Behold: the soft-shell crab salad special at Fable. (You won’t want to share.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Nothing like having your Rio tan sucked away in mere days of being home, I swear. Thanks Karl the Fog! However, the peaches I have been scarfing on say summer to me, and that was certainly the vibe at CUESA’s Summer Celebration on Sunday evening (my tablehopper table was happily located in the stone fruit section). Thanks to everyone who came by to say hello and learn about our vintage tablehopper tees and hoodies—well, except for the kind but too caffeinated woman who managed to spill her coffee all over one of our shirts. (I know you’re being all eco, but people, please put a lid on your coffee if you’re out and in the mix.)
I had another swell taste of summer on Friday evening over at Fable in the Castro (more details here). They had a special of a soft-shell crab salad on the menu, with spinach, corn, tomato, sherry vinaigrette, and a feisty aioli on the side. Boom. If you are a fellow soft-shell crab maniac like me, call and see if they still have ‘em on the menu—these were sweet, juicy, and really well prepared (chef Jon Hearnsberger has a special secret to how he handles them). Oh, bee-tee-dub, Fable has started brunch on the weekends, you can peek at the menu here (and pray the soft-shell crab stays around long enough to be in your Benedict).
Lots of news catch-up for you this week, plus some new openings too, including a sneak peek of the new La Urbana opening in a month’s time on Divisadero.
As previously reported on tablehopper, things are gearing up for LA URBANA in the former Plant It Earth space. Everyone who walks or drives by the eye-catching mural by Zio Ziegler can’t help but get excited to see what will be contained within (I know I am). The project comes from local entrepreneur Eduardo Rallo and Mexican architect and restaurateur Juan Garduño, and will be a modern Mexican restaurant with an attached mezcaleria.
Chef Benjamin Klein, who previously worked in restaurants in Hawaii, will head the kitchen (his chef de cuisine is Julio Aguilera). The menu will offer modern takes on traditional regional Mexican dishes, like Manila clam menudo with cabbage tostadas and hominy, or a carnitas torta on freshly baked brioche. Northern California ingredients will figure prominently. Think contemporary cantina by way of Mexico, D.F.
The mezcal-centric bar is helmed by Lucas Ranzuglia. He’ll be shaking up an Urbana Margarita, of course, plus a mezcal-based take on the dry martini called an Acapulco-Manila. There will also be wine and beer, though no word yet on the focus of those lists, plus more than 30 different mezcals.
The space is designed by partner Garduño’s architecture firm, and will be a mix of old and new, the urban and the rustic. We got a hardhat tour of the space, which is currently gunning for an August 14th opening. The heart of the space is the spacious bar, which will be topped with aged zinc and room for 20. Behind the bar is a collection of colorful, rural furniture from Puebla, Oaxaca, and Toluca affixed to the wall like an art piece, and will be custom-lit, plus there’s an open kitchen.
Adjoining the bar is a lounge area with seating for about 10, and a patio area to the right of the main entrance, where guests will be able to stand around a tree surrounded by a high table. (You can look at a rendering here.)
The day we toured the space, they were putting down the gorgeous tile in the patio area, which is from a fourth-generation tile-maker in Mérida. La Urbana is featuring tiles from many different decades—just wait until you see the massively tiled bathrooms! The beautifully curved glass doors for the main entrance were salvaged and shipped from Mexico as well.
The dining room (with room for 60) will feel more like a contemporary cantina, with a charcoal-tiled floor, but there will still be a few colorful tiles strategically placed throughout. The room will have plenty of light from the large windows (peek here). Eventually a portion of the space will become the Mezcaleria, with more than 30 mezcals for sale and an entrance onto Divisadero.
The design team worked with an extensive list of Mexico-based artisans and artists to handcraft all elements of the restaurant: the custom-made tables are very ingenious, inspired by Mexican domino-playing tables with room for your mezcal bottle (or beer) on the table leg. The midcentury-looking chairs also feature woven leather backs. You’ll notice handmade pottery on the tables, and colorful cups—there will be many bright touches throughout.
The exterior façade of the building will feature a 10-by-6-foot mural by Mexico-based artists Héctor Falcón and Fernando Llanos (and get this: it will be lit with LED!). Look for more pieces of contemporary art within as well.
Sometime in the early fall, the Mercado Urbano will open in the adjoining garage, which will offer casual street food during the day (whatever the employees are cooking), and a lounge area in the evenings for cocktails and bar bites. The stunning external mural that Zio Ziegler painted on the plywood will be reinstalled on the walls of the Mercado, and look some t-shirts to be for sale with his designs. Other items will include some limited Oaxacan Pujol pottery and other unique items sourced in Mexico. There are plans to have a parklet outside, and a partnership with a La Cocina vendor in the Mercado (TBA). One more biggie: there are plans to open a roof deck later on as well. Yowzers.
To start, the La Urbana space will be open for dinner daily from 5pm-1am, with additional daytime hours in the bar added in the fall. We’ll keep you posted on the opening, you can also follow along on Facebook and Twitter. 661 Divisadero St. at Grove.
A report by Dana Massey-Todd. Thanks to a tip from a reader, we caught word that there’s a new place for artisanal pizza coming to the Mission, called RUSTIC. The new spot is in the former location of Pizza de Mano and Popo’s Pizza, and comes from a team of partners helmed by Tom Elliott, who will also be serving as the restaurant’s pizza master. The space is divided into three areas: the front room, which has limited seating and a counter, will be for to-go orders and slices. Then, in the back, there’s a small dining room that opens out onto a large patio that seats 40 people. They’ll be installing two bocce ball courts back there in the coming days, plus umbrellas and heat lamps. The patio is also protected by the wind, which is a great bonus in this town. The patio backs up to a major construction project at 24th St. and Mission, but once the project is done they’ll be able to enlarge the patio further.
The menu is decidedly pizza-focused, and the pizzas are cooked napoletana-style in a 600 degree oven from a sourdough-based dough. There is a full list of specialties, plus the option to “build your own pie” from a list of ingredients. They’ve also got salads and appetizers that will change seasonally, and a weekend barbecue that’s available after 4pm Fri-Sun. Take a look at the full menu here (the top got a little cut off; their menu is bigger than our scanner). They’re waiting on a beer and wine license, but they’ve got their lists all worked out, with four red wines, four whites, one rosé, and one prosecco, all available by the glass or bottle. They’ve got eight domestic beers on tap, like Mirror Pond Pale Ale, plus 12 more by the bottle; take a look at the choices here. They’re hoping to open in the next couple of weeks, but it will depend on when the ABC license comes through. When they do open, hours will be 11am-11pm daily, with a to-go counter open Thu-Sat until 3am. 3331 24th St. at Mission, 415-800-8266.
The new project from the Boulettes Larder team has opened in the Ferry Building. The new project, which, as previously reported on tablehopper, moved into the former Culinaire space, is called BOULI BAR. They’ll be serving lunch from 11:00am-3pm Tue-Sat; look for items from the wood-burning hearth and other well-sourced seasonal specialties. From 12pm-2pm, you’ll also find a lunch counter with takeout, and a larder window will be open Mon-Fri from 11am-5pm and during the Saturday Farmers Market from 8am-2pm. We’re still waiting on details about the menu; when we’ve got more info we’ll let you know. Boulette’s Larder is still closed and is slated to reopen in August for breakfast, lunch, and private evening dinners.
Update: a fab reader sent in a scan of the menu; take a peek here.
1 Ferry Building Marketplace, 415-399-1155.
The neighbors in the Upper Haight and Cole Valley who happened to like the smell of bacon from BACON BACON will be happy to know the café got permission to reopen (news via NBC). Owner Jim Angelus will just need to update the ventilation system and a few other things. Look for a reopening very soon. In the meantime, Bacon Bacon will continue to be popping up at Brick & Mortar and using their kitchen as their commissary kitchen for the truck. And this hopefully concludes the Bacon Bacon saga reporting. 205A Frederick St. at Ashbury, 415-571-8516.
There is now an indiegogo fundraiser page in effect for The Tamale Lady (Virgina Ramos) to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Mission. Since she is no longer allowed to sell her tamales at some of her regular haunts, either she was going to need to find a certified kitchen to make her tamales, or have her own place. She just turned 60, and you can imagine she’s tired of the schlep from bar to bar late at night; having a restaurant is a way for her to have something to pass on to her kids. Kick down a little dough for the lady who saves you with her masa! Every dollar helps.
Coming to Bernal Heights is LITTLE BEE BAKING in the former Rock Candy Snack Shop from Stacie Pierce, previously a pastry chef at Chez Panisse (via Bernalwood). On the menu: “ice cream treats, fruit tarts, cookies, and cakes. Little Bee will also offer take home and bake cookie and tart doughs, special occasion cakes, cupcakes, candies and tarts.” You’ll be able to try items like a Santa Rosa plum tart, cookies like ginger snaps and rosemary-cornmeal, and ice cream sandwiches, plus Four Barrel Coffee. Look for an opening after Labor Day. 521 Cortland Ave. at Moultrie.
In Hayes Valley, the BLUE MUSE on Grove now has MUKA in its place, the wine and dessert bar that started in the Alliance Français on Bush. Hayeswire reports that owner Jean-Luc Kayigire will keep both locations open until his lease is up on Bush, and then will transition all his focus to the new location. Look for wines and sweet bites aimed at the ballet- and symphony-going crowd. 370 Grove at Gough, 415-346-7029.
More sweets in Hayes Valley: a former sewing machine shop is transforming into a candy store called PAPABUBBLE. Hayeswire reports that it’s a chain founded in Barcelona, with locations in Los Angeles and New York. They make artisanal handmade candies in fun shapes and colors; no word on an opening date quite yet. 488 Fell St. at Laguna, 415-533-0524.
According to Chowhound, FOUR SEASONS has opened on Larkin. No, not that Four Seasons—this is a Vietnamese place, with a renovated space, serving pho, noodles, and rolls. 721 Larkin St. at Ellis, 415-674-4146.
A reader writes in that there’s a new Hong Kong-style dessert shop and juice bar on Clement, called PINEAPPLE KINGDOM. They’ve got ice cream, egg puffs, and yogurt-fruit drinks. 2960 Clement St. at 31st Ave., 415-379-4090.
ABC activity reveals yet another ramen spot, called SLURP RAMEN. It’s located downtown; no word on details. 710 Commercial St. at Kearny, 415-399-1042.
Tipster Jason B. writes in with some tips: falafel joint AL-FANOOSE in the Lower Haight has papered windows and looks closed. The phone has been disconnected. 531 Haight St. at Fillmore.
Yucatecan restaurant KÚUUP has changed its name to CASTILLO YUCATECO. When we called, it sounded like the ownership has stayed the same, though it was a bit of an ESL situation/our Spanish isn’t stellar. 2052 Mission St. at 16th St., 415-621-5510.
Yelpers report that L’AVENIDA in the Inner Sunset has closed, and the kitchen crew has resurfaced inside TART TO TART. They’re serving Mon-Sat 11am-9pm and Sun 11am-8pm, but it’s a new thing, so call ahead to make sure they’re there. 641 Irving St. at 7th Ave., 415-504-7068.
Last week, Bay Area Bites dropped the news that chef Alex Ong has decided to leave BETELNUT after 12 years there. I had a chance to catch up with chef Ong while at CUESA’s Summer Celebration on Sunday, and he mentioned his decision to depart was not tied to the Betelnut-Hutong transformation that flopped earlier this year. It ends up he was planning to depart Betelnut even before the Hutong concept came to be, but stayed on to help the Real Restaurants team develop it and see it through.
Ong is the father of two, and tells me he is eager for the next step in his career path, which means being his own boss. He doesn’t have anything concrete lined up at the moment, but plans on doing some consulting and other projects until his next move takes shape. I know I am not alone in mourning the (hopefully only temporary) loss of his soulful cooking on our dining circuit. He’s a talented chef who rocks the flavor spectrum.
As previously reported in tablehopper, Betelnut has brought on chef de cuisine Mario Tolentino, who will now be taking over for Ong. (I look forward to trying his food soon!)
Betelnut - 2030 Union St. San Francisco - 415-929-8855
There’s some news brewing in Rockridge at the former Guest Chef location: PUCQUIO, which had a stint as a pop-up there, will now be there permanently. Carlos Moreira’s Peruvian street food will be available starting Tuesday July 16th (that’s today!) for dinner, and the plan is to add brunch soon. The tentative menu, which you can peek at here, includes ceviches, starters, and a few entrées like jalea and octopus. Seafood is definitely the focus, but that bistec looks pretty rockin’ too. They’ll be open Tue-Sun at 5pm to start (though tonight they’ll open the doors at 5:30pm); hours may change going forward. 5337 College Ave. at Bryant, 415-690-3052.
There’s a new fried chicken kid in town, and this time it’s made with masa and is gluten-free. East Bay Express reports that GREASE BOX opened their brick-and-mortar location on Monday July 15th, with chef Lizzy Boelter’s pastries in the morning, fried chicken for lunch, and barbecue dinners. The first barbecue dinner is Friday July 19th; check out their website for more details. 942 Stanford Ave. at Lowell, Oakland, no phone (yet).
Chowhound reports that AMADEUS, a new café and grill, is now open. The new spot will offer a daily changing menu of roasted vegetables, pizzas, and burgers, much of it cooked on a specially made grill that’s a hybrid of Argentine and American styles (according to Berkeleyside). There will also be desserts (think cupcakes), coffee, and housemade breads. Rock me, Amadeus! Open Tue-Sat 5pm-1pm, Sunday brunch coming soon. 2050 University Ave. at Shattuck, Berkeley, 510-900-5555.
Back in June, tablehopper broke the news that Donato Scotti of Donato Enoteca in Redwood City looked to be involved in a takeover of BORGO ITALIA in Oakland. A press release confirms he is going to be opening DESCO in its place in late July or early August; Scotti is partnering with wine director Eric Lecours (and in case you were wondering, desco means “dinner table” in Latin).
Scotti’s menu will include fresh pasta and pizza (gotta take advantage of the wood-fired oven there), plus classic cocktails, and Italian amari, aperitivi, and digestivi (and vini, natch). And just in time for summer, there is also outdoor seating and an afternoon happy hour with Italian bar snacks. It’s a gorgeous historic building (with tile flooring that is about a century old), and ultimately one that Scotti couldn’t resist moving into. Lunch and dinner will be served. 499 9th St. at Washington, Oakland.
Some ABC license activity pointed to the opening of CAFE VALPARAISO in a new location (1403 Solano Ave. in Albany), serving their variety of empanadas, and Chilean sandwiches and entrées. Meanwhile CAFÉ LA PEÑA has opened in Valparaiso’s previous location in the La Peña Cultural Center. 3105 Shattuck Ave. at Berkeley.
Another switcheroo: BRASA in Berkeley (the rotisserie chicken place from Veronica and Christopher Laramie) is closing at the end of the month, and BRAZIL CAFÉ will be moving in (via Scoop). 1960 University Ave. at Milvia, Berkeley.
A reader wrote in to tell me LOCAL CAFÉ next door to Adesso had closed, and moving in will be SLICER PIZZERIA, a venture from Colin Etezadi (Boot & Shoe, Pizzaiolo, Camino) that will serve affordable but quality pizza (via Scoop). 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley.
Vegetarian wine-and-tapas joint ENCUENTRO CAFE AND WINE BAR is moving into a larger location in Jack London Square and plans to open this November, according to Eater. Both locations will remain open—the original (200 2nd St.) will be more of a wine-and-beer bar working with a smaller menu. 550 2nd St. at Clay, Oakland.
And in the bummer news department, a tablehopper reader writes in to let me know RICO’S DINER, a neighborhood favorite, has closed and been sold. You can view the goodbye note in a picture on Yelp. As my reader said, “This place has always been a solid choice for lunch and will be missed.” 400 15th St. at Franklin.
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Now open in the heart of Union Square is the GOLDEN GATE TAP ROOM that is one part beer hall and one part game room on the second floor of the historic Press Club building (it dates back to 1913, and used to be a clubhouse for newspaper and literary types). The 8,000-square-foot space will have both the Tap Room (with more than 100 beers) and eventually the Golden Gate Grill (which is also being remodeled—when completed in about three months, it will bring the entire project to a whopping 16,000 square feet). The Lori’s Diner Group—headed by Mr. Man J. Kim—is behind the project (he also owns Sears Fine Food and Lori’s Diners, so you already know he has a thing for Americana). In addition to the 100 beers (50 on draft and 50 bottled, from the Bay Area and all over the world), there is a menu of pub fare as well. Look for upcoming monthly beer tastings too.
C Walters Design (Hi Tops, Fable) worked with the Lori’s Diner team to construct a “reimagining of a classic American tavern and game hall,” with an eclectic mix of 1950s beer ads, a 40-foot wall of West Coast punk art, and barstools that evoke the 1940s Press Club bar. As for the gaming portion, there are two regulation shuffleboard tables, three Skee-Ball games, two foosball tables, new and vintage arcade games, and pool tables. There are also more than 20 screens to watch live sporting events. It’s meant to be a casual, fun space—and built for private events as well. Open 12pm-12am daily. There are two entrances: 449 Powell St. at Sutter and 525 Sutter St. at Powell, 415-677-9999.
Now open in SoMa is DRIFTWOOD (as we mentioned earlier, the bar was opening in the former Kok Bar/My Place). To recap, the project is from surfer friends Shawn Magee (owner of Amnesia) and Chris Milstead (who has been behind the bar at Bistro Aix for the past 20 years). The laid-back but stylish space has a lot of nautical and handcrafted touches, from the custom benches with under-seat storage to hand-sewn barstools, plus a marine-grade bronze bar top and custom wall sconces (by Lawrence LaBianca). There is also a piano, record player, and fireplace for additional ambience and entertainment.
Nick Bray (83 Proof) designed the cocktail list (check it out here) and all the cocktails clock in at $9. And coming soon: Josey Baker (who is a good friend of Shawn’s) is helping to set up a toast bar! They are still working out the details and getting the right equipment, but it could be up and running very soon (maybe even this weekend). The owners have also been doing some pickling, which will be appearing in bar snacks and some drink concoctions. Open Mon-Fri 4pm-2am, Sat-Sun 2pm-2am. 1225 Folsom St. at 8th St., 415-255-9903.
Before I left for my trip to Rio, we followed up with club owner Peter Glikshtern on some ABC license activity we saw for the former Shine. He is partnering with Jordan Langer (Big) and Jeff Whitmore (Public Works) on ODD JOB, which is targeted to open in late July. (So does this mean the Odd Job loft at Public Works will be getting a new name?) Scoop picked up the additional news that Big’s bar manager Brian Felley is not involved with this project and there will be a new hire. Stand by for more in coming weeks. 1337 Mission St. at 9th St.
And coming late this July in the former Mist will be BERGERAC from Bruce McDonald (Foreign Cinema), Anderson Pugash (Crossroads Nightlife Group), and David Brinkley (Vessel). Bar director Russell Davis will be crafting the cocktail list—look for some soda fountain-era drinks, punches, and table-shaken cocktails, plus house-blended spirits and vermouths, and a bourbon aged in a cocktail-infused barrel (in collaboration with St. George Spirits). Chef Randy Lewis is making an appearance—his cocktail-friendly menu includes a crudo of McFarland Springs trout, cucumber “gravlax,” and rye crackers designed to pair with a gin cocktail. Josh Rowland is behind the eclectic design inspired by the Villa Nellcôte, a French mansion where the Rolling Stones composed Exile on Main Street. There will be a 25-seat bar, two communal tables, and high tables for two or four, plus more living room-style seating, with velvet and leather tufted couches, chairs and coffee tables, and a fireplace with recliner chairs and love seats (also in Scoop). Stand by for pics soon. 316 11th St. at Folsom.
On Monday July 22nd, join BAR AGRICOLE for a winemaker dinner with Hank Beckmeyer, winemaker at La Clarine Farm. The farm is located in the Sierra Foothills, and Beckmeyer and his wife, Caroline Hoel, farm according to the principles of Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka. The technique involves minimal messing with the grapes and the earth, and yields wild, fresh wines that recently garnered raves from Eric Asimov. The four-course dinner includes six wine pairings (some of which are unavailable for purchase) and begins at 7pm. Cost is $85, not including tax or tip, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.
On Saturday July 27th, head to the Jack London Square Pavilion in Oakland for the East Bay Vintners Alliance eighth annual Urban Wine eXperience. More than 15 urban wineries will be in attendance, pouring a variety of whites, rosés, reds, and dessert wines. There will also be food from local purveyors including Brown Sugar Kitchen and Picán, plus dancing and live music. The event runs from 1pm-5pm, and tickets are $45 in advance and $60 at the door. Oh, and designated driver tickets are only $15, so you should buy one for a friend with a nice car. Just sayin’. Jack London Square Pavilion, 98 Broadway at Embarcadero, Oakland.
Bar Agricole - 355 11th St. San Francisco - 415-355-9400
Friday Aug 16, 2013 – Sunday Aug 18, 2013
One of San Francisco’s most vibrant, flavorful, and fun food events is fast approaching: La Cocina’s fifth annual SAN FRANCISCO STREET FOOD FESTIVAL is coming on Saturday August 17th, and once again this year there will be a Night Market on Friday August 16th.
The Night Market, which will be held at the Alemany Farmers’ Market from 4pm-9pm, includes more than 25 vendors hawking a variety of street food. You’ll also find drinks, live music, and, new this year, street games from around the world, including cornhole, Skee-Ball, and Berlin-style Ping-Pong. The event is a benefit for La Cocina’s incubator program, and tickets are $35, but they’ve got an early bird special running until July 20th that includes drink tickets and $50 to spend at either the Night Market or the Festival for $75. There will be a free shuttle leaving Mission Pie (2901 Mission St. at 25th St.), or you can purchase a parking pass. Pro tip: Don’t forget your jacket, scarf, and hat; it can get damn chilly out there. 100 Alemany Blvd. at Peralta.
Once you’ve gotten a taste at the Night Market, you really won’t want to miss the Saturday main event. The Street Food Festival will take over several blocks in the Mission, on Folsom from 20th Street to 26th Street and 21st Street to 25th Street between Shotwell and Treat, from 11am-7pm. The event includes tons of great food from La Cocina incubator alumni, plus street food purveyors from all over. Each stand will offer a small plate for $3, a large plate for $8, and a beverage, and you’ll also find bar areas with beer, wine, and cocktails. The event is not only amazing but also free to the public, all you have to pay for is the food. And they’ve got a ton of great deals going on, such as “passports” that you can share with your group; check them out here, and don’t forget to use that promo code (5YEARS) for 5 percent off all passports. They’re a great deal, so get ‘em while they’re hot! Pro tip: Go with at least a few non-germphobic friends so you can share bites together and try more. Folsom between 20th and 26th Sts.
Want more La Cocina in your life? Yeah, who doesn’t. Check out the Food and Entrepreneurship Conference on Sunday August 18th from 9am-6:30pm. The conference is all about female entrepreneurs in the food industry, and there are a variety of ticket options and packages available; check here for additional details. SOMArts, 934 Brannan St. at 8th St.
Friday Oct 4, 2013 – Saturday Oct 5, 2013
The James Beard Foundation’s national tour, Taste America, is coming into town October 4th-5th. The event, which travels through 10 cities across the country, starts in San Francisco with a benefit dinner at the St. Regis on Friday October 4th. The eight-course dinner will be hosted by Wylie Dufresne, and James Beard Award nominees and winners will be in attendance, including Matt Accarrino (SPQR), Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions), Nicole Plue (SF Cooking School), Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese Food), Evan and Sarah Rich (Rich Table), and Daniel Patterson (Coi). The event begins with cocktails at 5:30pm and dinner will be at 7pm; we know it’s not until October, but tickets are on sale now, so hop to it if you can afford it (tickets start at $275). Proceeds benefit Daniel Patterson’s The Cooking Project, an organization that teaches children and young adults fundamental cooking skills. St. Regis, 125 3rd St. at Mission.
The event also includes teaching demonstrations at Sur La Table in Palo Alto, and a variety of events celebrating San Francisco’s chefs. More details on all the events and ways to get involved can be found here.