March 20, 2018

March 20, 2018

Saturday’s devastating four-alarm blaze in North Beach. Photo courtesy of Justin Deering.

Saturday evening, I was home in bed and watching in horror on Twitter as a four-alarm fire in North Beach tore through the 650 block of Union Street, primarily the building at 659 Union (between Powell and Columbus). Amazingly no one was injured, and it ends up the majority of the building was vacant upstairs due to a previous fire in 2013 (remember when Coit Liquor and Rogue Ales suffered from that fire?). Well, unfortunately, the list of damaged businesses is much graver this time: it doesn’t look like Rogue Ales will reopen according to their Facebook page, and Tuk Tuk Thai, The Salzburg, and Ferry Plaza Seafood all have serious damage. Eater reports that nearby Michelangelo Caffe has also sustained fire-related damage.

We’ll have to see what happens in coming days, but here’s one glimmer of help: Hoodline reports that Interim Mayor Mark Farrell has activated the Small Business Disaster Relief fund, which means “each business impacted will be allowed to access up to $10,000 in financial assistance for inventory replacement, equipment purchases, employee salaries, and even security deposits for new leases elsewhere.” With more than 50 employees affected, this fund is truly helpful. The Salzburg—which was such a beautiful bar handcrafted by owner Jay Esopenko and had just opened back in September— has also launched a GoFundMe, you can read more here. Best wishes to all as they try to recover, I will keep you posted on updates.

Since we’re in the neighborhood: just around the corner, it ends up ~CAFFE ROMA~ has closed after 29 years. According to a note in the window, they decided “not to renew our lease and concentrate on our families and other Caffe Roma locations,” so their SoMa location (885 Bryant St. at 7th) and Millbrae location remain open. You can read more in the post in Hoodline. 526 Columbus Ave. at Union.


The former Patio Cafe is now Hamburger Mary’s. Photo via Facebook.


The Hot Mess; Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

It’s like Tales from the Crypt over in the Castro, but really, truly, The Patio space has reopened after being closed since, uh, 1999. (No word if they found some drag queens hiding under the deck.) The Les Natali-owned space has finally been transformed into a location of ~HAMBURGER MARY’S~, which started as a beloved SoMa burger joint in 1972 and has since morphed into a national chain, so don’t expect any groundbreaking culinary magic here. But you can get some nachos, and burgers made with a custom blend from Weber Quality Meats (brisket, short rib, and chuck), and there will be some sassy drag performers to keep things fun. Plus Ru-Paul’s Drag Race screenings, you know it. Check Facebook for updates on what’s going on and who’s servin’ (lewks, shade). Let’s just all be happy that huge space is open once again. That was ridiculous. Hours will expand and brunch is coming, but for now, food is served Sun-Thu 4pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-11pm; bar until 2am. 531 Castro St. at 18th St.

Over in Mid-Market, ~LITTLE GRIDDLE~ has reopened after two years of renovations (which were supposed to take two months). Hoodline shares that the space is back in action and a little lighter and brighter, serving breakfast, brunch, sandwiches, and burgers, and the next-door wine bar, Mavelous Coffee and Wine Bar, is serving Stumptown Coffee and pastries. The two businesses are now one: ~MAVELOUS COFFEE BAR AND LITTLE GRIDDLE~ and are also now connected with one entrance. Soft opening hours are 7:30am-3pm. (Mavelous is expected to stay open later into the evening, TBD.) 1400 Market St. at Fell.

And here’s an update on a place I am missing: after Michelin-rated sushi bar ~KINJO~ suffered flooding back in October 2017, it looks like they are aiming to reopen by the end of April. The exact date depends on construction, and since it’s raining again, that makes things tough. I’ll keep you updated. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-921-2222.


Spam musubi at Aina. Photo: ©


Crispy oysters and horseradish at Commonwealth. Photo courtesy of Commonwealth.


Shrimp mousse and sweetbreads course at Commonwealth. Photo courtesy of Commonwealth.

You have a new lunch option to add to your roster, and it’s a great one: ~AINA~ in Dogpatch is launching lunch Wed-Fri 10am-2:30pm, with their housemade Spam musubi and some new lunch-only dishes, including a pork tonkatsu sandwich (kalua pig terrine, fermented cabbage, namasu, kimchi aioli; $14), North Shore garlic shrimp (ginger, garlic, XO, scallion, smoked sesame; $11), and a bento box (egg custard omelet, pickle, roasted cauliflower, mac salad; $15). The brunch menu will continue on the weekends. And if you haven’t headed in there for the mo’olelo tasting menu, you really should. Trust me on this. 900 22nd St. at Minnesota, 415-814-3815.

Over in Hayes Valley, ~BARCINO~ has launched weekend brunch, with dishes like the ou (slow-poached eggs, housemade chorizo hash, piperade, green harissa, toast), the tortilla (Catalan egg and potato omelet, Dungeness crab, Meyer lemon migas, holandesa), and the torrijas (cinnamon French toast, caramel apples, whipped crème fraîche, candied almond). Sat-Sun 11am-2:30pm. 399 Grove St. at Gough.

At ~COMMONWEALTH~, chef Jason Fox has launched a new extended tasting menu: $125 for 12 courses, including a few snacks and mignardises, plus $70 for beverage pairing. He was already creating these extra courses for advance guest requests and decided he may as well roll it out as a menu. This way you can taste his favorite dishes, including some rare seasonal items. Take a look here. Really, take a look. Wow. There are courses like shrimp mousse wrapped in lettuce, sweetbreads cooked in beeswax, popcorn puree, yuzu kosho milk. Boom. The regular tasting menu is $85 for 7 courses, plus $55 for beverage pairing, and will remain a menu option.


The long table at an Outstanding in the Field event. Photo courtesy OITF.

Here’s a quick-fire round of some fantastic food events for your consideration!

This Thursday March 22nd, No Kid Hungry presents the 11th annual Taste of the Nation event at Pier 35, with top chefs and restaurants like Octavia and Frances, Lord Stanley, China Live, Rooh, and State Bird Provisions. Details and more here.

Presidio Picnic has returned on Sundays (11am-4pm) for its sixth season (through October 21st). There are more than 25 international mobile food creators courtesy of Off the Grid (like El Pipila, Señor Sisig, Del Popolo), music, lawn games, yoga, bike safety classes, and nature-based arts and crafts for kids. Plus, there’s a full bar presented by Rye on the Road, featuring wine, beer, spirits, and craft cocktails. There’s a free water refilling station, so please bring your own bottle. One new addition: there’s now a free cultural dance performance on the fourth Sunday of each month (on April 29th, SF Awakko-Ren Dance Group performs Awa Odori, one of the most well-known Japanese traditional dances with 400 years of history).

Do you have your tickets for Pebble Beach Food & Wine? The premier epicurean event returns April 5th-8th, when 120 renowned chefs and 250 distinguished winemakers from across the globe descend on Pebble Beach, with interactive cooking demonstrations, rare wine tastings, epic culinary collaborations, dinners, outdoor grilling and taco events, and the Lexus Grand Tasting tent in the country. Look for some live musical offerings this year too.

Tickets are on sale today for Outstanding in the Field’s 2018 tour! In May and June, OITF has farm-to-table dining events planned in the San Francisco Bay Area, returning to California for fall events in October and November. May 6th has guest chef Ravi Kapur (Liholiho Yacht Club) at Jacobs Farm at Martial Cottle Park, San Jose, while May 20th has guest chef Gonzalo Guzman of Nopalito at Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales, and Nicolette Manescalchi of A16 will be somewhere on June 16th. Check it all out and get your tickets!