The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
February 8, 2018

Chef Anthony Strong at his recent Cibi Cotti pop-up. Photo: Victor Wong.


The exterior of the Mission’s Hog & Rocks. Photo courtesy of Hog & Rocks.

After chef Anthony Strong left the Delfina Restaurant Group back in 2016 after 11 years, he then launched his idea for a restaurant-less delivery service, Young Fava, operating out of the Turtle Tower kitchen in the evenings. He soon became disenchanted with the concept for various reasons, and announced he wanted to go back to more of a restaurant format where he would have contact with his guests.

He then did a month of some fantastic pop-ups under the name Cibi Cotti at the former Local Mission Market—testing dishes and ideas while scouting for a permanent brick-and-mortar location—until new ownership took over. Strong soon found his spot through his friend, Scott Youkilis, owner of ~HOG & ROCKS~, and what a great location it is.

Youkilis says Hog & Rocks was coming up on eight years in its prime Mission location, and he decided it was time to move on. With Strong’s interest in the space, it was the right time to make a move; the two of them will be working together in the transition of the space. The plan is to close in mid-April, Youkilis will be keeping things business as usual until they have an official closing date finalized. So swing by now for all the oysters, all the ham, all the cocktails.

As for what Strong has in mind, he is remaining tight-lipped about it until March, so I’ll keep you posted. He does say he’s thinking about all unicorn everything. And axe-throwing. (Kidding.) Whatever it is, I know it will be thoughtfully considered, creative, and delicious. We all have something to look forward to.

February 6, 2018

Shake Shack classics. Photo via Facebook.


The bar area at Caputo. Photo courtesy of Caputo.

We just heard about New York’s ~SHAKE SHACK~ coming to Shallow Alto (as my friend who lives there lovingly and hilariously calls it) and Larkspur, and now it looks like if it gets approval, it will also be taking over half of the vacant Real Food Co. space in Cow Hollow. (The other half will be a boxing gym, handy for working off your anger at binge eating not one but two ShackBurgers in one sitting.) It all still needs to make it through planning and neighborhood approvals, so stand by. 3060 Fillmore Street (at Filbert). [Via Hoodline.]

At a recent event, I heard rumors that Donato Scotti (of Donato & Co. in Berkeley and Donato Enoteca and Cru in Redwood City) was opening a project in San Francisco, and sure enough, an ABC license application reveals he is taking over the recently closed Caputo in South Beach, which went kaput a couple of years ago. The new project will be ~CENTO OSTERIA~, and Eater fills in some initial details: Scotti and Donato Enoteca business partner Gianluca Guglielmi will be focusing on Piemontese cuisine, with pizza and pasta, and aperitivi (they have that nice bar area). Look for an April opening or thereabouts. 100 Brannan St. at Embarcadero.

More Italian news: Hoodline chased down the story that ~DOPPIO ZERO PIZZERIA NAPOLETENA~ is opening in the Caffe Delle Stelle space in Hayes Valley—the owner is retiring. The Italian owners—Angelo Sannino and Gianni Chiloiro—will be installing a wood-fired pizza oven and offering true Neapolitan pizza (certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana), along with Southern Italian dishes, housemade pastas, and a full bar with cocktails, plus outdoor seating with heaters. The owners are also behind The Meatball Bar in the FiDi—with a second one coming to 602 Hayes—and they already have two Doppio Zero locations (in Cupertino and Mountain View). 395 Hayes St. at Gough.


Our dear Hoss Zaré! We’ll miss you. Photo via Facebook.

Well folks, it’s the end of an era of Hosspitality and Hossy Hugs: our dear Hoss Zaré is heading back to his native Iran and starting a new chapter in his life back home. He has been such a big part of our local culinary scene for years. He started as a dishwasher at The Fly Trap back in 1988, which he later bought and took over. Read this heartfelt piece about him from a couple of years ago by Tamara Palmer, and here is my review of Zaré at Fly Trap from back in 2009. He’s had some really rough times (his parents were tragically and horrifically murdered in Iran, and he suffered a heart attack back in 2010, scaring us all!), but he has always kept his big heart open and full of love.

He included this in a farewell piece he sent to me: “I spent three decades of my life waking up to dazzling sunshines, soothing breezes, and calming sea waves of San Francisco filled with love of the sun, delight of the beach, and generosity of the ocean overpowered by warmheartedness and thoughtfulness of its people. You supported me during my days of gloom and glory, success and failure, and health and hurt. In return to all your kindness and hospitality, I brought you the sweetness of Baklava, colorfulness of Koofteh, and richness of the bone marrow, and my genuine Hosspitality!” Indeed.

You have a chance to visit Hoss at his final appearance this Saturday February 10th at a demo at the CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (at 12pm). It’s the day before he leaves town, so don’t miss one last Hossy Hug. Best wishes and much happiness to you, Hoss. Thank you for all the kindness and warmth and heartfelt meals all these years.

Another one of my favorite longtime chefs, Sean Thomas, who held it down at Blue Plate for seven-plus years and then consulted on the opening menu at City Counter in the Financial District, is now the executive chef at ~CITY COUNTER~. He has added a County Line chicory Caesar salad (with pomegranate, bacon, and his famous pecorino dressing), and he’s working on a new happy hour menu—come by Mon-Fri 4pm-7pm for it (they have also added Lo-Fi Cocktails to the menu). Open Mon-Fri 11am-7pm. 115 Sansome St. at Bush, 415-844-0633.


Something’s fishy at Amami. Yelp photo by Melanie T.


King cake beignets, available now until Mardi Gras at Brenda’s French Soul Food. Instagram photo by @brendasfrenchsf.

You like cute waffle sandwiches in the shape of a Japanese fish? Of course you do. There’s a new taiyaki place that has opened in Union Square, ~AMAMI~, offering a variety of fillings (like red azuki bean and white mochi, or matcha cream with black sesame mochi—get one freshly made), plus green tea matcha soft-serve ice cream on the side, hot or cold tea lattes, and more. 430 Geary Blvd. at Mason.

This Saturday may be ~ONE MARKET~’s big 25th anniversary dinner, but this Friday February 9th, you can enjoy half off the entire menu all day and night, including all beverages! It’s a wonderful way to say “thank you” to their customers. Reservations are strongly suggested but there will also be some tables open for walk-ins.

Just in case you are plotting your plans for Mardi Gras (which is next Tuesday February 13th), here are a few ideas for you: of course ~BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD~ will be serving up beignets for brunch (and is offering king cake beignets until then!), ~JUST FOR YOU~ in Dogpatch will be serving their traditional N’awlins fare, and you can snag some po’boys at ~QUEEN’S LOUISIANA PO’BOYS~ (they have their new location at Pier 33). And there’s the newish ~BAYOU~ in the Mission too.

~TOWN HALL~ always throws a helluva party, and ~THE ELITE CAFE~ is hosting a party too, with unlimited crawfish. SF Beer Week plus Mardi Gras equals a party on the patio at ~4505 BURGERS AND BBQ~ with special beer releases from Harmonic Brewing, po’boys, gumbo, and king cake. ~ALBA RAY’S~ will have live music in addition to a special Mardi Gras menu (including andouille corn dogs, jambalaya cones, po’boy sliders, and beignets with a king cake twist). Frozen Irish coffee slushies will keep you going. Laissez le bon temps rouler!

And if you want something with less beads and Hurricanes but still some Louisiana soul, ~SERPENTINE~ is kicking off its new once-a-month Sunday Supper Series beginning Sunday February 11th and will celebrate the flavors of Louisiana served family style for just $40 per person (tip not included, tickets here).


Nyum Bai’s chicken curry with nom pachok. Photo via Facebook.


House-blended matcha and nonfat Greek yogurt with golden berries, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds at Zazzi Foods. Photo via Facebook.

East Bay friends, get ready to start your engines (or top up your BART card) to head to Fruitvale for the opening of ~NYUM BAI~ from Nite Yun in the former Half Orange space. I’ll have more on this Cambodian street food outpost in a couple of weeks—it’s due to open on Saturday February 17th. Nite’s beautiful cooking bewitched many of us during her pop-ups in San Francisco and at her stand in the Emeryville Public Market, and now she has her own brick and mortar. It will be open Wed-Mon 11am-2:30pm and 5pm-9pm.

Open now in Rockridge is the first ~LA BOULANGERIE DE SAN FRANCISCO~, serving Pascal Rigo’s lineup of croissants, egg sandwiches, tartines, salads, and coffee service. It opened in the former Pasta Pomodoro. Open Mon-Fri 6:30am-7pm, Sat 7am-7pm, and Sun 7am-6pm. 5500 College Ave. at Lawton, Oakland, 510-350-8332. [Via Nosh.]

Another SF import that will be coming over to the East Bay is a second location of the Mission’s ~ELBO ROOM~. While the bar begins to count down its last year on its lease in SF, it will be opening in Jack London Square in the former Night Light (also a two-level space) as ~ELBO ROOM JACK LONDON SQUARE~. Eater caught the announcement on Facebook, and it looks like an early to mid-February opening is the current timeline. So, soon. 311 Broadway at 4th St., Oakland.

That same Nosh post mentions Cassandra Chen of CC Made is in soft-opening mode of her new café, ~ZAZZI FOODS~, offering granola bowls (she owns and produces Café Fanny granola), toasts, and more, including coffee service with Tartine Coffee Manufactory. 1398 University Ave. at Acton, Berkeley.

Berkeley students should be happy with the new location of ~SLIVER PIZZERIA~ after their quick shuttering in their former location, serving their vegetarian pie of the day in the former Pieology. Now open daily 11am-10:30pm at 2468 Telegraph Ave. at Haste, Berkeley. Via Nosh

While Charlie Hallowell’s restaurant group (Pizzaiolo, Penrose, and Boot & Shoe Service) attempts to stabilize while he “steps away” for a six-month leave—with some employees choosing to leave since he isn’t—it looks like the second location of ~BOOT AND SHOE SERVICE~ that was coming to Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue has been put on hold. The Chronicle piece also mentions there is a new chief operating officer, Donna Insalaco, who will run the restaurants for now.

January 30, 2018

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

Good news: the massively delayed Tamale Lady restaurant has a new targeted opening, possibly April 2018. The Chronicle caught up with Virginia Ramos and the contractor for all the latest. You can read up on all the red tape and retrofitting, or just keep on sitting tight. Ramos has been missed, and it will be so great to finally see her in her dream location. This year! 2943 16th St. at Capp.

Wow, the Thursday night Mission Community Market is taking a big step, with CUESA (the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture)—the nonprofit operator of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco and Jack London Square Farmers Market in Oakland—taking over operations on April 5th, when it reopens for the season. Look for more educational programming, support for local farmers and small businesses, healthy foods more accessible through the Market Match program, and customer service, plus more farms, producers, and prepared food sellers in time. All of the market’s current sellers will be invited to continue their participation in the market. It will run 4pm-8pm. Bartlett St. at 22nd St.


Sunday brunch is happening at Tawla. Instagram photo via @tawlasf.


Your new dream breakfast treat: the Holy Mole (with housemade mole, Fontina cheese, and an egg inside).

Fellow lovers of the flavor-packed Eastern Mediterranean dishes at ~TAWLA~ should know they have just launched Sunday brunch. You can enjoy dishes like their omelet Levant (za’atar, sweet onions, kashkaval, feta) and bayd bi awarma (baked eggs, lamb confit, fenugreek), plus two kinds of shakshuka: either white (braised greens, sheep’s milk feta, herbs, lemon) or red (tomato, baharat, maras). And then there are their house breads, seed breads, and cheese-stuffed borek, plus stuffed pide (just 12 daily!). Or order the Turkish breakfast (kahvalti), offering you bites from the entire menu and unlimited bread. Sign me up! This brunch is the stuff of my dreams. Sundays 11am-2pm.

Have you had a chance to check out ~NOON ALL DAY~ yet in Dogpatch? (You can read the in-depth tablehopper report here.) It can be a bit of a schlep for some, but the Hole Mole breakfast pastry is reason enough to head over. And starting on Saturday February 10th, they will be open on the weekends too! Adjust your brunch, lunch, linner, and dinner plans accordingly. Open 7am-8pm, Sat-Sun will be 8am-3pm to start. 690 Indiana St. at 19th St.


Cheese, please. You’ll find it at the California Artisan Cheese Festival. Photo courtesy of CACF.


Tots! Leave it to WesBurger ‘N’ More to do ‘em right. Photo via Facebook/Wes Rowe.


The Angry Korean wings from Wing Wings. Photo: ©

Love tofu? Then you’ll want to attend this event with Hodo Soy’s founder, Minh Tsai, in conversation with J. Kenji López-Alt at JCCSF on Monday February 5th. Dinner includes dishes from Kim Alter, Nightbird; Nick Balla, Duna; and James Syhabout, Commis, Hawker Fare, Hawking Bird. 

Cheese lovers, you don’t want to miss the annual California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 23rd-25th, with seminars with world-class cheese experts, pairing demos (including wine, beer, and cocktails), field trips, and more. Take a look now, because some events fill up quickly. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa.

Sunday is the Super Bowl, and it’s officially the day of snacks and wings and queso. Whether you’re watching the game with friends, or perhaps enjoying a bowl of queso all to yourself in bed, here are some options.

The folks at ~COMSTOCK SALOON~ are offering quite the pregame on Sunday February 4th, which is also in celebration of Emperor Norton’s 200th birthday. Just like Comstock’s “Free-Lunch Friday” promo, a pork belly Benedict will be free with the purchase of two adult beverages on Super Bowl Sunday. Comstock will be open for special hours that day (12pm-5pm), and the full menu will be on offer. You can even reserve a table—so civilized.

So about that queso. The evil genius Wes Rowe of ~WESBURGER ‘N’ MORE~ has all the things you want: queso, loaded queso tots, a Nashville hot chicken sandwich, and, of course, The Hot Wes (his trademark burger with onion rings, queso, and pickled jalapeños). They will be open for takeout or you can order via Caviar from 11:30am-10pm.

Wings! Of course ~WING WINGS~ is the joint, and they are taking preorders for Sunday. Bring on the party pack.

You know who else is offering wings that day? ~4505 BURGERS AND BBQ~ will be making wings that you can preorder. Or you can come by and watch the game on their patio—or have them delivered (in SF and Oakland!). They are also offering Game Day Chile con Queso (with Hatch green chiles), which you are supposed to dip their chicharrones into. Dear lord. $9.95 (add chopped brisket for $2).

And even ~SOUVLA~ Nopa will be featuring feta-brined wings as a Caviar delivery exclusive (11am-10pm). You get a dozen wings tossed in housemade wing sauce with a side of hot sauce and Greek cheese dip for $14. And they are making “super fries” too (topped with harissa-spiked yogurt, feta cheese, and pickled red onions, with your choice of spit-roasted chicken, lamb, or pork). You’ll want to put in your preorder before game day because last year they sold out!


Vegetarian thali plate at Chullo Nepali Indian Cuisine. Yelp photo by Pradheap B.

Some quick bites and new openings for you, starting in SoMa: ~CHULLO NEPALI INDIAN CUISINE~ has opened on 3rd Street, serving momos, home-style Nepalese dishes, Indian favorites like tikka masala, items from the tandoor, and more. Open Mon-Sat 11am-10pm. 474 3rd St. at Stillman, 415-543-3800.

More Indian: a second location of ~RAAVI~ (the original is in North Beach) has opened in Mid-Market. You’ll find classic North Indian dishes, but it seems they also have some housemade pastries and cakes too. Open daily 11am-10pm. 1063 Market St. at Taylor, 415-222-9696.

Another second location story: the Turkish Tuba on Guerrero has opened ~TUBA EXPRESS MEDITERRANEAN KEBAB & GYRO~ on Nob Hill, serving a variety of hot and cold mezes, soups, salads, kebabs, and entrées, plus beer and wine. Open daily 10:30am-10pm. 1550 California St. at Polk, 415-563-4043.


The Wagyumafia cutlet sandwich. Photo via @wagyumafia on Instagram.

I was sorry to see a tweet over the weekend announcing the closure of the ~THREE TWINS~ ice cream shop in the Lower Haight, but good news, their other locations will remain open and they will still be available in grocery stores! Whew, don’t take away our lemon cookie. You can read a note from founding twin Neal Gottlieb here about the why (a rent increase was part of it). 254 Fillmore St. at Haight.

There was a fire Friday morning at neighborhood fave ~LAVASH~ in the Inner Sunset, which will remain closed indefinitely for now. 511 Irving St. at 6th Ave. [Via The Chronicle.]

Just in case any of you fantasized about sinking your choppers into one of the wagyu cutlet sandwiches from the Tokyo-based Wagyumafia (raises hand), sadly they will be opening in New York instead of SF. Wah. Eater reports ORG (Omakase Restaurant Group) owners Kash Feng and chef Jackson Yu will still be opening their steakhouse, butcher shop, and udon restaurant at One Henry Adams, it’s just that they didn’t want to exclusively carry the high-end Wagyumafia beef at the butcher shop—they wanted to have more of an array of suppliers and meats for customers. (But ORG will continue to carry their wagyu for their restaurants and the butcher shop. And a Kobe beef cutlet sandwich will still be coming, later in 2018.)


The combo rice bowl from the Halal Guys in New York. Yelp photo by Danny L.


The fantastic lasagna at The Italian Homemade Company, one of the many crazy delicious pasta dishes they make. Photo: ©


The new weekend brunch at Ramen Shop looks like it really is all that. Instagram photo via @ramenshopoakland.


The new Equator Coffees café in Oakland. Photo courtesy of Equator.

There’s a lot happening in the 510, so let’s take a look. First up, ~THE HALAL GUYS~ just opened a location in Berkeley. You can tuck into this New York street institution’s platters and sandwiches and cover it all with their famous white and hot sauce (btw, the hot sauce is really really hot, so go slow). The late hours will help them feed you when the food is truly at its best: when you’re tipsy. Sun-Thu 10am-12am, Fri-Sat 10am-2am. 2126 Center St. at Shattuck, Berkeley. (And if you’re too drunk to leave your couch, you can have it delivered to you via Caviar; here’s my code for a $20 discount on your first delivery.)

Another expansion to the East Bay is the opening of SF’s ~ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY~ in the former AG Ferrari in Berkeley’s Elmwood district. You can dine in or do takeout of their housemade pasta dishes, plus there are sandwiches (piadine), salads, and a grocery area (here’s the menu). My recos: their tortellini (such a treat to find some made with a traditional meaty filling), their ridiculous pasticciata sauce (a bolognese with béchamel), and the lasagna! 2905 College Ave. at Russell, Berkeley.

As if ~RAMEN SHOP~ isn’t already giving us all the deliciousness, but they have also launched a weekend Japanese breakfast menu. In an interview with Inside Scoop, they explain it’s a spin on the Japanese breakfast of shioyaki trout, tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet), and miso soup with shimeji mushrooom, komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), and grated daikon. You’ll also find fried eggs with housemade longanisa sausage and garlic fried rice, brunch cocktails, and more. Sat-Sun 10am-3pm.

More brunch: ~KRONNERBURGER~ is serving brunch every Fri-Sun (11am-3:30pm). You’ll be tempted by a breakfast biscuit, a smoked trout and egg bagel, sweet potato pancakes, and a whole lot more, plus $8 cocktails. 4063 Piedmont Ave. at 41st St., Oakland.

Also in Oakland, ~UNDERWOOD BAR & CAFÉ~ has reopened with a new managing team (Christopher Parks, Stacy Vella, and Adam Hinojosa), menu, updated space, and more. You can come by for coffee and pastries in the morning, lunch, and dinner, with small plates, snacks, salads, housemade charcuterie boards, and sandwiches, plus wine, craft beer, and cocktails. Open 6am-11am for coffee service, 11am-3pm for lunch, 5pm-10pm for dinner service, and 10pm-2am for beverages and a late-night food menu. 308 41st St. at Broadway, Oakland.

Smell that deliciousness in the air? ~EQUATOR COFFEES~ has opened a seventh café, this time it’s their first in the East Bay, close to Lake Merritt. It was built into a recycled shipping container, with community tables and a retail store. They are sharing the space with Urban Remedy, maker of delicious salads, juices, snacks, and more. Cyclists, runners, and power walkers, here’s your spot to refuel! Open Mon-Thu 6am-6pm, Fri 6am-7pm, Sat 7am-7pm, and Sun 7am-6pm. 175 Bay Place, Oakland. 

Have you tried ~4505 BURGERS & BBQ~’s delivery pop-up in the East Bay yet? They’re running this special with Caviar until they open in the Laurel District this spring. So, Oakland residents, you can now get dinner delivered Wed-Sat (5pm-9pm). You can order their special/secret menu Big Mac (double cheeseburger with a Frankaroni), or you can stick with their brisket, chicken, pork (plate or sandwich or large format), sausages, classic sides and sauces, and Frankaroni. You can also get any sandwich Roger style (add a quarter pound of sausage to any meat sandwich, oy). First-time Caviar user? Use my code for $20 off your first order!

More burgers: at ~GATHER~ in Downtown Berkeley, they’re running a special at the bar (5pm-9pm). For $20, you get a Mindful Meats burger with housemade pickles, cheddar, onion, aioli, fries, plus a draft Westfalia Red Ale from Fort Point Brewery and a shot of Evan Williams bourbon. (There’s also a gluten-free version of the burger available.) It’s like an adult Happy Meal.

January 23, 2018

Akamaru tamago ramen at Ippudo. Photo: Barron Lee.


The dining room at the new Ippudo location in SF. Photo: Barron Lee.

Well, SF, Berkeley may have got their Ippudo ramen house first, but you finally get your very own. ~IPPUDO~, the famed ramen restaurant most of us West Coasters could previously only indulge in while in New York, is coming to SF. (The chain was started by Ramen King Shigemi Kawahara in 1985, with just a 10-seat ramen house—it now has more than 160 restaurants worldwide.) The official opening is Sunday January 28th, but in the meantime, they are hosting soft opening hours and a limited menu. They just finished the lunch soft opening, and now you can come by Jan. 25th-27th (dinner only, 5pm-10pm).

The 86-seat location is on Yerba Buena Lane and is considered their “first full ramen fine dining experience on the West Coast,” which means it features an expanded menu of Hakata tonkotsu (pork) ramen with an 18-hour broth and handmade noodles (there are also non-pork, gluten-free, and vegetarian and vegan ramen options, and you can choose classic to spicy, plus toppings, and desired noodle texture too). There will be izakaya-style dishes—including steamed buns (pork, chicken, vegetable) and Goma Q (cucumbers seasoned with their house original sesame oil sauce)—as well as wine, beer, Japanese cocktails, aperitifs, and premium sake.

It has an eye-catching look, with a sake bar, a Hiragana alphabet wall and a large Chochin lantern. Hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and dinner 5pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm. 18 Yerba Buena Lane at Market.


Shake Shack classics. Photo via Facebook.


Liz Prueitt and Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery and Manufactory. Photo by Eric Wolfinger.

If you follow @tablehopper on Twitter, you may have already read the news that Union Square Hospitality Group’s ~SHAKE SHACK~ is opening their first SF Bay Area location in Palo Alto at Stanford Shopping Center, due fall 2018. Also teased in the press release will be potential locations in the Marina District of San Francisco and Marin County. On the menu: their 100 percent all-natural Angus beef burgers, chicken sandwiches, and griddled flat-top dogs (no hormones or antibiotics), plus fresh-made frozen custard, crinkle-cut fries, craft beer, wine, and more.

Also in massive expansion mode is ~TARTINE BAKERY~, which is not only expanding with a Tartine Manufactory in LA and more locations in Seoul, plus the Manufactory Food Hall in SFO, but they also have plans for the former 398 Brasserie location downtown here in SF (in the Hotel G). Eater caught the ABC license transfer and revealed Tartine was originally partnering with chef April Bloomfield (which would include business partner Ken Friedman), but with the fallout from allegations of Friedman’s sexual harassment of employees, Tartine has ended the partnership. We’ll have to wait and see what Tartine’s Chad Robertson and Liz Prueitt come up with next for the location. 398 Geary St. at Mason.


Behold, the “breakwich” from The Board! Photo: Grace Sager Photography.


One of The Board’s “breakwich” combos, with a sausage patty and American cheese on a poppy seed roll. Photo: ©


Take a look at these everything bagels, flown in from NYC! They taste as good as they look. Photo: Grace Sager Photography


The Board hot dog (grilled, with “habakraut,” onion, brown mustard, poppy seed bun). Photo: Grace Sager Photography.

Do you follow @tablehopper on Instagram? If so, I was probably torturing you yesterday with a pic of my breakfast sandwich from the soon-to-open ~THE BOARD~, another daytime sandwich spot from Adam Mesnick of Deli Board (he also was behind 1058 Hoagie and Rye Project). He’s opening The Board on Thursday February 1st in the former Fenix/TBD space in SoMa and will be offering breakfast and lunchy sandwich options, with some new combos and an eye on affordability.

Let’s talk breakfast first. Mesnick has the egg on a roll down pat, complete with runny egg, American cheese, and your choice of a poppy or sesame roll from Panorama. Or maybe you want a sausage patty instead of crisp and smoky bacon, or avocado…or Muenster cheese or… There are so many possible combos. Take your pick from the different sections, and luckily all the breakfast sandwiches come with his house Board sauce (all $9—which I find about a buck or two too high, but that’s SF).

And then there’s the everything bagel he’s flying in from New York (it’s a secret—trust, I tried to find out where), and then baking them off in the morning. I just want to say it’s one of the better bagel egg sandwiches I’ve had in town—it had so much flavor! That bagel will hit the spot, I’m telling you. Great texture. It made me happy. It tasted like New York! So yeah, I’ll pay $9 for a BEC with that bagel and a sausage patty.

He’s also going to be working out that griddle with grilled cheese sandwiches, plus a Board cheesesteak ($12) with a little onion, white American cheese, cherry peppers, Board sauce, on an Amoroso roll; his East Coast Italian style-hoagie (which I love), the #1, with Genoa salami, capicola, mortadella, provolone, cherry peppers, shredduce, salt and pepper, onion, and house dressing. There will also be falafel ($11), a hot dog ($6-$7), salads ($9-$12), soups ($4), and sides, including Board rolls (2 for $7). And don’t tell your cardiologist about the pepperoni, provolone, and marinara—all fried in an egg roll wrap. You’ll always want to check the board for specials. A cheeseburger is also in the works.

There are a lot of seats available, 48 total, and outdoor seating will be coming too. He designed the space to look like a classic diner/luncheonette, with subway tile, Deco pendant lights, and other vintage touches. Hours will be Mon-Fri 9:30am-2:30pm. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.


Four Barrel cappuccino; Yelp photo from Jamie R.

I have a few updates for you on the local sexual harrassment stories that need to be followed. First, it looks like ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ settled the sexual harassment lawsuit out of court for an undisclosed amount (via SFGate), and it also ends up remaining partners Tal Mor and Jodi Geren have decided they will not be changing their name to The Tide after all (a response to employee feedback). And according to this tweet from @sassy__barista, it looks like they have had to lay some employees off (in wholesale) as they attempt to stabilize the business, and are moving the roastery back to Valencia Street. Next: watching their path to divest and becoming 100 percent employee-owned.

Meanwhile, the managers at ~BOOT AND SHOE SERVICE~ in Oakland picketed and protested on Saturday that owner Charlie Hallowell—accused of sexual harassment by numerous employees—needed to divest from the company or they would resign. Since he didn’t respond, numerous employees have since quit (The Chronicle reports three managers and chefs quit on Sunday, with others planning to quit in coming days, including male employees).


Contrada’s buckwheat rigatoni with duck sugo and chanterelles. Photo: Kristen Loken.

A couple of quick notes: over at ~CONTRADA~ in Cow Hollow, opening chef Jason Tuley has moved on after one year, and Denise St. Onge is the new executive chef, making it an all-female management team. Go ladies. St. Onge’s background includes Michael Mina, Gary Danko, and most recently at SPQR as pasta cook, butcher, and eventually sous chef. Look for some vegan and gluten-free offerings (including pizza) and handmade pastas. 2136 Union St. at Webster, 415-926-8916.

Over in Hayes Valley, Steven Izzo, Waterbar’s former wine director, and his wife, Lee Ann Frahm, also a Waterbar alum, have taken over ~DOBBS FERRY~ and will be overseeing the daily operations. This is their first restaurant venture. Changes are coming to the menu, plus the wine, beer, and cocktail programs. Executive chef Mike Yakura will remain in place, along with the restaurant staff. You can keep track of recent updates on their Instagram feed. Congrats Steve and Lee Ann—I know the wine list will rock. 409 Gough St. at Hayes, 415-551-7700.


A killer spread at Prubechu. Instagram photo via @restaurantprubechu.

Looking for some new lunch options? The fine folks at ~PRUBECHU~ in the Mission have put together a lunch menu, featuring some dishes from their à la carte menu. You can order their Chamorro empanada, or caramelized potato soup, or tinaktak (coconut-braised beef and noodles). And the red rice bowl with smoked pork sounds like a winner. And there are so many beers. Open Tue-Sat 11:30am-2pm. 2847 Mission St. at 415-952-3654.

Starting Monday February 5th, Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina’s hyped American barbecue restaurant, ~INTERNATIONAL SMOKE~, will start serving lunch Monday-Friday 11:30am-2pm. If you have been trying to get a reservation, there’s one way to get in and check it out—there are some tables open in mid-February. 301 Mission St. at Fremont.


Inner Sunset fixture Park Chow has closed after 20 years. Photo via Facebook.

Some closures around town, including old-timer ~PARK CHOW~, which closed on Sunday January 19th after 20 years of business. A neighbor gave me a heads-up that owner Tony Gulisano decided to move on and focus his energy on the upcoming opening of Chow Oakland Cafe, Bakery & Market. You can read more in his letter on their site, and they are hosting a little reception for regulars this coming Sunday January 28th. 1240 9th Ave. at Lincoln.

After almost two years on Valencia, the restaurant and brewery ~BRASSERIE SAINT JAMES~ decided to close over the holidays. Eater reports they were planning a renovation (the space was previously Abbot’s Cellar), but after reviewing the numbers, they decided to close. Some larger restaurant groups are reportedly interested in the space. 742 Valencia St. at 18th St.

Just across the street, the live music venue The Chapel has closed their 85-seat restaurant, ~THE VESTRY~. The Eater post mentions they will be launching a new restaurant concept in the space, so stand by.

Up on Nob Hill, the Champagne and fries bar ~THE FINE MOUSSE~ is closing this Saturday January 27th (UPDATE: they are now open through Saturday February 3rd!), after more than two years in business. If you come by this week, you’ll get free fries with every bottle purchased. A press release mentions coffee roaster Megafauna will be popping up in mid-February, a project from Avery Burke of The Temporarium (he’s building out a shop in Upper Market and this will be an interim sneak peek until it’s ready to open!). 1098 Jackson St. at Taylor.

Since we’re talking about Upper Market, ~THE MYRIAD FOOD HALL~ is closing February 28th. If you had a favorite vendor, check in and see if they will be landing elsewhere; Hoodline reports Bunn Mike will be moving to North Beach (752 Columbus Ave.). 2175 Market St. at 15th St.


Don’t miss the California premiere of “Ramen Heads” at SF Indiefest! Photo courtesy of SF Indiefest.

This week marks the kickoff for SF Restaurant Week (maybe you noticed their ad in tablehopper—we appreciate their support!) and it’s your chance to experience a variety of restaurants through the special menus they’re offering for lunch ($25) and dinner ($40 or $65)! You can peek at the menus here, and maybe now is the time to cross that place you’ve been eyeing off your list. Follow @sfrestaurantweek on Instagram and tag your pics with #SFRW to be featured!

And even Caviar is getting in on the promotion, so you can enjoy SFRW at home. (Use my code for $20 off your first delivery!) Or use code SFRW2018 at participating restaurants for $0 delivery fees on orders that are $30-plus, through January 31st.

This Sunday January 28th, Indian ~ROOH~ and Peruvian ~LA MAR~ are partnering on another chef collaboration dinner, and it’s abundant (seven courses). 6pm. Tickets: $129 per person, or $169 with beverage pairings. 333 Brannan St. at 2nd St.

~HAKKASAN~ is kicking off their signature Chinese New Year menu, running January 29th to February 24th (the Lunar New Year is on Friday February 16th—there will be lion dancers at 7pm). You’ll find oysters (which symbolize good fortune), braised beef tongue and caramelized walnuts, and abalone fried rice in bean curd wrap with Chinese sausage…and more. Priced at $118 per person. Be sure to write a wish for their wishing tree.

Ramen fanatics, you won’t want to miss the screening of Ramen Heads on Saturday February 10th (2pm) and Tuesday February 13th (7pm) at the Roxie Theatre during the SF IndieFest (February 1st-15th). The film features “Japan’s reigning king of ramen, Osamu Tomita.” More information and tickets here.  

January 16, 2018

Bhel puri from Indian Paradox, ready to be paired with many quality wines we’ll have at the event from Chambers & Chambers. Photo courtesy of Indian Paradox.


One of the cocktails will be the White Tiger (almond butter-washed The Botanist gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, Cocchi Americano, five-spice bitters). Photo courtesy of Dominic Alling.

cassava-Lunch Ribs Horizontal.jpeg

Cassava is serving their barbecue pork ribs with Indian spices! Photo courtesy of Cassava.


B. Patisserie will be bringing their black sesame kouign-amann, plus some other treats! Photo: @bpatisserie.


Big smiles during a Pencils for Kids backpack delivery in Thailand. Photo: ©

Hey gang! It’s your last chance to get a ticket for our amazing event tomorrow (Wednesday January 17th)! Don’t miss the chance to win a pair of tickets to Hong Kong on the inimitable Cathay Pacific (see below)!

As an Honorary Chairperson and Ambassador for Pencils for Kids, Inc., I curated all the restaurants and wine and spirits for their fundraiser event in San Francisco: Small World. Big Flavors. We’re hosting the event at the stylish Cambria Gallery in SoMa (the same fab place where I hosted the fundraiser for Mexico last October!). I’m so excited for us to be back there; it was the perfect party pad!

Think of it like a seven-course dinner that is a walk-around tasting, with local restaurant partners making all kinds of delicious Asian dishes for the event. You ready for the lineup? YES! We have the new Perle Wine Bar of Montclair joining us (chef Rob Lam is making his amazing oxtail stew with soft Hodo Soy tofu…bun bo Hue style!); the charming Cassava is serving their barbecue pork ribs with Indian spices; and Indian Paradox (one of my favorite hidden gems on Divisadero for Indian street food—and they just launched brunch!) is making a classic street food dish of bhel puri (crispy crackers and puffed rice mixed with jaggery and mint chutney, tomatoes, potatoes, and mango served in a cone) and warm masala peanuts. The Burmese Grocery Cafe (which has a new location in Jack London Square in Oakland) is making their rustic mango chutney pork stew with creamy coconut rice (it’s a crowd-pleaser!). We also have Cambodian Nyum Bai joining us—Nite Yun will be serving her Khmer banana blossom salad (she is opening her brick-and-mortar location soon!). And you can check out a flavorful Thai-Laotian dish from the new Esan Classic (from the Lers Ros team)—they will be making spicy turmeric sausage (ground pork, turmeric powder, chile, lemongrass), and Thai iced tea to cool you off.

You’re definitely going to want to save room for dessert, because Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie is going to be making black sesame kouign-amann and milk tea macarons. The fine folks at HelioRoast are going to be offering coffee service—you’ll get to taste their local microroasted coffee!

There will be fab cocktails: the White Tiger (almond butter-washed The Botanist gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, Cocchi Americano, five-spice bitters) and House of Painters (The Botanist gin, Cointreau, shiso, lime, kumquat shrub, served fizzed), both courtesy of our generous sponsor Rémy Cointreau, plus beautiful wines kindly provided by Chambers & Chambers (those of you who came to the SF Loves MX fundraiser remember those two gorgeous French rosés!).

We will also have a silent auction and raffle with some fantastic items (like how about two round-trip tickets to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, are you kidding me?) and a goodie bag!

Tickets are only $75 (the event is 6:30pm-9:30pm), and you’ll be well fed (and beveraged, heh) while doing a whole lot of good. I really hope to see you—let’s have a full house!

As many of you already know, I visited Northern Thailand last May to be a part of the 10th anniversary mission of Pencils for Kids, Inc. It’s an amazing nonprofit that raises funds to deliver backpacks filled with school supplies and uniforms to children in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand every year. In 2017, PFK delivered more than 2,200 backpacks to children in need!

My visit to the villages in Chiang Rai to help deliver backpacks was incredibly moving, and as someone who cherishes my education and independence, it felt good to help encourage access to education for others who are less fortunate. And it’s why I’m helping Pencils for Kids with their annual fundraiser in San Francisco this year, with 100 percent of the event proceeds going directly to supply children with backpacks.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to make a donation, please visit PFK’s donation page! You can donate a backpack for a child for $50, which will contain school supplies and their school uniform. Thank you!


Salt cod fritters with chimichurri. Photo courtesy of Becca PR.


Rum punch is an instant party at Kaya. Photo courtesy of Becca PR.

Now open in the former ~ALTA CA~ location on Market is ~KAYA~ from chef and co-owner Nigel Jones of Oakland’s Kingston 11, who partnered with Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group on the project. (Alta is easing on down the road, reopening in the nearby Yotel.)

It’s the Jamaican-born chef’s first foray into opening a San Francisco restaurant, and the menu and offerings are different from Kingston 11—it’s a more modern take on Jamaican food, with California ingredients and sourcing (but it will still have some bold flavors, don’t you worry). The menu includes salt cod fritters, papaya and greens, fried plantains, piri piri chicken, jerk chicken, black pepper crab, and oxtails. And for dessert: there’s chocolate-habanero soft serve, with pomegranate molasses and lime!

The restaurant is named after Bob Marley and the Wailers’ sixth album, and the space is meant to have a fun and social vibe (with hanging greenery, artwork from Caribbean artists, and projections of vintage Jamaican movies). Get irie. (The extensive rum selection—with an emphasis on Caribbean producers—and cocktails and bowls of punch from beverage director Aaron Paul should help fuel that.) There are also craft beers, wine, and housemade sodas.

You can read more in this in-depth piece about chef Jones and his intentions (with Patterson) to hire and train a more diverse workforce vis-à-vis Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

Dinner is served Tue-Sat 5pm-11pm, with a late-night menu Thu-Sat 10pm-12am; bar open Tue-Wed 4:30pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 4:30pm-12am. And let’s not forget happy hour Tue-Fri 4:30pm-6:30pm. 1420 Market St. at Fell, 415-590-2585.


Kimchi Jun (kimchi pancake with bonito flakes) at Fillmore Social Club. Instagram photo via @fillmoresocialclub.


Grass-fed beef brisket kofta (meatball) salad with pomegranate molasses dressing at The Sini. Instagram photo courtesy of @thesini.


The new Mersea on Treasure Island. Photo courtesy of Mersea.


Nikutama udon, with shaved sweet beef and an egg, at Marugame Udon. Photo: ©


The interior of Marugame Udon. Photo: ©


The new Gio Gelati in Cow Hollow. Yelp photo by Ana A.


The new Civic Kitchen cooking school and event space in the Mission. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

There are a bunch of new openings, starting with some groovy Korean in the former Gussie’s in the Fillmore at ~FILLMORE SOCIAL CLUB~. The menu is a bit fusion-y: you can tuck into kimchi jun pancake, some KFC (Korean fried chicken) served two ways, tako (octopus) wasabi, ssam (marinated rib eye wrapped in lettuce and pickled radish), stir-fried yaki udon, and shakshuka baby back ribs (I said it was fusion-y!). You can take a peek at the menu on Yelp. The wine, beer, sake, and cocktail picks are a cut above. The space was tricked out with a custom mural from artists Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock (KeFe). It looks fun. Open nightly 5pm-10pm. 1521 Eddy St. at Fillmore, 415-829-3750.

Fans of Turkish food and housemade pita will want to give a gander to ~THE SINI~, a fast-casual place (with some style) that opened recently in the Financial District in the former Darn Good Food. They are making their own pita (perfect for their doner sandwiches), creamy hummus, and serving salads and rice plates (like kofta/meatballs, or chicken or brisket doner or eggplant), featuring free-range chicken and grass-fed beef; here’s a post of their menu (which seems like a Turkish version and cross between a Souvla and Sababa). And…there’s baklava! (The name is in reference to the round metal tray you dine from—with a variety of dishes in front of you—in Turkey.) Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm. 322 Kearny St. at Pine, 415-658-7170.

Want a change of scene? The new ~MERSEA~ has opened on Treasure Island, a casual spot from Parke Ulrich, the executive chef of Waterbar and EPIC Steak, and MeeSun Boice. It has some pretty fab views, lots of indoor and outdoor seating, and is constructed from 13 recycled shipping containers! Plus there’s a bocce court and putting green. They are also partnering with the Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative and member organizations (Toolworks and Bakeworks) “that provide career opportunities and job training for low-income and formerly homeless individuals.” (Yes!)

On the menu: a diverse selection of dishes, from a pork roll and egg sandwich with kimchi, aioli, and arugula to chicken shio ramen, plus more traditional picks like clam chowder and a double-stacked wagyu cheeseburger. Look for sustainable ingredients, quality sourcing, and an array of dishes for everyone—plus wine and beer. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (Mon-Fri 7am-9pm and Sat-Sun 9am-9pm). 699 Avenue of the Palms, Treasure Island.

Udon fanatics (and fans of the similarly named Marukame in Honolulu) have already been lining up for soft-opening days of ~MARUGAME UDON~ at Stonestown Galleria, officially grand opening on Thursday January 18th. Marugame is a huge chain, with 990 stores, including 786 in Japan and 204 across 12 countries—this is the first in Northern California, and the only other mainland location is in LA. The restaurant is like an upscale cafeteria: you grab a tray and tell the friendly staff what you’d like to order (there are about 10 kinds of udon). Your bowl is made to order, with fresh Sanuki udon noodles constantly being made from a special machine and boiled right in front of you. Your udon is served in a ceramic bowl, which elevates the experience a bit. The housemade broth (kake dashi) is made in small batches from fish stock, plus kelp and soy sauce.

You also have the option to add tempura selections on the side, from shrimp to asparagus to fish cake, plus onigiri, inari, and drinks. After you pay, there is quite the condiment station, including tempura bits you can spoon on, scallion, ginger, and shichimi. The price is right, from $4.50 for regular udon to $9.50 for a large bowl of their most expensive udon, the Nikutama udon, with shaved sweet beef and an egg. There’s also spicy chicken, curry, egg drop chicken, and more, plus the option to order some cold.

The space is cleanly designed and comfortable, with lots of blonde wood and inspiration from traditional Japanese design, plus pendant lights and stone walls. There are 100 seats total (68 inside, 32 on the outside patio). Expect some long lines—the hype is real. Open daily 11am-11pm (last call at 10pm). 3251 20th Ave. at Winston,

Opening this Thursday January 19th is a second location of ~VIVE LA TARTE~, the fantastic bakery in SoMa that not enough people ever seem to know about. But the new location in the Ferry Building Marketplace (in the former Dandelion Chocolate space, next to Fort Point Beer Company) is about to change couple Arnaud Goethals and Julie Vandermeersch’s visibility. The menu will include their seasonal fruit-stuffed croissants, smashed avocado toast (on their bread), and salad bowls, with their new mash-up: a croissant shell stuffed with savory fillings and eaten like a taco. I am obsessed with their cheesecake and breakfast pizza; let’s see if those items eventually make it over too. Open daily 7am-7pm.

Want more dessert? I sure do. Now open in Cow Hollow is ~GIO GELATI~, serving authentic Italian gelato in a variety of flavors, many of them seasonal (with fruits and vegetables—expect some savory flavors too!). There’s even a nondairy version, and they offer gluten-free cones from Italy, so everyone wins! The team is Patrizia Pasqualetti (her family has been in the gelato business for more than 40 years), Nicola Trois, Guido Mastropaolo, and Nicole Moserle. You’ll also be able to enjoy pastries, cornetti, espresso, and cakes. Open daily 8am-10pm. 1998 Union St. at Buchanan.

There’s a new Northern Indian spot that has opened on Mission Street, ~LOTUS SF~, serving “”clean, green Indian cuisine.” Hoodline reports the owner (Surinder Sroa) is also behind Lotus Cuisine of India in San Rafael, featuring organic ingredients, free-range poultry, wild seafood, and fresh spices that are flown in. Expect familiar dishes (curries, tandoori specialties, biryani, naan) but you can reportedly ask for dishes you don’t see on the menu as well. Open Tue-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm for lunch and 5pm-10pm for dinner. 2434 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-872-9130.

Also in the Mission is a new recreational cooking school, ~THE CIVIC KITCHEN~, from couple Jen Nurse (you may have taken classes from her previously at Tante Marie and 18 Reasons) and Chris Bonomo (co-founder of The Japanese Pantry). The space is quite handsome and will offer hands-on classes for home cooks—from stocks to advanced skills like laminating dough—and events featuring writers, farmers, and more (it has a beer-and-wine license and is also available for pop-ups and private events for up to 65 guests). Classes will range from $25 to $145 (take 15 percent off classes booked now through March 31st with the code TCK15PRGO). 2961 Mission St. at 25th St.


The cart for bollito misto at Poggio. Photo courtesy of Poggio via Facebook.

There’s a new addition to your brunch playbook up for consideration: ~SON’S ADDITION~ in the Mission launched brunch service, with dishes like spicy corned beef hash with breakfast potatoes, braised dino kale, Fresno chiles, and a poached egg; malted waffles with satsuma butter; or a fried chicken sandwich with cilantro-jalapeño slaw, cotija cheese, and spicy mole aioli on a sesame seed bun. Look for some low-ABV cocktails from Kyle Greffin (Al’s Place), plus sangria, Champagne cocktails, and micheladas. Sat-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm.

This weekend is the Good Food Awards, with Madhur Jaffrey delivering the keynote speech at the awards ceremony on Friday January 19th at Herbst Theater (you’ll also get to see Alice Waters). The event will honor 199 winners hailing from 34 states and Washington, D.C., across 15 categories (beer, cider, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, preserved fish, honey, oils pantry, pickles, preserves, spirits, and the newest category, elixirs). You can get tickets here, and there is also an after-party hosted at Airbnb with Bi-Rite Market. 5:15pm-7:30pm ceremony; 8pm-10pm after-party.

On Sunday January 21st, don’t miss the Good Food Awards Marketplace held in conjunction with the Fort Mason Farmers’ Market from 9am-2pm. If you purchase an early access pass, you get to attend the market an hour before (at 8am), meet the producers in a more intimate setting, and sample products before the crowds. And items are available for purchase! Festival Pavilion at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, 2 Marina Blvd. Tickets: $5 at the door or online, $20 early access pass.

Trade and media, check out the Good Food Mercantile on Saturday.

The ultimate wintertime dinner is back at ~POGGIO~: their annual bollito misto returns January 24th-28th! Executive chef and partner Benjamin Balesteri prepares the customary Milanese meal of brisket, oxtail, and cotechino sausage (slowly simmered) and serves it with a variety of sauces, including salsa verde, crème fraîche, horseradish, bone marrow butter, and mostarda. The traditional Italian carello (cart) will wheel up to your table and the meats will be sliced and served with some of the rich cooking broth on a heated plate. $28 per person. Fantastico!


The new Blue Bottle location on California Street. Photo: Paige Colluccio.

The latest ~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~ to open is in the Financial District on California Street. The café was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and the press release shares: “inspired by American artist James Turrell, the cafe is wrapped in wood planks on all sides with the exception of the back wall, which is covered in a hazy mirror creating an infinity mirror effect.” Hours are Mon-Fri 6:30am-5:30pm and Sat-Sun 8:30am-3pm. 600 California St. at Kearny.

And great news for the kinky crowd: after reporting last week on the demise of SoMa’s ~WICKED GROUNDS~, the kink/fetish/BDSM café, boutique, and community space, they ended up getting some financial help for their Patreon campaign from their community and are going to remain open a bit longer. No need for your safe word yet! 289 8th St. at Clementina. [Via Hoodline.]

January 9, 2018

Four Barrel Coffee founder Jeremy Tooker. Photo via Four Barrel’s Facebook page.

The specialty coffee world joined the #metoo fray when The Chronicle revealed in an article on Friday that former female employees of ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ filed a lawsuit against company founder Jeremy Tooker, alleging sexual assult and harassment. The Chronicle also spoke with other Four Barrel employees and uncovered a deeply toxic and misogynistic culture in the company, with multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and discrimination. Partners Jodi Geren and Tal Mor and their HR reportedly didn’t respond to and weren’t supportive of employees who would report instances of harassment and more—most appeared to be fired. Yeah, that’s a great solution.

Since the bombshell piece, the weekend was full of anger, backlash, and confusion in the restaurant and specialty coffee worlds, with many of Four Barrel’s wholesale accounts around the U.S. dropping their coffee left and right. Tooker ended up divesting from the company over the weekend (certainly different from the passive “stepping away” we keep seeing with all these other alleged incidents of sexual misconduct, like with Mario Batali, Ken Friedman, and East Bay’s Charlie Hallowell). After an initial tone-deaf announcement from remaining partners Geren and Mor that Tooker was no longer a part of the company (since taken down off their site, but here’s a handy “corrected” version from Jasper Wilde/Sassy Barista—and you can follow her Twitter feed for many more updates from the field), they then followed up with a second announcement on Monday, stating that Tooker’s 50 percent share of the company is going to go to the employees, with the goal of becoming a 100 percent employee-owned company in time. That’s going to take some time to work out. And they have ended the Four Barrel name, using the working title of The Tide for now (hey everyone, let’s focus on rebranding and not look at all the ways we let you down in the past!). And there’s a handy little sales pitch/plea at the end.

It’s a lot to digest, and brings up many complicated questions, from what does this mean for The Mill and Josey Baker’s affiliation with the company and De La Paz (another one of Four Barrel’s companies) to wondering if this is going to be a company worth supporting in the future for the sake of the employees? (I have been working through it with friends on a private Facebook post the past few days.) A lot of this is a wait-and-see situation, and it has been quite the intense drama to watch unfold.

Sending so much support to the victims, and I commend their bravery to organize and come forward with these shocking and awful stories of sexual misconduct that needed to be known and addressed and people held accountable for. And to clean some house, because that one was filthy. The Tide—yeah, it needs to come in high and wash things up. It feels like it’s time to bust out some T.S. Eliot: “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”


Beet spaghetti with burrata at Pasta Pop-Up. Photo courtesy of Francesco Covucci.

There’s a new project from the ~IL CASARO~ team (Francesco Covucci and Peter Fazio) in their former Vicoletto location in North Beach, and now they have opened ~PASTA POP-UP~, although it’s actually going to be permanent. Anyway, the idea is that it’s supposed to be an easy place to swing by, maybe you just want a plate of pasta and you want to head home. Or maybe you want to enjoy some wine and graze through some snacks with your friend. Maybe you want it all.

The good news is you can have it all, because they worked really hard to keep the prices low and affordable (no pasta is over $14 on the current/soft-opening menu, subject to change). But they didn’t want to sacrifice quality or good food ethics either, so any seafood is sustainable, and their ingredients are local.

And they’re making the pasta in-house! There’s rosemary pappardelle with slow-braised lamb shoulder and tomato sauce, and gnocchi Bolognese (yes, please), and spaghetti with clams. Oh yeah, and there’s squid ink spaghetti with clams, mussels, squid, and cherry tomatoes. Sign me up for that too.

Starters include calamari fritti, ‘nduja-stuffed potato croquettes, broccolini, a salad, and more—nothing is over $7. You’ll have a varied list of Italian wines by the glass to choose from, plus some beers too. Covucci tells me they are also going to be integrating a charitable component into the business; stand by for more on that. The place got a little refresh and feels a bit warmer, although it was always a cozy little spot. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. 550 Green St. at Stockton, 415-433-5800.

Also in the news: they have decided on what they’re going to call the project they’re opening in the former Panta Rei: ~BARBARA~. And if you click through, you’ll see they are planning to serve Roman-style pinsas. And cocktails. They’re targeting an opening at the end of February. I’ll be updating you with details on the project soon! 431 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo.

And for Castro residents eagerly awaiting the opening of the second ~IL CASARO~ on Church, it’s looking like February as well. Cin cin! 235 Church St. at Market.


The exterior of Cellar Door. Yelp photo by Kamran S.

Things are getting closer for Dominique Crenn’s new wine bar project, ~BAR CRENN~, which is slated to open in the former Cellar Door in Cow Hollow on February 20th. In a post on Instagram, she shared that “wine director Matt Montrose has amassed a collection of the great wines of France and beyond that channel their shared philosophy of environmental responsibility, where vignerons and domaines are showcased that prioritize traditional methods of viticulture as well as careful and thoughtful stewardship of the land. A rotating collection of wines are available by the glass as well as a more developed bottle list of some remarkable producers of world-class wine.” There will also be some low-ABV cocktails, along with “old-style French apéritifs,” which will integrate some NorCal ingredients and style.

Now, as for the snacky section, here’s where it gets interesting. Crenn states the food will be an homage to French classics, and in a move à la In Situ, the menu will be featuring dishes made from recipes provided by famous chefs and restaurants, including Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, Yannick Alléno, Pierre Sang, and many other top-rated chefs. Her team will also be working on some of their own variations of French classics. 3131 Fillmore St. at Greenwich.

One more note: ~ATELIER CRENN~ has closed until January 24th—they will reopen that Wednesday. She also has chef Julien Royer of Odette Restaurant, Singapore, visiting and cooking a collaborative dinner with her on February 12th.


The new Doma sushi in Bernal. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.


The spacious bar at Botellón. Photo courtesy of Botellón.


Take your pick of classic dosas at Dosa Allee. Yelp photo by Arfan Muhammad “Arfann” M.

A bunch of new openings have joined the scene, so here are some quick recaps for ya.

Over in Bernal, there’s a new sushi restaurant called ~DOMA~, serving omakase for $45, $65, and $85, and a “brunch” omakase, which one Yelper outlines: “aji, uni, hamachi, scallop, tuna, amaebi plus soup, salad, dessert of pine nut tea and mochi rice cake.” The seafood selections sound pretty straight-ahead, but it’s reportedly a small and charming spot, with lots of white in the dining room and space for 10-12 guests seated at a horseshoe sushi bar with a live tree at the middle. Hours are 5pm-9pm daily. 433 Precita Ave. at Alabama.

Now softly open in the former Hecho in the Castro is ~BOTELLÓN~ from the Andalé Management Group—the grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday January 17th. While the name is from the word for Spanish street gatherings (where some bottles are involved), the menu actually skews more Cal-Med and fusion, with dishes from executive chefs Nicholas Andoe and Matthew D’Ambrosi like chorizo oil cornbread and lamb pops, while larger dishes include housemade pappardelle with pork sugo, a winter harvest pizza with seasonal vegetables, and a burger.

Cocktails from bar manager Jesse Ostroski (Hi Lo BBQ, Hog and Rocks) and consultant Saul Ranella (La Mar, Hog Island Oysters) include cocktails by the bottle, seasonal herb-infused syrups, and slushies. Check out the appealing menu here—and there’s that big bar where you can perch. Brunch is coming soon. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri 5pm-close (kitchen until 12am), Sat 4pm-close (kitchen until 12am), Sun 4pm-10pm. 2200 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-800-7559.

Dosa lovers can get their fix at the new ~DOSA ALLEE~, which opened in the former Show Dogs in Mid-Market. In addition to South Indian dosas, there are also appetizers, curry combination plates/lunch specials, desserts, and beer and wine. Open Mon-Sat 11am-10pm and Sun 11am-9pm. 1020 Market St. at Taylor.

I reported on this café ages ago, and it’s finally open. ~FLOR DE CAFE~ is serving sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and coffee, plus breakfasty dishes like eggs and waffles. The pride of their menu is their Chilean lomito sandwich, featuring pork tenderloin prepared for three days (you can get chicken or vegetarian sandwiches too). Open daily 10am-7pm. 1020 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-333-3335.

Downtown workers will be happy to know there is now a third location of ~ROOSTER & RICE~ that has opened in the FiDi (in the former Urban Picnic). You can enjoy their awesome khao mun gai (poached chicken with super-tasty chicken fat rice). It’s the best hangover cure, or equally great when you’re sick. Open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. 125 Kearny St. at Post. [Via Hoodline.]

Ike Shehadeh of Ike’s Place and chef Ryan Scott have taken over the Castro’s ~SWEET INSPIRATION~, which has been around since 1981. They gave the place a light refresh, and the new menu includes egg sandwiches, all-you-can-eat pancakes for $7.99, a killer burger, and a fried chicken sandwich, plus some Ike’s-style sandwiches. Cake slices are still available, and consulting pastry chef Cheryl Burr is revamping the cake recipes, plus they added some big cookies. Hoodline also reports there is a beer and wine license in the works, so the place won’t quite be the sober hangout like it used to be. Open daily 8am-9pm. 2239 Market St. at Sanchez.

Did someone say Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Yup, SF finally has a ~KRISPY KREME~ doughnuts location, just next door to In-N-Out in Fisherman’s Wharf, so you can go eat all the dirty things there and then leave. Open Sun-Thu 6am-11pm and Fri-Sat 6am-1am. And there’s a 24-hour window. 353 Jefferson St. at Leavenworth. [Via Hoodline.]

On the slightly more, uh, wholesome side, ~WHOLESOME BAKERY~ has opened on the Divisadero Corridor, serving gluten-free and vegan baked goods—plus they are soy-free, trans fat-free, and low glycemic. The menu includes cupcakes, cakes, lemon tarts, brownies, bars, cookies, and more. Eater notes owner Mandy Harper wants everyone to enjoy the quality of the bakery’s offerings, not just people with dietary restrictions. (Note that their counter inside Alite camping store in the Mission has closed.) Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm and Sat-Sun 8am-8pm. 1001 Page St. at Divisadero.


The sunny yellow exterior of The Butler & the Chef. Yelp photo: Andrew D.

At the beginning of the year, there’s always a slew of restaurant closures, many of them downright unfortunate. Here we go.

A reader let me know that ~THE BUTLER & THE CHEF BISTRO~ officially closed over the New Year, and owner Joël Martin has served his last pain perdu and eggs Benedict in that beloved location with the sunny yellow exterior. Many of his loyal guests and friends who did not get a chance to say goodbye will be happy to know there is a “New Year’s barbecue and potluck” this Saturday January 13th from 1pm-5pm at the bistro for “staff, family, customers, and vendors all welcome to join us to close a chapter of life with sharing food, drinks, stories, and hugs together.” Awwwww. And so, another longtime South Park business has shuttered. 155A S. Park St. at 3rd St., 415-896-2075.

Nearby, another café I remember from the days when I worked in SoMa, ~PRIMO PATIO CAFÉ~, has closed after 25 years. Hoodline reports owner Noel Kelton struggled with the rent, but didn’t want to raise prices further, so she decided to close. It’s sad news for the tight crew they had working there and all their regulars. Best wishes to all. 214 Townsend St. at 3rd St.

And another quirky SF classic has closed: ~THE RED DOOR CAFE~. Some folks loved the chef-owner’s over-the-top antics, including sexual innuendo on everything from the menu to the dickorations to how he flirtatiously served you your brunch. Others never made it in because they broke the rules, like no wearing sunglasses while in line because it’s shady. Literally. I have been tracking the location for a couple of months since an ABC license transfer was under way, but could never get anyone to pick up the phone on the weekends to confirm the impending closure. Eater noted it appeared to be finally closed over the holiday—and so another part of freaky SF is gone.

A business called 1608 Bistro appears to be moving in (from the owner of the Filipino AJ’s BBQ & Cafe), but I haven’t been able to get a response from them, so we’ll just have to see. 1608 Bush St. at Franklin.

And yet another classic only-in-SF spot is closing: ~WICKED GROUNDS~, the kink/fetish/BDSM café, boutique, and community space in SoMa is having a tough time with their business and has decided to close. Those who want to help can read more on their site. Hoodline mentioned they are having a clearance sale, in case you want to get some new gear or books. 289 8th St. at Clementina.

Also in SoMa, I received a tip from a longtime reader that ~BIG CHEF TOM’S BELLY BURGERS~ closed over the New Year, and it looks like owner Tom Pizzica has headed back to Philly. Thanks for all the pork belly burgers over the years, Tom! 1550 Howard St. at 12th St.

Also closed: ~SHIDO SUSHI BAR AND GRILL~, the casual Japanese place that opened in the former Buck Tavern a couple of years ago, has served its last rock ‘n’ roll. 1655 Market St. at Brady.

It’s rough out there, right?

Here’s more:

The New Fillmore announced that Monetta White and David Lawrence of the former 1300 on FIllmore and ~BLACK BARK BBQ~ are going to be relocating their barbecue joint—they did not reopen after the holiday. They cite the lack of foot traffic (due to the beleaguered Fillmore Heritage Center) as a primary impetus for them to move. It sounds like they have a location lined up and plan to reopen in the spring, so stand by for some confirmation on the where. 1325 Fillmore St. at Ellis.

SFWeekly reports ~FRJTZ~ will be closing and serving their last fries on Sunday January 28th. But the 13-year-old spot is “currently in negotiations with a smaller venue in the Mission District that will require a complete build-out so stay tuned.” 590 Valencia St. at 17th St.

Now this isn’t a permanent closure, but Eater writes the ~MINA TEST KITCHEN~ has closed for now since they don’t have a restaurant lined up just yet for their incubator, and besides, chef Adam Sobel is busy with Cal Mare in LA, plus other big openings in the Mina Group. Stand by for what’s coming next in the space in about four months or so (btw, it’s a great private event space).

And we knew this was coming but it still sucks: Temescal’s ~JUHU BEACH CLUB~ has closed (via East Bay Express). Owners Preeti Mistry and Ann Nadeau sold the location and are focusing on their other restaurant, Navi Kitchen, and their recent cookbook launch. We’ll have to see what’s going into the space and what’s next for Juhu (it was reportedly coming back in some other form).

And also in Oakland, Rockridge’s ~DUCHESS~ has closed after a year in business. The owners may be rejiggering the space and concept, stand by. 5422 College Ave. at Kales, Oakland. [Via Eater.]

And Nosh announced the adored ~SLIVER PIZZERIA~ in downtown Berkeley is closed and relocating. 2132 Center St. at Oxford, Berkeley.

Whoosh, that was a lot. Sorry, everyone, it’s tough out there. Thank you for all your efforts to feed us!


“Old-school” pad Thai with head-on/shell-on shrimp from Monterey Fish Market and Hodo Soy tofu at Funky Elephant. Instagram photo via @funky.elephant.

Gang, whoa, the 510 is en fuego right now with new openings. So many places I want to visit! To be honest, I wish I had the time to recap all these openings from the past two weeks, but I don’t, and I have some carpal tunnel flaring up with all this writing, so I’m going to give you some quick teasers and you just click through to what you’d like to read more about. Which will probably be everything. :)

There’s a new Thai place in Berkeley’s Gilman district from a former chef de cuisine at Hawker Fare in San Francisco serving Thai comfort food with housemade ingredients (like their green curry): ~FUNKY ELEPHANT~. [Via EBX.]

There’s another Thai place that just opened in North Oakand, ~BIRD & BUFFALO~, a fast-casual place from the owners of Soi 4 Bangkok in Rockridge and Basil Thai and Basil Canteen in SF. [Via EBX.]

Chef Tu David Phu is “launching Chef’s Hawker Centre, a nationwide pop-up series celebrating Asian ingredients, techniques, and culture in collaboration with Cochon555” and Feastly, starting this month. (Let’s hope they get some ladies in that lineup.) [Via EBX.]

Oh hai, here are some ladies. ~OESTE BAR & KITCHEN~ has opened in Old Oakland from Sandra Davis, Lea Redmond, and Anna Villalobos (read more backstory on them here), featuring a daytime café, cocktails, nighttime vibes, dishes like chicken and sausage gumbo and a burger, and an upcoming rooftop deck. [Via EBX.]

And, I am quite sure y’all saw this already about Charlie Hallowell (Pizzaiolo, Boot and Shoe Service, Penrose) stepping away from his restaurants after 17 female former employees came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct. Like the Four Barrel/Jeremy Tooker allegations, it brings up a lot of complicated questions (like “Is Hallowell still benefiting from his company? Yes? If not, is it okay to show support to his employees by dining there?”). There is some dialogue about this on an Instagram post from Ordinaire Wine, which is no longer offering Boot and Shoe pizzas at their shop.