October 5, 2021

October 5, 2021
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The newly updated Boulevard is open and ready to wow you. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

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You’ll find riffs on Boulevardiers on Greg Lindgren’s new cocktail menu. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

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Broiled steaks and red wine (and cocktails and tableside Caesar salad) await at The Vault Steakhouse. Photo: Hardy Wilson.

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An array of Mexican and Spanish dishes at the new Copas in the Castro. Photo via Instagram by Liz Barclay.

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Sean Thomas is the chef at the upcoming Buddy bar and café. Photo: Milo Salehi.

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The back area of The Grotto’s dining room (with an incredible view). Photo courtesy of Lisa Robins.

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Trestle in North Beach. Photo courtesy of Trestle.

Some quick updates I wanted to get on your radar, starting with congrats to the ~BOULEVARD~ team on their big refresh and reopening! After holding it down for 28 years (since 1993!) as our quintessential SF restaurant, it was time for an update to the interior and menu. Chef (and mentor to many) Nancy Oakes and executive chef Dana Younkin are known for celebrating the bounty of seasonal California ingredients, many sourced from just across the street at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. The new menu format offers a set menu at three ($89) and four ($115) courses that can be enjoyed in the dining room (or anywhere else in the restaurant). There is also an à la carte menu offered at the bar, or in the new expanded lounge next to the bar.

Some dishes on the opening fall menu include Japanese cherry salmon tartare with lime aioli, jalapeño, and trout caviar, served on a rustic housemade malted rye and flaxseed crisp; abalone with kelp noodles; rich king crab tagliatelle with chanterelle butter; and, of course, the Berkshire pork and Wolfe Ranch quail (served with wild sage and persimmons) remain on the menu.

Each dish also has a carefully selected and perfect pairing of wines offered by the glass. Meanwhile, over at the bar, Greg Lindgren has created a new cocktail menu, complete with a section featuring riffs on Boulevardiers, how perfect.

The Art Nouveau-inspired space got a big update from the Ken Fulk team, with vibrant upholstery, murals, a new blue onyx bar, a new lounge next to the bar (perfect for swinging by), and a dramatic peacock to greet you (taxidermied, not alive, ha). The fabulous wine vault and private dining room have also been reimagined. Some of Boulevard’s classic Kuleto design elements remain, like the hand-blown glass lighting, mosaics, and vintage iron work, and their great views of the Bay. Yup, it sounds like it’s a great time to book a reservation.

it looks like it’s the return of the steakhouse to our dining world (did it ever leave?), starting with the reopening of Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group’s The Vault in the Financial District as ~THE VAULT STEAKHOUSE~. The new executive chef is Ryan Cerizo, offering some decadent and playful touches to the modern steakhouse menu (with a raw bar), plus a new cocktail list from Nicky Beyries (previously Foreign Cinema), and wine program from Lucas Bierbower. The semi-circular leather booths and private dining room (with room for 25) will be popular as downtown starts to awaken from its long slumber. (I have tried to track down previous chef Robin Song about his whereabouts, but haven’t heard back.) Open Tue-Thu 5pm-9pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 555 California St. at Kearny.

More steakhousin’: Tyler Florence has opened a new steakhouse in Chase Center’s Thrive City, complete with indoor and outdoor seating, tableside service, dry-aged steaks cooked under a broiler (old-school style), a dessert cart, and a swank design from Ken Fulk, complete with enormous leather booths. You can read more about ~MILLER & LUX~ here. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-10pm. 700 Terry A Francois Blvd.

Over in the Castro, ~COPAS~ has opened in the former 2223 Market space from Jessica Kapoor of Saison Hospitality Group. But before you start wondering if you’ll need to sell some crypto to dine there, it’s actually a casual spot, serving “seasonal California ingredients paired with flavors that celebrate the history of Mexican and Spanish culture” from chef Julio Aguilera—breakfast, lunch (soon), and dinner are all part of the plan, plus coffee service and cocktails.

Breakfast includes avocado toast and a runny egg sandwich, while dinner has plenty of bar bites (Cheesy pillows! Broccoli Caesar!) and five mains, like arroz con pollo and a grilled halibut skewer with mojo verde, two kinds of beans, and escarole. The cocktail list offers plenty of intrigue (most drinks are $13), and the Angler and Saison wine teams have helped dial in the wine list (most by-the-glass picks are $13-$16). Everything is priced pretty well for a quality neighborhood place. Breakfast Wed-Sun 8am-12pm, dinner Wed, Thu, Sun 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez. [Via Eater]

A wonderful update over at the upcoming ~BUDDY~ bar and café opening in the former Californios space in the Mission: the team has hired Sean Thomas (formerly of Blue Plate, Rubicon, wd-50 in New York) to be the chef. Woohoo. (We’re all so lucky to have this talented chef back in a kitchen where we can see him regularly.) They’re looking at mid- to late-October for the opening, and will be launching a Kickstarter soon to get through the final push, so keep your eyes peeled for some sure-to-be-great perks! 3115 22nd St. at S. Van Ness.

Ahoy! ~THE GROTTO~ in Fisherman’s Wharf has reopened, after being closed for the entirety of the pandemic. Happy to see this old-timer (since 1935!) come back after their big, recent refresh. 2847 Taylor St. at The Embarcadero.

Another reopening: ~TRESTLE~ is back with their amazing prix-fixe deal ($39 for three courses, although who can pass on the $12 pasta supplement?), with a new head chef Danielle LeFevre, as well as brand-new HVAC and well-spaced tables. New hours are Wed-Mon 5pm-9pm. 531 Jackson St. at Columbus.

This news rolled in right at my deadline, but ~LUCE~ at InterContinental SF Hotel is reopening with new executive chef Rogelio Garcia (The Commissary, Spruce, Angèle in Napa) on Friday October 8th. Garcia is launching a chef’s tasting menu, with eight courses highlighting his many purveyor relationships ($145, vegetarian available upon request), and there’s a four-course menu for $95. 888 Howard St. at 5th St.

One space that isn’t coming back just yet is the café and dining room at ~CHEZ PANISSE~. In an email from the restaurant, they explained they hope to reopen shortly after the New Year, and will continue with take-out food and their Sunday market until the end of the year. “The reason can be distilled to COVID, the surge of the Delta variant, and their many implications: health and safety of staff, worries about unvaccinated family members, unpredictable school closures and required quarantines as they relate to staffing, restrictive and constantly changing safety protocols, the financial challenges of reduced capacity, the expense of unexpectedly being forced to close, etc. Chez Panisse is housed in an old craftsman bungalow with low ceilings and a few small windows. We have installed a new air ventilation system for the back of the café, but in many areas of the restaurant, our options are quite limited.” Read more from them here—I appreciate seeing such a thoughtful post about these complicated decisions every restaurant is struggling with.

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Smoky deviled eggs at Family Name (inside City Beer Store). Photo courtesy of Family Name.

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The bar (and snack counter) at The Korner Store. Yelp photo via Nguyen T..

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You’ll find bubble waffles and more at Eggcellent Waffles. Instagram photo via @eggcellent_waffles.

Some new openings around town include ~FAMILY NAME~, which just opened inside City Beer Store in SoMa. It’s a California bistro with Asian ingredients and touches, serving bites and dinner inside or on the patio (it’s separate from the City Beer Store menu). Dishes include smoky deviled eggs with chives and pickled mustard seeds; kampachi crudo with Galia melon, smoked tomatillo, chile oil, and arare (Japanese rice crackers); PEI mussels and Lao sausage; garlic noodles with hand-cut fettuccine, garlic oyster sauce, pecorino cream, and sesame; and steak frites with hanger steak and chile-miso butter. You’ll have plenty of wines and beers to choose from to pair with your meal. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm. Reservations available. 1148 Mission St. at 7th St.

There’s a new business now open inside the former Mission Cheese location on Valencia. ~THE KORNER STORE~ is a fun, family-run business, with Korean drinking food, soju cocktails, affordable wine (available by the glass, carafe, or bottle), beer, non-alcoholic drinks, and a convenience store-style selection of snacks and beverages (perfect to take to Dolores Park). They also have their own house kimchi and banchan for sale.

The abridged menu includes boneless fried chicken, fried pork belly, wasabi octopus, vegetable dumplings, tteok bokki (spicy stir-fried rice cakes), and two kinds of fries. With the outdoor seating, bar, and easy order-at-the-counter vibe, it’s going to be a fun spot to swing by with a friend for dranks and drunkie munchies. Open Tue-Wed 4pm-9pm, Thu-Fri 4pm-10pm, Sat 12pm-10pm, and Sun 12pm-9pm. 736 Valencia St. at 18th St.

There’s a new business in the former Blowfish Sushi location on Mission (home of the impostor Blowfish Sushi/Wagyumafia back in April). I tried to figure out who the owners are, but don’t see an active ABC license for the location. The person who answered the phone said they’re new owners—but where’s their license? (They’re serving sake, beer, and soju cocktails.) Thanks to my friends at Strike Kerr & Johns for double-checking that there doesn’t seem to be an active or a pending license there—Blowfish’s lapsed in January 2021, and they haven’t transferred it to a new party, nor are there any pending license applications associated with that address. (I reached out to former owner Jason Teplitsky of Blowfish to see if he had heard anything about the latest tenant, but I didn’t hear back.)

This latest incarnation is ~CHOME~, with an izakaya-style menu that has a huge variety of eclectic dishes, including a big list of robatayaki options grilled over binchotan, plus ramen, sushi, and a number of big ticket/expensive dishes like Hudson Valley foie gras, A5 wagyu, and lobster tails, which makes me wonder if it’s still the Wagyumafia imposters. (Their DoorDash listing is 2193 Sushi, and Live Shanghai Bistro on Grubhub, which doesn’t appear to be live.) I asked about the chef, but it sounds like they’re still trying out their kitchen team and concept. Something smells fishy. Open daily 5pm-12am. 2193 Mission St. at 18th St.

There’s a creative new waffle shop in Lower Nob Hill called ~EGGCELLENT WAFFLES~, serving a variety of sweet and savory waffle combinations (including a Hong Kong waffle with pork floss and condensed milk) and choose-your-own waffle “sandwiches” (with your choice of waffle base, like Montreal steak or red pepper, and fillings like avocado and turkey), plus bubble waffles (with your choice of base, topping, and syrup), make-your-own smoothies, and coffee drinks. Check out the menu here. Soft open for now Tue-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm. 891 Bush St. at Taylor.

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The brand-new window of La Lucha Coffee Bar. Instagram photo via @laluchacoffee.

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A DIY smoked salmon bagel (on a housemade bagel!) with scallion schmear at one of Early to Rise’s pop-up brunches. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Moving into the former Douglas market in Noe Valley is ~LA LUCHA COFFEE BAR~, a second location of the daytime café that runs out of Thee Parkside in Potrero Hill. Owner Malia Spanyol is excited to be opening in Noe Valley, the neighborhood she used to live in when she first moved to San Francisco 30 years ago (she lives nearby in the Mission now). It’s very important to her to be part of the local community, which means she’s going to have treats for all the neighborhood dogs, too.

The coffee bar is about three weeks out, and the pandemic has posed many challenges in getting it open, including supply chain snags with furniture, glassware, refrigeration equipment, floor epoxy, and legs for the bar. (I can’t even imagine all the headaches.) There is a Shared Space outside, plus well-spaced seating inside. The bright blue exterior has been catching numerous tipsters’ eyes (thanks for your emails, all!).

Once it opens, La Lucha will be serving espresso drinks (they use Sightglass Coffee), plus a horchata latte and housemade chai. Pastries from local bakers are being finalized right now. Initial hours will be 7:30am to 3pm/4pm or so. 1598 Sanchez St. at 29th St.

Moving into the former Little Gem in Hayes Valley will be another location of Russian Hill’s ~ELEPHANT SUSHI~. Read more in this piece from SFGate. 400 Grove St. at Gough.

Great news for chef Andrew McCormack of popular weekend brunch pop-up ~EARLY TO RISE~: he’s transitioning to become a full-service restaurant, with a full staff and service expanded to Wed-Sun 8am-2pm! You’ll be able to enjoy dishes from his early family-style pop-up days, like apple butter French toast and his superlative eggs Benedict (with his house Canadian bacon), plus his house bacon. Of course, his housemade bagels and English muffins and smoked salmon will all be available, and take-out will continue as an option (his “brunch in a bag” is how he has survived through the pandemic). He’s working with a design firm on the space and plans, stand by for launch updates. 1098 Jackson St. at Taylor.

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Part of 2020’s delicious and oh-so-seasonal Sunday Supper Feast! Photo courtesy of CUESA.

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Whatcha doing on Sunday October 17th? The best answer would be opening the dine-in box for CUESA’s Sunday Supper: A Farm to Home Feast and tuning in to their live virtual gala (7pm-8pm)! This annual event is crucial to help CUESA keep their education and food access programs thriving, providing vital lifelines between farms and families in this time of great need, and ensuring a sustainable and equitable food future for generations to come. This event also supports our beloved restaurant community—a portion of your ticket price will underwrite food and labor costs for each participating restaurant.

You’ll enjoy a lavish four-course dinner from the city’s top chefs (including Val M. Cantu, Californios; Kim Alter, Nightbird; Antelmo Faria, Uma Casa; and more), paired with specially selected wines and hand-crafted cocktails—it’s beautifully packaged for pickup or home delivery. Host a gathering with friends (or virtually)—invite some pals to order a feast and join you!

Liam Mayclem will be hosting the virtual gala (which you can access for free with your RSVP)—special guest speakers include Bryant Terry (author of Afro-Vegan, Vegetable Kingdom, and the forthcoming Black Food), Shakirah Simley (Executive Director, Booker T. Washington Community Center), and more. You’ll also visit beloved family farms, go behind the scenes with chefs, and there’s an online auction, with one-of-a-kind packages, such as exquisite private dinners with acclaimed chefs, farm getaways, and exclusive food experiences.

CUESA’s Sunday Supper: A Farm to Home Feast
Sunday October 17, 2021, 7pm-8pm
Feast for One: $250 ($175 tax deductible)

From Friday October 15th to Sunday October 24th is GGRA’s Eat Drink SF and SF Restaurant Week, two great events that are happening concurrently to support the local restaurant community. There will be indoor and outdoor events, prix-fixe menus, chef collaborations, cocktail events, and ticketed experiences, all in adherence with current SF Department of Public Health guidelines. Dining events are listed here (there are some fun collaborations!), and you can [take a look and see which restaurants are offering prix-fixe lunch (two-plus courses for $10, $15, $25) and dinner (three-plus courses for $25, $40, $60). Have fun out there!

Coming up on Friday October 22nd, is a book launch event with Litquake at The Museum of the African Diaspora in SF to celebrate Bryant Terry’s groundbreaking new cookbook, Black Food: Stories, Art and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora. Terry is MoAD’s chef-in-residence, and will be hosting a conversation and book signing from 7pm-9pm.

Black Food is published by Terry’s Penguin Random House/Ten Speed Press-backed imprint 4 Color Books. Writer and organizer Shakirah Simley will facilitate a conversation between Terry, the book’s art director George McCalman, and the imprint’s creative director Amanda Yee, about the process of making Black Food, as well as 4 Color’s plans to disrupt the publishing industry. Special invited guests who contributed art to Black Food include Demetri Broxton, Emory Douglas, Keba Konte, and David Schmitz.

Books will be available for purchase and signing. Tickets: $10 general admission ($50 with book); $5 for MoAD members ($45 with book). Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St. at 3rd St.