April 2020

April 28, 2020

La Palma is back open! Pick up some of the best handmade tortillas in the Bay, and everything on their menu is delicioso! Carnitas to go, fresh salsas. Mexica-tessen heaven. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, dear readers and friends. It’s our seventh week of stay-at-home in SF. I know, it’s so intense right now. I’m thinking all the good thoughts for you. The best wishes. Sending love and strength and hope and good health vibes. We are all missing each other something fierce! All we can do is take it day by day, sometimes hour by hour. For me, the days have been flying. I’ll be at this computer for too many hours, and then boom, it’s suddenly 8pm and I haven’t made dinner. This afternoon, I am definitely going for a walk.

I will say last Friday evening was especially sweet—my friends and I had a shared meal from Canela together (but apart) over Zoom. I want to suggest this to any of my fellow single dwellers—order the same meal as your friends, and have dinner together! You can choose a restaurant to support for takeout or delivery, and maybe even get the same bottle of wine or beer or cocktail so you can compare notes. It felt halfway normal for a moment.

I want to thank you for all your support of my new podcast, On the Fly by tablehopper. It means so much to see your comments, feedback, downloads, and reviews and ratings on Apple Podcasts (thank you!). I also really appreciate all your kind contributions to my tip jar—you paid for my recording equipment and music and hosting fees, so thank you! I am so grateful. MWAH!

There are so many people in desperate need right now, and I know a bunch of us are strapped, so here’s a free way to help a hopper out: if you can please share my podcast, it really helps support the people and businesses and initiatives featured in these episodes! A tweet, an FB share, an Instagram story, anything is so appreciated.

Big thanks to my fellow SF publications for the great press: Hoodline wrote a very thoughtful piece, and SFist and Eater gave On the Fly nice mentions, grazie!

Since my last email to you, we now have episodes up with Kim Alter of Nightbird, Evan Kidera of Señor Sisig, Geetika Agrawal of La Cocina, and today’s is with chef Joanna Karlinsky. Each one contains inspiring and compelling stories of how they are navigating through this crisis and giving back to the community through some mighty initiatives. I also include some restaurant updates and tips in the Two-Top at the end of each episode.

Today’s episode with Jo is especially important to me. This powerhouse angel has been making meals in her home kitchen and directly feeding the unhoused a couple times a week, from taking care of folks on the streets in the Tenderloin to encampments around town. She talks about what she’s seeing, and noticing, and the most distressing thing I learned from her interview is the lack of access to water that is happening right now. This is seriously alarming.

Please listen in, look at some ways to help linked in the episode notes (including a link to her fundraiser), and I hope we can all think of how to help and act to get more water and support to our neighbors in need. There are so many incredible organizations offering assistance (including St. Anthony’s, Glide, Project Open Hand, Meals on Wheels, The City Eats, Food Runners, SF New Deal, SF-Marin Food Bank, and so many more), and our supervisors are pushing for more support and services from the city, but in the meantime, there are people on the streets who need water. They need a lot of things, but water is crucial.

I’m interviewing Fernando Pujals, the Senior Director of Communications and Clean Operations for the TLCBD (Tenderloin Community Benefit District) for the next episode of On the Fly, and am in touch with District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney and his team, so I’ll be back with further updates and ways to help from these folks who really know and understand the needs of the neighborhood and how to get things done.

In the meantime, I continue to push updates about restaurants that are open, places that are feeding the industry and frontline workers, initiatives, and special menus in my daily @tablehopper Instagram Stories and in my feed (check out this post about La Palma and other 24th Street businesses that are open). Take a look at my Insta highlights for recaps—if you’re looking for a restaurant to support, just whiz through the highlights for ideas. I have them grouped by geography (SF, 510, North Bay, 650), plus some F&B resources and posts with inspiring stores of people doing rad things. (Not on Instagram? I post a bunch on Twitter and Facebook too.)

Speaking of radness, I want to give a special shout-out to my fellow indie publisher, Broke-Ass Stuart, who I know loves this city as much as I do. His team has been doing a great job covering ways to help others and find resources, along with posting cool stories, like this one about artists who are painting plywood of boarded-up businesses around the city. Check out his new COVID tab on his website and join his email list! That way he can send you awesome freebies, weird events, local activism, incredible articles, and gold doubloons (note: one of these is not true). You can also support his team’s community-focused journalism by becoming a member through the BAS Patreon campaign.

Okay, that’s it for today. Like I mentioned in my previous column, I’m taking a break on news updates here while I focus my energy on my podcast for the time being. Thanks for tuning in.

Take good care, please. Keep giving and looking out for others.


April 14, 2020

You’ll find happiness hiding under the béchamel blanket in Troya’s vegetable moussaka. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello dear readers,

To those who celebrate, I hope you had a lovely Passover and Easter (here’s a pic of my socially distanced Pasqua from 54 Mint that I enjoyed with my sis). Are you making time to admire all the springtime flowers on display right now? They’re bringing me moments of delight on my daily neighborhood walks. Wisteria has special mood-boosting powers, I am convinced.

I hope you’re all hanging in there, staying healthy, and hopefully finding some moments of calm and joy, or at least some pleasure in a good meal (or phone call). It has been almost a month since the stay-at-home order took effect here in SF, although it feels like a lifetime ago. We’re all taking it day by day (even though they’re blurring together).

So much keeps changing: restaurants that were initially closed are now trying their hand at offering a minimal takeout/delivery menu (like Son’s Addition, La Palma (!), Kahnfections, and I saw El Buen Comer announce some pre-orders via their Instagram stories), while other restaurants have sadly closed (some permanently, like Mestiza. On a positive note, new initiatives to feed different communities keep springing up (so inspiring!).

It’s a lot to keep track of. I’ve been trying my best to update you on new menus and offers and resources on my @tablehopper Instagram Stories every day (you can find past posts in my Highlights, including East Bay, North Bay, and 650 updates, along with F&B resources, and how to find or give help), and have been posting a bunch on Twitter and Facebook as well. You can find ways to give or receive help, meals, and more in this tablehopper article.

As I check in with chefs and friends in the industry, I keep hearing so many stories, and seeing so many smart innovations and ideas as restaurants try to survive this catastrophic period. So, I decided to launch a podcast, called On the Fly by tablehopper. It’s going to feature an almost-daily interview with San Francisco Bay Area chefs, restaurateurs, and other members of our beloved hospitality industry—from the big names to the tiny neighborhood joints—as they fight to adapt and survive during the coronavirus pandemic. The preview and first two episodes are live, featuring Laurence Jossel of Nopa and Laurie Thomas of the GGRA. Please read more in today’s post.

I was actually inspired to start this podcast in an unexpected way: my cousin’s husband and their eight-year-old son Kai, who are up in Washington, have been doing a daily podcast called The Peddicords & the Pandemic. They’ve been interviewing members of our family for the podcast, and it got me thinking: “This would be a great way to share the stories and ideas I’m hearing and seeing…”

I couldn’t have launched this podcast without the extraordinary Lola Yen, a longtime tablehopper reader who generously volunteered to help me with my reporting on the pandemic, and has quickly become the amazing producer of this podcast! She has been such an incredible wing woman as we figure this all out. I’m so incredibly grateful for all her time, insight, acumen, and dedication to helping me get this live!

I also want to thank designer Erik Schmitt of studio1500, who kindly offered to create a logo for On the Fly. So fly! Thank you, Erik! Talented and generous, what a winning combo. Check out his work at studio1500sf.com.

So many of us are wondering (and freaking out) over how we’re going to get our bills paid, rent covered, and food on the table. Far too many jobs lost, livelihoods upended, and revenue streams that have vaporized. I’m so fortunate to live in my tiny rent-controlled apartment, and 20 years of freelance writing and self-employment have taught me how to be frugal and scrappy (and how to stay sane while working from home). I’m grateful to be writing copy for a cannabis company’s website and marketing materials right now—it’s going to keep me busy over the next month—but without any ads on my runsheet or the ability to host events, things are gonna be extra-tight over here.

This podcast has already cost me some money to produce (equipment, music, hosting), let alone the late hours I’ve been pulling on it, and I’m going to need to hire an editor to help me with it soon (Lola already has a full-time job!). So if you can put anything in the tip jar, even a buck, it would help a hopper out! (Here’s my Venmo handle—let me know if you’d prefer to use something else, like PayPal, Square, or Apple Pay.) Many people need financial assistance right now, and I know I’m in a much better situation than some, but even a little will go a long way over here to keep me chugging. Thank you so very much.

Since I’m going to be focusing my time on this podcast right now, I’m going to be backing off my writing over here for a little bit. I’m busy writing episode intros and notes instead! I’ll still be hopping into your inbox with some updates, and I have another idea I’m working on to help support restaurants—more on that soon. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to the podcast to keep up on everything! (You can subscribe on Spotify for now, and I’m waiting for Apple Podcasts to approve it—do I know anyone who works for iTunes? Wink.)

Oh, and this just rolled in as I was writing this intro: tomorrow (April 15th) is no longer the day we all hemorrhage cash we don’t have to pay our taxes (bless the reprieve), but it is the first-ever 415 Day, and they want to encourage San Franciscans to order takeout (or delivery). Take a look at their site—there’s a curated directory of SF restaurants that are currently open for takeout and/or delivery (and restaurants, get listed on there!). Tag your pics on social with #415day.

I also want to do a wellness check-in with you. If you’re having some trouble with sleep or keeping those anxious thoughts in check (who isn’t?), I wrote a big piece last week in mymilligram that was designed to help: Tips on How to Microdose for Sanity, Sleep, and Self-Care While Staying at Home. I hope it can help you find some relief, whether it’s a restorative bath with cannabis bath salts, a sleep aid, a low-dose canna beverage to help you unwind, or a topical for your dry, over-washed hands. I gotchoo. If you’re even remotely canna-curious, now is the perfect time to experiment with microdosing since many of us are staying at home and in a familiar environment. (Or if you’re not at your home and need some help coping with your environment, or your quarantine cohorts, cannabis can help with that too.)

Once again, mille grazie to my pal Sean Timberlake for proofreading my column today!

I’m thinking of all of you. Sending best wishes. Stay healthy and sane.

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