October 2, 2018

October 2, 2018
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The bar at Angler. Photo courtesy of Angler.

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The open kitchen and hearth at Angler. Photo courtesy of Angler.

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Purple sea urchin. Photo courtesy of Angler.

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California king crab like you have never had it. Photo courtesy of Angler.

A couple weeks ago, I was able to take a peek inside the brand-new ~ANGLER~ at a preview party for World’s 50 Best Talks, and the former Chaya has been converted in quite the spiffy waterfront restaurant. Owners Joshua Skenes and Mark Bright of the three-Michelin-starred Saison have already proven their dedication to excellence of flavor, ingredients, sourcing, service, and wine and spirits, and at Angler, it’s all going to be a little bit more accessible than Saison’s $298 menu (appetizers are $12-$28, while mains are $20-$48).

Working with executive chef Nicolas Ferreira, Skenes has brought over his dedication to cooking over live fire: here, it’s a 32-foot wood burning hearth. With his finely tuned techniques, and micro-sourcing from local fishermen, hunters, gatherers, ranchers, and farmers, you can expect dishes that are designed to showcase quality ingredients at their best, while slowly and carefully nurturing natural flavors at peak taste.

You can take a look at the menu here, although it’s a cryptic one, and will be updated daily. While it’s a sea life-focused restaurant—with spot prawns, scorpion fish, and Monterey abalone, and there are massive fish tanks to keep them in—you’ll also find meats like hot grilled rabbit, vegetables, and a raw bar and selection of salads. Naturally, there is caviar service with their own private batch.

Mark Bright has assembled a wine cellar that is of course heavy on the Burgundy (he has access to some of the best), but other classic regions are represented as well, plus some aged selections. There is also a full bar, featuring small-batch distillers and well-known spirits too.

The front dining room has 46 seats, with 12 at the counter, and 28 in the bar and salon. The room has brick walls adorned with fish taxidermy and is anchored by the open kitchen in the back, with bouquets of drying herbs hanging, flowers, books, and ephemera that make it feel cozy and welcoming like a French countryside kitchen.

The back room, The Game Room, has a hunting lodge feel, with wood paneling at the back bar and the walls, tobacco upholstered banquettes, and an enormous taxidermied bear that is mid-pounce, along with other animals that would have made my Uncle Gino proud (he was such a hunter). There is room for 30, and it’s designed to also be used for private dining.

Initial hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. You’ll want to book your table before it completely blows up, the word on the street is hot. Valet parking available for $20. 132 The Embarcadero at Mission, 415-613-4447.

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At Pizzeria Delfina. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Well, this is exciting: Craig and Annie Stoll are expanding their ~PIZZERIA DELFINA~ mini-empire with a new downtown location, coming to the former A.G. Ferrari at 688 Mission Street at 3rd Street. Craig tells me they have been looking for a location in the area for about ten years—they love the bustle and energy. This will be their fifth location (the pizzeria is also in the Mission, Pacific Heights, Palo Alto, and Burlingame).

There will be 80 seats, with a wine bar inside, and sidewalk seating coming too. They will continue with their theme of featuring a mural of San Francisco Bay (mimicking the Neapolitan pizzeria tradition of always having a mural or picture of the Bay of Naples)—this one will be by artist Shawn Bullen (he is behind the bee in Hayes Valley).

The menu will be like the other locations, serving the same repertoire of dishes with seasonal changes, but they will also be adding soft-serve featuring Double 8 Dairy, and a deeper wine list. Look for a new Delfina chardonnay from their collaboration with Scribe Winery, poured en mag, plus 12 beers on tap. Lunch and dinner will be served daily.

If the pizza gods cooperate, they should be open at the end of November or early December. Stand by for news on when you can get a Purgatorio pizza! 688 Mission St. at 3rd St.

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Tacos are coming to the former post office: get ready for the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The old post office, and future home of the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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La Cocina businesses like Mi Morena were at the bread-breaking (and fed us, lucky us). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week was an important one for business incubator La Cocina: they celebrated a “bread breaking” at their future ~LA COCINA MUNICIPAL MARKETPLACE~ in the Tenderloin, with Mayor London Breed, Supervisor Jane Kim, La Cocina executive director Caleb ZIgas, and members of the community (La Voz Latina, Central City SRO Collaborative) speaking about the importance of supporting this project, not only for La Cocina, but for the neighborhood, the city, and beyond.

This all-women-led, 7,000-square-foot marketplace is taking over the former post office at 101 Hyde Street at Golden Gate, a particularly challenging corner in the city, especially since the post office closed. The city-owned location is eventually going to be developed and converted into affordable housing, but that’s going to take some time—so for at least the next seven years, La Cocina has a lease with extremely low rent, an absolute rarity in this city that is so challenging for small businesses, let alone ones owned by women, immigrants, and people of color.

It’s going to be the first women-led food hall in the country, with seven La Cocina graduates (primarily immigrants and women of color) who will have their own kiosks. There will also be a pop-up kiosk, a dining area, a marketplace bar, a community kitchen (offering below-market-rate kitchen space to entrepreneurs and community groups for food production), classes, and more. They want to feed the neighborhood, offering quality and affordable and delicious food, while also creating 30 jobs for low-income individuals.

Not only will the marketplace provide an equitable opportunity for La Cocina entrepreneurs to gain experience in building their businesses, but the food hall format will also allow them to diminish the burden of high commercial rent, as well as share labor, maintenance, and other operating costs. It’s also going to do a lot to activate that corner, and help support the neighborhood. This is such an innovative and inspiring project—which has been three years in the making—offering a replicable model for economic development for cities across the nation. It’s a win-win-win-win-win (there are a lot of wins).

La Cocina is still fundraising for the project: they have raised 65% of their $5MM goal, but still need some financial support to bring it home. If you would like to make a donation in support of the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, or know someone who would support the project, please send Development and Communications Manager Jessica Mataka an email or call at 415-824-2729, ext. 307.

Construction is now underway, and they are targeting a spring opening. Congratulations and much respect to Caleb and the entire La Cocina team on this big next step. 101 Hyde St. at Golden Gate.

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The wonderful Tamale Lady (Virginia Ramos). Photo via Twitter, source unknown.

What kind of a San Francisco is one without The Tamale Lady? Last Friday, the city was distraught over the terrible news that our dear lady of the tamal, Virginia Ramos, has left us at the far-too-young age of 65. She was a magical and mythical figure, who would appear like an angel at the bar or beer bust where you were most likely drinking far too much, and probably hungry. You’d turn, and suddenly there she was, usually with her beanie and always with her little cart and coolers in tow. You’d see a flurry of happy activity around her, with a “How you doin’, honey?” as she’d dip into her cooler and produce a warm tamal—you’d order two if you were smart—pour some salsa from her plastic dispenser, hand you a paper towel and fork, and give you a beaming smile and a hug.

She fed us all like we were her children. Granted, we were her drunk and disorderly children, but she loved us. She always knew when we needed her most.

For me, it was often at the end of the Sunday beer bust at The Eagle. She’d laugh at me hanging out in a sea of gay men and chaps. One time, I got smart and asked for her mobile number. I used to host a biweekly happy hour (a very blurry one) at Vertigo on Polk in the early aughts, and told her we’d have many patrons in need of her divine sustenance at the end of the party. It felt extra-magic to be able to summon her like that. Man, did everyone lose their mind when she would show up with her cart. TA-MAL-ES!

Tamales are already so ridiculously labor-intensive to make, but could you imagine schlepping around a cart and coolers and salsa and paper towels and forks and feeding a bunch of drunks? That is a rare human. Virginia was exquisitely rare.

It breaks my heart that she was so close to opening her brick-and-mortar location in the Mission, soooo close. The project was beleaguered with delays and issues, but it was heartening to see so many people rally around her and try to help when she got booted from selling her tamales at Zeitgeist (and other bars around town) when the city deemed her enterprise a violation of city health codes (a special shout-out to Nate Allbee and David Campos for spearheading the initial location search). Oh, the irony about the recent bill Governor Brown just signed into law that will help allow Californians to prepare and sell food from their home kitchens.

There will be a vigil in her honor on Tuesday October 9th at Duggan’s Funeral Service (3434 17th St.) from 4pm-7pm, with a rosary at 7pm. The funeral will be Wednesday October 10th at 11am at Mission Dolores Church. According to a tweet from her account, presumably a family member, she had heart trouble. Yeah, it was just too big.

Virginia, San Francisco is ever-grateful for all the love and care you took to feed us, love us, worry about us, and make us so proud to have the one and only Tamale Lady to claim as our own. You made our city that much cooler. (And delicious.) You will be sorely missed—you were one of those mythic and beloved SF characters who is irreplaceable and will never be forgotten. Condolences to her family and all her friends. Rest in peace.

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Zarzuela’s prime corner location. Photo via Facebook.

Some big news on Hyde Street: after being open since 1994 (as long as I have lived in San Francisco!), Andy Debbane and Lucas Gasco’s beloved Spanish stalwart ~ZARZUELA~ will be closing soon for a new project and ownership that is taking over.

Executive chef Michael Pawlik—who has been cooking at Russian Hill neighbor Frascati for the past 12 years—is going to be moving in with his co-owner and girlfriend Amanda Banks Barker to open ~ABRAZO~ (which they are defining as “a warm embrace”). Pawlik will be paying homage to what Zarzuela has built there over the past 24 years, offering a Spanish-forward, Mediterranean menu, but it will not include traditional tapas. Banks Barker—who is the bar manager of mamanoko in the Marina—will be putting together the wine list, as well as offering sherry-based cocktails.

There is not a specific closing date set as of yet, so head over for a final paella and tortilla and “gracias” for all the years of great meals while you can. Zarzuela will operate until the transfer process is complete, and the new duo is planning on getting the keys the first week of November. They hope to get a couple soft openings done by the end of November and open to the public the first week of December.

The room will be updated with cosmetic upgrades and new furniture, fixtures, awnings, table tops, china, glass, and silver to create a warm and inviting ambiance. Pawlik is happy to remain in the neighborhood, and loves the idea of being able to continue offering a great dining experience. 2000 Hyde St. at Union.

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The former location (as 398 Restaurant & Bar). Photo by Kelly Puleio.

The last time we heard about Union Square’s Hotel G, the Tartine team was planning a café project with April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman, but we know why that fell apart.

The replacement concept is ~AYALA~, and the new operators are LA’s Cast Iron Partners (who were part of the last project), with chef-partner Bill Montagne (coming from the East Coast: Snaggletooth in Chicago, and most recently at Paul Kahan’s Nico Osteria), executive chef Melissa Perfit (Bar Crudo, Hard Water), GM Essam Kardosh (Del Popolo), wine director Nick Tilly (who will also be working with Essam), and bar director Julian Cox (Tartine).

It’s going to be a seafood-focused restaurant, highlighting California seafood designed to be shared. You’ll be able to start with selections from the raw bar, with oysters, and seasonal picks like Dungeness crab, Santa Barbara uni, and abalone. Crudos and cured fish boards will be offered, along with seafood pastas (think tortellini in brodo with lobster consommé), and entrées and large-format dishes, like cioppino verde. There will be some meat dishes as well, like dry-aged strip steak.

Wines will influenced by the sea (whether they are coastal vineyards or it’s about soil composition), and look for new California wines, with a focus on organic and natural viticulture. Julian Cox’s bar program (to be clear, he’s consulting on this project in an ongoing basis, not just the opening, but is still with Tartine) will include spirits from small producers, seasonal ingredients, and having fun with the concept: some sea Navy Strength gin and rums, east India Sherry, port, and Madeira. They will also be featuring spirits that go well with oysters.

They want the style and vibe to feel fun and neighborhood-y, while referencing the California coast. There will be three areas: the oysterette (an extension of the bar, flanking the street, with floor-to-ceiling windows), the dining room (which will be a little more private, with ash tables and wood banquettes), and the raw bar, complete with marble and an oyster station, along with a VIP table with room for seven.

They are targeting a November opening, and the next time you’re at Benjamin Cooper (also a part of the Hotel G property), you can take a peek at their progress. (It’s opening in the former 398 Brasserie space.) 398 Geary St. at Mason.

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The new booths and banquette seating at Magnolia Dogpatch. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The new back indoor beer garden. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The baked clams “cioppino” on the new menu. Photo: David Martinez.

Last week, I had the opportunity to swing by the newly updated ~MAGNOLIA DOGPATCH~, formerly Smokestack, and the new team has made some significant changes to the restaurant look and concept, adding a beer garden and neighboring 5,000-square-foot event space.

Hannah Collins Design did quite the makeover, adding dove grey and upholstered booths to the middle of the room, with smoky glass light fixtures, and other touches like black tables and grey tiles under the open kitchen counter for a look that is approachably stylish. You’ll see some nods to founder Dave McLean’s favored 60s and Haight Ashbury aesthetic and roots, including the poster in the main dining room and some of the fun vintage ads in the hallway. The space does a nice job of balancing the masculine and the feminine, and the vintage and the modern.

In the back room, it’s now an indoor beer garden, with picnic tables and bleachers, plus state-of-the-art TVs, along with planters and a large, groovy mural. Whether it’s a game night or a private party, there is room for some rumpus. And: dogs are allowed.

The new ownership team leading Magnolia Brewing Company is Dick Cantwell, co-owner, president, and director of brewing operations; Kim Jordan, co-founder of New Belgium Brewing Company and executive chair; and Brian Reccow, CEO. 

The new chef is Laurance Gordon, who is no stranger to beer-focused restaurants and breweries (Mikkeller, Belga, Thirsty Bear Brewing Company). They have done away with the previously limiting barbecue concept and expanded the style to more of a modern, all-day American menu (subject to change). There are plenty of snacky items (at a preview tasting, I especially dug the baked clams “cioppino”), plus salads (including a Green Goddess wedge with shrimp), sandwiches, a burger, and some mains, including choucroute garni and Magnolia roasted chicken with preserved lemon, plus plenty of vegetable sides. They really wanted to tailor the menu to be more neighborhood friendly, and a destination for guests who will be catching games at the upcoming Warriors’ Chase Center.

As for the beers, there are 20 taps which will feature Magnolia flagships like Kalifornia Kolsch and Proving Ground IPA, plus some new brews, including Cucumber Squeeze, an IPA which I was calling spa beer (it’s brewed with cucumber peel and pulp and Meyer lemon), plus Momomojo Smoked Peach Ale, and beers from New Belgium and Oud Beersel. Taps will change frequently, with new offerings weekly. Beer will also be available for purchase in cans and two-liter growlers.

Wine is now going to be a focus, with an emphasis on affordable but quality selections, with many from California. The bar and cocktail program are in development, so look for more soon (and a little less whiskey), but you’ll find a few cocktail classics for now. The bar still has its marble top, and is an inviting place to perch.   Hours to start are Sun-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. Weekend brunch and a happy hour are also coming soon. 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St., 415-864-7468   Note: Magnolia Haight Brewery and Restaurant also has a new chef (Roque Mendoza) and menu that remains very pub-like. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic. 

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The modern-chic dining room at Freds at Barneys New York, San Francisco. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

Now open in Union Square is ~FREDS AT BARNEYS NEW YORK, SAN FRANCISCO~. It’s a corner restaurant and bar on the sixth floor of the store, offering a dramatic urban view from the historic windows. The décor is chic and very ladies who lunch, with an inviting lounge with swanky little chairs that could be right at home at a vanity, and a bar complete with a 36-foot-long faceted mirror (you look marvelous). The elegant dining room is outfitted with mod swivel chairs in a soft green velveteen, and booths in a soft grey-blue. It’s all very pleasant and well-appointed, and the staff was gracious and charming.

But at a preview event last week, I feel like I should have worn a Designing Women power suit with the heftiest shoulder pads I could find, applied some heavy blush, and featured my vintage Gucci bag. The food was like a total throwback to 1991, complete with squiggles of balsamic on out-of-season asparagus, and the Freds [sic] spaghetti comes with pesto, shiitake mushrooms, more asparagus, and the kicker: sun-dried tomatoes. By the time the crab cakes came out with a smear of rémoulade, I was ready to head down to the perfume counter to douse myself in Poison. Or Giorgio. Anyway. I understand there’s some nostalgia about some of the salads and dishes (which date back to the original Freds opening in 1996), but I was really surprised at how anachronistic the menu was. I’d go back for Estelle’s chicken soup, and the perfectly fried Belgian pommes frites with some Champagne at the bar, but otherwise the menu was a head-scratcher. Entertaining, certainly. I guess it’s how fashionistas stay a size 4.

I also think it’s hilarious that I had a total download fail of my images from my camera of the evening. They completely disappeared. I think they got caught in a time vortex. I need to hop in a DeLorean and get back to the future to find them, along with a couple missing apostrophes, be right back.

Open for lunch and brunch: Mon-Sat 11am-4pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. 77 O’Farrell St. at Stockton, 415-268-3550.

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Gioia Pizzeria’s exterior signage. Photo: Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

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Hayes Valley is really lucky to be the future home of Gioia’s crazy-delicious pizza. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Some changes over on Polk: after six years in their location, Will and Karen Gioia are moving ~GIOIA PIZZERIA~ to Hayes Valley, and opening a slice shop in the former Two Sisters Bar & Books space in early 2019. They are closing the pizzeria this Saturday October 6th (come by to say goodbye and for specials, like $8 glasses of wine), and when they reopen in the tinier 900-square-foot space, they’ll be serving whole pies, pizza by the slice, meatballs, chicken and meatball Parm hero sandwiches, salads, and daily specials. You’ll be able to dine in or take out. They are going to miss their neighbors, but wanted to streamline into a smaller space with counter service (like their Berkeley shop, which they’ve had since 2004). 579 Hayes St. at Octavia.

Taking over their space will be a second location of Outer Richmond’s ~FIORELLA~, so at least quality pizza will continue from Boris Nemchenok and Brandon Gillis. Look for nightly dinner and weekend brunch too, stand by for dates and more. Get ready for some fun wallpaper. 2240 Polk St. at Green. [Via Eater.]

Over in the Castro, ~SOFIA CAFÉ~ has closed after two years of serving empanadas and café fare, and taking its place will be ~GAI~ from Kevin Lieu, serving Vietnamese-style chicken and rice plates for lunch and dinner in mid-October. 3463 16th St. at Dehon. [Via Hoodline.]

After opening in 1994, Brigitte and Andrew Thorpe have closed fondue palace ~THE MATTERHORN SWISS RESTAURANT~ so they can retire (off to Florida they go!). Eater reports “The Matterhorn’s landlord will retain the restaurant’s chalet decor and hopes to find a new operator from Switzerland.” 2323 Van Ness Ave. at Green.

In the Mission, the Mexican sports cantina from the Tacolicious team, ~BAR SAN PANCHO~, has closed—I’ll be sharing details about the new project, Elda, from Eric Ochoa soon. 3198 16th St. at Guerrero.

And across the water in Tiburon, the Michael Mina Group is taking over the ~GUAYMAS~ waterfront space after a big upgrade—they plan to open by summer of 2019. Stand by for more on the concept. 5 Main St., Tiburon.

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A seasonal (and always vegetarian!) spread at Greens. Photo: Nader Khouri.

Some great news regarding our dear ~GREENS~, which has been closed for four months after suffering a kitchen fire before dinner service on June 20th. It’s going to reopen on Monday October 15th, just in time for its 40th birthday in 2019. The kitchen has been repaired, and the main dining room has been restored back to its original craftsmanship.

But with this reopening also comes some big news: executive chef Annie Somerville, who has been leading the Greens kitchen since 1985 (The San Francisco Zen Center opened Greens in 1979), is going to be transitioning into semi-retirement. But she will continue to oversee the culinary vision, and will be keeping her regular shopping schedule at The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Fortunately, she has instilled a strong culture of gratitude, humility, and being of service, which will continue as well.

When asked about the success of Greens, Somerville comments, “I really believe our stability is about goodwill. As food culture has grown, we’ve had greater access to the most incredible ingredients of all time. We can execute high-level dishes with all the exceptional produce we acquire. And at the core of Greens, we are very mindful, especially of our staff; they are everything to Greens. Guests feel welcome here, and the employees feel a part of something special. Being located within the Golden Gate National Park is such a gift. People’s lives are so busy, and they value these beautiful Bay Area open spaces more now than ever.”

So book your reservation, welcome the staff back, and get ready for a seasonal menu full of fall bounty from their partner, Green Gulch Farms.

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Mixiote’s incredible morita salsa and lamb tacos at last year’s SF Street Food Fest. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Feasting at CUESA’s Sunday Supper in the Ferry Building’s Grand Hall. Photo ©Drew Altizer Photography via Facebook.

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Get ready for a weekend of music, food, art, crafts, and more at Treasure Island Music Festival. Photo by Tom Tomkinson, courtesy of TIMF.

I hope you don’t have too many plans already for next weekend (October 13th-14th), because there’s a lot going on.

First, Saturday October 13th is the ninth year of La Cocina’s San Francisco Street Food Festival, returning to the Powerstation in Dogpatch. There will be 30-plus chefs and restaurants, 90 percent of whom are women, like Reem Assil of Reem’s and Dyafa (2018 James Beard semifinalist) serving pali Cali man’oushe (flatbread with sumac-braised chicken); Nite Yun of Nyum Bai (Bon Appetit’s Hot Ten Restaurant of the Year) serving Cambodian lemongrass skewers with prahok ktiss dip and and pickled veggies; Isabel Claudido of El Buen Comer, serving chilaquiles verdes or rojos topped with eggs and fresh green salsa; Fernay McPherson of Minnie Bell’s who will be slinging her famous rosemary fried chicken (typically only available in the East Bay); and Hang Truong of Noodle Girl sharing Vietnamese pork belly and five-spice chicken banh mi sandwiches. Look for some new vendors too! There will also be cocktails from Third Rail Bar!

Festival tickets are $6 and can be purchased online at sfstreetfoodfest.com or for $10 at the gate (if still available). 100% of each ticket sold is donated to La Cocina. Last year’s festival sold out so be sure to get yours early! And bring cash. 11am-7pm. 420 23rd St. at Illinois.

And then on Sunday October 14th, it’s CUESA’s Sunday Supper: A Farm to City Feast. 40 top chefs will be preparing food outside (it’s quite the setup!), while guests will enjoy an opening reception inside (with hors d’oeuvres, oysters, and cocktails), followed by a four-course dinner in the Ferry Building Grand Hall, with paired wines and tableside presentations. There is also a fantastic silent auction and live auction too.

Funds from the Sunday Supper gala contribute more than 50 percent of the cost of CUESA’s education programs, which serve farmers, kids, and educators in cultivating a healthy food future that nourishes all. VIP ticket: $375 ($250 tax deductible), doors at 5pm; General Admission ticket: $300 ($200 tax deductible), doors at 5:45pm.

And then across the Bay all weekend, it’s the Treasure Island Music Festival, returning after a one-year hiatus in a new location at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland. Tickets are still on sale (both VIP and GA), and I am so fired up to see Tame Impala and Cigarettes After Sex on Sunday. The food lineup is thoughtfully curated to feature many Oakland and East Bay businesses—you’ll find food from Aburaya (bring on the Japanese fried chicken), bling bling dumpling, Curry Up Now, Gerard’s Paella, Itani Ramen, Little Star Pizza, Mi Granny’s Kitchen, Rockos Ice Cream Tacos, The GrilledCheezGuy, and more.

There will also be some great on-site art installations, with many created by local Bay Area residents. Don’t miss “Cosmic Voyager” from the SF-based art collective Chromaforms, a massive laser-cut, stainless steel sea turtle offering horoscope readings that change based on the date and time after participants press buttons on the turtle’s fin. Burners will be happy to see Barry Crawford’s “Mechatheusis,” a mechanical giant squid kinetic sculpture. There will also be Workshop’s Camp DIY if you want to get crafty (try shibori dyeing bandanas or sewing beer koozies!).

Festival gates and box office open daily at 11am, with music kicking off shortly at noon each day. The only way to get to and from the festival is via the official complimentary festival shuttle service at West Oakland BART, or rideshare to the festival’s designated festival drop-off/pick-up area nearby.