Tidbits: Brunch Now at La Urbana, Saiwalks Opens, Illy's Espressamente Bar, Twelve Nights of Chocolate, More

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Your new brunch spot: La Urbana. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The chandelier and coffee bar at Espressamente Illy. Photo courtesy Illy.

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The Banh, Baby, Banh burger from Big Chef Tom’s Belly Burgers. Yelp photo by Austin W.

This last weekend, ~LA URBANA~ softly started their brunch service. I swung by on Sunday, and tried their chilaquiles with carne asada ($15), while a neighbor’s huevos con chorizo ($15) looked mighty tasty. You can look at a copy of the menu here. The brunch plates are a bit more composed than the usual Mission-style plato, so don’t come here expecting a heaving plate with eggs, beans, and rice (although I did appreciate how perfectly seasoned my carne asada was). Eye-openers include a mezcal Bloody Mary and pear Bellini. I recommend ordering the Mexican Dude off the evening cocktail list, it’s perfect for brunch (housemade horchata, vodka, mezcal, and espresso coffee liqueur). Let the healing begin. Hours are Sun 11am-2:30pm.

We’ve been trying to hunt down info on this place for a couple weeks now after a tip, and last week Eater caught the weekend opening: it looks like ~SAIWALKS~ is now open in the Marina. They’ve moved into the former Asqew Grill on Steiner, serving Vietnamese street food with quality ingredients. The owner, Victoria Le, grew up in Saigon and spent the last two years developing her menu. Look for spring rolls and crispy rolls in both meat and vegetarian options, pho, vermicelli bowls, and rice plates. Some of the options include grilled shrimp, nine-spice chicken, and a lemongrass pork chop. All of the meat is grass-fed, and ingredients are organic. You’ll find lots of vegetarian options, too, plus Vietnamese drip coffee from roaster Henry’s House of Coffee. A beer and wine license is pending. It’s open daily from 11am-9pm. 3348 Steiner St. at Chestnut, 415-549-7932.

Another week, another new place for to get your caffeine on. This week, check out the brand-new ~ESSPRESSAMENTE ILLY~ in the Castro. The space boasts a chandelier made of espresso cups, a bar for both espresso and pour-over coffee, and a retail area selling beans. Baristas will be trained not only in making coffee, but also in coaching retail customers in at-home brewing techniques. Joyce Goldstein consulted on the café’s menu, and a back patio should be ready to open in early 2014. Oh, and there’s free Wi-Fi, too. To celebrate the opening, they’re offering a free espresso between now and Saturday December 14th. Hours are daily 7am-9pm. 2349 Market St. at Noe.

Off the Grid alum ~BIG CHEF TOM’S BELLY BURGERS~ is bringing a brick-and-mortar location to SoMa, according to Scoop. Tom Pizzica is the owner and “Chef Tom” of the name. The burgers are made completely with ground pork belly, available in a variety of preparations. A few staples will always be on hand (Pizzica calls them “OG”), and rotating specials will also show up on the menu; peek at the choices here. Chicken and vegan patties will also be available, along with sides like crinkle-cut fries, onion rings, and charred greens. The opening is currently planned for early 2014. 1550 Howard St. at Lafayette.

~DANDELION CHOCOLATE~ is keeping the holidays sweet and chocolaty with their Twelve Nights of Chocolate this month. Every evening between now and December 21st, they’re holding a different chocolate event, including a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory screening and two evenings of wine and chocolate pairings. Definitely be sure to check out the party on Friday December 13th, when Delfina’s pastry chef Jessica Sullivan will take over the Dandelion kitchen and prepare a three-course dessert tasting menu. Tickets are $50 and proceeds benefit the San Francisco Food Bank. 740 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-349-0942.