September 4, 2018

September 4, 2018

The bar area at ALX. Photo courtesy of ALX.


Duroc sticky pork ribs. Photo: Nicola Parisi.


The foie-gyu burger at ALX. Photo: Nicola Parisi.

There’s a new ofshoot of Alexander’s Steakhouse that has opened in SoMa called ~ALX~, a gastropub open day and night. Executive chef Jessie Lugo (who trained with Acquerello’s Suzette Gresham and was most recently at Alexander’s Steakhouse SF) and her best friend, executive sous chef Emily Lim, are offering an upscale pub menu with dishes like goat cheese tater tots (aka Totes M’Goats Tots), Duroc sticky pork ribs, and market greens dip (a play on spinach artichoke dip) with chicharrones for dipping.

Mains include beer can chicken with dirty rice, pickles, and yogurt, and of course an attention-getting burger: the foie-gyu burger ($35), a blend of foie gras and Wagyu beef with sun-dried tomato jam (there’s also a simpler cheeseburger for $15). Churro taco for dessert sounds like trouble. Dishes are made with well-sourced local ingredients and feature many housemade items, like the bacon, fries, chips, and hot sauces.

Beverage director Barry Horton has put together a list of Californian beer and wine, and the cocktails will rotate seasonally (right now, there’s the Stone Cold Summer, with Scotch and housemade peach syrup, finished with lemon, bitters, and soda water).

It’s a roomy space (5,525 square feet), with a capacity of 80 guests (split between the bar/lounge and main dining room); it was designed by D-Scheme Studio. Concrete floors contrast with live-edge wood tables and black leather bar stools. The bar also features three TVs, so here’s a place to go on game days. Open for lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm, happy hour 5pm-7pm, and dinner nightly 5:30pm-10pm. 680 Folsom St., Suite 125 at 3rd St.


The funghi and piccante pizzas at Doppio Zero. Yelp photo by Moe A.

Now open in Hayes Valley in the former Caffe Delle Stelle is ~DOPPIO ZERO~ (no relationship to SoMa’s Zero Zero) from Southern Italians Gianni Chiloiro and Angelo Sannino, who are also behind two South Bay locations of Doppio Zero and The Meatball Bar here in SF. They installed a Stefano Ferrara wood-burning pizza oven and are the 18th Californian pizzeria to be VPN-certified (from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana in Naples).

The menu features antipasti, pizza (eight red pies, seven white), housemade pasta, and entrées like zuppa di pesce (seafood soup with clams, calamari, shrimp, fresh fish, in a light and spicy tomato broth), chicken Milanese, and roasted cauliflower. Something special on the menu is the Pizza Napule, which is fried and stuffed like a calzone with smoked mozzarella, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, Italian salami, and black pepper. And on Tuesdays, you can order their off-menu Pizza Stelle, a pizza shaped like a star, with each of the five points holding different toppings of the chef’s choice.

The 68-seat space was designed by Alex Miramare of Naples, with a 12-seat marble bar where you can watch the pizzaiolo, plus there are leather booths and dark-stained wood tables; outdoor seating is coming soon. And there’s a full bar. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm and 4:30pm-10pm, Fri 11:30am-2:30pm and 4:30pm-11pm, Sat 11:30am-11pm, and Sun 11:30am-9:30pm. 395 Hayes St. at Gough.


A rendering of the upcoming Freds at Barneys New York San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of Barneys New York San Francisco.


Freds at Barneys New York San Francisco is coming to the top floor. Yelp photo by Charlie B.


The 1881 Restaurant is coming to the Payne Mansion on Sutter. Photo courtesy of The 1881.


A rendering of the upcoming Commons Club at Virgin Hotels San Francisco. Courtesy of Virgin Hotels.

Here are a few restaurants that are coming soon. First, Union Square is going to have yet another new project (in addition to ONE65) opening this fall: ~FREDS AT BARNEYS NEW YORK, SAN FRANCISCO~, opening in the top floor of the store. Chef Mark Strausman’s menu will feature classics from Barneys New York, such as Estelle’s chicken soup, Fred’s chopped chicken salad, and pizza margherita, plus some locally inspired additions. Steven Harris Architects and Lalire March Architects are creating a showstopping space, featuring a 36-foot-long faceted mirror lining the back bar in the lounge area and a dining area in the corner, with views of Union Square from the original historic windows. There will be 64 seats, with 17 in the lounge and 13 at the bar. Stand by for opening updates. 77 O’Farrell St. at Stockton.

Michael Mina and Hawaiian chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka of Honolulu’s MW Restaurant will be opening ~TRAILBLAZER TAVERN~, a Hawaiian-inspired restaurant in the Salesforce East building this November. The menu will span pupus (snacks), dim sum, salads, sashimi, and crudos, plus noodle and rice dishes, sandwiches, seafood, and large meat plates for sharing.

The 7,000-square-foot restaurant includes a mezzanine with room for up to 72 guests, overlooking the Salesforce lobby. The main dining room and bar will feature 34-foot-high ceilings with 24 seats at the bar and an additional 47 seats at tables, banquette seating, booths, and flex tables. A private dining space will have room for up to 18 guests, and there’s a spacious outdoor patio that will offer seating for 54 guests (with heaters and strung lighting), plus accordion-style doors on the ground level that can open on nicer days.

You’ll feel mahalo vibes in the Hawaiian-inspired bar, with a list of tropical cocktails, along with local and Hawaiian beers, a boutique wine list, and a special selection of bourbon and Japanese whisky. 350 Mission St. at Fremont.   

The new owner of the Payne Mansion at 1409 Sutter is going to be opening ~THE 1881 RESTAURANT~, featuring seasonal Cal-French cuisine from chef Jean-Paul Peluffo, with dishes like diver-harvested scallops with turmeric leek fondue and Makrut lime beurre blanc. He was most recently brought on to update the Le Colonial menu and was the chef at Le Bistro for 10 years. Fun fact: Peluffo holds three master’s degrees. Owner Bernard Rosenson is also French, as well the GM, so you know the wine program is also going to be a big point of attention, along with a cocktail menu and local craft beers.

Timothy Quillen is designing the space, which will feature historic materials, colors, and furniture, with room for 90 in the dining room, 6 at the bar, and 14 on an outdoor patio. Look for a fall opening. Dinner will be served nightly 5:30pm-10pm, with weekend brunch and high tea coming later. There is also a hotel that is part of the property. 1409 Sutter St. at Franklin.

Another fall opening is ~COMMONS CLUB~, at the new Virgin Hotels San Francisco coming to SoMa, which began taking reservations for stays starting on November 15, 2018 (the first opened in Chicago in 2016). The chef is Adrian Garcia (most recently consulting for Stonemill Matcha, previously chef de cuisine at Quince, and he also worked at Benu). He’s going to be creating a technique-driven, globally inspired menu designed to share, with hyperlocal California ingredients. The restaurant is supposed to feel like a modern social club; stand by for details in coming months. 250 4th St. at Folsom.

There’s also a taker for the long-shuttered Oro space at Mint Plaza: the co-owner of Burma Superstar, Desmond Tan, is going to be opening a Burmese restaurant in the location (possibly ~BURMACLUB~). He’ll be updating the space, moving the bar, and hopes to open in four months. Will keep you posted. Let’s hope the employment situation and policies have been tightened up since the labor lawsuit brought against Tan and Burma Superstar in 2016. 8 Mint Plaza at Jessie. [Inside Scoop.]


Lemon and herb chicken with chili and corn sides. Photo: Gamma Nine.


The cheerful interior of Piri Pica, complete with Portuguese travel posters. Photo: Gamma Nine.

Bwok bwok, it sounds and smells like flame-grilled, Portuguese piri piri chicken… Yup, due to open this week in the Mission is ~PIRI PICA~ from chef Telmo Faria (Tacolicious, Uma Casa) and Khalid Mushasha (Lolinda, Black Cat), a fast-casual spot in the former Frjtz.

As I mentioned in a previous piece, it’s feisty chicken—with chile and garlic and citrus and herbs—that has its roots in Africa (supposedly Portuguese settlers brought the chile peppers to then-colonies Angola and Mozambique, where the sauce originates). You’ll be able to get it by the quarter ($8, or $12.95 with two sides), half ($14, $18.95), or whole bird ($26, $32.95), and you can also designate how spicy you want it, or if you want it with lemon and herbs. Faria grew up in Portugal’s Azores, so these are flavors he knows well.

There’s also grilled breast, a shrimp skewer, plus a crispy chicken sandwich, a chicken wrap (whole wheat tortilla, saffron rice, three-bean chili, cabbage-herb slaw), and four kinds of salads, from cabbage-herb slaw to couscous to wild rice ($3.95 as a side, or $7.95 as a main), or the salad mista (chopped romaine, kale, spinach, tomato, cucumber, avocado, grapefruit, croutons and feta) for $10.95—you can add chicken to any of them for $5. Sides include french fries, saffron rice, vegan bean chili, grilled corn, braised collard greens, and hummus and grilled bread ($3.95-$5.95). The menu strives to be affordable and healthy, while also being well made and full of flavor.

Local beers and a Portuguese-influenced wine list will also be on offer. C Walters Design is behind the cheerful 48-seat space, which includes a vivid yellow door and yellow chairs inside, and four custom-designed steel banquettes (there will also be outdoor seating, with room for 10). Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11am-10pm. Hopefully they will update their Instagram account with the news when they open! 590 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-800-7994.


An array of yakitori at the new Z & Y Bistro. Photo via Z & Y Bistro via Yelp.


A deli sandwich at Palermo II. Yelp photo by Cole G..


Chomp N’ Swig knows what you need to start your day. Photo via Facebook.


The new Samovar Tea & Chai on Fillmore. Photo courtesy of Samovar via Yelp.

Some new openings to report on, starting with ~Z & Y BISTRO~, which just opened. This outpost from the SF favorite ~Z & Y RESTAURANT~ is focused on serving 18 kinds of Japanese-style yakitori “with a Chinese twist” (hello, bacon-wrapped shrimp), but you can also score their signature spicy dishes, like spicy fish in flaming chile oil and chicken with explosive chile pepper, plus hot pot and mapo tofu (peep the menu here). And wine! They are also open for lunch, when you’ll find a yakitori lunch combo (soup, appetizer, yakitori, and rice) and Lanzhou beef ramen.

But the biggest reason why you should go there is this note on Yelp about the business owner, chef Zhang: “Chef Zhang has been cooking since he was 14. He married 5 years ago and wanted to bring the best to his beloved. Opening his own restaurant is his dream. He enjoys cooking and he loves to eat. Most importantly, he wanted to feed the eaters. He will have big smile when he sees people enjoying his food.” I mean, okay, yes, that is all. Open Wed-Mon 11am-3:30pm and 5:30pm-8:30pm, closed Tue. 606 Jackson St. at Kearny, 415-986-1899.

Well, this is a feel-good, comeback story if there ever was one. ~PALERMO II~ has opened in North Beach from some neighborhood locals, brothers Frank and Vince Balistreri. They’re serving some winning-sounding deli sandwiches, including The Vince ($10.50), with imported mortadella, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, salt, black pepper, oregano, and provolone cheese. That’s exactly my kind of panino. Open Tue-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-5:30pm, and Sun 10am-5pm. 658 Vallejo St. at Stockton.

More sandwich comeback stories: ~CHOMP N’ SWIG~ has soft-reopened on Geary in the Richmond, serving sandwiches, breakfast burritos (so wicked, with hash browns inside!), and their bacon butter crunch sandwich. Beer and wine will be coming in a month or so. Open Mon-Fri 11am-4pm and Sat-Sun 10am-4pm for now. 5203 Geary Blvd. at 16th Ave.

Arepa fans, there’s a new arepa spot in the Mission called ~EL AREPAZO~, a family-owned and -operated business that started from their need to find Colombian food in San Francisco. They offer a menu of handmade arepas, from meaty to vegan, and all the arepas are gluten- and dairy-free (unless you order cheese on yours, of course). Each item of the menu was named after a region in Colombia, such as La Santandereana ($7.99), with shredded beef, tomato, onion, bell pepper, quail egg, and La Pastusa ($8.99) with Colombian chorizo. They also cater. Open Mon-Thu 4pm-8pm and Fri-Sat 4pm-11pm. 2169 Mission St. at 18th St., 415-283-9923.

Another location of ~SAMOVAR TEA & CHAI~ recently opened in the former Fraiche frozen yogurt on Fillmore, serving their tea drinks (and you can add boba), including matcha, turmeric golden milk, and house chai from big copper pots, and some bites too, from egg cups to toast to chia pudding to mochi muffins. Open Mon-Thu 7am-6pm, Fri-Sun 7am-8pm. 1910 Fillmore St. at Bush.


Ta-da! MORE!jones with Juanita MORE! and her trusty team, chef Cory Armenta and Cole Church. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.


Sundays are all about Juanita’s open-faced chilaquiles sandwich at her drag brunch. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.


Juanita at home with her famed fried chicken and biscuits. Photo: Mr. Joe Montana.

Some updates for you around town, starting with the news that over at ~JONES~, there’s someone in the kitchen and she’s gonna need a big hairnet! Local treasure and drag KWEEN Juanita MORE! is known for hosting her annual Sunday Pride Party there, but has now taken over the restaurant and banquet services, along with chef Cory Armenta (Fork & Spoon Productions, Hecho, Hi Tops) and food stylist Cole Church (who has cooked with Juanita for more than 10 years).

Starting today (Tuesday September 4th), it’s now called ~MORE!JONES~. Look for some more Latin-Mediterranean flavors on the menu, including her French-style carnitas, pizzas (there’s a meatball pizza, oh yeah), and her famous chicken livers. Of course, she snuck a poblano chile relleno and jalapeños en escabeche on her half-pound burger. You’ll see farm-fresh and peak-season ingredients from Feral Heart Farm on the menu as well, and there will also be a cocktail pairing menu. And tres leches cake for dessert!

Miss More has hosted numerous pop-ups over the past 15 years, serving her famed tamales and fried chicken at various venues. She previously had her own catering company, in addition to working the line in both New York and SF restaurants, as well as working for Dean & DeLuca and Williams-Sonoma.

Look for some fun nights during the week, including an affordable three-course, family-style dinner on Wednesday evenings for $35 (Sept. 12 is fried chicken with honey goo, Sept. 19 is pozole rojo, and Sept. 26th is beef and pork meatballs). And of course there will be an over-the-top drag brunch on Sundays with her open-faced chilaquiles sandwich and her hangovah pizza (with pork sausage, mushrooms, spinach, cheese, and eggs). And Biscuit Island. (Can I get a cabana there?) There’s that lovely patio and three bars, so this brunch is going to be a hit. No wig snatching! Dinner is Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm and brunch is Sun 11am-3pm. 620 Jones St. at Geary.

The newly open ~THEORITA~ from the Che Fico team (pastry chef Angela Pinkerton and chef David Nayfeld) is now serving dinner. You can take a look at the menu, which includes a few salads (like Asian chicken and a Cobb), a burger (of course), a fried chicken sandwich, vegetarian chili, and of course save room for dessert. The diner-inspired menu will ramp up in time. Dinner 5pm-11pm. 838 Divisadero St. at McAllister.

Another spot you can grab dinner is at Adam Mesnick’s ~THE BOARD~ in SoMa. Just look at his Insta and you’ll see the evil double cheeseburgers he’s grilling up, along with buffalo wings and other things that are oh so good, oh so bad. Wed-Fri 6pm-9pm.