February 23, 2021

February 23, 2021

General Tso’s chicken at Lazy Susan. Photo: Joseph Weaver.


A selection of dishes at Lazy Susan. Photo: Joseph Weaver.


Seoul Food! kimchi and gochujang-braised beef grilled cheese at Total Meltdown SF. Yelp photo by business owner.

Now open in the temporarily closed B-Side at SFJAZZ in Hayes Valley is ~LAZY SUSAN~, a takeout and delivery concept from Salt Partners (Crenn Dining Group, Horsefeather, Humphry Slocombe), with chef Eric Ehler (Fort Point Beer, Mister Jiu’s) behind the menu of Chinese-American takeout classics (think General Tso’s chicken, crab Rangoon, and chow mein, with a contemporary touch). There has been a bit of a dust-up on Instagram over an obnoxious post that grossly misrepresented Eric, and I’m not going to dedicate many pixels or links to it except to point to Eric’s poignant video, and to say Eric is a helluva chef who is going to crush this menu (like he does everywhere he works), and I can’t wait to dig into his version of beef with two kinds of broccoli and chow mein.

Check the menu here, featuring 25 dishes with housemade sauces and developed to travel well for delivery—and all entrées are gluten-free (you’ll also see Impossible meat in the ma po tofu). Dishes are designed to be approachable at $8-$9 for apps and $11-$15 (for entrées). Open Wed-Sun 5pm-9:30pm. 208 Fell St. at Franklin.

I heard there was a new Mexican spot opening in the former Finn Town in the Castro, and Hoodline has the update: it’s ~SANTERIA~, from owner Eduardo Sandoval of the nearby Tacorgasmico. They won’t be serving their full menu just yet—just brunch on the weekend at the moment. For now, pop-up Tejas Forever is offering a menu of Tex-Mex dishes (which will continue to be available on delivery/takeout apps once Santeria’s menu fully rolls out—they’re operating like a ghost kitchen in the space). Consultant Samantha Kharma has put together the cocktail list, with drinks available to go and out front, like the Relentless Sinner (spiced hibiscus, tequila, Cynar, Campari, agave, lemon, bitters, $13), and Mexican Gringo (tamarindo-chile tequila, mango cordial, lime, $12), and frozen margaritas. The interior was lightly refreshed and there’s outdoor seating. Open Sun-Thu 11am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. 2251 Market St. at Sanchez.

Just in case you missed the amazing news: beloved ~ART’S CAFE~, home of the hash brown sandwich (that’s my old review from 2009!), has reopened with a Korean couple who kept the space and most of the menu the same, from the diner counter with vintage postcards to the Samurai omelet, plus some new additions! I tweeted the great news about their opening before leaving town, and now it’s time to head over for some takeout and to welcome this marvelous couple (Lee and Young Lee) to the neighborhood. You can read more about them in this Eater piece. Talk about saving the day, and the diner! The little Korean-American diner that could! Open Tue-Sun 7:30am-3pm for takeout only. 747 Irving St. at 9th St.

I was trying to get some info from the owners of the new ~HINOYA CURRY~ in the Marina back in January, but they weren’t very forthcoming with details at that time. They have since opened in the former Mac’d, serving “curry rice, pork katsu curry, chicken katsu curry, and chicken karaage over curry” for now—along with beer and sake. You can read more about this relatively well-known curry spot in Japan in this Eater piece. Takeout and outdoor searing are available. Open Fri-Sat 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm, and Sun 11am-3pm for now. 3347 Fillmore St. at Chestnut.

How’s this for a pandemic-themed opening? There’s a new spot popping up in the evening in Mission Picnic on Valencia called ~TOTAL MELTDOWN SF~, specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches (including The Millionaire, with gochujang-maple glazed, thick-cut bacon and gouda), mac and cheese, and cheesy tots with all kinds of toppings, from pulled pork to Brussels sprouts (with Green Goddess drizzle, goat cheese). And, of course, there’s a birria grilled cheese. May as well call the place Totally Baked. (Oh hey, I just found this piece by Mission Local if you’d like to read more.) Open Tue-Sun 4pm-9pm. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St.


A preview of the new Sushi Hakko. Instagram photo by @sushihakko.


The Joe Formaggio at the upcoming Ham & Cheese: cold cuts, roasted garlic artichoke tapenade, dried tomato purée, lettuce, pepperoncini, provolone. Instagram photo by @hamandcheesesf.

I have a few upcoming projects for you, starting with ~SUSHI HAKKO~ from the Mins Group (Sushi Hon, Sushi Shio, Tamashisoul, Barnzu, and Sushi Ondo). It will be a contemporary-fine Japanese restaurant, offering omakase (a 14-course chef’s tasting menu for $90: 2 starters, 10 pieces seasonal sushi, middle dish, dessert; $45 supplement available with truffle, caviar, uni, wagyu add-ons), sashimi omakase, a special tuna menu, individual nigiri, a few maki, and some cold and hot dishes. The kitchen team is led by chef Alex Kim, the current executive head chef at Mins Group. It’s opening in the former Little Gem on Union Street, and they’re planning to open in the first week of March. Reservations will be available on OpenTable, and delivery will also be offered. They will be open six nights a week, 5pm-10pm. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore.

There’s a new Pakistani and Indian restaurant opening in the former Dosa on Valencia (sniff sniff) on Thursday February 25th: ~BIRIANI HOUSE~, from Five Eric Brothers. Their website mentions their chef has “more than 20 years of experience cooking in the finest restaurants.” You may recognize them from their food stand at various events. Take a look at the affordably priced menu here. 995 Valencia St. at 21st St.

My fellow sandwich lovers, we’ll find each other at the upcoming ~HAM & CHEESE~ coming to the Richmond in March. The menu spans Italian, California, French, and Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches, plus some simpler torpedo roll numbers for $7. According to their Instagram account, some breakfast sandwiches, vegan nachos, and coffee service from Sight Glass are also in the works. 5501 California St. at 17th Ave.

I’m cracking up over this article that has an Aussie thinking his rotisserie chicken concept coming to Noe Valley is something completely new and unfamiliar to us. May I introduce you to Il Pollaio (since 1984!), Limón, RT Rotisserie, and others, Mr. Schulte?! Anyway, this rotisserie chook spot and wine bar (DBA as ~NOE BIRDS~ on their ABC license) is coming to the former Le Zinc from some folks behind Hotel San Francisco. 4063 24th St. at Castro. [Via Noe Valley SF]

According to some posts on Nextdoor, I learned ~SUPER DUPER~ is planning to open a location in Laurel Village, in the former Miz Brown’s Feed Bag, most recently Beautifull. 3401 California St. at Laurel.


A pic of chef-owner Laurence Jossel of Nopa handing me my takeout dinner, most likely their fried chicken. (I asked him to remove his mask for the pic, FYI.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

There are some big changes over in the Nopa/Nopalito universe. As ~NOPA~ approaches fifteen years (this April!), Laurence Jossel is now the sole owner of the restaurant, while former group partners Jeff Hanak and Allyson Jossel, and Gonzalo Guzman, will remain owners/partners of Nopalito (which is coming up on twelve years). Hanak also remains a partner of Liholiho Yacht Club and Dear Inga. Laurence Jossel (with his wife, Holly Rhodes) have been sprucing up Nopa’s space in advance of their big birthday, with a new floor that has been revealed, and they’re also going to be setting up outdoor seating on that wide sidewalk on the Hayes Street side.

Meanwhile, the new ~NOPALITO~ on 18th Street (3674 18th St. at Dolores) is now offering Café y Conchas, their new coffee and pastry service, featuring Mexican postres from Raquel Goldman/Norte54, Andytown drip coffee, and two Mexican specialties made by chef Gonzalo Guzman (café de olla with spiced piloncillo syrup, and champurrado, a masa-based hot chocolate). Service starts at 8am (closed Mon-Tue); look for service at Broderick Street soon.


Photo of The Commissary exterior by Aubrie Pick.

Chef Traci Des Jardins recently announced on Instagram: “I am saddened to share the news that the restaurants (in partnership with Bon Appétit Management Co. and the Presidio Trust) ~ARGUELLO~, ~THE COMMISSARY~, and Presidio Foods Catering, will not be reopening. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to every single staff member, farmer, vendor, and patron who contributed to making the restaurants a joyous and special place to be. I am very proud of what we achieved during our time there and I will miss the community we built.” Sigh. It ends up The Presidio Trust changed their leasing structure for the restaurants, and is now looking for new tenants, you can read more details in this SFGATE post.

It broke my heart to learn that the kind owner of ~TAKARA~ in Japantown was unable to negotiate a penny of rent relief from her (%#*!) landlord, 3D Investments, and was forced to close after more than 20 years of business. (I swear, what is happening to Japantown businesses because of that evil developer—and the other corporate landlord, Kinokuniya Bookstores of America—is a travesty. I curse them with 100 years of bad fish and splintery chopsticks.) Takara was a homey and traditional spot, and I have chef Michael Black (Sebo) to thank for turning me on to it many years ago. You have to hand it to the plucky 91-year-old owner, Lena Turner, who originally “opened the very first restaurant in the Japan Center, Sapporo-ya Ramen, in 1976”—the Eater piece says she has bought the nearby Kiss Seafood (another old-school spot I used to love, which closed at the beginning of the pandemic), and will reopen Takara in its place soon, offering lunchtime takeout. You can’t keep a hospitality angel down. 1700 Laguna St. at Sutter.

I know a number of SF old-timers and Mission residents have been saddened by the news in Mission Local that ~MUDDY’S COFFEE HOUSE~ is closing after 27 years. Unfortunately, owner Elham Massarweh was unable to negotiate a rent reduction with her landlord. The stalwart café at 24th Street and Valencia is closing February 25th; the sister café, Muddy’s Coffee House (521 Valencia St.), which she also runs with her husband, will remain open, 30 years and counting.


The Alice Collective is now The Alice Market (until events return!). Photo: © tablehopper.com.


The interior of the new Square Pie Guys Oakland. Photo: Albert Law.


Recco-style focaccia at Casa Barotti. Photo courtesy of Bureau Jules.

There are some changes at ~THE ALICE COLLECTIVE~ in Oakland. Obviously, this event space has taken a hit during the pandemic, and is now converting into The Alice Market, featuring small businesses offering food and drink on Thursdays (6pm-8pm) and Saturdays (11am-1pm). Take a look at this post for links to some of the awesome businesses at the weekly market, like Edith’s Pie and Bolita masa. 272 14th St. at Alice, Oakland.

Opening Monday March 1st in Old Oakland is a second location of ~SQUARE PIE GUYS~ in the former Benchmark Pizzeria location from Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter. They’re bringing over their popular menu of Detroit-style pizzas with creative toppings and their square and crispy-cheesy edges (including their collaborative pizza with NBA star Jeremy Lin, the JLIN, with lemon-garlic ricotta cream, Pavone pepperoni, Green Goddess Caesar, grana, parsley, and red chili flake), and they’ve even developed a gluten-free pizza dough with various vegan toppings, like the Vegan Beet-An-Esca (with no-cream beet cream, Good Planet vegan cheese, and more)—they also make some great salads.

They’ll be bringing their Hot Calabrese fried chicken sandwich (from their Hetchy’s Hots Sandwiches business) too, plus wings, and there’s a liquor license, so they’ll be offering some equally creative cocktails: the Bianco DiMary features vodka, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, signature spice blend, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, a hot spice rim, and a roni and mozzarella garnish. Sign me up! Then there’s the Bold Fashioned, with a Mike’s Hot Honey infusion, bourbon, and Angostura bitters.

They’re working closely with local community partners (Hijas del Campo, Prospera, Co-Fed, Frontline Foods, and Homeless Action Center), donating both food and proceeds, while partners such as Co-Fed will also be providing support to management and staff with anti-racist training. They will also continue to partner with Dispatch Goods to offer a zero waste alternative for to-go packaging. They’re starting with takeout and delivery only (outdoor will come later), Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm and Sun 11:30am-8pm. 499 9th St. at Washington, Old Oakland.

Great news for fans of ~LA PERLA~—the adored Puerto Rican takeout counter inside Two Star Market now has their own brick-and-mortar location right around the corner. The father-son duo of Cheo and Gabriel Ortiz are not only open for business, but they have been selling out of their delicious food! Bring on the pernil. Read more in this Eater report. Open Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm and 4pm-7pm and Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm. 3409 Fruitvale Ave. at Bienati, Oakland.

Over in Berkeley, I’ve been eagerly tracking the opening of ~CASA BAROTTI~ for quite a while, a spizzicheria offering a variety of regional Italian snacks and focaccia, pizza al taglio, tramezzini, farinata, panzerotti, and more. They will even have a Recco-style focaccia, a crisp and thin bread round filled with stracchino cheese, a specialty I have been missing since Farina closed many years ago in the Mission. (It’s a magnificent thing.) The proprietor is Daniele Carsano (co-owner of 54 Mint Forno Italiano in Walnut Creek) who is collaborating with two longtime friends from Torino who currently can’t be here due to the pandemic. Read more in this detailed piece from Nosh. They open today! Open Tue-Sat 11am-5pm. 3204 College Ave. at Alcatraz, Berkeley.