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The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion.

This week's tablehopper: pineapple express.

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The lobster Benedict at Spruce. (Have you thought about Valentine’s brunch instead?) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

SF, you’re looking (and smelling) so clean! Someone needed a bath, that’s for sure. So, it’s about that time again, when every restaurant starts being converted into a sea of two-top tables. Whether you are going out for Valentine’s Day dinner this week or not, here are a couple of other full-of-heart things you can do, no partner required.

You may have seen my piece on fantastic local chocolates you could (and really should) enjoy, but what if you knew the chocolate (or flowers) you bought saves lives? For Valentine’s Day, these local businesses are helping to contribute funds to Samahope, a nonprofit that raises funds for heroic doctors who provide life-changing medical treatments to women and children in low-income countries. Check it out!

I also was so impressed to learn that Rainbow Grocery is giving 100 percent of their profits from today through February 13th (up to $30,000) to benefit grassroots relief efforts in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. Just wow.

Personally, I’m excited about another kind of red (and white, and bubbly) this week, because Thursday is the annual Tre Bicchieri tasting at Fort Mason. Handsome Italian men in suits pouring stunning wines, grazie mille. It also means there are some wonderful winemakers in town this week! Check out these special visits at SPQR and Biondivino (which is also hosting a Le Dix-Sept pop-up with Valentine’s Day treats on Friday, FYI!).

Speaking of Italy, did you catch my piece on Friday about Chianti? Here you go.

Wishing you a lovely week. XOXO!
Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Feb 11, 2014

New Taker for Masa's Space: Sachin Chopra of All Spice Will Open Game

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The dining room at Masa’s; photo from Facebook.

It was just about a year ago that news of the closure of the grand and venerable Masa’s broke. The space has been empty ever since, but now we have word that Sachin Chopra of San Mateo’s All Spice and his wife, Shoshana Wolff, have taken it over. The new endeavor’s name is ~GAME~, with chef Zack Freitas (currently chef de cuisine of All Spice) in the kitchen. As the name might suggest, the menu will include game meats like pheasant and bison, with internationally influenced flavors and preparations. The menu will change seasonally, and will also include a limited-quantity daily burger made with game meat.

The concept is definitely more casual than Masa’s, but it won’t be completely informal either. There will be a choice of ordering à la carte or from the tasting menu, and the space is being redesigned to be more open, with an expanded bar area, adding some counter seating, and knocking out a wall to reveal a window in the front of the space. The dining room will seat 60, with an additional 12 seats in a private dining room. Masa’s impressive wine collection was included with the space, and they’ve also got a full liquor license. Wolff, who is a sommelier and winemaker, will be crafting the cocktail list and wine selection, as well. According to Scoop, the timeline currently has them opening in late spring or early summer, depending on license transfers and inspections. 648 Bush St. at Stockton.

Peko Peko's New Restaurant, Rintaro, Opening in Former Chez Spencer Location

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Local herring nanban-zuke by Peko Peko; photo via Facebook.

Folks were speculating about where Sylvan Mishima Brackett (Peko Peko) was going to be opening his upcoming izakaya in SF after the announcement last week, and it ends up it’s going into the former Chez Spencer location that tragically burnt down last May. Brackett says it’s going to be called ~RINTARO~ (he said it means “woods boy”—and considering Brackett’s first name is Sylvan, it makes sense!).

They just broke ground, but you will be able to attend weekly Peko Peko dinners in Oakland until the opening later this summer. The next dinner is on Saturday February 15th, with a Valentine’s Day theme (five courses, $50, reservations around 6:15pm-ish and 8:15pm-ish). Email for reservations and directions. The next dinner will be on Thursday February 20th. (And here’s more reading for any of my fellow udon obsessives: a recent piece in Sunset magazine about Brackett’s udon.) 82 14th St. at Folsom.

Gastropubbin': Horner's Corner Now Open in Noe Valley, Baby Blues BBQ Coming to Ireland's 32

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The bar at Horner’s Corner. Photo from Horner’s Corner website.

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A Baby Blues BBQ platter. Photo via Facebook.

Now open (via Eater) in the former Noe’s Bar in Noe Valley is sports bar and restaurant ~HORNER’S CORNER~. As reported on tablehopper in December, the new project comes from owners Ivor Bradley of The Creamery in SoMa and Dave O’Donnell. It’s definitely a pub environment, with lots of televisions for watching sports and a menu of solid pub grub classics, like chili, pizza, short ribs, and of course, a burger. Beverages include classic cocktails, eight beers on tap, and a few wines by the glass or bottle. They’re open for dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, plus brunch Sat-Sun 9am-3pm. The bar is open Mon-Fri 2pm-2am and Sat-Sun 9am-2am. 1199 Church St. at 24th St., 415-282-4007.

Some fun news for fans of Bernal’s ~BABY BLUES BBQ~: you’ll soon be able to enjoy Paul Fischer’s barbecue and more when you’re grabbing a pint at ~IRELAND’S 32~ in the Inner Richmond. The bar and kitchen are currently being renovated, and Baby Blues plans to take over the kitchen on Saturday March 1st.

The modern gastropub menu will include smaller bites like smoked trout deviled eggs, smoked and grilled chicken wings, a “rib tickler” (three award-winning smoked pork ribs over coleslaw), and grilled shrimp over grits topped with rémoulade. Larger options (what they’re calling “hand food”) will include a shrimp po’boy, a free-range chicken fillet sandwich (rumor has it Paul’s fried chicken rocks), “The Badass” burger (blue cheese, two onions, and applewood-smoked bacon ground into the patty, hoo-whee), a pork and beef sausage patty sandwich (“straight from the streets of Chicago,” with grilled toast, arugula, and rémoulade), both beef and pork smoked ribs, plus an 18-hour smoked beef brisket sandwich. (Damn, am I the only who just got hungry? I don’t think so.) Sandwiches will put you back $10-$12, with appetizers around $9 and the larger plates in the $15-$18 range.

There will also be daily chef specials (Argentine rib-eye!) and they are already gearing up for St. Paddy’s Day. And since Baby Blues BBQ just won the competition held by CatHead’s BBQ (they won all four categories!), you know they are fired up. The plan is to be open daily and nightly, possibly closed Tuesday during the day. Stand by for an update as March 1st approaches! 3920 Geary Blvd. at 3rd Ave.

Jane Opening a Second Location in the Tenderloin

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Jane on Fillmore. Photo courtesy of Jane.

I ran into Amanda Michael at a party—she’s the founder of ~JANE~, the popular café on Upper Fillmore—and learned she is opening a second Jane in the Tenderloin. The location was previously home to a bookstore, and she hopes to open the café before the end of February. The offerings will be very similar to the Fillmore location, with Stumptown coffee, and soups, salads, and sandwiches that tend to the healthier side. The layout will also be similar, with tables in the front, and the counter toward the back, but the décor will be a bit simpler for this location. I’ll share some pics once the opening date is locked. Hours will be daily 7am-6pm. 925 Larkin St. at Geary.

Pie Openings: Long Bridge Pizza Softly Open This Week, More Details on Pizza Shop

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The interior of Long Bridge Pizza Company. Photo courtesy Long Bridge.

We reported on ~LONG BRIDGE PIZZA COMPANY~ back in November, and now they are getting ready to softly open this week. The opening menu is simple, with four pizza options, like a margherita, sausage, or white pie, available in small or large sizes. The space, in a former deli, has limited seating and a counter—you can also get pizza for takeout. The pizzas are a mix of New York and Neapolitan styles, baked in a deck oven that cranks up to 850 degrees. After the soft opening, hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-9pm and Sat 12pm-10pm. 2347 3rd St. at 20th St., 415-829-8999.

Hey, remember that mysterious pizza place announced in tablehopper a few weeks ago? Well, it looks like it’s open, and they’ve decided to release a few details too. It’s called ~PIZZA SHOP~, and the owner is Thomas Jividen, who previously worked at Bronx Pizza in San Diego. Laurie Badger, of Golden Boy Pizza, is running the register and front-of-house operations. Pies are available by the slice ($4) or whole pie ($19, $2 per additional topping), and the spot is designed mostly for quick bites or takeout, though a beer and wine license is in the works. Open daily 11am-10pm. 3104 24th St. at Folsom, 415-824-1840.

Upcoming Projects: Absinthe Group's Spanish Project, and the Return of Hamburger Mary's?

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888 Brannan. Image © Gensler.

A few updates on some upcoming projects: first up, the Absinthe Group’s 200-seat restaurant at 888 Brannan is going to be Spanish, and Inside Scoop reports the chef is Ryan McIlwraith, who opened Coqueta as chef de cuisine. Look for a killer bar program from Comstock Saloon’s Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin. The opening is planned for summer, and it will be open from breakfast through dinner. (You can take a deeper look at Gensler’s plans for 888 Brannan.) 888 Brannan at 8th St.

While this is far from being a definite, the Bay Area Reporter has word that Les Natali, owner of the ~THE PATIO~ that has been closed for, oh, ages, is trying to open a Hamburger Mary’s at the location. Hamburger Mary’s launched in SF in 1972, and there are now 12 locations around the U.S., which means Natali will need approval from the Planning Commission because of the city’s formula retail rules (any chain with 11 or more locations nationwide requires a conditional-use permit). Stand by for news on when a neighborhood meeting is scheduled; the BAR piece linked above has more details about Natali’s plans for the Castro location. 531 Castro St. at 18th St.

Changes at Zaré at Fly Trap, Including a New (Old Name): The Fly Trap

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The dining room of the newly rechristened Fly Trap. Photo from Facebook.

Hoss Zaré, the chef and proprietor of ~ZARÉ AT FLY TRAP~, has decided to make a few changes at the restaurant, including the name. Zaré, who took over the former Fly Trap space in 2008 (he started working there in 1988, before venturing out on his own), has changed the name back to ~THE FLY TRAP~, for starters. He has also brought bar manager Valen West on as an owner (she’s been there since 2008). The food won’t drastically change, with a seasonal California menu influenced by Zaré’s Persian heritage, and of course Zaré’s famous Hoss-pitality isn’t going anywhere.

The Fly Trap - 606 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-243-0580

Tidbits: Lers Ros Opens in Mission, Tango & Stache at ODC, Elmira Offering Brunch, Lobsta Truck Now Cracking, More

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Tango & Stache’s Campari-braised pork belly taco. Photo courtesy Tango & Stache.

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A lobster roll from the Lobsta Truck. Photo from Facebook.

As we reported in September, the former Malai Thai location in the Mission was taken over by the ~LERS ROS~ folks. Well, now Eater reports that the Thai restaurant’s third location is now open for business. The menu is similar to the previous two locations (minus the uh, accidental proteins found at the Hayes location, we hope), with a few new additions, like salmon with green curry and venison stir-fry. The wine list also has some new choices, including the welcome addition of sparkling wines from France and Portugal. Hours are Sun-Thu 10:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-11pm. 3189 16th St. at Guerrero, 415-923-8965.

Starting Friday February 14th, pop-up ~TANGO & STACHE~ will have a permanent-ish home at Mélange Market in the Mission. Mélange is the pop-up market/café project from the AQ and TBD folks adjacent to the ODC theater space (got enough acronyms for you?). Anyway, Tango & Stache will be there every Friday from 8am-6pm, serving his spiritous dishes. For the first pop-up on the 14th, the menu includes Campari-braised pork belly tacos, and a beet salad tartine with feta and pistachios. Mélange’s usual De La Paz coffee and housemade pastries will also be available. 3153 17th St. at Shotwell.

On Thursday evenings (from 4pm-7pm), ~1058 HOAGIE~ is hosting a special menu that really leans toward owner Adam Mesnick’s Jewish side of the family, as he puts it. The menu includes mostly classic, simple rye bread sandwiches—all come with either slaw, macaroni salad, or potato salad, and a pickle. He posts the menu every Thursday afternoon, but some past offerings included matzo ball soup, the Mazel (corned beef, Romanian pastrami, chopped liver, muenster cheese, rye, side of Thousand Island), the Stein (corned beef or Romanian pastrami, chopped liver, rye, side of Thousand Island), the Berg (corned beef or Romanian pastrami, rye, side of Thousand Island), plus an open-faced smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese, and you can get a half-pint of chopped liver or whitefish salad. Bonus: 1058 Hoagie is also offering delivery from 11am-3pm in SoMa via bike messenger now, score! 180 7th St. at Howard, 415-552-8984.

For your hungry weekend lineup, check out the new weekend brunch at ~ELMIRA ROSTICCERIA~ every weekend from 9am-2pm. The menu is still in the works, but will basically be an expanded version of their weekday breakfast menu, with the addition of some weekly specials like the lampredotto sandwich (‘hopper recommended) or a roast pork sandwich. They’ve also got mimosas for $2, beer, and Bicycle Coffee. 154 McAllister St. at Leavenworth, 415-551-7332.

There’s a new food truck in town, debuting on Valentine’s Day, so here’s hoping that it’s love between you two. The Los Angeles-based ~LOBSTA TRUCK~ is now in the Bay Area, serving lobster and crab rolls in a traditional New England-style split-top bun. They’ve also got fish and chips, clam chowder, and whoopie pies. To keep up with them check out the schedule here, or you can follow them on Twitter.

Here’s another Monday spot for your radar, perfect for downtown workers: ~GITANE~ will now be open on Monday evenings for dinner service and happy hour. Dinner is available every Monday from 5:30pm-10:30pm, and the bar is open until 12am.

510 Café Openings: A Look at Blue Bottle Morse and Grand Fare

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The counter at the new Blue Bottle Oakland. Photo: Clay McLachlan/Claypix.com.

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The new Blue Bottle in Oakland. Photo: Clay McLachlan/Claypix.com.

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Seating at Grand Fare. Photo via Grand Fare’s Facebook page.

Last week we mentioned that ~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~’s new Oakland location opened in the W.C. Morse Building, and now we have some purty pictures of the 2,000-square-foot space for you to look at. The corner location in Temescal is airy and full of light from all the floor-to-ceiling windows (and high ceilings to boot). There are two communal seating areas: a round table and a rectangular high-top table.

You can read the specs on the equipment they’re using to pull espresso and more in this Sprudge article, along with some notes about the high-end audio equipment (considering how much my ex was into espresso and high-end audio, the two really do go hand-in-hand). I’m worried about looking at their selection of home machines that are for sale (temptations!), but am loving that their technicians will soon be providing instruction and machine demos (and repairs!) on all kinds of machines.

On the drinks menu, you will find an Italian Shakerato (espresso, ice, and simple syrup) and a Cascara Fizz (cascara tea, sparkling water, simple syrup, and a lemon wedge). Here’s a peek at the menu as well, which includes their Liège-style waffle, Valrhona chocolate pudding, a couple of simple sandwiches, and more. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat-Sun 8am-6pm. 4296 Broadway at 42nd, Oakland.

Another Oakland café that just opened is ~GRAND FARE~, the first project from Claro (Doug Washington and Stellah De Ville) that’s just next door to Penrose in the former Monkey Forest Road. For now, they are serving coffee (Linea Caffe), tea (Five Mountains), and pastries from La Fournée. The room has been styled with eclectic furnishings—ranging from comfortable couches to communal kitchen tables—encouraging you to hang out and stay awhile.

Coming soon will be wine and beer, plus soup, salads, charcuterie, and cheese plates. Each week, the offerings will expand, including some upcoming music and events. The site also mentions: “We also know that sooner than later we’ll need to build out a big kitchen for our chef. In four to six months we’ll move coffee out to the parking lot for a bit while we do construction. After that, the sky’s the limit! Cheese cave, charcuterie counter, olive bar, amazing breads and pastries, prepared foods, ice cream, coffee, tea, wine, beer, and much more. We’ll also have plenty of seating in a setting like no other.” Hours for now are daily 7am-8pm. 3265 Grand Ave. at Lakewood, Oakland.

News from the 510: BBQ Hut Now Open, a Flap at Bakesale Betty, Kitchener's Takeout Window

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The BBQ Hut. Yelp photo by Jenn C.

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The original fried chicken sandwich (photo from Bakesale Betty).

We’ve been tracking this one for a while, and it looks like ~BBQ HUT~ on the edge of Rockridge has opened, serving traditional American barbecue. Yelpers have uneven reports, but, well, that’s what happens when a place is brand-new. It looks like the menu has brisket, ribs, and chicken, available on sandwiches or platters, along with a few sides, with all sauce on the side. There’s also cold beer. Hours are daily 10:30am-8pm. 6400 Shattuck Ave. at Alcatraz, Oakland, 510-285-6628.

There’s been a bit of commotion on Twitter and Yelp about a change in the size (and the bread!) of ~BAKESALE BETTY~’s iconic fried chicken sandwich. Apparently, it’s now on a smaller roll, and is a smaller sandwich, at a smaller price. And the internet is not happy. Update: We didn’t hear back from the crew at Bakesale Betty until after press time, but we did eventually get some details on the changes. Owner Alison Barakat says that the decision to make the change wasn’t easy, but ultimately they were faced with either raising the price of the sandwich significantly, or changing the size. The ingredients are all the same, and the bread is still from Acme, it’s just a different size and shape roll. The sandwich now contains closer to four to five ounces of chicken, down from the previous six to seven, and costs more than two dollars less. Barakat also reports that many customers have let her know in the shop that they appreciate the change (many couldn’t finish the larger size), and hopes most customers can appreciate why the change was made. 5098 Telegraph Ave. at 51st, Oakland, 510-985-1213.

A tipster sent us news about the takeout window project at ~KITCHENER~, and it looks East Bay Express has a lot of details. Kitchener is an industrial kitchen in Oakland where food trucks, caterers, and other burgeoning food businesses can rent space for cooking and prep. Now, owner Sophia Chang is giving up her office space for two takeout windows. Every day, several of the 36 cooks in the building will sell their goods out of the window, offering a constantly changing selection. Chang hopes to keep the windows open from 7am-11pm, meaning the different vendors could change as often as every couple of hours; this is what a day’s schedule could look like.

The project will require some funds to enlarge the windows and bring the area up to code. To raise money, they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign. Pledges start at a mere $5, and for only $10 you get some delicious treats, like empanadas from Javi’s Cooking or a (vegan, gluten-free) ice cream sandwich from Green Girl Bakeshop. 372 24th St. at Webster, Oakland, 510-835-5885.

They’re also throwing a Kickstarter Bash in San Francisco on Thursday February 13th from 6pm-10pm at the Folsom Street Foundry. The party is free, with food and beverages available for purchase to benefit the project. There will also be live music and a photo booth, plus, y’know, lots of fun. 1425 Folsom St. at 10th St.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Feb 11, 2014

So Many Ways to Get Your Beer On: Beer Week, Triple Voodoo Tap Room Now Open

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A sampler at Triple Voodoo’s taproom. Photo from Facebook.

Don’t forget, it’s ~SF BEER WEEK~ until Sunday February 16th. There are so many things going on, but here are just a few of the suds-a-licious events coming up.

~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB & BREWERY~ is a great place to check out some beer events. On Wednesday February 12th from 11am-5pm, there’s the Fifth Annual Beer and Oyster Festival with their Oysterhead Stout and some other oyster beers, plus lots of tasty oysters on the menu, both raw and cooked. Then, on Friday February 14th, from 12pm-4pm, don’t miss the Strong Beer Ice Cream Massacre, where Magnolia’s strong beers will be crafted into ice cream by none other than Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous. Which means, yes, you can enjoy a cone of Thunderpussy ice cream. On Valentine’s Day.

In the Mission, check out the Beer Week happenings at ~LA MOVIDA~, where you’ll find tap takeovers all week. They’ve got their paws on one of only six kegs of Anchor IPA, too, and will be serving it starting Thursday February 13th, along with a special burger from Pal’s Takeaway. They’ve also got Evil 3 from Heretic Brewing and lots of food specials made with beer. And speaking of Pal’s and burgers, did you know they’re going to start serving burgers on Thursdays? Yep, that’s right. SFoodie has the details. (Marin Sun Farms brisket! Secret ingredients! Delicious!) 3066 24th St. at Treat, 415-425-2392.

On Saturday February 15th, Umami Mart is hosting a Japanese Beer Fest in Oakland at ~THE TRAPPIST~. From 12pm-6pm (or until they run out) you’ll find 10 different Japanese craft beers, including offerings from Hitachino and Baird. Plus, you can order a steaming bowl of “Pastramen” (that’s pastrami ramen) by chefs Conrad Seto and Mike O’Brian of The Trappist and Mikkeller Bar to pair with all those brews. 460 8th St. at Broadway, Oakland, 510-238-8900.

And let’s not forget all those home brewers out there! On Thursday February 13th from 5pm-9:30pm, catch home brew showcase Hops for Housing at the ~SOMA STREAT FOOD PARK~. More than 15 home brewers will be attendance, along with beer from commercial breweries like Magnolia, Lost Coast, and 101 North. In addition, several food trucks will be serving food for purchase. Tickets are $35 and include beer samples; food is available for purchase. Proceeds go to the San Francisco Tenants Union. 428 11th St. at Bryant.

The ~TRIPLE VOODOO BREWING TAP ROOM~ has opened in Dogpatch, according to UrbanDaddy. They have 15 taps, and will be serving small-batch experimental beers, like the 8 Tentacles IPA and Belgian-style King Leopold Stout. Right now, they only have three, plus root beer, but should be filling out the selection soon. Food from the New Spot is available Wed-Sat 5pm-10pm; check out the menu here. Taproom hours are Tue-Thu 3pm-10pm, Fri 3pm-12am, Sat 12am-12pm, Sun 12pm-10pm. 2245 3rd St. at 19th St., 415-598-8811.

Mercer (from Sean and Isabel Manchester) Now Open in the Former Project One

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The bar area (as Project One). Yelp photo by Alicia B.

The former Project One gallery and event space has started its transformation into ~MERCER~, under the direction of new owners Sean and Isabel Manchester (Mighty, Chambers Eat + Drink). Sean explains the biggest change will be that they are booking weekly parties and promoters, especially on the weekends, to make it more of an easy destination—the space was previously used for a lot of private events, so you would come by and often find it closed. They are accepting proposals for monthlies and one-offs, so expect some new parties in the mix (here’s the lineup for now). The smaller size (room for 150-200 guests) makes it easy to build a more intimate vibe. The easy parking is also a bonus.

The space has a 1,500-square-foot dance floor and there’s the gallery area, which will have some changes (new lighting, wall treatments, and furnishings will make it into more of a hangout space). The sound system was updated and features the 222 Hyde TurboSound rig (that system was bumpin’). Happy hour will start March 1st, running Thu-Fri from 5pm-8pm. Party: on. 255 Rhode Island St. at 15th St.

The Red Devil Lounge Has Officially Closed

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Red Devil’s iconic sign. Photo from Facebook.

As previously reported on tablehopper, the ~RED DEVIL LOUNGE~ is closing, and has been taken over by Jamal Blake-Williams, who many may recognize from The Tipsy Pig (where he has been the bar manager since it opened) and Mamacita. According to their Facebook page, the lounge has officially closed for good. Sniffle. That stretch of Polk might not ever be the same again. Look for changes to the space in the coming year, with a revamped concept and new name. 1695 Polk St. at Clay.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Feb 11, 2014

Community in the City

~Danny Pudi~, who plays Abed on NBC’s Community, was spotted at Monk’s Kettle on Wednesday night. He was in town for Sketchfest, for an appearance at the Castro, according to a tweet. Our spy reports that he was very friendly and posed for photos with fans.

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