August 2020

August 25, 2020

The gorgeous kaisen don from Wako, with Japanese uni and their house-marinated ikura. Sometimes you just gotta treat yourself (order through their website for pickup for the best price). Photo: ©

Hello, friends. You doing okay? I know this is an especially trying time right now for anyone who lives in California with all the devastation from these heartbreaking wildfires. Things have already been so hard, too hard, and now seeing so much loss, let alone all the smoke in the air, it really feels apocalyptic. Sending strength and deep resilience to all.

We have to continue to look out for each other, from supporting fire victims and evacuees and our brave first responders, to the farmworkers who are continuing to work in the smoke (here’s a GoFundMe, the 2020 Wine Country Fire Relief Fund, a continuation of a successful fundraiser in 2017).

This is also really challenging for all our local businesses who have been trying to survive by conducting business outside, from outdoor dining to alfresco haircuts. BIG SIGH. Try to support these businesses in any way—picking up takeout is really helpful since outdoor dining is being impacted, or buy a gift certificate if you can.

I want to do a shout-out to today’s sponsor, Choco, who is hosting a webinar on Monday at 2pm to discuss how restaurants can survive the many challenges of 2020, from wildfires to the pandemic. Click here to register, and I’m really grateful for their support of tablehopper in these tough times. Please spread the word about the webinar—you can read more in today’s sponsor section. Chefs, restaurateurs, GMs, publicists, marketing folks: be sure to tune in!

I’m happy to announce that we’ll have a new On the Fly podcast episode airing this week! You’ll want to listen to this fascinating interview with Jesse Cool, the chef, restaurateur, author, educator, consultant, community activist, and visionary, known for the pioneering organic Flea Street restaurant in Menlo Park, which is turning 40 this Friday! Talk about fortuitous timing for a chat…but the reason we spoke is about her newly launched Heart of House model, creating a more equitable structure and fair pay for her employees by offering an alternative to tipping (an outdated practice that is racist, sexist, and ageist, among other things). As restaurants are looking ahead to changes that need to be made industry-wide, this interview will hopefully inspire and educate. I’m excited for you to hear it.

Did you know it’s Black Restaurant Week in the Bay Area? It’s happening now through August 30th. Take a look at the many restaurants you can visit, and check out some special menus, dishes, and offers. With the hard hits from the pandemic and now wildfires, it’s a crucial time to show your support for Black-owned businesses and the Black Lives Matter movement. You can also follow @blackrestaurantweek for updates.

And one last tip for you, since I know this smoky air is really uncomfortable. As someone who lives in a small studio apartment (and on the top floor, for maximum sun and heat, ugh), I’ve been losing my mind a little (actually, a lot) with my closed windows and blinds to keep the smoke and sun out so I don’t roast up here in my personal Easy Bake Oven. (I know, I am so lucky to even have a place to complain about.) Fortunately, my handy little Levoit air purifier (please note I make a commission with that link, thanks) showed up this past weekend, and anyone looking for an affordable ($100) and small (but mighty) and quiet HEPA air purifier, check this thing out! I’m calling it R2D2. It has three speeds, and actually helped keep my place from feeling stuffy last night with its cool output since I had to close my windows again around midnight. I have stopped coughing and my eyes stopped feeling irritated, so it’s a win. (You can compare other models in this article.)

I have also been posting some incredible dishes and drinks on @tablehopper that have been bringing me some happy moments, from Tommy’s famous margaritas to go (!), to a vegetarian wrap from Sumac, to Zero Zero’s stoner garlic bread (weed optional, but highly recommended).

Hang in there.

August 11, 2020

The latest Chef Shuffle spread (Spanish tapas from Nick Rappaport). I’ll be sharing details on Instagram shortly. Check out this coming Sunday’s chef and menu at @chef.shuffle. Photo: ©

Hi gang, how are you doing with this lame Fogust weather? One minute on Saturday I was enjoying the sun in Alamo Square with a friend, and about ten minutes later we got practically blown off the green with the wind and fog. So. Rude. It’s making things extra-brutal for restaurants trying to survive with outdoor seating right now. (Check my Highlights for ideas on alfresco dining options.) Bundle up, everyone. (At least we don’t have to wear our masks in 98-degree weather.) We are SF strong!

Or, be like me and get the hell outta town for a few days, if you can. Do it! My four-day break a couple weekends ago in Tahoe with my sis was so good for my soul that I’m doing it again—I’ll be off social media and email from Thursday night until Tuesday morning. C-I-A-O. I’ve been feeling worn out and stressed out (I know, aren’t we all?), and need another recharge with some sun and nature and a break from the news and endless updates over here. Inhale, exhale.

It’s why I am taking a little breather with recording a new On the Fly by tablehopper podcast episode—I’m trying to downshift a bit right now. I’ll be back at it in a week or so. (I also need to focus on some writing gigs and work that actually pays the bills.) In the meantime, please go back and see if you’ve listened to all our past episodes! And make the time to listen to the latest episode with Gwyneth Borden of Ground Floor Experiences and the Bay Area Hospitality Coalition—it’s an exhilarating interview, full of information and insight about what our restaurants are grappling with right now. A must-listen!

If you’ve been listening, you already know about our amazing Joanna Karlinsky, who has been directly feeding the unhoused in SF, and she just launched a new fundraiser since she’s paying for things out of pocket again—this angel and her team need some support, thanks! Anything helps. Joanna is also willing to promise Meetinghouse biscuits (frozen, raw dough) or Sweet Jo’s chili as rewards. Should you want some, you can contact her directly through the Facebook fundraiser.

Today’s newsletter is definitely a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. So sorry for all our friends going through closures. Let’s keep on showing support for the ones fighting to stay open (cruise through my Instagram feed for ideas!). And since many of us can’t afford to eat out at all, I hope you enjoy seeing today’s sponsored brunch giveaway from Scopo Divino! Good luck!

Another bonus: have you heard about the San Francisco Coffee Passport from Broke-Ass Stuart? There’s no better way to explore a place than to literally drink it in. This passport is amazing, you get 31 coffee drinks at 31 of SF’s best cafes for only $35. Use this time to explore (and support) different cafés all over the city! And you end up supporting a fellow SF indie publisher, like yours truly. Win-win.

I’ll be back in your inboxes in a couple weeks (August 25th). Take care.


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