This week's tablehopper: flyin' high.
Künefe for dessert at Troya. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Yup, yours truly should have landed by now in Istanbul (please no flight delays, please no flight delays, please no flight delays!). But I wanted you to have a little something-something before my column goes dark for the next three weeks. tablehopper will be back in your inbox on Tuesday September 27th. I know, that’s a long time! If you want to keep up with my Turkish shenanigans, follow me on Twitter for pics and occasional tweets from me all hopped up on Turkish coffee.
However, I will be completely off the grid as far as email and voicemail are concerned—I need a break. So if you can please refrain from emailing me until after I return on September 21st, I’d really really appreciate it. I HATE coming home to an inbox with 2,000 unread messages. Glug. (Publicists and restaurant folks, pretty please don’t send me any event press releases or invites for anything happening before September 27th—I won’t be able to mention anything until after that date, schwanks.)
There are a number of soon-to-open projects I’ll need to report on once I’m home, like the upcoming Biergarten (the latest Proxy project), and the second location of Lers Ros in Hayes Valley, and let’s not forget Wo Hing General Store in the original Slanted Door space on Valencia. Looking forward to them all.
Oh, hey, can you do me a quick favor? Schwanks! tablehopper has been nominated for CBS San Francisco’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011 (I know, tablehopper isn’t really a blog, but what’s a girl to do?). If you could do a quick click here to vote, that would be fab!
It ends up tablehopper has also been nominated in two categories for the SF Weekly Web Awards: Best Food Blogger and Best Local Source for Food P*rn. The poll will stay open until August 30th (not sure if that means it’s done today or not, so I guess we’ll find out soon enough!). But thanks for clickin’!
All-righty then, I’m off. See ya in late September!
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Park Tavern Opens on Washington Square
I had a chance to swing by the gleaming new PARK TAVERN on Washington Square Park before skipping town, and folks, it looks fantastic. Partners Anna Weinberg and chef Jennifer Puccio of Marlowe are bringing a Cali-French bistro vibe to North Beach, with a touch of swank brasserie and Bay Area rusticity. The former Moose’s (and Joey & Eddie’s) space now has chunky overhead wood beams (reclaimed from an Oregon barn, natch), penny tile floors, leather banquettes in brown-olive (black in the café), wood tables (I dig the round tables, always a nice feature for groups), subway tile on the walls and some fabulous wallpaper at the entrance, and tones of Prussian blue throughout. It looks crisp, a touch masculine, and very smart (the team worked with designer Kendra Nicholas). Some crafty touches include the huge chandelier-wheel in the dining room (it was actually used to cast wheels), the host stand that is a vintage icebox, and the open kitchen is a looker. Those who remember Moose’s fondly will find some thoughtful touches, like Mary Etta Moose’s table.
The dining room seats 65, with room for 40 in the bar area, while the more casual café area that flanks the sidewalk has room for 37. (Later on there will also be a private room, the Eden Room, on the mezzanine.) The marble bar has cushy stools with high wood backs, and a communal style bar table with seating on both sides. Meanwhile, the no-reservations café area in the front has warm terracotta tile floors, and lots of light: the doors even slide open to the outdoor sidewalk seating, which will be fabulous on sunny afternoons. Another bonus: valet parking for lunch and dinner (making it even more perfect for business lunches).
As for Puccio’s menu (note it’s subject to change!), it follows the Marlowe sensibility, but is definitely expanded. Smaller bites include a Raw section with yellowtail jack “Niçoise” ($9) and market vegetables with Green Goddess dip ($7), while the Fried section has Marlowe’s famed Brussels sprout chips ($6) and a chicken-fried green tomato with rémoulade ($7). The Smoked section has about five items, like fish dip, crackers, and PT hot sauce ($10). Moving into the appetizers, there are a variety of about five delicious-sounding salads, including one of wild arugula, mushroom conserva, porcini, and charred onion vinaigrette ($10). The entrées range from $13 (the Marlowe burger is on there, don’t you worry) to $28 for a New York steak with Mangalitsa butter, French fries, and red wine jus. There is also a mussels dish ($18) with fennel sausage and leeks, and lamb chops and merguez sausage ($26). A variety of sides from the wood oven will round things out, from potatoes to polenta.
Wine director Casey Doolin (nabbed from Blue Ribbon in New York) has put together a list with extensive by-the-glass choices, spanning Slovenia to the Sierra Foothills. Cocktails include many classics, plus some newer ones under “Parks and Recreational Drinking,” like the Washington Square, with Hangar One vodka, Aperol, clementine, and grapefruit. The whole shebang opens on Thursday September 1st, dinner 5:30pm-11pm to start (Tue-Sat). Congrats, ladies.
Park Tavern - 1652 Stockton St. San Francisco - 415-989-7300
Chubby Noodle (from Don Pisto's) Opening September 9th
I had a chance to do a preview tasting of dishes from the upcoming CHUBBY NOODLE by owner Pete Mrabe of Don Pisto’s fame—and let’s just say, “Lucky me!” To recap, Chubby Noodle is going to be pop-up dinner service inside the bar Amante Tue-Sat from 6pm-10pm, available to stay or take out.
The menu will be divided up in three sections: Hot, Cold, and Fried Chicken. You’ll be able to get oysters on the half shell (they’re always such beauties at Don Pisto’s, so I expect the same here), silky yellowfin tuna tartare with macadamia and sweet onion that you scoop up with puffy, fried garlic chips, and there will be two kinds of ramen: pork and mushroom ramen for $9, with slow-roasted pork, fresh shiitakes, poached egg, and scallions, and a seafood ramen for $11—we tried one with wild gulf prawns, garlic, charred scallions, and butter corn. The ramen was delicious—it had springy noodles, Pete makes a rich stock, and is using quality ingredients (like Snake River pork and sustainable seafood).
And just wait until you try the fried chicken, mother of G-O-D. It’s crazy-juicy (he uses Mary’s chicken), with a crisp and flavorful exterior that just shatters. My dining partner and I both kind of freaked out over the chicken—it’s really out of hand. You’ll be able to get 10 pieces for $24 (with 3 sides) and a 20-piece bucket for $44 with 5 sides—it’s all wings, drums, and thighs, plus two side sauces (chile sauce and soy dipping sauce). Sides will include items like kimchee coleslaw, steamed white rice, and wait until you try the charred (and peppery) corn polenta. There will also be a couple sandwiches (one will be with the fried chicken, oh you betcha), and possibly some dumplings as well. The launch is looking like September 9th—follow Chubby Noodle on Twitter for updates about when you’ll be able to attack a bucket o’ that chicken. 570 Green St. at Stockton.
Details on The Pastry Cupboard, Opening This Friday
By Daniel Azarkman
A few months ago, Grub Street caught word that a bakery was in store for the shuttered Bistro Clovis space near Zuni Café. After further investigation, we learned that pastry chef Chona Piumarta was behind the project. While we were waiting for a call back from her, Eater operatives swung by to check things out and did some online sleuthing (read the article here), but we were lucky to have Chona saving some details just for tablehopper.
Officially opening this Friday September 2nd, the space will be the first retail store for THE PASTRY CUPBOARD, whose products are already on shelves at Rainbow Grocery and Marina Supermarket, among others. The new kitchen will let Chona offer quite a bit more variety, as well as tap back into the kinds of complex plated desserts she did at The Slanted Door and LarkCreekSteak (desserts which the tablehopper was a big fan of). There may even be some dessert wines later on if the post-opera crowds show enough interest.
To start, though, The Pastry Cupboard’s hours will be 7am-6pm, so for now you’ll have to make do with boxed sweets like the blueberry buttermilk mini pie or the cocoa nib, a dark chocolate-pistachio-shortbread bar that Chona created for her husband. For breakfast and lunch, quick savory options will include daily focaccia specials, salads, and a line of housemade spreads. 1596 Market St. at Franklin, 415-864-2755.
The (Very) Unfortunate Closure of Tell Tale Preserve Company
Fans of pastry chef William Werner’s Rebel Within and other creative treats through his TELL TALE PRESERVE COMPANY will be sorry to learn he is ending the business. The reason behind the sudden end? In an email I received, Werner states, “Over the past year my team and I have tried to come to terms with our partner/investor Whisk Group in our search and execution of a storefront. The partnership has proved quite challenging, and despite making every effort possible to keep the business alive, we found our growth stunted. Our fair offer to buy Whisk out with new investors was ultimately declined, and we have been left with no choice but to end our engagement.” (In the funny timing department, SFoodie ran this article about the whereabouts of Whisk Group just last week.)
For parties interested in investment, consulting, or to contact Werner, you can reach him through his new site, Outfit Generic. For now, he’s going to enjoy some time off, and we’ll have to see what’s next. Best to you, William and team. Hurry back.
Tell Tale Preserve Company - 33 Maiden Ln. San Francisco
High-Tech Grilled Cheese
By Daniel Azarkman.
Starting today, you can take even shorter lunch breaks if you’re downtown and in the mood for grilled cheese and soup. THE MELT is opening the first of an anticipated 500 (yeah, you read that correctly) fast-casual locations that let you order through a mobile app and skip the line when you pick up your food. From Jonathan Kaplan, the entrepreneur behind the Flip video camera, the new chain is offering five cheese-and-bread permutations and five soups, with the menu changing once per season. Kaplan brings in his technology background with a uniquely designed sandwich press that gets your “melt” done in under a minute, allegedly with an ideal balance of toasted outside and gooey inside. Beyond the first store on New Montgomery, three more Bay Area locations are planned to open before the end of the year (1 Embarcadero Center, 345 Spear Street Suite 125, and Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto); their next market has yet to be announced. Hours are Mon-Fri 10:30am-9pm, and Sat 11am-6pm. 115 New Montgomery St. at Minna, 415-691-6536.
Ragazza Opening Its Outdoor Patio in Mid-September
Woot woot, looks like chef-owner Sharon Ardiana will be able to open the back patio at RAGAZZA by mid-September or thereabouts (they are aiming for their one-year anniversary the 22nd). Yup, garden dining, and just in time for Indian summer! There will be 10 seats to start, and the hours are the same as the restaurant (open at 5pm) although they have to be done with outside service by 10pm (10:30pm Fri-Sat). Gotta be good neighbors and all. Follow Ragazza on Twitter for the actual launch date.
Ragazza - 311 Divisadero St. San Francisco - 415-255-1133
Update on The Surf Spot, Opening in Pacifica
Back in spring 2009, Inside Scoop broke the news about a new project in Pacifica, THE SURF SPOT, that was going to open in a new building (adjacent to the nursery) in the Sea Bowl parking lot. After following up here and there over the past couple years with partner (and surfer) Derek Burns, I was happy to learn the construction is finally underway. (You can read allllll about the process of opening a restaurant on the coast in this article by Burns in the Pacifica Patch.)
The restaurant is going to be a cool one, featuring a menu divided up in three sections. First is “Surf Spots,” featuring ethnic cuisine from surf spots around the world, like meat pies from Australia, some Hawaiian dishes from an underground oven, and did you know France has waves? Oui. The “Locals” section will feature local ingredients cooked by live fire, from meats on the rotisserie and grill to individual pizzas from the wood-burning oven (plus sandwiches). The “Market” section will be seasonally driven, with more polished dishes, like seafood from local fishermen and produce from farmers in the area.
Since it’s right by the beach, there will be fire pits, live music (on an outdoor stage), volleyball courts, and it’ll be okay for people to show up with sandy feet. Burns said the vibe will be surf-themed and beachy (and groovy and casual), but not kitschy. There will also be palm and banana trees outside adding to a tropical atmosphere.
The 80-seat interior will feature lots of wood, earthy elements, a coastal vibe, with local art and photographs. Since it’s just a 20-minute drive from the city, it will also be a quick jaunt for San Franciscans who want to get out of the city and be outside (and a cool venue for a party!). There will be a wraparound deck that is shielded, covered, and heated, and parties will be able to book an outdoor space with room for 10-12 (and their very own fire pit). Inside there will be a bar with room for 12 made from old growth redwood, plus there will be a couple private rooms. There will be full liquor, but not a late-night bar scene—it’s more about the fire pits. A peek at the preliminary cocktail list included an Aviation, Moscow Mule, Sazerac, and other classics, plus some punches, like a Planter’s Punch and Fish House Punch.
Partners in the project are David Szeto and Tait Cowan. They are hoping to open by the end of the year, follow The Surf Spot on Twitter and Facebook for updates. 4627 Hwy. 1, between Fassler and Crespi, Pacifica.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): The 16th Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
Experience a weekend of chocolate indulgence at Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival’s “Sweet Sixteen” celebration benefiting Project Open Hand.
Ghirardelli Square is pleased to host the 16th Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival on Saturday September 10th-Sunday September 11th, 2011. The historic Bay Area landmark destination invites guests for a weekend showcasing chocolate from local and regional chocolatiers. To celebrate its “Sweet Sixteen,” the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival will offer exciting events including chef demonstrations at the Cadillac Culinary Center, live entertainment, and activities for the entire family, including daily ice cream sundae eating contests, a Cadillac “Ride & Drive,” and of course, chocolate samplings from more than 40 local and regional purveyors.
Proceeds from ticket sales to the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival will benefit Project Open Hand, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization. Project Open Hand was established more than 25 years ago, and provides meals for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as senior citizens and homebound critically ill persons.
Tickets must be purchased to taste chocolate: $20 gets you 15 samples. But, tablehopper readers get a $3 discount using code CF11Tablehopper (that’s 15% off!)—click here to purchase.
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Get Your Ticket for WhiskyFest San Francisco (Friday October 7th)
The brown is back for the fifth annual WHISKYFEST SAN FRANCISCO on Friday October 7th. Join Malt Advocate magazine in the Grand Ballroom of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis for the country’s largest whisky celebration, featuring 250 of the finest, rarest, and most expensive single malt and blended whiskies from around the world. In addition, feed your brain at any of 11 educational seminars (with tastings), and your stomach at the buffet.
Those 250 whiskies include Scotch, Irish, Bourbon, American, Japanese, Canadian, and others, all available to sample, plus high-end Cognac, rum, beer, and more. Pouring booths will emphasize education with distillery reps and distinguished members of the whisky community explaining how the whiskies are made.
Regular admission is $135 (sorry, VIP tix are sold out), and includes the gourmet buffet with coffee, tea, water, and soda; a commemorative Glencairn crystal nosing glass; entrance to all seminars on a first-come, first-served basis; and all the Grand Ballroom samples. 6:30pm-9:30pm. 55 4th St. at Mission, San Francisco.
Friday Oct 7, 2011 6:30pm–9:30pm $135 more info
Suds on the High Seas: The Brews on the Bay Beer Festival
You can never have too much of a good thing, right? Like beer. That’s why you should make plans to attend the San Francisco Brewers Guild’s eighth annual BREWS ON THE BAY festival on Saturday September 10th, noon-5pm, on the deck of the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien at Pier 45. Celebrate the creativity and talent behind San Francisco’s craft breweries, and taste from over 50 great beers while discussing each beer’s merits with the brewmasters and cicerones on hand.
With unlimited eight-ounce pours, choose wisely from amongst the 50+ beers, all of which can call SF their hometown. They’ll range from traditional, classic beer styles to cask-conditioned, barrel-aged, sour, and imperial craft styles, and will include some special and limited releases from the eight participating breweries—21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing Co., Beach Chalet, Gordon Biersch, Magnolia, Social Kitchen & Brewery, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, and ThirstyBear Brewing Co.
The S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien is a historical landmark from the World War II-era Merchant Marine, and the event is a fundraiser for the National Liberty Ship Memorial. Admission includes access to the ship, its crew, and its gorg views of the bay, plus live music. Several Off the Grid food trucks will be onsite to sell innovative, sustainable food. Tickets are $45, and are available only by advance online sales.
Saturday Sep 10, 2011 noon–5pm $45, advance online sales only more info
Beerunch: Round Two on September 18th!
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and that’s just what the folks at MateVeza and PUBLIC HOUSE are doing with Beerunch, the beer ‘n’ brunch event they held in February that was such a success that they’re doing it again on Sunday September 18th. You can’t really go wrong with “morning-friendly” beers paired with brunchy fare now, can you?
Featured beers may include MateVeza and Mill Valley Beerworks’ Morpho, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada’s Life & Limb, Iron Springs’ Fairfax Coffee Porter, The Bruery’s Autumn Maple, Stillwater Artisanal Ales’ Stateside Saison, Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA, and MateVeza’s Black Lager. Each beer will be paired with a brunch item from Public House. The menu from the last Beerunch should give an idea of what to expect; it included pairings like MateVeza Organic Yerba Mate IPA with carnitas taco with tomatillo salsa, Moonlight Brewing Co.’s Toast (Slightly Burnt) with savory mushroom and gruyère cheese strata, and Deschutes Brewery’s The Abyss with croissant and bourbon bread pudding.
Presale tickets are $39 at Beerunch.com. 11:30am-2:30pm.
Sunday Sep 18, 2011 11:30am–2:30pm $39 presale more info
Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Coming to Press Club on September 8th
Be sure to put this wine event on your radar: legendary winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard is coming to the Visiting Vintners program at PRESS CLUB on Thursday September 8th. Grahm will be leading tastings of Bonny Doon wines, including the limited production Sparkling Riesling as part of the Bonny Doon flight section. Other Bonny Doon wines include the Vin Gris de Cigare, 2010; “Le Pousseur” Syrah, 2008; Ca’del Solo Nebbiolo, 2007; and Riesling To Live, Méthode Traditionelle Sparkling, 2006.
On Thursday evenings from 6pm-9pm, the Visiting Vintners program offers tastings of winery-exclusive flights with luminary winemakers and winery reps. The wines served during these evenings are normally only available to taste and buy at the winery locations, or to wine club members. What’s more, guests can enjoy special flights on the food and wine menu all month, and deals on rare by-the-glass offerings from the featured wineries. 20 Yerba Buena Ln., between Market and Mission, 415-744-5000.
Thursday Sep 8, 2011 6pm–9pm more info
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): Get Your Tickets for CUESA's Ninth Annual Sunday Supper
CUESA’s ninth annual Sunday Supper fundraiser convenes farmers’ market lovers, chefs, farmers, and food artisans for a four-course whole-beast feast to benefit their work in educating eaters and supporting farmers.
Join Bay Area food luminaries Michael Pollan and Alice Waters for a reception in the Ferry Building Grand Hall. After appetites are whetted, guests will enjoy a four-course meal. The entrée course will feature a whole beast carved tableside. Wine and beer are paired with each menu by a guest sommelier. (Vegetarian meals are available upon request.)
Visit the event site for a complete list of participating chefs, wineries, breweries, spirit companies, and more.
TICKETS: $200 ($150 is tax deductible!)
Sunday October 2nd • 6pm-9:30pm • San Francisco’s Ferry Building Grand Hall
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Taste of South Beach Mission Bay Street Fair Returns September 24th
Saturday Sep 24, 2011 noon–6pm $10 donation Info The Embarcadero between The Java House/Pier 40 and AT&T Park, San Francisco
Eat, drink, and stroll along the San Francisco waterfront at the fourth annual TASTE OF SOUTH BEACH MISSION BAY STREET FAIR on Saturday September 24th from noon-6pm ‘cause this year, the event is being held along the Embarcadero between The Java House/Pier 40 and AT&T Park and highlights restaurants and bars from the neighborhood.
Local spots that will offer their signature dishes and drinks at moderate prices at the fair include 21st Amendment, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, Brickhouse Cafe, Burger Joint, Fringale, Hennessy’s Wines & Specialty Foods, Hotel Utah, MoMo’s, Nova, O’Neill’s Irish Pub, Panera Bread, Paragon, Pedro’s Cantina, Pete’s Tavern, and Tres.
Join the 5,000 attendees expected this year and enjoy an entertainment stage with live music, meet businesses and organizations from the local neighborhood, and keep the kiddos busy in the children’s play area. A $10 donation will be requested at the door. The fair is a green event, and proceeds will benefit the South Beach/Mission Bay Business Association and Project Open Hand. Now all we need is some sun! Can anyone make that happen?
FallFest 2011 is October 9th
Sunday Oct 9, 2011 noon–4pm $85 with code TABLEHOPPER by Sept. 8th; $95 advance; $110 door Info/tickets Justin Herman Plaza Embarcadero Center, San Francisco
San Francisco magazine invites you to fête all the best in local food, wine, and spirits at FALLFEST 2011 on Sunday October 9th. As in previous years, the local restaurateurs, winemakers, food artisans, eco experts, and bartenders you’ve seen in the pages of San Francisco magazine will be turning Justin Herman Plaza into a fab European-style marketplace from noon-4pm.
FallFest features quite a few fun and interactive events. In the Eco-Cocktail competition, six Bay Area mixologists will use local ingredients to make seasonal cocktails for FallFest attendees, who’ll get to choose the best of the Fest by popular vote. Competitors include Jeff Hollinger (co-owner/bartender, Comstock Saloon), Allison Webber (bartender, Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen), and Aaron Smith (owner/bartender, 15 Romolo). Learn more about locally sourced cuisine in chef demos by Josh Skenes (executive chef, Saison) and Bill Corbett (executive pastry chef, Absinthe group). Attendees also get access to wine seminars hosted by Jordan Mackay (San Francisco wine and spirits writer) and co-moderated by David Lynch (wine director, Quince) with participants Duggan McDonell (bartender/founder, Encanto Pisco), Gil Payne (co-owner, Nombe), Andy Peavy (Peavy Vineyards), and Alex Fox (sommelier, Bar Tartine).
Some of the restaurants showcasing the benefits of eating local include A16, Absinthe, Bardessono, Boxing Room, Café des Amis, COCO500, Compadres Rio Grille, Comstock Saloon, The Lakehouse at Calistoga Ranch, Mayfield Bakery and Cafe, The Moss Room, Nombe Izakaya, Pizza Antica, The Plant Café Organic, Salt House, The Slanted Door, Spruce, Tacolicious, Trace at the W Hotel, and The Village Pub.
Pair the local cuisine with wine, ale, and spirits. Participating wineries include Buena Vista Winery, Cameron Hughes Winery, Cobb Wines, De Loach Vineyards, Don Sebastiani & Sons Winery, Flora Springs Winery, Frei Brothers Reserve, Ghost Pines Wine, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Hagafen Cellars, Handley Cellars, Harrington Wine, JAQK Cellars, Macrostie Winery and Vineyards, Meteor Vineyards, Olson Ogden Wines, Raymond Vineyards, Sonoma Valley Portworks, and William Hill Estate Winery. (You can buy wines direct from some wineries—go with the eco theme and bring your own re-usable wine totes.) Additional liquid purveyors include Distillery No. 209, VeeV, and SKYTea.
There will also be live music from Joey Altman and the Soul Peppers (wouldn’t be an SF food event without them), a raffle to win one of three great getaways (winners need not be present to win), and a silent auction for wine, food, and travel packages.
Regular price tickets are $95 ($110 at the door), but use code TABLEHOPPER and get $10 off! This 10% off promo code expires Thursday September 8th at 11:55pm, and tickets do sell out to this event, so act fast if you want to snag tix at the $85 price. Tickets are avail online and benefit Meals On Wheels of San Francisco, providing homebound seniors with nutritious meals, daily human contact, and supportive services.
Project Sneak Peeks (watch your step)
Tacolicious and Mosto
This section is written by Erin Archuleta, half of the talent behind local outfit ICHI Sushi and ICHI Catering. Outside of the food world, Erin works full-time championing kid literacy at 826 National. Keep up with her @erinarchuleta.
The upcoming TACOLICIOUS in the Mission at 741 Valencia (between 18th and 19th Streets next to old-school local appliance mainstay Cherin’s in one of the old New College Buildings) is actually two projects: the Tacolicious concept of a smorgasbord of tacos and Mexican food, and Mosto, a cozy tequila bar with affordable snacks. You may be familiar with (or already a fan of) Tacolicious from their Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market stand, or their Marina restaurant that opened in 2010.
Owner Joe Hargrave’s original dream for the next Tacolicious project was for a 2,000-sq.-ft. space, without the Mission even as a blip on the radar. What he found was a 4,500-sq.-ft. stunner on Valencia Street. When he and the guys—his crew, chef Antelmo (Telmo) Faria, and general manager Mike (Mikey) Barrow—walked through the space, they knew they had found their winner. First thoughts were to build out two spaces, one for Tacolicious with a keen patio space, and the other they’d sublease. Then, after a trip to Guadalajara with Mikey, the idea of a tequila bar came up.
The guys knew they had a killer layout: a gorgeous side entrance flanked with mid-century brick screens (think Palm Springs entryways and Vegas patio living), floor-to-ceiling windows, warm wood floors, an open kitchen layout to the back on the right-hand Tacolicious side, a drop-down ceiling on the Mosto side, an old-school (for those of you readers under 30) working phone booth bank, and an intimate back room.
Quite frankly, I’m pretty excited at the prospect of a place to show off to my tequila-drinking family the next time they’re in town. In the firm tradition of folks who celebrate à la shots of Cazadores at midnight on Christmas Eve in my grandma’s house, not one person in my family would shy away from trying a number of the 300+ tequilas the guys plan to serve. And, in a move that would shock even my Grandma Guadalupe (who’s seen it all), these guys plan to have some tequila on tap!
Poised just behind the bar, there will be an al pastor spit, the meat being shaved for daily al pastor taco specials. There will also be a raw fish special each day. And, Joe’s good buddy Saúl’s mom in El Salvador, Mrs. Reyes, is training Telmo and the gang in making traditional banana leaf tamales. That’s right, Joe sent Telmo all the way to El Salvador to get the recipe down perfectly. At Mosto, they’ll be featuring five small plates and five regular drinks you can count on to wind down (or up) after work with.
On the Tacolicious side, you’ll be able to peek through those dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows at an expansive Paul Madonna mural showcasing a vantage point from the top of Dolores Park. The seating will be made up of comfy banquettes and two- and four-top tables. And the floor will be covered in authentic, brightly colored Mexican cement tiles. The patio boasts outdoor seating under a retractable roof. Nights like the foggy one this author’s hard at work on, I’d truly appreciate a retractable roof over my backyard even for just taking the dog out.
Tacolicious may have even solved one of the greatest modern problems—the first date who thinks it’s okay to chat on his or her cell phone at dinner. The crew has built in a space for a 1950s and 1970s phone booth bank between the front space and the back dining room so that you can banish that bad first date or take that ever-important international business call in a designated phone area. (That’s right, insert E.T. jokes here.)
Just past the phone booths, you’ll find the back dining room. Even while it’s smaller and not connected to an outdoor space, it has four large skylights, giving you a more radiant glow. In the center of the room, there will be a big 7x7-ft. table covered with succulents.
Lighting throughout the space will mostly be open and natural, but in the bar, there will be a fun and funky home-spun art installation: thousands of Mason jars will be covering the ceiling, and everyone working on the project from the carpenters, to the drywallers, to the builders, will contribute something special to them—be it army men, marbles, or photographs. They got the idea from their bar garnish stations at the existing Marina location. And, at the heart of all this is a family project. Joe and his editor-wife, Sara Deseran, are designing the space themselves.
Their near and dear personal project is a blend of traditional Mexican cooking by Telmo and Joe’s modern Mexican cuisine. And, from this gal who’s worked in the Mission for close to 10 years now, I’m glad to have a neighbor with an al pastor spit at the ready and tequila my grandma’s never heard of.
the sugar mama
(Sponsored): SAVOR the Central Coast Kicks Off September 29th
Nestled midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast celebrates the beauty and bounty of this coastal region in an incredible four-day experience. The event showcases area winemakers, chefs, and artisanal food producers. Sunset magazine’s expert editors guide attendees through outdoor adventures, farm excursions, and exclusive winemaker dinners. Fun seminars include the “LA vs. SF: Food Town Smackdown—Cocktail Edition” with tablehopper.com’s Marcia Gagliardi, or check out amazing culinary showcases by celebrity chefs, such as Cat Cora.
Two lucky tablehopper readers will each win a pair of weekend passes (a $300 value) to the Main Event Saturday and Sunday October 1st-2nd at Santa Margarita Ranch: all you need to do is forward today’s tablehopper newsletter to one friend (but even more would be so very fabulous), then Cc: or Bcc: firstname.lastname@example.org so we know you sent it—we promise we won’t use anyone’s email address. The deadline to enter is Sunday September 4th at 11:59pm. Daisy will notify the winners Monday. Good luck!
Tickets for Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast 2011 are on sale at www.SavorCentralCoast.com and at Farm Supply outlets. Enter coupon code SAVORHOPPER from now until September 15th for 10% off on all ticket orders.
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Two Comedians Walked Into a Restaurant....
On Saturday night, both Robin Williams and Mort Sahl were spotted dining at El Paseo restaurant in Mill Valley.
Aisha Tyler (formerly the host of Talk Soup, and currently the voice of Lana Kane on FX’s Archer) came in to Chotto for dinner with some friends.
Partying Like an Art Star
On Wednesday night, two tablehopper readers spotted Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer, Inception) avec posse at Chambers Eat + Drink, and they reportedly closed the place down. One of the spotters figured out his hitRECord show was at the Regency Ballroom earlier that evening.
Joe, Can You Pass Me the Beignets?
A tablehopper reader let me know Joe Montana was spotted dining at Frances.