November 29, 2011

November 29, 2011
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Tacolicious interior; photo by Tyler Gourley.

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Tacolicious patio; photo by Tyler Gourley.

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Mosto interior; photo by Tyler Gourley.

PG&E has finally turned on the power for the second ~TACOLICIOUS II~ and ~MOSTO~ in the Mission, and both businesses are officially open. (Owner Joe Hargrave can officially exhale, and now inhale.) There was a previous tablehopper hardhat feature with many details on the project, but let’s recap the highlights, shall we?

Tacolicious II features barstool and banquette seating at high tables and a bar, with cheerful and colorful cement tile floors (from Guanajuato), lots of natural light, a private dining room for all your fiesta needs, and plenty of warmth from all the wood elements. The flanking 30-seat patio room features a retractable roof with seating in bright orange chairs, and a mural of Dolores Park by Paul Madonna (he did the fab taqueria artwork at the original Tacolicious in the Marina).

The menu by chef Antelmo “Telmo” Faria will be similar to the Marina location—with carnitas tacos, guajillo-braised beef tacos, and shot-and-a-beer chicken tacos, all wrapped up in tortillas from La Palma—in addition to iron skillet-roasted mussels (a nod to Hargrave’s days at LuLu), and there’s the albacore tuna tostada inspired by Mexico City restaurant Contramar. Cocktails are made with fresh juices (check out the vintage juicers), and you can go classic with a margarita or try the spicy Pasión made with passion fruit and habanero-infused tequila. Open daily 11:30am-12am. 741 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-626-1344.

Next door at Mosto, you are going to find a dimly lit bar with candle-lined walls, a banquette with high tables, and a ceiling made of over 3,000 glass Mason jars. There is a simple menu of seasonal botanas (snacks) inspired by Mexico CIty taco stands, and a not-simple tequila bar with over 300 selections. Yup, it’s going to be one of the country’s most comprehensive tequila and mezcal lists; all tequilas will be served with sangrita and a spicy pickle back. The concise cocktail list highlights some classics, like a Paloma, and a tequila sunrise made with housemade grenadine and fresh orange juice. Tequila makes you squirm? Well, there will be a single selection of every other kind of spirit (rum, vodka, etc.) in the “haters” section, all crafted in the San Francisco area, plus wine and beer.

You’re going to be all over the shaved-to-order al pastor tacos ($1.50), banana leaf-wrapped chicken tamales from Mrs. Reyes ($3), pescado del día (AQ), nopal y queso tacos ($1.50), and chicharrones by 4505 Meats. Open daily 5pm-12am. 741 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-346-1966.

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I Am No Longer Going to be Available. (Maybe.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Some big news from SFist this morning: “Terces Engelhart, owner of ~CAFÉ GRATITUDE~, just posted the following announcement on her Facebook page announcing the closure/sale of all Northern California Café Gratitudes locations. According to Englehart, some ‘aggressive lawsuits’ from former employees brought him to the decision to shutter his vegan/cult restaurants.”

All Northern California Café Gratitude locations will be closed/sold, including the very popular Gracias Madre (the Los Angeles Café Gratitude location will remain open). A second Facebook post says, “we will be open for at least a few months depending on the sales of our locations.” After speaking with management at Gracias Madre, I learned one hope is that a corporation or group will buy the NorCal locations and keep them open. If you are curious about the “aggressive lawsuits,” the SFist piece has more.

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Flickr photo by yipe.

According to this help wanted ad on Craigslist, ~PRATHER RANCH MEAT CO.~ is going to be expanding their presence in the Ferry Building Marketplace. While the folks at Prather don’t want to release any details at this time, the ad mentions it will be called ~AMERICAN EATERY~, serving “high quality breakfast and lunch to go, featuring regional American specialties with a focus on burgers, seasonal sandwiches, salads and soups. The Eatery will use only the best available meat and produce.” It also mentions a December opening, so hopefully I’ll have more details very soon.

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Moving into the former Café Kati space, ~ROOSTERTAIL~ opens Wednesday December 7th as an upscale, fast-casual (seems to be a recurring theme this year) American rotisserie adding their hip, urban feel to Upper Fillmore. Chef-owners Gerard Darian and Tracy Green plan to serve “familiar favorites” from the American and Californian traditions, using local or at least US-grown produce.

If you haven’t already guessed from the name, the restaurant’s emphasis will be chicken, specifically Mary’s free-range, air-chilled chickens raised in Cali and cooked on a rotisserie spit. Crispy chicken wings tossed in Roostertail’s signature green sauce, and a slow-roasted, spice-rubbed beef brisket will also be on the menu. Sandwich options will include pulled-pork with housemade pickles; beef brisket with sweet onion marmalade; rotisserie chicken, bacon, and Pt. Reyes toma cheese; barbecue chicken with caramelized onion and portobello mushroom; and cheesesteak-style beef brisket, all served on Acme bread. The oversized chopped salads sound almost as hearty as the sandwiches when you add a daily protein, with local cheeses to boot. Some examples: Cobb with applewood smoked bacon and Black River blue cheese; Rooster with spiced walnuts, beets, and Laura Chenel goat cheese; and the Daily Chop with fingerling potatoes, hearts of palm, and buttermilk blue cheese dressing. A good salad is a hard thing to find in this town, so I’m looking forward to trying them.

Hot sides include baked beans, warm bacon slaw, crispy onion rings, smashed potatoes with chicken gravy, mac and three cheese, and Brussels sprout bacon hash. Seasonal sides include roasted squash with walnut caper butter, and green bean and mushroom casserole, with more to come as the seasons change. The dessert menu is old-fashioned by design with draft root beer floats with Straus organic ice cream, chocolate chip bundt cake, fruit crisp, and soft-serve ice cream with a variety of dips. The beverages will include local/domestic tap beers and wines, canned beers, wine cooler cocktails made with seasonal purées, and non-alcoholic bevvies like housemade sodas.

The 1,400-square-foot restaurant will seat 49 in the main dining room with a view of the exposed kitchen, and an outdoor patio is coming soon. Expect lots of natural light, warm wooden floors, wainscoting, and a 47-inch TV (yeah, that’s a big ‘un). Choose from seating at walnut dining counters and tables, or at the black granite bar with red bar stools. Eat-in or order for takeout. Mon-Sat 11:30am-10pm, closed Sun. 1963 Sutter St. at Fillmore, 415-776-6873.

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Pulcinella photo from Adam Martin/Grub Street.

That Tony Gemignani (Tony’s Pizza Napoletana) is always busy working on something. Coming up next is ~CAPOS~, a restaurant he is opening with partners Nancy Puglisi and Bruno DiFabio in the former Pulcinella space in North Beach, according to Inside Scoop. Stand by for more details on what a place called “bosses” serves (besides fish wrapped up in newspaper, ha). He hopes to open in three months—and since the place has three ovens, it should be interesting. 641 Vallejo St. at Columbus.

I received a call from the Ritz-Carlton crew that ~PARALLEL 37~ is opening Monday December 12th (for both lunch and dinner), and Camber Lay (Town Hall, EPIC), will be the lead bartender. Stand by for pics and menus next.

After I reported a while ago that it seemed a “Thai bistro” was moving into the former California Pizza Kitchen on Van Ness, Scoop has more details: it will be called ~O3 BISTRO & LOUNGE~, serving “Asian-Californian fusion” (no comment). Owner Roy Chou has brought on chef Joseph Villanueva (Le Colonial). Look for a January opening. 524 Van Ness Ave. at McAllister.

Grub Street has some additional deets on ~THE DANCING PIG~, opening in the Nirvana space on Castro. Yup, the city is going to have yet another barbecue place. This one is from owner and south Indiana native J.R. Kleysteuber, who will be serving “San Francisco BBQ”—namely, “a mix of styles, including Carolina-style pulled pork and some house-special ribs.” The chef is Michelle Agnew (de Young Museum, Burger Bar). Additional partners are Linda Holl (both Kleysteuber and Holl are bartenders at The Mix), and Larry Metzger, owner of The Mix. And there will be bourbon! Look for an opening in a month or so. 544 Castro St. at Market.

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Artwork from Facebook.

Opening tonight in the former El Rincon space is ~DEAR MOM,~ from two Thieves Tavern bartenders, Oliver Piazza and Jay Beaman, working with Thieves owner Paul Bavaro. And today’s opening is a close one: just this morning there was a fire next door, but fortunately everyone is okay (the boys came into the burning studio with their freshly charged fire extinguisher tanks—way to go, guys!).

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, they’re partnering with Laurent Katgely of nearby Chez Spencer, who is helping them with an affordable, all-day, and rotating menu of dishes like baked farfalle with four cheeses, and daily specials ranging from braised lamb cheeks on Mondays to bouillabaisse on Fridays. Even though it sounds “nice,” everything will be priced at $19 and under. The plan is for a casual bar menu—kind of like 15 Romolo—that doesn’t necessarily make it a food destination per se, but more of a fun and friendly bar destination where you can eat. They also hope to offer a “bartender brunch” on Sundays, with brunch items available from 11am-11pm, so no matter what time you roll out of bed, you can still get your brunch on. How civilized.

There will be a whiskey-focused list (they plan on having 80 bourbons, 20 ryes), plus 20 Scotches, and some tequila. Since they literally just got their liquor license, the opening tonight will have some canned beer and a whiskey or two, but look for the shelves to get more stocked up and the beer taps to get going as the week progresses. Hours will be Sun-Thu 11am-12am, Fri-Sat 11am-1:30am. 2700 16th St. at Harrison, 415-625-3362.

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Pie! From Three Babes Bakeshop (image from their website).

The Inside Scoop broke the news that over in Cole Valley, ~THREE BABES BAKESHOP~ was opening a takeout shop for their pies (they are sharing the kitchen and retail space with the ~BACON BACON TRUCK~) in the former Ashbury Market. Building owner Arnold Eric Wong leased the rest of the space to Ben Robinson of Harvest Hill market, who will be opening a grocery store.

Here are more details: Bacon Bacon is serving coffee, breakfast, and pastries in the morning starting at 7am, and you can pick up slices or entire pies (and hot pie!) from Three Babes (and yes, pie slices will soon be available in the morning, starting at 8am). In a couple weeks (starting December 11th), Three Babes will have chicken pot pies available on Sundays ($44 for a whole pie, which will feed 7-8 people, or $8 for a hearty individual pie, which could feed two). Open until 6pm daily. Follow Three Babes Bakeshop and Bacon Bacon truck on Twitter for updates and specials. 205a Frederick St. at Ashbury.

Over in Noe Valley, the ~COOKIE TIME TRUCK~ from Marina Snetkova is serving organic cookies (fresh out of the oven on the truck), as well as Straus milk, Bicycle Coffee, and Five Mountains Tea. Ends up there’s a little neighborhood drama with the owner of Martha & Bros.—hop on over to Eater for more on the kerfuffle (that should be a cookie name). The truck will be parked in a lot next to Haystack Pizza on 24th Street between Sanchez and Vicksburg Streets, and she hopes to join Off the Grid in the very near future. Since hours seem a bit up in the air, just followe the truck on Twitter for schedule updates.

Eater brought word that ~SOUL GROOVE~ was opening in the Duc Loi kitchen (where Mission Street Food’s Mission Burger was previously staked out). Well, they’re open and here’s what’s on the menu: a very evil fried chicken and waffle sandwich ($6). Actually, let’s have them tell you more: “a succulent boneless breast wrapped in bacon, battered, southern fried, nestled between two maple waffles, and served with maple barbecue sauce and jalapeno cole slaw. No big whoop.” Yeah, it’s gonna hurt you. Soul Groove will be serving daily from 8am-8pm, and popping up elsewhere in the evenings; follow updates on Twitter.

SFoodie reports ~FARM: TABLE~’s owner Shannon Amitin will be opening a second location: a coffee kiosk in the Warfield Theater Building. There will be some bites available as well. Look for an opening in the end of January or February. 988 Market St. at Golden Gate.

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Interior of Coco-luxe; photo by Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

Coco-luxe in the Upper Haight will soon be a coffee bar by day and an urban tasting bar by night called ~COCO-VINE~. Starting at 5:30pm, you can taste wines at their newly expanded bar along with chocolates created especially for each wine. They will also serve small snacks such as Cowgirl Creamery cheeses and Creminelli Fine Meats. Coco-vine will open a retail wine store in the back where you can purchase books, openers, and other merchandise.

The wines are from Markris Wine Group (aka Mark Bright and Kristopher Esqueda), and will all be available by the glass ($7 to $16). You will be able to purchase set flights (five tastes for $12), or create your own from three different wines. They will also offer a chocolate and wine flight (three wines plus three chocolates). They expect to open by December 9th. Hours for now are Sun-Wed 9am-10pm, and Thu-Sat 9am-12am. 1673 Haight St. at Cole, 415-367-4012.

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Cupola Pizzeria interior photo by John Benson.

Swing on by ~CUPOLA PIZZERIA~ in the Westfield Centre for their new La Festa di Tutte Le Feste (“the feast of all feasts”) special. For $30 per person, chef Christian Hermsdorf will put together a special meal for your table (everyone has to order it). Anything on the menu is fair game, and the staff will ask if there is anything on the à la carte menu that has caught your eye (amounts of dishes and portions are dependent upon the number of people at the table). Dessert is included (but not beverages).

~POSTRIO~ has launched a new power hour lunch menu for $13—you get a full sandwich (like a Cubano) or personal pizza and a choice of salad (mixed greens, fruit salad, or romaine heart salad). And you’ll be in and out in 45 minutes. 545 Post St. at Taylor, 415-776-7825.

Over in Sausalito, ~MURRAY CIRCLE~ at Cavallo Point has a new power lunch menu as well from executive chef Justin Everett. You get a four-course meal served on one plate for $22. It includes a little gem salad, soup, a choice of four specialty sandwiches served on housemade bread, and freshly made chips with coal-roasted onion dip. You can add a glass of red or white wine for an additional $6. Available Mon-Fri.

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The scene at Reform Club; photo from Facebook.

A couple one-off dinners for your radar. This Thursday December 1st, Blair Warsham of graffEats is co-hosting Salon Bleue: A Feast and Conversation, the Way It Used to Be with SonicSF. A four-course menu inspired by “La Grande Cuisine” of 17th century Paris will be served with wine and beer donated by Coppola and ThirstyBear. Special guests will host each table to encourage conversation, including Adam Savage of Mythbusters and fiction writer Ayelet Waldman. 6:30pm, details and tickets ($125) here.

On Sunday December 4th, Becky Pezzullo (Undercover Supper, Bar Bambino) and Dion Jardine (Slanted Door, Heaven’s Dog) are holding another installment of ~REFORM CLUB~ at Specchio in the Mission. They will be hosting a Korean dinner with Seoul Patch (chefs Eric Ehler and Nick Rappoport). The menu includes Korean beef crudo; Korean miso with butternut squash, acorn jelly, and custard tofu; and seared rock cod with braised kimchi, beans, ham hock, and ginger; and more. $40, and wine pairings are $25. Make your reservation here.

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Yelp photo of Smoke Berkeley’s menu by Ron B.

A tip on Chowhound mentions the opening of ~SMOKE BERKELEY~, which has opened in the “little Mexican restaurant adjoining the car wash on the west side of San Pablo.” Further details mention chef Tina Ferguson-Riffe is from Texas, and she reportedly won the blue ribbon at the Blanco County Fair for her chocolate pecan pie. Also on the menu: Texas slow-smoked beef brisket and South Carolina pulled pork plates, sandwiches, and sliders, along with salads, a feta-leek tart, sides like coleslaw and potato salad, and for those of you who don’t want barbecue, there’s tea-smoked salmon with brown rice or coleslaw. Initial hours are Wed-Fri 11am-2pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm. 2434 San Pablo Ave. at Channing, 510-548-8801.