The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
August 2, 2022
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The center of Piccino’s dining room. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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An array of salads and hummus at Sababa. Photo via Facebook.

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The new Yucatown in the International Food Court. Instagram photo via @tacosyucatown.

You ready for a turbo roundup of news briefs? Let’s do this.

~PICCINO~ in Dogpatch is reopening Wednesday August 3rd after closing the restaurant for a remodel. They added an additional restroom, expanded the kitchen and walk-in, and installed a new, state-of-the-art (and more efficient) pizza oven. Make your reservation for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Stand by for Bar Piccino next!

~BAR AGRICOLE~ has reopened in a new SoMa location, with chefs Will Napoli and former Bar Tartine’s Nick Balla in the kitchen, and a natural-minimalist design by Boor Projects; read more details in this Eater piece. Tue-Sat 6pm-11pm. 1540 Mission St. at Van Ness.

Some optimistic news in the FiDi: ~SABABA~’s Stevenson location just reopened. Their menu of Israeli street food is available Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm. 71 Stevenson St. at 2nd St.

More downtown percolating: ~YUCATOWN~ just opened inside the International Food Court. You’ll find a menu of panuchos, tacos (including vampiros, tacos de pescado, and quesabirrias), burritos, birria ramen, and more! Open Mon-Fri for lunch 11am-3pm. 380 Bush St. at Kearny.

Over in SoMa, John Quintos (Cafe Lambretta, Cento Coffee) has sold his 13-year-old ~VEGA CAFE~ to his employee, Raul Sanchez, who has been with him since 2009. Sanchez has opened ~CAFÉ SUSPIRO~ in its place, a coffee/record/book shop named after his grandfather’s shop in Mexico. He is crowdfunding this venture and would really appreciate any help as he builds Cafe Suspiro—be sure to read his detailed plans, which remind me of the San Francisco bohemian vibes I love and miss! He’s also accepting book and record donations! We need to help support SoMa businesses during this transitional time, so thanks in advance for helping out. Open Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 9am-5pm. 1246 Folsom St. at 8th St.

~POESIA~ in the Castro has opened their colorful café next door in the former Réveille Coffee, with fresh-baked pastries from the Castro’s Thorough Bread and Pastry/SF Baking Institute, plus espresso and coffee service. 4076 18th St. at Castro.

~THIRD CULTURE BAKERY~ has been rolling out a soft opening of their new brick-and-mortar location on Valencia, and if you sign up to their newsletter, you’ll get an invite to their second preview party on August 19th. The technicolor store is showcasing their “Sativa Dreams” design concept (love it), serving mochi pastries (including donuts) and hand-whisked matchas, plus some swag and more. Open daily 9am-4pm. An Inner Sunset location is coming to Irving Street later this year. 1186 Valencia St. at 23rd St.

Just across from Potrero Center is the new ~KAYA HOUSE~, which just opened in the former Mikado. The casual Japanese menu is focused on yakitori (skewers), ramen, and don (rice entrées), like chicken katsu, oxtail curry, and grilled salmon teriyaki. Open Sun and Tue-Wed 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-10pm, Thu 11:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-12am (yay, later hours!). 1684 Bryant St. at 16th St.

Awww, this was a tough one: after ten years of teaching culinary students with SF chefs and hosting events and fundraisers, the San Francisco Cooking School is closing their doors on August 31st. In a letter from founder Jodi Liano, she says, “While restaurants and related businesses are desperate for cooks, the amount of students who want to pursue these paths has diminished dramatically. In addition, San Francisco has become a less desirable destination for out-of-state students. These things together make it infeasible to continue operating SFCS in San Francisco.” On a positive note, she adds: “While things have changed in San Francisco, the lifelong journey of food education across the globe is stronger than ever. I look forward to exploring ways to extend our educational reach in the digital age and foster community in the professional food space.” Best wishes and many thanks for all the memorable events and classes and holiday cookie fun. The community will miss the unique access and way SFCS brought people together. Sign up for their newsletter for updates.

July 19, 2022
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A rendering of the upcoming Yokai.

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Birdbox’s Claude the Claw sandwich from Birdsong. Photo: Annamae Bafia.

A couple new and casual projects are brewing from two higher-end SoMa restaurants, Gozu and Birdsong. Coming in early 2023 from the MZ Dining Group (Ittoryu Gozu) will be ~YOKAI~, a Japanese-inspired, hi-fi bar and restaurant, focused on shareable plates and skewers cooked over binchotan charcoal, like king salmon belly with matcha, buttermilk, and dill; and Wolfe Ranch quail with fresh wasabi and double-fermented shoyu. Smaller shareable dishes may include coal-seared wagyu carpaccio, fermented truffle dressing, preserved ramps, and black trumpet mushrooms. Large-format dishes may include slow-roasted wagyu neck served with accompaniments and steamed whole Japanese sea bream. Chef Marc Zimmerman has named Gozu (and former Alexander’s Steakhouse) colleague Jessie Lugo as Yokai’s chef de cuisine.

Yokai, which means “spirit” in Japanese, will focus on Japanese whisky and cocktails, as well as brandies, Cognacs and the burgeoning Japanese gin scene. The 60-seat restaurant is opening in a post-Quake, five-story building with soaring ceilings and exposed brick, just four blocks away from Gozu. The space will have a vintage McIntosh sound system and an extensive vinyl collection. 545 Mission St. at 1st St.

Meanwhile, the two-star ~BIRDSONG~ team (led by chef Chris Bleidorn and partner Aarti Shetty) is going to open a brick-and-mortar location of ~BIRDBOX~ in South Park later this month. Studio SAINT, the firm who also designed Birdsong, is behind the 50-seat, two-level restaurant.

The fast-casual, fried chicken concept originally debuted as a pop-up in March 2020, which got attention for the claw that was left intact on the leg. It will still be an option on the menu: “Claude the Claw,” a deboned thigh and drum with the claw attached, served on a potato bun with housemade yeayo sauce (does it make your face numb?), and pickled and fresh vegetables. There will be half and quarter fried chicken “Birdboxes,” with cornbread, double-fermented hot sauce, and seasoning choices like classic yeast, sour cream and onion, and spicy falcon. Caw.

Birdbox will highlight free-range, humanely raised, organic chickens raised in local family farms. This fried chicken has a very detailed process, with seasoning made with rendered schmaltz and roasted bones, and pickle juice is repurposed in the poultry brine.

Counter service will be offered for lunch and dinner, as well as to-go and delivery options. For those dining in, wine and beer selections from mostly local producers and breweries will be on offer. Due to open in July. 680 2nd St. at Townsend.

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Duroc pork wontons from Dumpling Club. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Xiao long bao at Dumpling Kitchen. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

During depressing times, it’s nice to have a bunch of dumpling updates, amIrite? First up, Cathay Bi of the wildly popular ~DUMPLING CLUB~ subscription service (did you know you can also order them via Pastel!) suddenly announced a pop-up for takeout dumplings at her Mission kitchen last week (she recently took over the Tinker Kitchen space!). You can read all about the permitting process to operate as a restaurant in order for her to be able to do this. She timed the pop-up last week with the Mission Farmer’s Market (Thursday 4pm-7pm), offering ready-to-eat shrimp and pork wontons, plus sauces and sides (edamame, kimchi), and frozen goodies to take home. I checked in, and the team is doing it again this week. Here’s hoping it becomes a regular thing (peek at @dumplingclubsf for updates), and the retail offering will assuredly expand in time. 3233 22nd St. at Bartlett.

Sandy Zheng and Julia Zhu of ~UNITED DUMPLINGS~ in Bernal have been tagging me in their Instagram updates on their upcoming Marina location (they took over the short-lived Cancha location on Chestnut). Things are getting close—they have a few more inspections, and are hiring staff and finishing some decorating. XLB are coming soon! 2015 Chestnut St. at Fillmore.

According to Hoodline, Outer Sunset’s ~DUMPLING KITCHEN~ is opening a location in the former Papi Rico in the Castro—I love that the shower room is going to be converted to the dumpling room, where you can soon watch dumplings be stuffed instead of men grinding in Speedos. They already have a nice patio, and are applying for sidewalk seating out front. Their Shanghaiese menu will include “Shanghai-style pork buns ($11.50), chow mein ($12.50), and rice cakes ($13.80), five-spice beef noodle soup ($15.30), and sweet vinegar spare ribs ($14.80).” (Dumpling Kitchen rocks.) They are targeting late August to open for lunch and dinner service. 544 Castro St. at 18th St.

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A birria plate from the new Chuy’s Fiestas Taqueria II in the Tendernob. Instagram photo via @chuysfiestastaqueriaii.

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It’s snack time with Fluff Nugget popcorn. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

The popular ~CHUY’S FIESTAS~ on Folsom has opened ~CHUY’S FIESTAS TAQUERIA II~ in the former El Tesoro in the Tendernob. They’re serving tacos on handmade tortillas, vampiros, quesabirrias, quesadillas, burritos (including a new California burrito with fries, and a crispy flat-top burrita, which is always the way I order one: dorado!), plus breakfast, and seafood plates (which they are known for at the Chuy’s mother ship). Open Mon-Sat 10am-10pm. 710 Post St. at Jones.

Over in the Marina, there are new owners of ~GREEN STREET MARKET~, serving well-made sandwiches (including bagel and breakfast sandwiches), fresh produce, wine and spirits, and a good selection of corner market items. Yup, Sam, the foul-mouthed, racist cashier is gone. (I would have changed the name after burning some sage in every corner, but that’s me.) 1898 Green St. at Laguna.

Opening this Thursday in the former Smitten space next to Ritual in Hayes Valley is ~FLUFF NUGGET~, serving cones of gourmet popcorn with a variety of creative toppings, like chorizo and cheddar, pistachio pesto, and chocolate Aztec chile. It’s from the founders of Vino Volo, and the chef-driven, savory and sweet combinations are from chef Laurine Wickett. The first 100 guests at Thursday’s opening will receive a free Fluff Nugget popcorn. Open Thu-Sat 3pm-10pm, Sun 1pm-8pm. 432 Octavia St. at Linden.

The lineup of mobile food vendors at Presidio Pop Up at the newly open Presidio Tunnel Tops has been announced, with a number of rotating trucks and carts that will be there seven days a week, 9am-6pm. The initial lineup includes hopper favorites Borsch Mobile and El Pípila, Bulgarian cuisine from Kuker (cool!), and Vegan Mob from Oakland. There will be coffee from Red Bay Coffee Company, Route 1 Coffee, and cocktails from Rye on the Road, Chika, and Lady Victory. You can check out the daily lineup here.

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The iconic Two Jack’s Nik’s Place in Lower Haight has closed. Yelp photo by Murphy O.

A Lower Haight, Southern seafood staple for 45 years (since 1977!), ~TWO JACK’S NIK’S PLACE~, has sadly closed as of July 14th. Second generation owner Nikki Cooper, who took over 16 years ago, sold the remainder of her lease, but is relocating the staff to the Bayview location (at 984 Gilman Ave.). Two Jack’s was the first Legacy business in San Francisco, and was inducted into the Museum of Food and Drink in New York, such notable achievements.

Nikki also won the 2019 NAACP Entrepreneur of the Year award, and announced she accepted a new position as Program Director for the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce. Congrats and best wishes to her in this new chapter. You can read more in her heartfelt Instagram post here. Here’s to all the community memories in that iconic spot. 401 Haight St. at Webster.

A friend in Noe Valley let me know the ~PATXI’S PIZZA~ location on 24th Street has closed, with an eviction notice in the window, ugh. Seems like the place was in a backslide lately, with unhappy regulars over the past year. 4042 24th St. at Castro.

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A sampling of the scammer one-star reviews plaguing local restaurants on Google (these are from Town Hall’s page).

In the most recent tablehopper issue, I was the first to report on the flurry of one-star reviews for restaurants happening on Google, with scammers threatening to leave bad reviews daily unless the restaurant sends a Google Play card with the value of $75. Google has been mostly unresponsive to restaurants, but he GGRA (Golden Gate Restaurant Association) posted this update in a recent newsletter that they have “been working closely with our contacts at Google SF and have been reassured repeatedly that Google is very aware and working to correct the situation.”

They also add: “We are advising restaurants to continue monitoring their Google reviews and to flag any one star reviews that look fraudulent. This can be done online through your Google business page.” The GGRA wants you to forward your scam reviews to them, click here for more instructions on how to handle the shituation (because restaurants just aren’t busy enough trying to survive right now).

The GGRA also made a statement about a potential deal/modification to the (previously) permanent 15 percent delivery cap, a deal that would have DoorDash and GrubHub drop their lawsuit against the city. The proposal is being presented to the Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday). Here’s the GGRA: “Over the past several years, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association has worked to provide a fair playing field for our members in regards to third party delivery fees and practices. We are supportive of Supervisor Peskin’s proposed legislation, which modifies San Francisco’s existing permanent 15% delivery cap to allow restaurants and businesses more flexibility in contracting for additional services. This legislation would create an exemption from the 15% cap to allow delivery companies to charge for additional marketing and promotional activities starting January 31, 2023. 

“Businesses could choose to opt-in to pay for these opportunities such as advertising and other features. The companies would continue to be required to provide core services to all restaurants at the 15% level, including the listing on their service’s platforms, websites and mobile applications, and the delivery of food and/or beverages from the establishment. 

“The goal of these amendments is to provide flexibility for restaurants and other businesses interested in additional promotional and marketing services, but also to ensure that the core services of the delivery companies with a 15% cap, must continue. Restaurants and businesses with existing contracts will have a transition period until January 30th, 2023.  We are thankful for the hard work and collaboration from all sides. This is an example of how we can all work together to ensure a safe and fair business environment for all.”

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An array of dishes from The Anchovy Bar. Photo: Stuart Brioza.

A few fun events for your radar: Eric Danch from Danch & Granger will be taking over the wine list at The Anchovy Bar on Wednesday August 3rd, pairing classic and one-night only dishes with organic, low-intervention, and native wines from countries like Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Romania. Book here.

The second evening of Greens Restaurant’s Guest Chef Summer Dinner Series features Besharam’s chef Heena Patel on Tuesday August 9th. Outdoor seating is available, as well! A portion of proceeds from each vegetarian dinner will benefit Foodwise, a local non-profit promoting fresh food education and food access programs. (There will be one final chef collaboration in this series with Ethiopian chef Adiam Tsegaye of Mela Bistro on September 28th.)

This Sunday July 24th marks the kickoff of the Hangar 1 Vodka Sip & Cycle brunch event series at its Alameda distillery. You’ll enjoy a two-mile bike ride on Alameda beach on a Solé bike, a trolley ride, and a Bloody Mary Bar with brunch bites when you arrive back at the distillery. The experience runs through September. Get a group of friends together, you need a group of four (minimum)—$85/pp.

July 6, 2022
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It’s dinnertime at Frances. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

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The newly renovated interior of Frances by Seth Boor (architect) and Cookline (contractor). Photo: via Cookline by Juliann Carrol.

It felt strange to have one of San Francisco’s most iconic restaurants temporarily closed for so long (18 months!), with some FXMP pop-up dinners to tide us over, but now it’s official: chef-owner Melissa Perello and her team have swung open the doors to ~FRANCES~ the beloved Castro restaurant, and there’s a lot to be excited about. After opening in 2009, it was ready for an interior refresh, and there’s now expanded outdoor parklet seating for 28 guests. Architect Seth Boor created the updated interior, which will continue to strike the tone of refined yet casual elegance, with vintage décor curated by Laurie Furber of Elsie Green, and a deep-toned ombré wall in the dining room by decorative painter and muralist Caroline Lizarraga.

Perello’s current team includes director of operations Robert Wright, chef de cuisine Jordan Wittrock (his background includes Tartine Manufactory, plus Momofuku Nishi and Atera in NYC, as well as FOH work as a captain at Benu, interesting!), and wine director Iris Rowlee (who is also at sister restaurant Octavia). The menu is now a family-style format of 8-10 dishes that come out in waves—they will change weekly and highlight ingredients sourced from the team’s diverse network of local farmers, ranchers, seafood purveyors, and artisans.

Some sample dishes to share could include creamed corn campanelle with sweet summer peppers and Parmesan; Olivier’s pork loin with eggplant, green farro, and salsa verde; and blistered pole beans, guanciale, and chile XO. There are optional wine pairings from Rowlee, who just returned from a honeymoon in Italy and is fired up on producers from Campania right now. There will also be a limited à la carte menu at the bar for walk-ins, featuring some of the restaurant’s dishes that have been staples since the beginning (panisse frites!). There’s also a low-ABV Negroni sbagliato you can try, and the Market Shots that used to commence the start of the meal have returned.

Dinner is served Wed-Sat 5pm-9:15pm. Private events are also available in the parklet and dining room. Welcome back, Frances! 3870 17th St. at Pond.

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Oyster service at the new Ancora in the Mission from Water2Table. Photo: Joseph Weaver.

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Gougères with smoked salmon, horseradish, and dill at Ancora. Photo: Jospeh Weaver.

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Garlic naan at the new Aaha Indian Cuisine. Yelp photo by Ben S.

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The original sign and exterior of The Old Clam House. Yelp photo from Eddie C.

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Bún thịt nướng chả giò (grilled pork and egg roll vermicelli bowl). Yelp photo by Cherylynn N.

The former Locanda location is now home to ~ANCORA~, which means “anchor” in Latin, from owners Andi and Joe Conte of Water2Table, the local hook-and-line and sustainable fish company that services Bay Area restaurants (and now consumers). They were originally going to open as Seven Fishes, but the pandemic had a funny way of changing things, and they ended up running their pandemic meal delivery service out of Locanda, eventually deciding to take over the location permanently.

They brought on Nick Anichini, formerly chef de cuisine at Atelier Crenn, who is now executive chef and partner. According to their website, “Inspired by his love of European simplicity and fine dining technique, Chef Anichini has designed a thoughtful prix-fixe and a-la-carte menu to be shared with family, friends, and neighbors.” The prix-fixe menu is $125, and the bar will be serving a relaxed format of snacks and fish charcuterie.

The beverage program, led by certified sommelier Andi Conte, will include a diverse wine list focusing on local producers and low-intervention vineyards, as well as wineries highlighting California’s coastal expression.

You can read more in this Eater piece. Sample menus here—it all sounds so delicious. Did someone say cardoons and artichokes with ham fat-poached sablefish, herbs, Aleppo, and breadcrumbs? Grilled spot prawn with smoked mussel-caviar sauce? Pappardelle with sugo made from abalone? Foie fat waffles á la mode for dessert? Oh yeahhhh. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9:30pm. 557 Valencia St. at 17th St.

Just around the corner is a new Indian restaurant, ~AAHA INDIAN CUISINE~, with a menu that has a number of Southern Indian dishes, like three kinds of vadas, dosas, uthappams, and egg bajji! Bring on the rasam and pomfret fish fry. Based on the long list of biriyanis, and pics of their dosas and naan, I really wanna check this place out! It was most recently Brazilian Restaurant Brewing. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm. 3316 17th St. at Mission.

Also in the Mission: there’s a new Lebanese spot that opened in the former Mission Beach Cafe space (most recently El Capitan) called ~MEZZE AND MOOORE~. The menu goes beyond the usual hummus, falafel, kefte, and shawarma wraps—you’ll see homestyle hot and cold mezze like fattet batinjan (fried eggplant topped with garlic yogurt sauce, pita, and croutons), beets, lentil soup, and moussaka (there are halal options). I tried calling a few times for details but no one ever picked up. Hours (unconfirmed) are Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm. 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St.

I’m happy to see ~THE OLD CLAM HOUSE~ has officially reopened, SF’s oldest restaurant (161 years old!)! A couple months ago, I mentioned the new owners are the family behind Mona Lisa in North Beach, and planned to keep things mostly the same. You can take a look at the menu here, and check out the extensive pasta selection they added. Open for lunch and dinner daily, 11:30am-9:30pm. 299 Bayshore Blvd. at Oakdale.

There are a few new Vietnamese spots that just opened, starting with ~CHEZ NGUYEN~ downtown, serving a couple versions of pho, Southern Vietnamese bo kho (beef stew), a bun cha vermicelli salad bowl, chicken rice, and a steak and eggs plate. There are two floors, so there’s plenty of room for you to sit and slurp your noods. Open for lunch Mon-Fri 10am-2:30pm. 132 Bush St. at Battery.

Over in Bernal is ~PHO DAY~, offering an extensive menu of banh mi, pho, and rice plates (plus some wonton soup and potstickers are on there), with coffee and boba drinks. You can’t miss the jaunty yellow and white exterior. Open daily 10:30am-8pm. 59 30th St. at San Jose Ave.

And over in the Inner Sunset, faithful tablehopper tipster Paul G. let me know about ~BAHN BAHN GO~, coming soon to a former laundromat space. The menu includes banh mi and some American sandwich classics, like turkey and egg salad. 434 Irving St. at 6th Ave.

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Chefs Alejandro Rodriguez and Marcella Lew are now at 20 Spot. Photo courtesy of 20 Spot.

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The exterior of 20 Spot in the evening (their parklet is to the left). Photo courtesy of 20 Spot.

There’s some top SF talent now in the kitchen at ~20 SPOT~ in the Mission: chef Alejandro Rodriguez, who was previously the chef de cuisine at Nopa (he was there since the day it opened, in 2006!). He is joined by his wife, Marcella Lew, another Nopa and Nopalito alum, and Oscar, who has already been working at 20 Spot and helps with prep and makes the pizzas.

Chatting with Alejandro, he says at the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, he was in Mexico for a three-week trip that turned into three months. Nopa was operating with a truly bare bones/skeleton crew during those early months, so he never really came back, and instead bopped around some local businesses like Palm City and Nightbird (plus more travel in Mexico), before Jessie Barker at nearby Media Noche told him about the opportunity at 20 Spot. Since Alejandro and Marcella live just a couple blocks away, it helps keep things low-key (strive for that live-work balance!)—he’s happy about being back in the kitchen.

It’s a big adjustment to go from Nopa’s huge kitchen with a wood-fired grill and massive team, but now he’s learning the way of the TurboChef oven, and getting used to buying 10 avocados at the nearby Mission Community Market on Thursdays, instead of ordering 50 cases. Alejandro is excited to be reaching back out to smaller, local purveyors and artisanal makers for ingredients for new dishes and updating 20 Spot’s well-known cheese and charcuterie plates.

20 Spot is always the perfect spot to swing by for some insane bubbles poured by owner Bodhi Freedom, a plate of oysters, some choice vinyl beats (Bodhi had a bass tube installed under the bar, love!), a fun social scene in the parklet, and some tasty seasonal salads and small plates. But now, Alejandro is updating the menu and working on how to make 20 Spot more of a dinner destination instead of just about wine and gorgeous snacks, so stand by for some changes. He’s going to experiment to see what people want, and we’re so here for it. See you there. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat until 10:30pm. 3565 20th St. at Lexington.

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Wherever the Miss Ollie’s fried chicken goes, I go. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A sampling of the scammer one-star reviews plaguing local restaurants on Google (these are from Town Hall’s page).

This exciting news rolled in just as I was wrapping up today’s column, so I will have to share more details in my next issue, but I wanted you to know Sarah Kirnon of ~MISS OLLIE’S~ has landed at Forage Kitchen in Oakland, and she tells me she will be in the space for two years. (She closed her iconic, 10-year-old spot in Old Oakland earlier this year, in March.) The new name and concept is ~HOLDER’S HOUSE~, and the pic on Instagram refers to Holder’s House in Barbados—I’ll have to get the details on what that place means to her, because obviously there’s a good story there.

But for now, Holder’s House is soft-open tonight, Wednesday July 6th, serving from 5pm-9pm. What’s for dinner? How about slow-cooked oxtails, rotisserie jerk chicken, mustard greens, plantains, and rice and peas?! Yes! She was also serving her famed skillet-fried chicken a couple days ago. There’s Champagne, wine, and beer. Takeout, check. Follow the Holder’s House IG page for updates on what days/times she’s cooking and open since this is a true soft opening (and Sarah is known for surprise announcements). I’ll have more backstory soon. 478 25th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

My friend at Town Hall alerted me to a new scam erupting throughout the restaurant industry where scammers are leaving a flurry of one-star Google reviews on SF restaurant Google pages, driving their overall rating down and threatening to leave a bad rating every day unless the restaurant sends a Google Play card with the value of $75. Seriously, what?! (Thanks to @hungryhungryhooker for posting a story with the passive-aggressive “ransom” note from the scammers claiming they live in India and “see no other way to survive.”) Hopefully someone at Google (know anyone??) will notice this scourge of one-star reviews, remove them, and find a way to shut this BS down. For now, if you see scammy one-star ratings with no review from the past five days, flag them so Google will start noticing the problem. Other restaurants that have been hit include Avery, Nightbird, Nari, Birdsong, and Sons & Daughters.

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You’ll find some outdoor tables at the new Square Pie Guys Ghirardelli Square. Photo: Melati Citrawireja.

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The spiffy interior of the new Square Pie Guys Ghirardelli Square. Photo: Melati Citrawireja.

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The squash blossom pizza with burrata at Flour+Water Pizzeria. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Wow, the abbondanza of pizza places can’t stop, won’t stop (I am not complaining). First up, ~SQUARE PIE GUYS~ have officially opened their Ghirardelli Square location after running a soft opening for a bit. This is owners Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter’s third location, serving up their creative, Detroit-style, square-crusted, pan-baked pizzas, plus wings, sides, and salads, and local beer and expanded wine offerings. The 3,300-square-foot space is sleek and modern, and also has a 1,000-square-foot patio with waterfront views.

To kick off their new location and summer menu, they teamed up with 106.1 KMEL’s Shay Diddy, a San Francisco native. The Shay Diddy is a Detroit-style pie topped with white sauce, Italian sausage, roasted broccoli, chile flakes, and Mike’s Hot Honey. Tasty! From July to September, three percent of all Shay Diddy pizza sales will support Camp Mendocino and the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco. The awesome JLIN pie (white sauce, pepperoni, Italian sausage, chile flakes, Green Goddess dressing, parsley and grated grana cheese) is also back for three months, benefiting the Jeremy Lin Foundation, with Lin matching the donations. Hours are Sun-Thu 11:30am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm. 845 Beach St. at Larkin.

I had been tracking what Lane Ford and Eric Passetti were opening in the previous Jersey space in SoMa, and they just opened ~PIE PUNKS~, serving East Coast pies, Detroit-style pizza, and thin and crisp grandma pies (and slices). Plus a few apps, tiki drinks, and beers. (Read more on Eater.) No apps for now, call 415-535-2898 to order for pick-up. Open Tue-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat noon-10pm. 145 2nd St. at Minna.

Some changes in the Flour+Water world: ~FLOUR+WATER PIZZERIA~ is no longer on Valencia (former partner David White left the group and is opening ~YELLOW MOTO PIZZERIA~ in its place very soon, you can peek at the upcoming menu here.

F+W co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow and partners will reopen Flour+Water Pizzeria in North Beach in the former Rose Pistola location. Lundberg Design will be overseeing the transformation of the 4,000-square-foot space, which will include a glassed-in dough room. There will be a robust delivery and takeout business (they will be tweaking the Neapolitan-inspired dough for maximum portability), and group wine director Sam Bogue will oversee the wine, beer, and cocktail list. Look for a wintertime opening (and future to-go-only outposts). 532 Columbus Ave. at Union.

~PIZZERIA DELFINA~ on California Street is reopening for lunch service Fri-Sun this coming weekend (starting at 12pm). You can check out their gorgeous remodel from Boor Projects and Cookline in the daylight now! 2406 California St. at Fillmore.

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The busy dining room of the Villa D’Este during its final week. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A peek through the glam arches at Villa D’Este. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The iconic Cha Cha Cha sign in the Mission. Instagram photo via @chachachasf.

When a friend sent me the SFGate story that the ~VILLA D’ESTE~ in Lakeside Village was closing after 44 years of serving Hollywood levels of glam drama and veal parm, we had to go out and pay our respects to the interior (you can read more about the restaurant’s history here—it originally opened in 1942 as the Townhouse Restaurant). I swear, if someone takes over the place and doesn’t leave this epic time capsule intact, I’m gonna cut somebody. It’s enough to make me want to go into the restaurant business to have my dream Regency restaurant—but no, never. Maybe some employees will take it over and preserve it. Anyone? Best wishes to owner Ramon Oropeza Sr. and his family on his retirement. 2623 Ocean Ave. at Woodacre.

I am sorry to see that one of my Thai favorites, ~DERM~ on Geary, has closed. Seems like customers have been confused for the past month, making reservations and then finding a closed restaurant. D’oh. Derm opened in 2017, and I have a tablehopper reader to thank for turning me on to this tasty place. 3226 Geary Blvd. at Spruce.

SF oldtimer ~CHA CHA CHA~ in the Mission has closed after 25 years, which has been a dinner party headquarters (fueled by pitchers of sangria) for so many folks over the years. Owner Irfan Yalcin is keeping the Haight Street location open, so you can still get your spicy shrimp and patatas bravas fix. As for the Mission location, the SF Business Times reports new owners are opening Kuba in the space, and will be keeping things mostly the same. 2327 Mission St. at 19th St.

I noticed a cryptic farewell post from Giulietta Carrelli of ~TROUBLE COFFEE~ on the gram, and it ends up she is closing the trailblazing Outer Sunset café after 15 years. (But Build Your Own Damn House is forever!) She is credited with starting the toast trend in SF, and you really should read this incredible story about her (and the toast) in Pacific Standard, which ran in 2014.

The owners of DamnFine pizza are going to be opening ~DAMNFINE COFFEE~ in the space—Giulietta reportedly reached out to them about taking over the location (they’re longtime customers). This piece in the Chronicle mentions DamnFine Coffee will have the same hours as Trouble (daily 8am-5pm), but the toast will now be focaccia. It looks like you can still order Trouble Coffee for delivery, maybe (I reached out for confirmation but didn’t hear back). Thanks for being such a spark plug in our local coffee scene, Giulietta. [Cue My Way.] 4033 Judah St. at 45th Ave.

After almost 40 years in business (since 1984!), ~GOURMET CAROUSEL~, a neighborhood staple for family-style Chinese food in Lower Pacific Heights, has reportedly closed (no one picks up, and they are not available for delivery or on OpenTable anymore). You have definitely seen the sign for this restaurant at the busy intersection of Franklin and Pine. But, here’s something: according to an ABC license transfer, it looks like someone named Rui Sen Zhou is going to take over and reopen it as Gourmet Carousel, so stand by. 1559 Franklin St. at Pine.

Over in the Lower Haight, ~FORT POINT BEER~ announced the closure of their Lower Haight taproom, which originally opened as Black Sands in 2015. Their parklet has been a popular spot in the neighborhood during the pandemic, hopefully the next owner can offer a similar gathering space. Fort Point mentions in their post, “While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye, this means we can devote more time, effort, and resources into our Ferry Building Beer Garden and Valencia Beer Hall (just a mile away) - and we’re excited to make these spaces even better experiences for all of you.⁠” 701 Haight St. at Pierce.