunch hosted by Top Chef Masters contestant Suvir Saran, and will continue with panels and breakout sessions on everything from writing about street food to marketing your own food truck. Guests include Gilt Taste editor Francis Lam, and Pulitzer Prize-winning LA Weekly critic Jonathan Gold.

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Off the Grid Civic Center; photo from OTG’s Facebook page.

Man, the food truck scene is bizzeeee. SFoodie mentions that ~OFF THE GRID~ will be assigning two rotating trucks near Linden Street (i.e. the alley with Blue Bottle Coffee’s kiosk) and Octavia Street in Hayes Valley for lunch (11am-2:30pm) and dinner (5pm-9:30pm) Tue-Sun (the hours should be fully in place by next week).

Over in Oakland, the East Bay Express reported last week on the closure and then reopening of ~BITES ON BROADWAY~. You can (try) to follow organizer Karen Hester’s BoB tweets (which are oddly “protected”) to keep up with the saga.

Non-truck addendum: East Bay Express also reports there’s a spin on an underground market called ~THE BAZAAR~ on Saturdays 10am-6pm. (There’s a mention of an upcoming Oakland Bazaar as well.) 3192 Adeline St. at Martin Luther King Jr., Berkeley.

And in San Mateo, there are two new food truck gatherings: Bay Area Bites announces the ~MOVEABLE FEAST~ at the San Mateo Events Center on the first Friday of every month, and ~OFF THE GRID~ just debuted a gathering on Mondays 5pm-9pm in the parking area by the San Mateo Caltrain station (between First Ave. and Baldwin Ave.).

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Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

No, these are not two places you’d expect to find in the same post, but whatever, it’s my column and I can do whatever the hell I want. First up, Lower Haight wing outpost ~WING WINGS~ has started offering delivery from 11am-11pm (except Tue), with a $20 minimum. Check out the menu and delivery map before you start getting your hopes up. I tried it out last night, and thought the spicy Buffalo wings are where it’s at (eat some potato salad to cool your mouth down), and the biscuits are tasty.

And for you downtown workers, ~MICHAEL MINA~ has expanded lunch to include the dining room (it was originally at the bar only). You can order from the à la carte menu or the prix-fixe “Chef’s Counter Menu” ($39), or a three- or four-course prix-fixe ($49/$59) while seated in the main dining room—and as the restaurant claims, you’ll be out of there in under an hour-and-a-half. Start your watches. Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm.

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Tony’s Trail Mix; photo by Katie Newburn Photography.

This Saturday July 16th is another ~NEW TASTE MARKETPLACE~, with a variety of take-home products, lunchtime eats, and for dessert, Frozen Kuhsterd will be serving high-quality frozen custard (a rarity in these parts). The complete list of vendors can be found here. The event is a fundraiser for The Food Pantry. 12pm-5pm. St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, 500 De Haro St. at Mariposa.

One table and product I want to call attention to is Tony’s Trail Mix. It’s made by Michelle Pusateri, the maker of the delicious Nana Joes granola. The reason this product is very special is it’s dedicated to her father, who sadly passed away on May 2nd from brain cancer. Proceeds from the sale will go directly to her father’s doctor in Texas, Dr. Fink, for brain cancer research and education.

Michelle writes to me: “I think if we had known some of the signs of this type of cancer in December or January when my dad was acting ‘weird’ we could have come to the conclusion that it wasn’t just old age or retirement that were causing his symptoms but aggressive brain cancer, maybe just maybe extended his life. I have never seen a Brain Cancer Awareness campaign and would love to start a fund in addition to donating to Dr. Fink so we can save other people’s lives. If we can at least educate people about the symptoms maybe we can help save a life. I poured my heart into this product and I think it’s tasty.” I hope you have a chance to check it out—not only is it a crazy-delicious trail mix (pistachios, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, coconut, and flax seeds drizzled with organic maple-spiced orange syrup), but one that has an important story (and intention) behind it. I hope you’ll look for it.

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Photo from Oliveto.

~OLIVETO~ is presenting the first of two Oceanic Dinners tonight through Friday July 15th, featuring sustainable seafood caught by small-boat fisherman from healthy fisheries along the California coast. The Oceanic Dinner menu will be available à la carte, along with the regular dinner menu. A sampling of the items include panna cotta of Fort Bragg sea urchin, involtino of Monterey Bay abalone, steamed petrale sole, and local sand dabs. The second of the Oceanic Dinners will feature Mid-Atlantic seafood from July 19th-July 22nd, and they promise to have a classic lobster roll and pan-fried black bass. There’s dessert too. 5655 College Ave. at Shafter, Oakland, 510-547-5356.

In another fish-focused menu, ~PALIO D’ASTI~ is honoring the ancient Sicilian tuna hunt known as La Mattanza by showcasing the versatility of local albacore and all its parts. The special menu items can be ordered individually, as a three-course Head to Tailfin menu, or as part of the prix-fixe Mix and Match menu. Items include a starter of albacore tuna belly two ways: seared and marinated with sweet and sour onions, and raw with Trapani sea salt on traditional eggplant relish with pine nuts, raisins, olives, and capers. You’ll also see parts like offal, roe, and back loin, cooked using traditional Sicilian recipes and cooking techniques. Palio’s also offering two hours free parking, lunch and dinner, in the Portsmouth Square garage. Nice. 640 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-395-9800.

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This Saturday July 16th is the ~BAY AREA BBQ CHAMPIONSHIP~ at the Oakland Coliseum, a benefit for foster children hosted by Alternative Family Services. There will be dueling tastings from 32 different competitors (that enough for ya?), including Food Network champions the Bad Boyz of BBQ, the Q Masters, Bad S BBQ (featuring Iron Chef Contestant Ric Gilbert), and the Oakland Fire Department. And, it’s an Oakland A’s double-header. Big day!

Ballgame and BBQ ticket packages are available, or A’s ticket holders can buy BBQ-only passes. Unfortunately due to Coliseum rules, all BBQ Championship entrance and tasting tickets must be purchased in advance online. (And you might want to buy more than the five food/drink tickets that come with admission if you’re a hearty eater.) NO TICKET SALES THE DAY OF THE EVENT. Opens at 9:30am; first pitch at 1:05pm.

Check it out: I have three tickets to give away to one lucky winner (each ticket includes entrance to the event, five BBQ tastes, and tickets to the Oakland A’s double-header, a total value of $48). All you need to do is share your favorite place in the Bay Area to get barbecue on my posting about this event on the tablehopper Facebook page. The deadline to post is Wednesday July 13th at 11:59pm. I will notify the winner on Thursday! Fire it up.

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Phil’s Sliders; Yelp photo by Andy D.

A friend wanted to let me know a guy she went to high school with (Hugh Groman) recently opened a new burger place in Berkeley, just around the corner from the Berkeley Rep: ~PHIL’S SLIDERS~. It’s open daily, and thanks to this piece by Berkeleyside, we learn Groman named the place after his dad (good boy). It opened in the former New China Express space, and serves “$2.00 sliders (mini-burgers to the uninitiated), all made with Marin Sun Farms grass-fed beef and organic lettuce; potato tots (‘crispy nuggets of goodness’); poppyseed coleslaw; and a smorgasbord of ‘delicious’ baked goods, including s’mores bars, and not forgetting the house-made shakes and sodas.” Housemade soda flavors include root beer, cola, celery, orange, and cream sodas. Hours are Sun-Wed 11am-9pm, and Thu-Sat 11am-12am. 2024 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley, 510-845-5060.

Meanwhile, Bay Area Bites highlights a new Korean restaurant, the cleverly named ~BE BOP~ that opened in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood. The menu offers 17 variations of bibimbap, the fabulous rice dish in a piping-hot stone bowl that you mix up with various ingredients (just make sure you let it get crispy on the bottom). Non-traditional options include mixed-grain brown, black bean rice, quinoa, and more, plus options for vegetarians and vegans (oh so Berkeley). Everything on the menu is reportedly $15 or less. Look for more additions to the menu and a beer and wine license in coming months. 
Open for lunch Mon-Sat 11am-3pm, and dinner Mon-Sat 5pm-10pm, Sun 5pm-11pm. 2975 College Ave. at Ashby, Berkeley, 510-848-8081.

A couple new places for your 650 radar: ~DUMPLING EMPIRE~ just opened in South San Francisco, serving 21 kinds of boiled handmade dumplings, including xiao long bao (I am so there). The location was previously Cypress Teriyaki, a Japanese restaurant. Hours are daily 10:30am-9:30pm, although they’re currently closing at 5pm Wed-Thu (this is subject to change). 216 Cypress Ave. at Grand, South San Francisco, 650-742-0838.

And in Burlingame, the owners of Sapore Italiano Ristorante have opened ~CAFFÈ SAPORE~ in a spot that previously housed Harmony Yogurt. Customers can purchase panini, salads, fresh daily homemade pastas and sauces (to go), gelato, and specialty Italian imports. There are about 10 marble tables for lunch, and customers can also enjoy free Wi-Fi. 1243 Howard Ave. at Primrose, Burlingame, 650-348-1400.

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