The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
April 27, 2021
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The women behind Hilda and Jesse. Via @hildaandjessesf.

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A Nisei bento box from summer 2020. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The Noche Buena feast from Pinoy Heritage, on Feastin. Photo: Hannah Wagner.

There are a number of new projects in the works, and many are pop-ups finding their first brick-and-mortar location, something that fills me with optimism after this bleak year. I was thrilled to see the co-founders behind the ongoing pop-up ~HILDA AND JESSE~—Rachel Sillcocks (Range, Piccino) and Kristina Compton (Avery, Atelier Crenn, Range)—have found a brick-and-mortar location in North Beach. Their concept has always been an “all-day breakfast restaurant and neighborhood hangout,” with an all-day menu that will go into late afternoon. Breakfast without boundaries! Details are slim at the moment, but we’ll have to see what they’re planning for this sunny corner spot. More soon! 1665 Powell St. at Union.

The daytime Italian café and deli spot, ~NORCINA~, has closed its Waterfront Plaza location. After slinging tigelle and gelato for a few years there, and preparing takeout food over the pandemic, owner Kaitlynn Bauman is opening a larger location in the Marina. With the bigger space, she is going to be expanding the concept into more of a restaurant, with reservations open in May. Sadly, we didn’t connect in time for my deadline, but I will have more details soon. 3251 Pierce St. at Chestnut.

I’ve been tracking chef David Yoshimura’s new brick-and-mortar location for his ~RESTAURANT NISEI~ concept, but didn’t manage to get back to him in time before my last (monster) deadline—someone was buried (per usual). And what a location it is: the former La Folie restaurant and bar on Polk in Russian Hill. Yoshimura was previously chef de cuisine at Californios, and his tasting menu at his pre-pandemic pop-up (Oji) was an elegant exploration of Japanese washoku (home cooking) cuisine. Of late, you may have tried his bento boxes he was selling out of Mister Jiu’s during the pandemic. But now, with Nisei (which is the Japanese term for a person born in the United States whose parents were immigrants from Japan), he’s going to really highlight his Japanese-American heritage and is calling it fine dining Californian washoku. He mentioned in a newsletter that Ilya Romanov from Niku Steakhouse and The Beehive will be spearheading the bar program. I’ll have a more detailed update as the project comes along (they’re aiming to open mid-2021); he’s fundraising, if you want to be part of it. 2316 Polk St. at Green.

Another pop-up team, Francis Ang and his wife Dian of Pinoy Heritage, are going to be opening ~ABACÁ~, a full-service, Californian-Filipino restaurant in the Kimpton Alton Hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf this summer. Think delicious small plates; family recipes; NorCal ingredients; a panaderia featuring fresh-baked pastries, ensaymada, and espresso drinks from Oakland’s Mr. Espresso (open daily from 7am); and cocktails. You can read more in this Eater piece. 2700 Jones St. at North point.

And over in my neck of the woods, I was happy to see pop-up ~SCHLOK’S BAGELS~ from Zack Schwab and James Lok—who have been operating their bagel pop-up out of The Snug on Fillmore during the pandemic—have found a brick-and-mortar location in a former laundromat at 1263 Fell St. (at Broderick, near Falletti’s). They’re aiming to open by September, so their pop-up is now on hiatus while they focus on opening.

The former Obispo location in the Mission, Thad Vogler’s rhum agricole bar, is going to become ~ITRIA~, a modern Italian restaurant and pizzeria. Eater reports the new owners are Daniel Evers (previously AL’s Place, Cotogna, and Marea in New York) who is partnering with Min Park (Rooster and Rice, Omakase Capital). Evers will be focused on rectangular pan pizzas, which travel well for takeout/delivery, which is what they’re starting with. There will be some other dishes on the limited opening menu, like meatballs and a couple salads (chopped, Caesar), with an expanded menu coming when they open for indoor dining (housemade pasta, crudos, wine, and more). Stand by for an opening soon. 3266 24th St. at Capp.

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The interior (by ROY) of the New Belgium Brewing restaurant and taproom. Photo courtesy of New Belgium.

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The lomo saltado sandwich at Sanguchon. Instagram photo via @sanguchoneatery.

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The signature ube pancakes, now at Alnico. Yelp photo by Tere P.

Now open in Mission Bay is ~NEW BELGIUM BREWING~, the Colorado craft brewer’s first restaurant and taproom. There’s a four-barrel pilot system that will produce an array of brews and small-batch specialty beers, from classic Belgian-style offerings, to experimental hoppy beers, to on-site sour blends. The on-site brewing team will collaborate with chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz (previously Noosh) on some special one-offs to pair with dishes on their menu, which includes shareable and multicultural dishes, from tacos (like the Thai paratha taco with shrimp, papaya salad, crispy shallots, kosho mayo) to burgers to salads to tartines. There are a bunch of beer-friendly apps, like chicken wings with hot honey, and fried green olives stuffed with pepper jack and battered, served with yuzu aioli (want!). It’s spacious, with indoor seating for over 110 guests and 60 outdoor patio seats. Open Mon-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 3pm-9pm. Hours may vary due to game day schedules; check social media or call for updates. 1000a 3rd St. at Channel.

There is now a brick-and-mortar location of ~ SANGUCHON~, a former Peruvian food truck from chef Carlos Altamirano (known for many Peruvian businesses in the Bay Area, including Mochica, Piqueos, Parada, Baranco, and La Costanera). This new Mission location is offering seven sandwiches (sanguchon means “sandwich”), empanadas, skewers, salads, and sides, with housemade sauces, alfajores, and beer and wine. There’s indoor and outdoor seating. Open Tue-Sun 11am-9pm. 1182 Valencia St. at 23rd St.

Also open on Valencia is ~ALNICO~, an offshoot from the 1608 Bistro on Bush (known for their Filipino brunch) which appears to be temporarily closed until December 2021. Alnico is now serving brunch only, offering dishes like steak and eggs, Korean chicken and waffles, ube pancakes, waffles with black sesame butter, and more. Open Sat 9:30am-2:30pm and Sun 9am-2:30pm. 1050 Valencia St. at 22nd St.

One more new Valencia spot is ~VALENCIA SUBS~, an offshoot from the well-known Irving Subs. It’s open in the former Zaytoon space. Open daily 11:30am-7:30pm. 1136 Valencia St. at 22nd St.

The former East Side West, Cow Marlowe, and most recently Greenwich, is now ~WILDER~, from the new owners behind the nearby Westwood (known for its mechanical bull). Opening Friday April 30th, this restaurant and bar will also include live music, cocktails, and an international menu from chef Jesus Dominguez (previously Delfina, Americano, Spork, and Campton Place). The interior has a woodsy/great outdoors vibe, and there’s indoor and outdoor seating. Open Wed-Sun for dinner, with weekend brunch, starting at 11am. 3154 Fillmore St. at Greenwich.

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The new “lawn” at The Ramp! Instagram photo via @theramprestaurant.

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Ma’amoul cookies from Reem’s (with espresso-date, walnut, and pistachio fillings)! Photo: Reem’s California.

Exciting news for SF: ~THE RAMP~ is finally reopening! Exhale, I know. Some of you have been reaching out to me asking what was up, and I was so happy to see their post that they’re reopening today (April 27th), with an updated patio (now with artificial grass, picnic tables, new umbrellas and shade structures), a fresh paint job in some spots, new cocktails (don’t worry, the Bloody Mary is a staple), and an updated menu. Live music will be returning soon. Woot woot! Hours are Tue-Sat 11am-6pm for now. 855 Terry Francois St. at Mariposa.

More great news: ~REEM’S CALIFORNIA~ finally has a new oven (after the last one exploded five months ago, what a nightmare, thankfully no one was hurt), and the Arab bakery has reopened for business. Whew! Time to enjoy their delicious workers’ wreaths. Hours are Wed-Sat 9am-9pm and Sun 10am-5pm, although do note they will be closed Saturday May 1st, in solidarity with May Day. 2901 Mission St. at 25th St.

You should also know chef-founder Reem Assil launched a line with Burlap and Barrel: Reem’s Spice Blends. This limited run of baharat (seven spice blend), za’atar (herb, sumac, and sesame), and khalta hara chile spice will liven up your eggs and cooking right-quick.

Another reopening and remodel is the ~BEACH CHALET~, with an updated bar and dining room, plus a new chef and menu, but the same great view. Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm and Sat-Sun 10am-9pm, with brunch from 10am-2:30pm. 1000 Great Highway at Ocean Beach.

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The Chili-Cheese Burg with pickled jalapeños at OverKill Grill (inside Bender’s). Instagram photo via @overkillgrill.

Some good news from the former CatHead’s BBQ team, husband and wife Richard Park and Pam Schafer, who sadly had to close their restaurant last August: they have taken over the kitchen space at Bender’s Bar in the Mission and opened as OverKill Grill. They refreshed and sharpened the space, and Richard tells me they’re offering bar-friendly dishes, like their Chixx Schnitzz (a chicken schnitzel sandwich), Pizza Rollzz, spicy peanut noodles, and Burgs. They’re open Wed-Sun 2pm-10pm. Bender’s has two outdoor Shared Spaces, and there’s room for up to 50 inside. 806 S. Van Ness Ave. at 19th St.

I noticed there’s a brand-new breakfast pop-up at Fig & Thistle wine bar in Hayes Valley called ~POPPY~, serving California breakfast items, from waffles to tater towers to egg sandos, with local and seasonal produce. It all looks lovely. Open Sat-Sun 10am-2pm. 429 Gough St. at Ivy.

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The bar at Myriad Gastropub. Photo: Dana Eastland © tablehopper.com.

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The iconic sign at Ristorante Parma. Instagram photo via @ristoranteparma.

This is always the part of my column I hate writing. Over the weekend, chef-owner Trish Tracey announced the closure of the six-year-old ~MYRIAD GASTROPUB~ in the Mission. Be sure to read her thoughtful note about her decision to pass the space onto someone else while she ponders her next move and project. Best to you and your staff, Trish. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St.

Over in the Marina, ~RISTORANTE PARMA~ is closing after 40 years in business (since 1980!). Two generations of the Elia family have run the neighborhood favorite: it was started by Italian native Pietro Elia, and now his daughter, Angela—who has been working at the restaurant for almost 20 years—runs the business. You can read her farewell note here, and their last night of service is Friday April 30th. 3314 Steiner St. at Lombard.

A tablehopper reader sent me a video of the ~TYGER’S COFFEE SHOP~ sign coming down in Glen Park, and Glen Park News reports they were open for more than 30 years of business. 2798 Diamond St. at Chenery.

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Chef Terrell Brunet. Photo via Facebook.

I was so terribly sorry and shocked to hear the news that chef Terrell Brunet unexpectedly passed away in March, which I just learned a couple weeks ago. He was such a big personality, so kind-hearted and a true bon vivant. Wearer of jaunty fedoras. Wicked gumbo-maker. It’s so hard when a light that shines that brightly goes dim, although I know his legacy will burn on with many fond memories and stories held in the hearts of those who loved and knew him. You can read some remembrances and see photos on the page linked above.

I first met Terrell back in 2006, when he was working at the Elite Cafe with chef pal Joanna Karlinsky, who has known him for years (since their days at the CIA). I asked her if she could share a remembrance of him and his culinary background, and she kindly obliged. Thank you, Jo.

“We’ve lost another one too soon. Terrell Brunet was a quintessential New Orleanian and never let anyone forget it. Intoxicating. Bawdy. Always ready to show you something new about himself. He graduated from the CIA in 1989, spent some of the 90’s in SF working at Julie’s Supper Club, Red Devil Lounge, Blue Light Café, and then returned to CIA as a chef-instructor. He loved it. Almost as much as his newborn son.

“But New Orleans called him back and he went to teach there. Hurricane Katrina hit him hard; the school closed and he lost all of his teaching tools. Interestingly for him, old friends were reopening the Elite Café, here in SF, and he came running to help. There he met his soon-to-be wife, Neely, and they made a home in Oakland. He loved throwing backyard parties and seeing his old students; teaching restaurant work, and returning to NOLA to play. He will be missed.”

There is going to be a memorial on Sunday May 16th, but due to Covid, the gathering is extremely limited in capacity. There is going to be a casual backyard gathering the day before to accommodate some of the folks who can’t fit into the memorial—If you want to reach out to Neely, you can email her here. Sending love and deep condolences to all of T’s family and many friends and students—he touched so many lives with his cooking and knowledge and big heart.

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Many baked goods await at Bake Love Not Hate on May 1st.

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With the continued and distressing hate crimes and violence against the AAPI community, a number of folks in our local restaurant industry are rallying to support, and raise funds and awareness. First, ~ZUNI CAFE~ is hosting another bake sale, with 32 participants (!) on Saturday May 1st. Proceeds will benefit AAPI Women Lead, the Asian Pacific American Community Center, and Third Culture Bakery’s community safety kits. Pastry boxes are $30 each, and include five pastries of your choosing (no pre-orders). The bake sale starts at 11am and is first-come, first-served until sold out, with no limit on the quantity of boxes you can purchase. So yeah, you’ll want to get there early!

Are you in the East Bay? Don’t miss Bake Love Not Hate (@bakelovenothate_oakland), an Oakland-based fundraising bake sale on Saturday May 1st from 12pm-6pm (at 59 Grand Ave. at Webster St. in Oakland). Participants include Boichik Bagels, Firebrand Artisan Breads, La Farine, and many more.

There is also an online auction (Friday April 30th at 12pm through Sunday May 2nd at 11:59pm), featuring products, services, gift cards, and experiences (from Levis, Vans Vault, Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese, Taylor Stitch, Tellason, Farmhouse Thai, and more). Lastly, Saturday May 1st is A Day of Giving, when partnering businesses will graciously dedicate a small portion of their proceeds to combat systemic racism. 100 percent of the proceeds from all three components will benefit AAPI Women Lead (empowering AAPI women and girls through leadership programs), Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and Hate Is A Virus (amplifying awareness of AAPI discrimination and hate crimes while standing in solidarity with our BIPOC siblings).

Coming to SF for the month of May is Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate (CSAH), a fundraising dinner series in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Founded in Washington D.C., by chefs Kevin Tien of Moon Rabbit and Tim Ma of Lucky Danger, Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate is a five-course takeout dinner series, created in response to the escalating cases of anti-Asian hate crimes and xenophobic attacks on the AAPI community across the country.

Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate is working with OpenTable to host the Bay Area dinner series. The dinners will take place every Tuesday for four consecutive weeks beginning on May 4th. Every week, five different chefs are each contributing one course to a five-course takeout meal for two. Participating restaurants include: b. Patisserie, Commis, Ernest, Liholiho Yacht Club, Mister Jiu’s, Nari, Nightbird, SingleThread, Sorrel, State Bird Provisions, and more. Tickets for each dinner are now available for purchase on OpenTable, where guests can reserve and pre-select individual pick-up times.

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The tropical style of the new Palmetto. Instagram photo via @palmetto-oakland.

I am so outta time (overtime!) writing this column, so this East Bay update is a quickfire round of info for you.

Opening this Friday in Oakland in the former Flora and Fauna bar is ~PALMETTO~ and The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto, a Caribbean restaurant and bar from The Kon-Tiki team. Owners Christ Aivaliotis and Matt Reagan are excited to be in this historic, Art Deco space, serving tropical takes on steakhouse staples from chef Manny Bonilla, and classic cocktails, served in pared-down portions so you can enjoy more spirit-forward drinks, without getting too loaded. Cheers to that. The space is filled with pastels, tropical plants, and lots of glam touches (I’m basically ready to move into their Instagram feed), while The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto is more nautical. Reservations available Saturday and onwards. Hours: Tue-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm; brunch coming soon. 1900 Telegraph Ave. at 19th St., Oakland.

Opening soon in Alameda is ~COFFEE CULTURES ALAMEDA~ from Jason Paul, David Burke, and Luigi DiRuocco (they were all born and raised in Alameda, so this location is very special to the group of partners). Coffee Cultures was established in 2013 at their original location at 225 Bush St. in SF (this location closed in 2019). They opened a second location in SF at 1301 Mission St. in 2015, which is currently open Mon-Fri 9am-2pm. And now they have a new Alameda location, with a beautiful courtyard with a mural, tables, and chairs. They will have a counter and banquettes inside, but in the beginning, it will just be to-go and courtyard seating. Phase two will bring a pick-up window on the Blanding Street side.

In addition to full coffee service (featuring Perennial Espresso, Half Baked Decaf Espresso, and single origin coffees, plus they partnered with Mr. Espresso on a private label Coffee Cultures), there will be Straus soft-serve ice cream, Straus yogurt parfaits, Starter Bakery pastries, steel-cut Irish oatmeal, and affogatos. Opening hours are Mon-Fri 6am-2pm and Sat-Sun 7am-2pm. 1926 Park St. at Blanding, Alameda.

It has been so exciting to watch ~RED BAY COFFEE~ open their breathtaking new Oakland café and headquarters in a former bank at International Boulevard and Fruitvale Avenue—take a look and get all the details in this Eater piece.

Read all about Dominica Rice-Cisneros’s upcoming ~BOMBERA~ in the Dimond in this Salon feature, which helps make the closure of Cosecha Cafe sting a bit less.

April 6, 2021
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Minimalist beauty, maximalist flavor at the new Californios. Chilapita: white corn masa tart with smoked sturgeon mousse and Tsar Nicoulai caviar with preserved lemon rind and chervil. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A corner table in the chic garden patio at the new Californios in SoMa. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The Introduction course. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Beverage director-owner Charlotte Randolph. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Hielo: a palate cleanser of frozen tepache and black lime salt. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Shigoku oyster with cucumber espuma. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Grilled baby banana with savory caramel and cold-smoked caviar. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Californios fish taco. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Arco iris (rainbow) granita over vanilla bean semifreddo. Photo courtesy of Californios.

Back in 2013, I attended one of chef Val M. Cantu’s first Californios pop-ups at Naked Kitchen in the Mission—I sat solo at the chef counter, and got such a kick from the energy of his punchy and creative menu. Fast-forward to 2021, and I am once again dining solo, although this time I’m at an elegant table set with white linen, in a chic and peaceful garden patio with tropical plants and a fountain gurgling in the background, and I’m watching tables of dedicated regulars be served a palette of dishes as they pop bottles of Salon and Pol Roger. The music is still as edgy and irreverent as it was at the very first meal, but when I looked into my water glass and noticed the etching of the Californios abstract C logo in there, which matched the gold C on the menu envelope, I smiled, thinking back on that first meal eight years ago, and the dish that said, “Fuck It. -C” in a housemade ketchup on the plate.

The ~CALIFORNIOS~ team has left their intimate 22nd Street location in the Mission and is spreading their wings in the former Bar Agricole space in SoMa. After a year of not cooking, Val says it “feels like life after death,” and that he has to “pinch himself to be working in this space, to be alive.” They wanted to create something so special for guests after a year of no fine dining and tasting menus, and they wanted to make every guest feel part of the experience. The team decided to focus on serving on the patio while the interior gets finished (and we all get vaccinated)—they’re planning on opening inside dining in May. Val’s wife and co-owner Carolyn Cantu is designing this space as well, and she even designed and planted the entire patio with a friend (her talents are boundless). The interior space will have a bar (a liquor license is forthcoming), with 40 seats inside, mohair blue banquettes, even more plants, skylights, a private dining room for ten, and wine director/owner Charlotte Randolph is excited to be building a cellar of 3,000 bottles (currently at 700 selections).

For now, it’s all about the patio that makes you feel like you’re in the Condesa in Mexico City (Val said it’s like Tulum meets Inverness). There are eight tables, spaced well apart, with some that can host four-six guests (I saw plenty of double dates). It was incredibly comfortable—since it’s enclosed, there wasn’t any obnoxious evening SF wind, and there are numerous heaters that can be turned on as needed. Some guests just dined in their dress shirts, or had a light jacket/sportscoat on. Californios will actually be getting a retracting roof installed very soon so they can open it on warm evenings (we seem to have them more and more). I loved dining there early at the first seating, so you can admire all the details and colors of the dishes in the evening light.

The multi-course tasting menu is such an extensive journey, and continuing to tell and elevate the story of Californian-Mexican food, of Mexican food in the United States, of ingredients, and paying homage to our extraordinary purveyors (Val has partnered with Tierra Vegetables for years, who provide the corn, masa, and many of the chiles on the menu, and they’re featured prominently in the front of the menu booklet).

The Introduction course makes you so excited to be dining out again: the table is suddenly filled with five bites, each on their own black or cream or grey plate, some with gold edges. One of the dishes, the Venezuelan arepa (an homage to Val’s Venezuelan mother) exhibits that playful line that Californios treads: the rustic with the elegant, the humble and the luxurious, pairing Harina P.A.N. (a brand of pre-cooked cornmeal) with Tsar Nicoulai caviar. I also love how much you eat with your hands at Californios—it gets you closer to your food, and keeps things from ever feeling stuffy.

The next salvo of dishes is like contemporary culinary art—I felt like I was photographing a cookbook for a modern museum. (The majority of the dramatic ceramics you’ll see on the table are from Erin Hupp.) There’s the chilapita, a masa tart filled with smoked sturgeon mousse, a rare regional dish from Guerrero given a fine dining shine. The infladita is a masterful bite, a technically tough dish to make: a sphere of fried yellow corn filled with a masa sauce with guajillo chile and topped with blistered urchin. It’s a magical thing to pop into your mouth. Ditto the tostada of green corn with custardy (and sustainably caught) Baja blue fin tuna on top, with a kiss of tamari, Brokaw avocado mousse, and serrano chile. I’m going to pine for this course all over again! I love the storytelling of corn in these dishes.

And then…a palate cleanser of frozen tepache and black lime salt with a wondrous texture, and a zip of finger lime. A scoop of hielo! Since the kitchen team brings out dishes along with your servers, you can compliment the talented pastry chef Sophie Hau (previously Eleven Madison Park), or the sous chef, and your words will make their way back into the kitchen (although they also have television screens so they can monitor how the meal is progressing, or how big you’re smiling).

The ceviche course was exquisite, with a firm Shigoku oyster hiding in a kicky espuma of cucumber in a porcelain oyster shell, while buttery, tender, wild-caught hamachi is enlivened with a rhubarb and blood orange aguachile that will make you lift up the dish for a final shot right into your mouth. You’ll enjoy many moments of acidic brightness or green chlorophyll or spicy ginger throughout the meal, reminding us of health and vibrancy.

Who pairs aged and grilled baby banana glazed in date sauce with a savory-sweet caramel of coconut milk and then puts a quenelle of Californios cold-smoked Tsar Nicoulai reserve white sturgeon caviar (soon to be golden Osetra) on top? Val Cantu does. It’s such a fun evolution of their former bean-and-caviar dish. You’ll ponder the juxtoposition of sweet and smoke and saline. And then you’ll sip the A. Margaine NV demi-sec Champagne and declare that wine director Coco Randolph is a genius.

The next round of dishes is like the street food of your dreams (complete with little dishes of classic pickled accompaniments like carrots and onion): a blue corn tlacoyo with velvety Rancho Gordo pinto beans, the Californios epic fried cod taco in the most pillowy sourdough flour tortilla (an homage to the flour tortillas of Val’s father’s restaurant and tortilleria in Austin), and the kicker: a juicy Devil’s Gulch Ranch squab al pastor taco (brilliant!) on a blistered yellow masa tortilla. Each one of these dishes is a triumph.

At this point, you should be feeling quite full, but then it’s time for a trip to the rancho with grilled Marin Sun Farms lamb chops, with the most restorative cilantro-lamb-chicken broth that you sip. I felt like I was sitting around a campfire on a glamping getaway, and yes, I nibbled every last morsel off the bones. Hey, when you’re eating with your hands for most of the meal, you really should get into it.

Dessert includes such a showstopper: the arco iris (rainbow) of different granita flavors (huckleberry, mandarin, Meyer lemon, kiwi, and pea flowers) on top of a vanilla bean semifreddo—it tastes like a high-end fifty-fifty bar, and all that color will bring you happy vibes. It’s a salute to their new neighborhood, the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District in SoMa. There are some other treats and intermezzos and more I don’t mention—I want you to enjoy some surprises, and the talented team is sure to be evolving and editing dishes daily (you can see the list of the team at the end of the booklet).

For $223, it’s such an abundant meal (the wine pairing is $140). I was honestly quite stuffed, so be sure to arrive with an appetite. This experience is the perfect welcome back party: it’s engaging, delightful, delicious, artful. It’s the best Californios has ever been, and will only continue to enchant and evolve. The energy of the team is palpable—they’re so happy to see you, and as a guest, my heart swelled with so much excitement and hope. It was such a privilege to have this kind of inspiring dining experience after being locked away for a year. Book your table, treat yourself, celebrate the bounty and beauty of California and our Mexican roots and the vision of this team to create something so special as we just begin to poke our heads out of our burrows.

Dinner served Tue-Sat. Reservations here. Valet parking will be coming in time. 355 11th St. at Harrison.

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Don’t miss the res con queso (stewed beef and cheese) pupusa from Estrellita’s Snacks. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The communal corner, with pictures of La Cocina entrepreneurs on top of former mailboxes. Photo: Erin Ng.

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A look into the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Eventually, the space will be full of light and people visiting the kiosks inside. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The ensalada de Cesar (Caesar salad) from Los Cilantros. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Teranga’s fantastic Marche Kermel sandwich. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Back in January, I posted a big update about the ~LA COCINA MUNICIPAL MARKETPLACE~, the country’s first women-led food hall, featuring seven La Cocina entrepreneurs (all working class women of color and immigrant women entrepreneurs) with kiosks in the Marketplace, working with Marketplace manager Jay Foster (previously farmerbrown, Isla Vida). After so much fundraising and planning and permitting and a pandemic, the Marketplace is now miraculously open, serving takeout Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm, with plans to add delivery, take-home dinners, and on-site dining. Exciting times!

I got a sneak peek of the space and some dishes during a test run a couple weeks ago (and ordered a preview of dishes through the La Cocina Women’s History Month Community Box, what an extravaganza), so I want to share some of the incredible dishes I tried—the Marketplace menu is extensive, so you’ll need to plan multiple visits. (And perfect timing, they are taking part in SF Restaurant Week, starting this Friday!)

Each vendor also offers a nutritious $5 plate to help serve the needs of the Tenderloin community (where 70 percent of housing is single room occupancy, and only 39 percent of residents have access to a stove), as well all of us who are on a budget, especially these days. La Cocina is also working to support businesses by offering food for EBT transactions via the California Restaurant Meals Program. You can order food online in advance and then pick it up at 332 Golden Gate Ave., where they have a dedicated pick-up zone (you can also do walk-up orders).

After trying chef Nafy Ba Flatley’s Teranga baobab drinks and energy bars, it’s such a pleasure to be able to taste her flavor-packed Senegalese dishes! I can’t rave enough about her Marche Kermel sandwich ($12) with ground beef, caramelized onions, potatoes, and chopped egg on baguette with spinach, Dijon mustard, and Dakaroise hot sauce (I can’t wait to try her Dakar muffuletta next, I hear it’s so good!). I have also savored her healthy and satisfying maafé bowl over a few meals: organic, spicy, Senegalese peanut stew with tomatoes, cassava, carrots, turnips, baobab, and Teranga spice blend over jasmine rice—this would be a good one to have on hand in the freezer.

Hopefully, you are familiar with chef Guadalupe Moreno of Mi Morena, who brings her Mexico City guisados, handmade tortillas, and chilaquiles to the heart of SF. You’ll find her guisados available in taco plates, quesadillas, or large portions to bring home for reheating. Also: don’t miss her fish tacos!

Chef Maria del Carmen Flores and her daughter Estrella of Estrellita’s Snacks are serving their stellar (heh) pupusas for $4.50—there are so many fillings, but the res con queso (stewed beef and cheese) was particularly satisfying, and their tamales are truly epic! Pork in guajillo sauce, it’s $5 very well-spent.

Bayview’s Tiffany Carter of BOUG Cali offers a menu of West Coast Creole shack dazzlers, like a chicken and andouille sausage gumbo thickened with a red peanut butter roux. (I tried her okra and tomato stew with shrimp and sausage in the community box, and just loved how balanced and fresh and tasty it was—not too rich, and the vegetables were cooked perfectly.) I’m excited to try her Cali-style po’boys and innovative jerk tacos! If you want some dessert, definitely get her classic banana pudding with vanilla wafers for all the happy vibes.

I enjoyed trying a couple traditional Algerian dishes from chef Wafa and Mounir Bahloul of KAYMA—don’t miss their baked goods, from breads to dessert (Wafa’s mother is a chef, and inspired her daughter to train on pastry and bread-making). Their offering ranges from soups to flatbreads to couscous—you could make a wonderful meal from their sides. I look forward to trying one of their sandwiches next, on their house-baked bread.

Dilsa Lugo of Los Cilantros is serving her Mexican homestyle dishes, including tostadas, enchiladas, tamales, and don’t miss her creative ensalada de Cesar (Caesar salad), topped with a Los Cilantros seed mix. You can also try atol de piña, a traditional warm and hearty beverage with chunks of pineapple sweetened with piloncillo (a molasses), seasoned with cinnamon and thickened with housemade, organic, nixtamalized masa (I loved it warmed up for breakfast).

When they open for indoor dining, chef Bini Pradhan will be bringing her famed Bini’s Kitchen Nepalese momos and stews and more.

There will also be a kiosk for pop-ups and guest chefs, including culinary talent from the Tenderloin. There will additionally be a bar (La Paloma), serving beverages highlighting female distillers, winemakers, and brewers, as well as coffee service—stand by for details on that later.

The 7,000-square-foot space includes the separate kiosks with their own kitchen setups, as well as a large and shared kitchen space, which the entrepreneurs can use to supplement their kiosk cooking. La Cocina hopes and plans to continue to ramp up their cooking for food security community programs, which has greatly helped their entrepreneurs during the pandemic, who lost about 70 percent of their business (they have cooked over 250,000 meals).

Once the Marketplace opens for indoor dining, you’ll be able to see how much La Cocina has programmed the space to really be part of the community, from the library and community corner that will also double as an area for speaking and presentations, and their desire to offer access to computers as well (they need a donor for that program, anyone out there?).

This Marketplace is such an inspiring model for cities everywhere since it “offers a path for low-income entrepreneurs that lowers the barriers to entry, mitigates risk via a shared cost of maintenance, increases equity in business ownership, and creates more assets for the owners, enabling them to pass on lower costs to consumers and make cities more livable.”

Take the time to support this important new addition to our culinary scene and community—order some lunch, tell your friends, and let’s help get this beautiful thing humming. 101 Hyde St.; takeout and pickup at 332 Golden Gate Ave.

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Exterior of Dear Inga on 18th Street. Photo via Yelp, courtesy of Dear Inga.

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Vegan tantanmen from the Ura Mensho pop-up (at the recently reopened Mensho Tokyo SF). Instagram photo via @menya_shono.

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Maize’wich with catira (chicken, sofrito, cheddar). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Anthony Strong’s SuperStella van, parked for dinner at Spark Social earlier this year. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

File this one under the smart moves category: ~LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB~ has decided to temporarily move from their Sutter Street location to the group’s 18th Street property (previously Dear Inga, and formerly Farina). It means they can take advantage of the location’s outdoor seating (which includes the fab upstairs terrace!), and Sutter Street can get a light remodel in the meantime. Liholiho will open on Wednesday April 14th for takeout and delivery only (many cult favorites will no longer be available, so get ready to adjust to a new menu), and their plan is to eventually add outdoor seating (with reservations) beginning on Wednesday April 28th. A year later, it’s going to feel so good. 3560 18th St. at Dearborn.

I was very excited to see this post from ~MENSHO TOKYO SF~ that they were reopening as “URA MENSHO, a secret temporary pop-up Ramen restaurant.” They are currently serving toripaitan, vegan tantanmen, and vegan mazesoba (here is the menu). Welcome back! Indoor seating only—a post from @ramen_beast shows some table dividers. Hours are Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm. (They also recently opened in New Delhi!) 672 Geary St. at Leavenworth.

We all love a good comeback story! After closing in the Mission last August (after 10 years of business!), ~PICA PICA AREPA KITCHEN~ is back! Eater reports: “Owner Adriana López Vermut found a new operating partner and was able to rehire eight of the previous 14 employees and unlock the doors once more.” Incredible! Come on by for some Venezuelan (and gluten-free!) arepas and welcome them back. Open Sun-Thu 11am-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-9pm. 401 Valencia St. at 15th St.

After a year of delays (and a pandemic), Tartine Bakery’s workers have unionized! Via [Mission Local]

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know all about the awesomeness that is chef Anthony Strong’s SuperStella van, and this ultimate in stylin’ private dining-meets-glamping experience is now at the San Francisco Ferry Building, parked on the back plaza. You get to have one of the best views in the City while you tuck into your multi-course menu, which includes peak seasonal ingredients, tasty tidbits from the charcoal grill, and beverage pairings. Private parties of up to four guests can enjoy a unique culinary experience, from dinner to a full evening. Stella’s “glamping” menu is available for $110 per guest for up to four guests, plus a site/travel fee of $120 on weekdays and $150 Fri-Sat. Beverage pairings are offered for an additional $50 per guest. Available Tue-Sat, beginning April 19th. Seatings available at 5:15pm and 7:30pm. (You should also read this SFGATE article about Anthony’s multiple pandemic pivots at Prairie and now with SuperStella.)

I’m a big fan of the ~LIMONCELLO~ sandwich shop in Pacific Heights (owner Jalal Heydari is Mr. Customer Service!) and he will be opening a second sandwich shop and Italian grocery on the corner of 24th St. and Bryant, hopefully by May. [Via Eater]

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The sign at the original Blowfish on Bryant. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The Wagyumafia cutlet sandwich. Photo via @wagyumafia on Instagram.

In Tamara Palmer’s most recent column for 48 Hills, she mentioned how she was unknowingly scammed by a business masquerading as the cult favorite Wagyumafia from Japan on Doordash, supposedly offering their famed wagyu sandwich for delivery for $180 (she opted for a $35 A5 wagyu nigiri set instead). After posting her pictures on Instagram, she was contacted by Wagyumafia that it wasn’t them, and was an imposter! (Wagyumafia was planning to open in SF after running a collaborative pop-up with the Omakase Restaurant Group a couple years ago, but things didn’t move forward and they focused on New York instead.)

My curiosity was piqued, and I took a closer look at the SF wagyu mafia page on Doordash, which listed Blowfish Sushi on Mission as their address. I headed over to the Blowfish web page, which had this message: “Blowfish Sushi Is still closed, The restaurant running at 2193 mission st, is an Fake copy of Blowfish Sushi in our old location. This place is illegal and NOT run or operated by ANYONE from the original Blowfish Company. We are in the proccess of correcting this and look forward to rebuiliding Blowfish Sushi as soon as it is safe and Logical.” So, not only was the Wagyumafia concept a fake, but a business listed as Blowfish Sushi on Mission on Doordash was also a fake? Whut? Things suddenly got very fishy.

Last week, I was able to get in touch with founding Blowfish partner (since 1996!) Jason Teplitsky, who explained this Mission Street location was the second location they opened after closing their original Bryant Street location, and it was only open from November 2019 until the stay-at-home order in March 2020. He said they had to close the business and surrender the lease due to the grim takeout situation and focus on their Iza Ramen staff and business instead—his business partner is Ritsuo Tsuchida, and it ends up Julian Lennon is another partner (some fun trivia for you). Teplitsky said they left the Blowfish sign up, partly because it was the early stage of the pandemic and they couldn’t really find anyone to take it down.

He has been trying to contact the new owner, and paid a visit to the fake Blowfish this last Friday and confronted the staff, demanding to see the owner. Teplitsky, with his blustery Ukrainian manner, ended up scaring the staff and the police were called. (Hey, the guy needs answers.) The team has claimed the landlord was okay with them assuming the Blowfish identity, and even tried to blame Teplitsky for leaving the sign up as an invitation to take over the business. (Yes, these people are crazy.)

Teplitsky told me he even ordered delivery to see how the food was (the menu is wildly extensive)—he said the sushi was poorly cut and not even placed on the rice correctly, so whoever is so keen on stealing his identity doesn’t even have any skilled talent in the kitchen.

Teplitsky is currently contacting Grubhub, Postmates, and Doordash (which even uses the Blowfish logo!), trying to get these fake pages down since he still owns the copyright. He’s also contacting the landlord, and is looking into legal action against the imposters. I’ll keep you posted on any developments. How’s all this for one big caveat emptor if you like to order delivery? 2193 Mission St. at 18th St.

March 23, 2021
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Chef-owner Val M. Cantu in the open kitchen (and dining counter) at Californios on 22nd Street. Photo: Jim Sullivan.

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A selection of dishes at the newly opened Ernest. Photo via Facebook.

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A look at the upstairs dining room at Ernest. Photo via Ernest’s Facebook page.

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Red Window’s Manzana verde 50/50. Instagram photo via @redwindowsf.

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Outdoor seating at the new Hoi An on Polk Street. Photo: Hoi An.

Here’s a super-quiet hot tip for you: chef-owner Val Cantu has softly opened reservations in April for the new SoMa location of his Michelin-starred restaurant, ~CALIFORNIOS~. They are just serving on the former Bar Agricole’s heated and updated outdoor patio for now, but it’s still a white tablecloth experience, with a two-hour tasting menu ($223) and wine pairings from Charlotte Randolph (and candlelight). I will be running a full feature in the next tablehopper about this latest iteration of Val’s menu and concept and more, but wanted to give you a heads up about reservations now so you can snag them! Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm. 355 11th St. at Harrison.

Congrats to chef-owner Brandon Rice of ~ERNEST~, who has been running his new restaurant concept as a pop-up during the pandemic, and has now opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant in the former Coffee Bar space in the Mission.

He was previously chef de cuisine of Rich Table, and his market-driven menu continues with a freestyle global style, reflecting his love of Asian ingredients and his Southern upbringing, including beef tartare with sushi rice, ikura, and toasted nori; lo mein sea urchin “carbonara” with Olivier’s bacon; and BBQ short rib, salt and pepper onion rings, and serranos. There are also a couple large-format dishes to share, like Liberty Farms duck with ginger-scallion sauce and confit salad. Save a little room for the Basque cheesecake, he’s the one who really started the trend locally. The entire menu looks so appetizing, and there are cocktails to enjoy as well.

Limited indoor seating is available in the two-level space (by architect Charles Hemminger), plus outdoor seating on the sidewalk and patio; takeout has been suspended for now. Open for dinner Wed-Sun. 1890 Bryant St. at Mariposa.

Back in December, I wrote about ~RED WINDOW~, the modern Spanish aperitivo/tapas spot opening in North Beach in the former Caffe Delucchi. It’s from Adam Rosenblum (Causwells) and Elmer Mejicanos (Tony’s, Capo’s), and opening this Friday March 26th! 500 Columbus Ave. at Stockton.

Newly open on Polk Street is ~HOI AN~, a new Vietnamese restaurant from the family behind the former Green Papaya at the Fifth and Mission Garage, which closed after 10 years of business last year (perhaps you read the infuriating story about how the landlord, the City (!), expected owner Thai Van to start paying rent in July, when the majority of his business was contingent upon convention-goers at nearby (and extremely closed) Moscone Center. [head shaking]

At least there is a silver lining to all this: the family has opened this new location in the former Ella’s American Kitchen/Rangoon Ruby Burmese Cuisine on Polk in Nob Hill—it has a spacious and updated interior, with lots of rustic wood, contemporary chairs, and a bar where you can dine solo (take a peek at all the pics on their site). The menu includes pho and bun bo Hue to warm you up, with a variety of entrées, ranging from lemongrass beef (or chicken) to yellow curry to caramelized clay pot fish (they also offer vegetarian and vegan versions of some of their dishes). Hoi An (which is named after a city on Vietnam’s central coast) just opened for outdoor dining, limited indoor seating, and takeout. Open Mon-Thu 11am-8pm and Fri-Sun 11am-9pm. 1608 Polk St. at Sacramento.

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The classic Elite Cafe sign. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux Photography (via Facebook).

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Luna Park on Valencia. Yelp photo by Andrew K.

Due to open at the end of March is ~THE TAILOR’S SON~, the latest restaurant from Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurant group, which is opening in the former Elite Cafe. Hoodline mentions Paganini (the son of a tailor) will be paying a salute to his Lombardian roots with risotto on the menu, along with antipasti, housemade pasta, and fish dishes that will have lighter presentations, overseen by A Mano chef Freedom Rains. There will also be Italian cocktails, wine, and beer. There have been some big interior changes, including the removal of the original booths, and a skylight has been revealed; look for a Shared Space to be coming soon out front. The Chronicle mentions it’s opening Wednesday March 31st. Hours will be Sun and Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 2049 Fillmore St. at California.

The former and long-vacant Luna Park space on Valenica is becoming ~LUNA AMERICAN BRASSIE~ (the name is a nod to its history) from partners of Wayfare Tavern (including Tony Marcell). The menu will continue with some comfort classics (burgers, mac and cheese) but the Mission Local piece also mentions “buttermilk-fried burrata and a forest mushroom bolognese with pappardelle pasta.” Look for a June opening. 694 Valencia St. at 18th St.

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The new Matty’s Old-Fashioned burger from Matt Horn of Horn Barbecue. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Bring on the caramelized onions. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Chef-owner Matt Horn of Horn Barbecue can’t stop, won’t stop. Just this past Saturday, he held his first pop-up for ~MATTY’S OLD-FASHIONED~, his new burger concept that is percolating—no news on the when and where just yet (although this SFGATE piece mentions Fresno is a possible location). It will be a pop-up at Horn Barbecue for now, selling limited tickets in advance on Tock (this last Saturday released 100 spots). Be sure to follow @mattyburgers for updates on the next date.

I have been mad craving a burger for a couple weeks, and this one definitely hit the spot. It was a double, with two rich, textured, savory patties (there’s brisket in the proprietary blend of dry-aged beef from Cream Co. Meats, of course) that are cooked through, topped with a hefty pile of deeply caramelized onions, cheese (there were a couple variations, they’re still fiddling with it), and a tangy secret sauce that has some smoked honey and roasted garlic in it, with a little pickle relish in the mix. It’s all nestled in a griddled potato bun that holds up well—it’s a saucy, drippy, cheesy burger, so you’ll need a handful of napkins at the ready. It’s the kind of burger you need to eat immediately because of the way everything melds together—you want to eat it while it’s all juicy-melty. Fortunately, the back patio is right there waiting for you.

I asked Matt if this was a spin on an Oklahoma burger, known for its onions, but he said it was inspired by the burger his Dad would make for him when he was a kid. It was fun to see everyone hanging out on the back patio at the picnic tables, with the music going, and the beer flowing (they just got their beer and wine license)—it’s always a friends-and-family affair at Horn. 2534 Mandela Parkway at 26th St., Oakland.

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The Bird is now open in Hayes Valley. Photo courtesy of Back of the House.

There’s a second location of ~THE BIRD~ now open in Hayes Valley (in the former Dobbs Ferry space), its second SF location. On the menu: their free-range, fried chicken sandwiches, biscuits, and wings, along with salads, curly fries, and apple fritters. You can also drink canned beer, cider, seltzer, and wine, along with a list of highball cocktails and draft beer, both new additions specific to this location. There are a few outdoor tables and indoor seats; a larger outdoor Shared Space is coming soon. Also in the works: a sports bar and lounge coming to the other connected side of the space. Open daily 10:30am-8:30pm. 406 Hayes St. at Gough.

Bay Area coffee roaster, ~RED BAY COFFEE~, is opening a flagship café in the Ferry Building Marketplace this April, just next to Book Passage. “Founded in 2014 by artist and food entrepreneur, Keba Konte, Red Bay Coffee is at the forefront of the ‘fourth wave’ of coffee, with a commitment to ensuring production is not only high quality and sustainable, but a vehicle for diversity, inclusion, social and economic restoration, entrepreneurship, and environmental sustainability.” Beautiful coffee to the people! They’ll offer fresh-roasted coffee beans, specialty drinks (like a Vietnamese Cold Brew), and fresh pastries.

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The Brown Derby, on the new cocktail list at Causwells. Photo: Causwells.

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Just so you know, ~CAUSWELLS~ in the Marina now has a full liquor license, and lead bartender Ronnie Lopez—along with friend and consultant Elmer Mejicanos—created a new cocktail menu with nine cocktails, offering a little something for everyone, priced $11-$13. 2346 Chestnut St. at Scott.

This year, Root Division’s spring fundraising event, TASTE 2021: SIP+SENSE will be on Thursday April 22nd! This year, it will be a hybrid virtual event, with virtual studio visits, a menu of interactive activities and performances, a sensory experience of food and drink, a silent auction full of art, products, and gift certificates from over 80 local artists and businesses, and more! All proceeds benefit local artists, free art classes for Bay Area youth, and the continued success of Root Division’s unique model for keeping artists working in the heart of San Francisco. Tickets are available at many different levels.

Mission Local has an update that Dandelion Chocolate’s employees are trying to unionize in response to working conditions, wage issues, and more.

Just to give you a heads up, there are reports of laptop robberies happening along Polk Street in Russian Hill. According to posts on Nextdoor, laptops have reportedly been snatched recently from folks sitting outside Split, Saint Frank Coffee, and Nook, in broad daylight. Stay vigilant, folks, and keep the laptop at home.

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Nasi campur Bali from Kirimachi’s new Warung Indo menu. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Try the gudeg from Kirimachi and you’ll get a variety of savory stewed dishes over rice. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The obe ata dindin (fried pepper Yoruba stew) with grilled chicken and rice from Eko Kitchen. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Are you in a takeout rut? Time for you to expand your repertoire with some takeout from a couple chefs who are cooking flavors and dishes from home. Those of you who follow me on Instagram have probably seen my pics of the ramen kits from ~KIRIMACHI~ over the past year. It ends up chef-owner Leo Gondoputro, who is from Jakarta, has been adding some Indonesian dishes to his menu every week (scroll down until you see Warung Indo)—you need to place your order by Thursday (6:30pm) and then you can pick it up or have it delivered starting Friday afternoon (3pm).

Leo makes a flavor-packed, complex, and spicy beef rendang, a slow-cooked beef stew served with rice, which will warm you right up. You can try gudeg, which comes with a variety of homey, stewy dishes from Yogyakarta that you eat over rice: jackfruit and egg in coconut cream; beef, tofu, and nuts in chile sauce (sambal goreng); and chicken in creamy coconut sauce. So satisfying—love the richness of the coconut! His oxtail soup (sop buntut) is also rustic and comforting, with quality oxtail that he sources and gently falls off the bone, tender pieces of carrot and potato in broth, all so good with a spoonful of rice and fried shallots.

And then there’s the nasi campur Bali, my favorite of the bunch, featuring little pieces of pork belly cooked in Balinese seasoning, with egg balado (a boiled egg) in chile sauce, lawar vegetables (including green beans and sprouts), a couple small pieces of Indo fried chicken, sambal matah (an incredible shallot and chile accompaniment), and chile sauce, with chicharrones on top! It’s quite the savory and textured spread. Most of these dishes are just enough for two people, or great for dinner and then lunch the next day—they’re hearty portions. Everything mentioned here was $18 (except the oxtail soup is $25). Spend $50 or more and delivery is free to SF, SSF, and Daly City. 3 Embarcadero Center (at Clay and Davis Streets).

One of the best deals in town can be found at ~EKO KITCHEN~, the Nigerian pop-up from Simileoluwa Adebajo, whose commercial kitchen space was destroyed in a fire last year, and she has been popping up on Sundays at Merkado in SoMa. She just expanded her service to Fri-Sun 4pm-8pm, and you can do takeout or delivery; preorders are recommended. Don’t miss the obe ata dindin (fried pepper Yoruba stew), so delicious with juicy grilled chicken (you can choose your protein). It’s a huge portion (chef Simi says, “I want it to be like your grandma stuffed you!”) for $10 with rice; I totally had another serving for lunch the next day. The spicy, rich sauce is so deep and complex, and I learned the Cameroon smoked black pepper is what gives it its special bass note (the peppers and onions are also roasted for three-four hours).

Her jollof rice and peppered chicken is another popular dish. For the advanced class, try her grandma’s asun ($20): smoked goat meat in another deeeeeply flavorful sauce with red pepper and onion (so good with the plantains and sweet potatoes). The skin and bones could be a bit, er, challenging if you’re a little squeamish, but the rich flavors were a win for this goat-lover. (Live in LA? Eko Kitchen is going to be launching a monthly pop-up offering takeout and delivery in early April!) 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St.

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The Ferry Building. Photo courtesy of Ferry Building Marketplace.

~THE COWGIRL CREAMERY CHEESE SHOP~ and ~SIDEKICK CAFE~, one of the original tenants in the Ferry Building Marketplace, has announced it’s closing: Sidekick will close on March 27th, and the cheese shop on April 10th. Unfortunately, the pandemic obviously created a sharp decline in foot traffic, and forced them to make the difficult decision to close. You can still pick up their cheeses at Epicurean Trader in the Marketplace, and many cheese retailers around the city. Cowgirl Creamery’s Point Reyes Station location remains open.

Over in Old Oakland, chef-owner Dominica Rice-Cisneros is closing ~COSECHA CAFE~ after 10 years of serving her incredible dishes at Swan’s Market. Nosh reports her lease was ending, and with the greatly diminished foot traffic, it’s best for her to close and focus on her upcoming project in the Dimond, Bombera, which will open its garden patio by April 27th at 3455 Champion St. (Thank goodness, because I can’t imagine not having her pozole anymore!). Cosecha will be open this week Thu-Sat for a final farewell/hasta luego (there will be duck carnitas!). 907 Washington St. at 9th St., Oakland.