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This week's tablehopper: slurpy.

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Pozole verde I ordered from El Pípila on Club Feast. (There’s bacon in there, jus’ sayin’.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Ahhhh, how delicious was the sound of rain on Sunday night? And we’re going to be getting it again this evening, and all week, according to my weather app. Ready for it! Do you have your soup plan all lined up? I was thrilled to see my favorite bright and punchy pozole verde from El Pípila (it has bacon in it, hold me) is now available on Club Feast. The portion is huge, with chips—and you can get it delivered for less than $10! Use my code HOPPER20 if it’s your first Feast and we both get $20, mwah. Provecho!

Some other soups I adore: braised beef noodle soup from House of Xian Dumpling, the Friday-only special of goat birria en caldo (soup) at SanJalisco, tan tan men from Kirimachi Ramen (I love their laksa too!), Taiwanese beef noodle soup from Yilan Foods, matzo ball soup from Wise Sons or One Market, char siu wonton soup from Sam Wo, rasam idli from Deccan Spice/House, and allllll the noods at Mong Thu. (There are many more on my list, but there’s a start.) I’m wishing you a very slurpy week.

Last week, I was thrilled to launch the new Popmenu and tablehopper “pophop” campaign, giving away six months of Popmenu Pro + Boost to a lucky San Francisco Bay Area restaurant! This Boost is worth $4K, friends! Please nominate a restaurant (or your own restaurant!) for a major website and marketing makeover at popmenu.com/pophop! It takes less than a minute! You can learn more in my video here. Thank you for taking a moment to show support and love to our local restaurants!

Another industry-supporting event I am thrilled to be part of is this upcoming livestream discussion with Upstream to demonstrate why Reusables Win in San Francisco! Restaurant industry folks, please join us for this important presentation! Read more in the sponsored section below, I know we all HATE the sea of plastic takeout containers we’re all drowning under!

Wishing you all a wonderful evening!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Oct 19, 2021

Truly Wonderful News: Cafe Jacqueline Has Reopened (!), Plus The Progress, Merchant Roots

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Divine lemon soufflé at Cafe Jacqueline. Yelp photo by Jonathan H.

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The stunning Liberty duck platter at The Progress. Instagram photo via @theprogress_sf.

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The new dining room arrangement at Merchant Roots for their fall/winter experience, Stone Soup. Photo courtesy of Merchant Roots.

I know I was not the only one greatly concerned about the health of chef-owner Jacqueline Margulis of Cafe Jacqueline, and if ~CAFE JACQUELINE~ was going to make it through the pandemic and reopen, but it looks like the universe wanted to reward us all with some wonderful news! The 83-year-old chef-owner suffered some serious health issues (not Covid) in the early stage of the pandemic, and was in the ICU for over three weeks, but she made it through, and is reportedly feeling much better and getting stronger day by day. What a champ. She felt ready to reopen the restaurant, and they just finished their first week of service last week. It feels like a miracle. (Hat tip to @ornerypiglet for the great news.)

The beloved restaurant, known for Jacqueline’s epic soufflés, opened in 1979, and has legions of fans from all over. This really is an extra-special reopening and homecoming. In a recent post on their GoFundMe page (which helped keep the restaurant afloat, thank you all!), her daughter says, “I would like to say thank you and a million blessings to everyone here. All the support and love from the community is absolutely amazing and without this the restaurant would never have survived. Because of all of you Cafe Jacqueline is back!!!”

They ask all diners to “Please respect Jacqueline’s space and give her a safe work place.” She is an SF treasure, let’s treat her as such! (And don’t miss her French onion soup, it’s the perfect season for it.) The new hours are Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 1454 Grant Ave. at Union, 415-981-5565.

More great news: chefs-owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski have reopened ~THE PROGRESS~ after ten months of being closed. The team has redesigned the menu, and made a few aesthetic updates to the dining room as well. They’re excited to welcome people back and are thrilled to now have all three restaurants open and operational. Time to celebrate with a Prog Dog! Open Wed-Sat 5pm-10pm. 1525 Fillmore St. at Geary.

Just down the street, ~MERCHANT ROOTS~ has also returned, offering indoor dining and a new experience for fall/winter. Chef-owner Ryan Shelton has drastically changed the former communal dining experience, and even cut their custom-made Monkey Pod wood table (crafted by Berkeley’s Z&E Slabs) into four tables—it used to seat eight guests, but now parties can sit separately for the experience.

The latest theme is Stone Soup, based on the classic European folk story that imparts the value of sharing. The dining room looks fantastic, with a pot over a mock fire pit in the center of the room. (I’m ready for some whimsy, how about you?) The nine-course tasting menu ($134/food, $83/wine pairing) will be available starting today (October 19th) through February 19th, 2022. Two seatings per evening (5:30pm and 8pm) served Wed-Sat, with alternating Sundays as well. 1365 Fillmore St. at Ellis. 

Donaji, a Oaxacan Restaurant, Has Opened in the Former Great Gold

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The exquisite enchiladas de mole at Donaji. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The cheerful entrance at Donaji. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Oaxacan chocolate tart. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

The space that previously held Foxsister/Great Gold in the Mission is now home to ~DONAJI~, a casual Oaxacan restaurant from the couple behind Tamalitos Catering, known for their stand at the Outer Sunset farmers’ market, CUESA’s Mission Community Market, and VA farmers’ market. Chef Isaí Cuevas and his wife Ally were doing a lot of lunch catering prior to the pandemic, and after the pandemic hit, they were trying to figure out their next steps. They spent seven months with Cuevas’s family in Zimatlan, Oaxaca, during the pandemic, and went even deeper into their love of maíz, from planting it to grinding it while they were there (they even brought a molino back with them). After an amazing offer from the landlord “seemed to fall out of the sky,” they decided to pursue opening their first brick and mortar on 24th Street, in the heart of the Mission.

Great Gold’s clubby booths and dark interior has been replaced with an airy, bright, colorful look, with bold Oaxacan artwork and pink and turquoise walls. Chef Cuevas “got his chops” working for chef Jan Birnbaum as a sous chef at (then) Epic Roasthouse, who was his mentor during the six years he worked there, followed by a gig as executive chef at Liverpool Lil’s.

His menu at Donaji is a celebration of masa, starting with some truly fantastic tamales made with organic/non-GMO masa harina from Alma Semillera (until they get their own molino going). The exquisitely tender and flavorful tamales include chicken, beef, cheese and peppers, pork, or vegan for $4.50—get some to bring home, thank me later (they’re even selling them from the front door 7am-9am if you want to grab some for lunch on your way to your morning coffee…or work!). There are also empanadas ($8) on the menu, and loaded sopes ($10). Of course, we had to have Cuevas’s enchiladas de mole ($15), two taquitos of chicken (or sweet potato), simmered in such a refined mole negro. There’s pozole, tacos, quesabirria, salads, and Oaxacan totopos, plus a delightful Oaxacan chocolate tart with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. Everything is presented with such care and composition.

Since Donaji is open for brunch and lunch (for now), there are chilaquiles ($14), huevos rancheros ($13), and entomatadas (tortillas dipped in salsa with cheese inside) with steak and eggs ($18)—I can’t wait to try this dish next. So yay, here’s your new brunch spot!

They hope to have their beer and wine license in a couple weeks, but for now, you can enjoy their iced horchata cafe and aguas frescas. It’s fast casual, so you order at the host stand and they bring your food to your table. What a welcome addition to the city—pay them a visit soon. Open Wed-Sun 9am-3pm. 3161 24th St. at Shotwell.

The Bungalow Kitchen by Michael Mina Opening November 3rd in Tiburon

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Garden crudité bowl. Photo: David Varley.

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Rendering of the first floor bar and social dining area at The Bungalow Kitchen by Michael Mina.

I know many of you have been wondering about Michael Mina’s project opening in the former Guaymas in Tiburon, and it’s ~THE BUNGALOW KITCHEN BY MICHAEL MINA~, opening Wednesday November 3rd. It’s a sister restaurant to The Bungalow in Southern California’s Belmont Shore.

Mina partnered with Brent Bolthouse on this “community clubhouse,” with a menu of elevated California dishes from executive chef Joseph Offner (The Trident, Presidio Social Club, Alexander’s Steakhouse). The extensive menu includes a garden crudité bowl (with gazpacho shooters and three dipping sauces); a Dungeness crab “Pop Tart;” crispy Liberty duck wings glazed with Grand Marnier and black pepper; and housemade garganelli Bolognese with ragù antica and Parmigiano Reggiano fonduta (plus a bunch of other pasta dishes).

Brunch includes toasted coconut French toast and sweet potato pancakes, plus hot chicken and waffles with yuzu kosho honey and cabbage slaw. There’s a full bar, with cocktails starting at $17, but that stunning view won’t pay for itself!

The two-story space’s eclectic, “haute hippie” design is from AD100 designer Martin Brudnizki, complete with two patios and an upstairs Salon with a speakeasy-style bar, billiards table, and fireplace (it will be open after midnight, with cocktails and live DJs Fri-Sat). Open Wed-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri 5pm-2am, Sat 10am-2am, Sun 10am-10pm. 5 Main St., Tiburon.

New Openings: 'Na Pizza, El Yucateco Bakery, and There's Now a Pantry at Bernal Cutlery

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A capricciosa pizza napoletana from ‘Na Pizza. Photo courtesy of ‘Na Pizza.

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The new pantry at Bernal Cutlery. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

Some quick opening updates: over in the Marina, Dogukan Solmaz, Roberto Sbaraglia, and Alessandro Vasselli—who are behind the popular Roma Antica—are opening ~‘NA PIZZA~ in the former Pluto’s, most likely in November. Chef Domenico de Angelis will be serving authentic pizza napoletana, as well as calzone, appetizers like mozzarella in carozza (fried mozzarella croquettes), salads, pasta, panini, and more—the menu will expand in time, but take a peek at the initial one here. Hours will be daily 11am-10pm. 3258 Scott St. at Chestnut.

Thanks to Melissa of Salty Sweet for letting me know about the opening of ~EL YUCATECO BAKERY~ in the Mission, a Mexican bakery (she mentioned they used to bake together out of La Victoria Bakery and she would drool just looking at everything they made). They have an assortment of breads, sweets, cookies, and more, and their Instagram account notes they have some new items. Open Mon-Fri 6am-8pm, Sat 7am-7pm. 2907 16th St. at S. Van Ness.

Also in the Mission: ~BERNAL CUTLERY~ co-owners Kelly Kozak and Josh Donald have added a curated and carefully sourced pantry of Bay Area items (and beyond!) to their Valencia Street knife shop, including coffee from Queer Wave Coffee, vinegars, Rancho Gordo beans, and more from producers dedicated to sustainable practices. You’ll find Korean products from Queens, A Neighborhood Korean Superette; spices from Atomic Workshop (State Bird Provisions) and Diaspora Spices; and cheeses from Stepladder Creamery. One dollar from every transaction will be donated to Zero Foodprint, the San Francisco-based nonprofit aimed at funding renewable farming practices to fight climate change founded by restaurateurs and advocates Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz. The pantry and knife store are open daily from 12pm-6pm. 766 Valencia St. at 19th St.

East Bay Updates: June's Pizza Closed, Daytrip Opens, and More

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The light is sadly out at June’s Pizza in West Oakland. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Cacio e pepe arancini at Daytrip. Instagram photo via @this.is.daytrip.

Wanted to share some quick East Bay stories and links with you:

Sadly, the epically delicious ~JUNE’S PIZZA~ in West Oakland’s O2 Artisans Aggregate (alongside Soba Ichi) has closed (originally announced in this Instagram post)—ends up they were operating renegade-style and didn’t have any permits. But, good news: owner Craig Murli plans to open elsewhere (legitimately) and is on the hunt for a brick-and-mortar location. [Via Nosh]

Stella Denning and Finn Stern just opened their “fermentation-driven party food” restaurant and wine bar/bottle shop with a retro/70s-inspired style in Temescal: ~DAYTRIP~. Open Thu and Sun 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm. 4316 Telegraph Ave. at 43rd St., Oakland. [Via Eater]

Nosh has an update on indigenous cook, activist, and educator Crystal Wahpepah’s ~WAHPEPAH’S KITCHEN~—which I mentioned back in September—which is due to open with breakfast and lunch service at the end of October! 3301 E. 12th St. at 33rd Ave., Oakland.

Reopening this Wednesday October 20th is ~MOCKINGBIRD~, relaunching with a new menu and style that is more Italian-inspired, but made in California. You can peep the menu here, and they’re also relaunching with inclusive pricing (the menu prices include a 20-percent gratuity): “this move away from the tipping and service charge models will enable us to provide our whole team with an equitable and predictable wage, and our guests with a more predictable bill.” New hours are Wed-Sat 5pm-9pm. 416 13th St. at Franklin, Oakland.

the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Oct 19, 2021
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(Sponsored): Restaurant Industry Folks, Join Me for This Discussion on 10/28--Reusables Win in San Francisco!

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, in partnership with Upstream and the San Francisco Department of the Environment, is hosting a free, interactive livestream event on Thursday October 28th at 2:30pm to demonstrate why Reusables Win in San Francisco!

Joining host Marcia Gagliardi (yours truly!), restaurant owners Rocco Scordella of Tootsie’s at the Stanford Barn, Vanick Der Bedrossian of La Méditeranée, and Anh Nguyen of Cam Anh as we talk about how switching to reusables was one of the best decisions they made for their customers, the planet, and their own bottom lines. Those interested can register here.

Participants will also hear from Paul Birkmeyer of Dishcraft and Maia Tekle of Dispatch Goods, whose companies offer brilliant systems allowing food service businesses to incorporate reusable containers in their take-out and delivery operations.

Additionally, Grace Lee of ReThink Disposable will share details of the organization’s assistance program that helps restaurants vastly reduce waste, increase efficiency, and achieve enormous savings, too. This Bay Area-based nonprofit has helped over 250 restaurants switch to reusables while achieving significant savings and reducing waste.

Help us spread the word! If you know any food service operators in the Bay Area, send them this link and encourage them to join us (if you are one, please sign up!). You can also visit @tablehopper’s Reusables Win post on Instagram to tag a favorite Bay Area restaurant. Not only will it inform them of the event, it will help them understand that customers are eager to see business owners take the lead on environmental change.

Register today! I really look forward to “seeing” you there! We must diminish the sea of plastic foodware we’re all drowning under.

All registered participants will be emailed a link to join the livestream prior to the event. Reusables Win in SF is presented in partnership with Upstream, an organization dedicated to finding real world practical solutions to plastic pollution.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Oct 19, 2021

La Paloma Opens, Plus Updates on Whitechapel's and Comstock Saloon's Reopenings!

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The Bidi Bidi Bum Bum at La Paloma. Photo: Emilio Salehi.

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The platform room at Whitechapel. Photo © tablehopper.com.

Last Friday October 15th, ~LA PALOMA~ just opened, the new bar at the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Claire Sprouse (Hunky Dory, Buddy) is behind the bar program, with a cocktail menu that heavily showcases women-owned and -made beverage brands like Yola Mezcal, Future Gin, Pueblo Viejo, and Xila.

The cocktails are inspired by and designed to pair with food from the women-owned businesses at The Marketplace, and will offer bar bites and snacks from the vendors after they close at 2:30pm, with items like Kayma’s cocas (Algerian hand pies), Teranga’s butternut squash flatbread and fataya (Senegalese beef empanada), and Estrellita’s Snacks’ housemade Salvadoran tamales. There will also be some rotating pop-ups Thu-Fri 4pm-8pm—don’t miss this Friday October 22nd, when Fernay McPherson of Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement will be serving up her famous fried chicken, mac and cheese, and more. Count. Me. In.

La Paloma will serve cocktails, local beer, and wine Mon-Wed 11am-5pm and Thu- Fri 11am-8pm, with happy hour from 4pm-6pm, which includes $5 draught beers/wine and $7 cocktails/spirits. 101 Hyde St. at Golden Gate.

I was happy to see this post on Instagram last night announcing the reopening of ~WHITECHAPEL~ tonight (October 19th)! The gin palace has an all-new food menu from their new executive chef Alejandro Reccio, and a new drink menu from beverage director Alex Smith. You’ll be able to order via QR codes on each table and pay as you go. There’s also a new pool table! Hours are Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm, and until midnight Fri-Sat. 600 Polk St. at Turk.

Just an FYI: ~COMSTOCK SALOON~ had to push their grand opening to Tuesday October 26th. Alas, staffing woes are to blame, a citywide issue. Almost there!

the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Oct 19, 2021
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(Sponsored Event): Get Your Tickets to The Tastes of Friuli-Venezia Giulia Events

Grazie mille to everyone who entered the giveaway for tickets to The Tastes of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a four-day celebration October 21st, 27th, 28th, and 29th at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club.

The giveaway has ended, but you can still get tickets to learn and taste more about Friuli, a vibrant region bordering Austria and Slovenia, where hearty mountain dishes meet Mediterranean plates; where Latin meets Germanic and Slavic; where Italy meets her neighbors.

Explore this hidden region of Italy during our four-day series at the SFIAC: The Tastes of Friuli-Venezia Giulia:

Thu 10/21: World premiere of Harvest 2020, with Q&A from director Maurizio Gigola. Heavy appetizers and wine included with $50 ticket.

Wed 10/27: White wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia tasting (ribolla, malvasia, friulano) plus international (pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot bianco) by Friuli Italian Wines. (Tickets: $40.)

Thu 10/28: Wine dinner with chefs Donato Scotti and Gianluca Guglielmi. Their Friulian-inspired menu is going to be a special experience! (Ticket: $150 per person, includes wine pairings.) Ticket sales benefit North Beach Citizens.

Fri 10/29: Red wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (schioppettino, refosco, pignolo) plus international (cabernet sauvignon and merlot) by Friuli Italian Wines. (Tickets: $40.)

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