July 21, 2020

July 21, 2020
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A peek at the outdoor terrace outside Saint Joseph’s Art Society (the location for Summer at Saint Joe’s). Instagram photo via @saintjosephsartsociety.

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Summer at Saint Joe’s by night. Photo courtesy of Shelley Lindgren.

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Totopos topped with carnitas from the new Nopalito window in the Mission. Instagram photo via @nopalitosf.

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The fried chicken sandwich from Arbor in Hayes Valley. Photo courtesy of Arbor.

The reopening of ~TOSCA~ in North Beach under chef Nancy Oakes, Anna Weinberg, and Ken Fulk was happening in takeout boxes, but they smartly decided to pivot the party to the garden courtyard of Ken Fulk’s Saint Joseph’s Art Society in SoMa. Called Summer at Saint Joe’s, guests can book dinner Thu-Sat (two seatings per evening, 5:30pm and 8:30pm) and Sunday lunch (coming soon) in the Italian palazzo garden—complete with lemon and grapefruit trees—with Oakes cooking “delicious, easy Italian classic dishes—and lots of wine!” (thanks to guest sommelier Shelley Lindgren).

The four-course, family-style menu features summery dishes, like a Calabrian Caesar and crostata romanesco, A16 has their pizza oven fired up (serving a “Tosca Napoletana” pizza every night), and a main course like swordfish with roasted tomatoes and capers or a mixed grill. To finish, you can enjoy a limoncello Italian gelato served from a cart, molto carino. Greg Lindgren (Rye, Rye on the Road) will be offering Italian-inspired cocktails and yes, the Tosca Cappuccino is on the menu. It all sounds like an alfresco summer dream (even though we’re stuck in SF), and there will even be North Beach musicians and artists who will perform nightly—you can support the talent on your check. Dinner is $85 (exclusive of beverage, tax, and service charge). Reservations only. 1401 Howard St. at 10th St.

How about some good news for you Mission residents and frequenters of Dolores Park? ~NOPALITO~ has opened their takeout window on 18th Street in the Bi-Rite Creamery building, Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm. Takeout orders can be placed at the window or on Caviar for delivery (and pick-up). On the menu: their amazing totopos topped with carnitas (!), a salad, tacos, or a rice-and-bean bowl with your choice of carnitas, chicken, or mushrooms with huitlacoche, cherry tomato pico de gallo, guacamole, and cilantro. You can also get a pound of carnitas for home. Provecho! 3690 18th St. at Dolores.

Open in Hayes Valley in The Absinthe Group’s former Arlequin Cafe is ~ARBOR~, which has had quite the redo (I dig the late 70s/early 80s color palette and woven cane vibe). Sadly, the back patio isn’t open yet, but they have a few tables out front and are focused on takeout and delivery for the moment. The casual menu is full of plant-based options, from vegetable starters and salads to almond-chia seed pudding in the morning—but there’s also a Cobb salad, cheeseburger (featuring Cream Co. grass-fed beef), and a fried chicken sandwich that looks very crispy for meat-eaters. For dessert, you can have Double 8 Dairy soft-serve, or plant-based soft-serve from Eclipse. Beer, wine, and more are available—with Arlequin Wine Merchant right there, you have one heck of a bottle list. Hours for now are Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm. 384 Hayes St. at Gough.

Over in the East Bay, I am so happy to see ~EL GARAGE~ open their brick and mortar at 1428 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond (their quesabirria tacos are just beyond—and you get three for just $12)—but you need to pre-order on Wed for pickup Fri-Sun, plan accordingly. Things have been a bit bonkers, so maybe give them a couple weeks to iron out the kinks. (Read more in Eater.)

The new ~MASABAGA~ in Oakland has some groovy tuna belly burgers you should read about and will then want to try.

Be sure to follow @tablehopper on Instagram for reopening announcements in my daily Stories, like Souvla and Maison Danel!

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The exterior of Perbacco. Photo via Perbacco’s Facebook page.

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Caviar, leek, crème fraîche. Photo courtesy of Gap Year at Nico.

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Flickr photo from danmachold.

With the ever-shifting timeline of reopening for indoor dining, some restaurants have chosen to temporarily pause operations since their outdoor dining and takeout options aren’t sustainable enough to keep them afloat. Over in SoMa, ~PROSPECT~ has hit pause for now—all the endless construction outside their door makes it impossible for them to host guests at outdoor tables. Thanks to the ladies for all the amazing takeout these past months—I’m glad I still have a little of chef Pam Mazzola’s pork puttanesca in the freezer.

Last Friday, both ~PERBACCO~ and ~BARBACCO~ have also hit pause. Read more in this letter from owners Umberto Gibin and chef Staffan Terje: “After four months of riding the emotional and financial roller-coaster of COVID-19, with no date from our City officials for when we will be able to open indoor dining and considering that historically July and August have been the slowest months for us, we decided that it is time to take a break. Perbacco will temporarily close tonight, Friday, July 17th after dinner service. We plan to come back after Labor Day.

“As soon as Shelter in Place was declared, we very quickly pivoted, setting up a takeout, delivery and a pick up program. When the City granted permission to serve outdoors, we created a charming little 8 table sidewalk dining area reminiscent of Italy. Your support has quite simply been amazing. We have felt overwhelmed by the love that you demonstrated with your purchases and by making reservations. We did all of this while chasing the date on which we would be able to open indoors with many more tables available. As you know, the date continued to change and on July 13th, after the city re-shut down, our hope of opening for indoor dining was put on hold, once again. Staying open is simply not sustainable.  Temporarily closing the restaurant is heartbreaking but the right decision for now.” We look forward to seeing what you have in store for us in September, guys!

There are some changes happening at the former ~NICO~ in Jackson Square, most recently operating as the pop-up Gap Year at Nico by Paul Einbund of The Morris with chef Jordan Guevara, which ended up getting cut short into “Gap Three Months.” Owners Andrea and Nico Delaroque are working with Einbund on a new, more takeout-friendly concept. Stand by for updates in August. [Via Chronicle.]

Another restaurant temporarily pausing operations (and takeout) is the historic ~THE CLIFF HOUSE~—you can read their letter in full on their website, but here’s an excerpt: “Because of economic pressure during this unprecedented situation we have concluded that it would be best to preserve our remaining resources to ensure a continuance of future operations. This was not an easy decision to make especially considering the support we have received from all of you.”

And now for the extra-sad news. Just by The Cliff House is the beloved ~LOUIS’ RESTAURANT~, which has been open for 83 years, offering one of the City’s finest views over classic diner fare (you could only hope and pray to snag the corner booth!). What a family-run institution! Louis’ closed at the start of the stay-at-home order, and now the closure is sadly going to be permanent.

The grandsons of the original owners, Bill and Tom Hontalas, said in a post on Facebook: “This decision was very difficult to make but with everything we have seen and heard regarding reopening for indoor dining we felt it was an unsafe environment for us and our employees. To wait out this pandemic was financially unreasonable. We are especially sad to not have been able to say goodbye to our many wonderful and loyal customers. You made the difficult job of running a small business enjoyable. To all of our staff past and present—we saw many of you start as high school teenagers and blossom into hard working adults. We are continually amazed at the hard work of the young people that passed through our doors and helped us run our family business.” Big sigh. There are some incredibly sweet remembrances in the comments (for once, it’s good to read the comments). [Via Chronicle]

Another beloved diner that is sadly closing permanently is ~ART’S CAFE~ in the Inner Sunset, home of an epic hash brown sandwich (pure brilliance), and their own Korean-American breakfast dishes, and one of the cutest diner counters in the city (it was full of postcards from regulars traveling around the world). I remember learning one morning that the couple who ran it, Mr. and Mrs. Youn, had never gone on vacation in all the years they ran it, only taking Mondays off. Since they took over the place in 1989, that means over 30 years of no vacation. (Have you ever felt lazier?) The one silver lining to all this is they finally get a break, although it’s not how they planned it. Thank you for all the years of service and short-order precision (and hangover-crushing!). [Via Chronicle.]

After 26 years of serving many loyal and regular customers dishes like their famed deep-fried salmon rolls, miso black cod, grilled sea bass, and wasabi noodles, ~THE HOUSE~ owners Larry and Angela Tse are closing their cozy little Asian fusion, North Beach restaurant. [Via Chronicle.]

And one of SF’s most Frenchy-French restaurants, ~JEANNE D’ARC~, is closing after 48 years of business in the Cornell Hotel in Union Square. [Via San Francisco News.]

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