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Feb 9, 2015 18 min read

February 10, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: booze cruise.

February 10, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: booze cruise.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: booze cruise.                    

The glorious Martinez at Comstock Saloon. Photo: ©

Did you notice the big alcohol shortage this weekend in North Beach? You can blame the tablehopper Barbary Coast cocktail crawl with Anchor Distilling Company, ha-ha. Saturday evening, a group of us gathered at the brand-new Devil’s Acre to kick off the night with pisco punch, and then headed to Comstock Saloon for a Martinez and bites, followed by 15 Romolo for their Sioux City Milk Punch and more vittles. Yeah, we were feeling good. We also learned a bunch about the neighborhood, each bar’s interesting history, and cocktail history, too, love it.

I posted a mini photo album of the night here, and there are pics on Instagram as well. Thanks to everyone who came! Let’s do it again.

I hope you all have a nice national pizza day yesterday? I unknowingly celebrated early on Sunday, because I thoroughly enjoyed a margherita at the counter at La Nebbia (they have a new pizzaiolo, FYI). And let’s not forget their supremely awesome selection of prosciutto and jamón, mamma/mama mia.

Our city will be full of a bunch more Italians this week, since Tre Bicchieri is this Thursday. I’m going to try to swing by for a few quick tastes before scooting down to San Mateo for my fabulous grandma’s birthday (an event that trumps everything).

This week there is mercifully less news than last week—well, for now, we should have some good stories to share next week. Although we do have some cool booze news for you, and some socialite action too: Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras are coming up! And if you need some help with Valentine’s Day ideas, we’ve got that too.

Enjoy the week! See you Friday. Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Now Open: Ginto Izakaya Japonaise


The interior of Ginto Izakaya Japonaise. Yelp photo by Elmo S.

There’s a massive new project on Market Street from Japanese company Ramla, called GINTO IZAKAYA JAPONAISE. Eater reports that the restaurant corporation currently has more than 100 eateries around the world. This it their first outpost of the Ginto concept in the United States, though their Oto-Oto and Gyoro-Gyoro in Southern California are reportedly quite similar. Apparently, they’ve got a little bit of everything going on: yakitori, a robata grill, sushi and sashimi, ramen, and tempura, all made by chefs brought over from Tokyo. The aim is to offer an “authentic” experience, similar to what you’d find in Japan. Like we mentioned, the space is huge, clocking in at more than 6,800 square feet with room for more than 200 people. They’ve also got a full liquor license, which means you’ll find cocktails, Japanese whisky, sake, and beer. For now, Ginto Izakaya is open for dinner only, but all-day service is coming in mid-March. Hours are daily 4pm-10pm. 658 Market St. at Geary, 415-530-2466.

Updates: Five Happiness Reopens, Changes at Marla Bakery


Tea-smoked duck from Five Happiness. Yelp photo by Kevin W.


The cheerful dining room at Marla Bakery. Photo courtesy of Marla Bakery.

After six months of being closed for remodeling, I’m happy to report FIVE HAPPINESS has reopened. (Every time I’d drive by, I was looking to see if they were open yet.) The Shanghainese/Taiwanese restaurant has been open since 1975, and genial owner Bill Yang says they’re happy to be back. Fans of their hot soy milk and doughnuts on the weekend should be pleased. Look for some new dishes on their banquet menus too. 4142 Geary Blvd. at 6th Ave., 415-387-1234.

And here’s more news from MARLA BAKERY: after their Valentine’s Day dinner service this February 14th (which is kind of an awesome menu for just $50), they will be temporarily shelving dinner service. Newly hired chef de cuisine Duncan Holmes is leaving SF. Taking the place of dinner service will be some upcoming pop-ups, including Workshop from Rachel Sillcocks (Range) and Kristina Compton (Range), the next one is Monday February 23rd. And Amy and Joe are going to be busy with their new baby, who is expected to arrive in June (congrats!). One more item of note: Saturday brunch is coming on February 28th, heehaw! 3619 Balboa St. at 37th Ave., 415-742-4379.

Tidbits: L&G Vietnamese Sandwich, Emmanuel Cafe, Basik Acai


The exterior of L&G Vietnamese Sandwich. Photo: Rebecca Kinney ©

Tablehopper intern Rebecca Kinney caught the news that there is a new banh mi shop in the Tenderloin, called L&G VIETNAMESE SANDWICH. It just opened on January 29th, and she reports that the service is friendly, the vegetables fresh and crisp, and the interior space is clean. A photo of the menu reveals that all sandwiches are $4, and a small selection of appetizers are also available. Hours are daily 7am-5pm. 602 Eddy St. at Larkin, 415-345-1878.

There’s a new taker for the former Cuco’s space in the Lower Haight, called EMMANUEL CAFE. Hoodline reports that owner Irene Parada Quinteros will offer plenty of coffee, along with Salvadorean and Yucatecan food like pupusas, cochinita pibil, and breakfast items. 488 Haight St. at Fillmore.

Acai bowls are now available on Polk Street at BASIK CAFE, according to Scoop. This is the first mainland location of the Hawaiian café, specializing in smoothies and bowls of fruit and granola made with the Brazilian berry. Hours are Tue-Sun 8am-4pm. 1958 Polk St. at Pacific.

New Service: Brunch at Picnic on Third, Dinner at Just For You


The interior at Picnic on Third. Photo courtesy Picnic on Third.

For a new brunch, check out PICNIC ON THIRD every Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Owners Natalia Bushyager and Leigh Loper will be serving brunch fare like chile-braised pork with sage polenta, collard greens, and poached eggs, or try Leigh’s pancakes made with custom-milled four-grain flour from The Mill and served with blood orange syrup and cultured butter. Check out the full menu here, and note you can also get mimosas, coffee from HalfWit, and espresso from Contraband. 493 3rd St. at Bryant, 415-590-7121.

Now you can get dinner at JUST FOR YOU CAFE on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30pm to 10pm. The menu includes lots of new dishes, including a chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, black-eyed pea cakes with kale and Brussels sprout slaw, and buttermilk fried chicken. They’ve also added new beer and wine choices to pair with the new menu. 732 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-647-3033.

Pop-Up Radar: Wes Burger Gets Crazy


The Moroccan Wes, a recent special at Wes Burger. Photo courtesy Wes Burger.

Burger maestro WES BURGER has been doing Wednesday pop-ups up at Mojo Bicycle Café for a while now. For the month of February, Wes Rowe will be switching things up a bit, with a different style of burger each week (still on Wednesdays only). This week is the Return of Uncle Brother’s Chicken, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with pickle slaw and sambal aioli, followed by the Breakfast Wes Burger on February 18th, a pork-beef burger patty (reminiscent of Texas breakfast sausage) with bourbon- and maple-glazed bacon, an egg, and hash browns. The final week will be the Juicy Lucy on February 25th, which is a double all-brisket patty burger with bourbon caramelized onions and cheese. Follow along for updates on each week’s burger here. 639-A Divisadero St. at Grove.

Lookin' Fresh: Updated Interiors at Barbacco, The Pub at Ghirardelli Square, Mayes


No more communal tables: the new banquette seating in the front of Barbacco. Photo: ©


The new look at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square. Photo: Tev Lee Photography.

A few places around town are starting the year with some freshening up and remodeling. So if you walk into any of these places and do a double take, now you know. First up, BARBACCO has changed their front dining area. The former communal tables are gone (owner Umberto Gibin explains diners in the Financial District don’t like to have their conversations overhead so easily by strangers), and now there is banquette seating instead, with tables for two to six. (Interestingly, there are the same number of seats.) All the tabletops throughout the restaurant are black slate as well.

Next, THE PUB AT GHIRARDELLI SQUARE has really lightened things up, moving away from the Irish pub feeling and more toward the rustic/industrial side, thanks to Oakland’s SRG Architects and seating upgrades by Big Daddy’s Antiques. Owner Scott Broccoli also added some new menu items and cocktails. 851 Beach St. at Polk, 415-351-0500.

MAYES on Polk also got a new look, and a new management team too: Matt Corvi (Velvet Lounge), Johnny “Love” Metheny (Johnny Love’s), and Nick Pigott (The Pigott Group). The look is a bit clubby-meets-Gothic cathedral in the back, with some dramatic lighting for the dance area. Swing by every Thursday and Friday for happy hour, and Johnny “Love” Metheny will be taking over the bar making cocktails and serving his very own Kobe beef burger. Happy hour drink specials include $5 draft beers and $6 well drinks. 1233 Polk St. at Fern, 415-885-1233.

Cawfee Tawk: Blue Bottle (and Tartine Bakery!) in Tokyo, Verve to the Castro, Repose on Divis


The staff at the new Blue Bottle in Tokyo celebrates. Photo from Facebook.

BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE has just opened their first café and roastery in Tokyo’s Kiyosumi area, and now they have another exciting project under way: Blue Bottle and TARTINE BAKERY & CAFE are partnering on a bakery and café in Tokyo’s Daikanyama district. SF artisan OGs James Freeman (Blue Bottle) and Tartine’s Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt have talked about partnering in the past, so now they are bringing the idea to fruition. The 2,000-square-foot space is due to open this spring.

Fans of Santa Cruz’s Verve Coffee Roasters are going to be able to enjoy Verve’s first SF café at Church and Market in the former Veo Optics. Hoodline mentions Fuse Architecture will be designing the space (they also designed Verve’s roastery). We’ll share more when we hear back from Verve. 2109 Market St./210 Church St.

Another update from Hoodline: REPOSE COFFEE is back on track and should reportedly be opening sometime this month in the former Magpie and Rye space on Divis. Owner James Grogan also has a Repose in Sebastopol. They will be serving Ritual Coffee, along with panini, salads, and quesadillas (including a gluten-free version), plus treats from Sweetmue. And yes, it’s just across the street from where Sightglass Coffee will be opening their upcoming café this summer. The neighborhood is gonna be wired. 262 Divisadero St. at Page.

510 Updates: Kouzina, Communitē Now Open, B-Side Closes, and SF|Noir


The deli case at Communitē Table. Photo from Facebook.

Intrepid Chowhounders caught the opening of KOUZINA GREEK STREET FOOD in Oakland’s Montclair neighborhood last month. The “street food” seems to refer to souvlaki and gyros, which dominate the menu along with daily specials like moussaka and roast leg of lamb. Hours are Mon-Sat 11am-9pm and Sun 11am-8pm. 2064 Antioch Ct. at Mountain, Oakland, 510-339-1020.

Back in August, Berkeleyside reported on the upcoming COMMUNITĒ TABLE. It’s now open, according to East Bay Express, serving seasonal salads, sides, and entrées. The space offers seating on the outdoor patio, and items can be selected from a case for either dine-in or takeout. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-7pm, Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, closed Sun. 4171 MacArthur Blvd. at Maybelle, Oakland, 510-482-2114.

East Bay Express is also reporting on an unfortunate closure in West Oakland: B-SIDE BBQ from chef Tanya Holland has closed. It’s not all bad news, though. According to a note on the restaurant’s website, Holland will reopen the space as B-Side Baking Co., an offshoot of the bakery at nearby Brown Sugar Kitchen run by Celeste Scott. They will be serving coffee, baked goods both sweet and savory, and the neighboring Barn will continue to function as a music venue. 3303 San Pablo Ave. at 33rd St., Oakland.

The SF|Noir Wine & Food Festival is kicking off on Wednesday February 25th and bringing many special events to the Bay Area through Sunday March 1st. The various events will explore black cuisine, culture, and contributions to the arts during the last week of February, which is Black History Month. There is a lot you can check out here, including a special Shrimp, Grits, and Greens event on Wednesday February 25th at 7pm at Impact Hub in Oakland, with chefs from restaurants including Miss Ollie’s, Picán, and Flora. Don’t miss it! Tickets for events vary in price, starting at $10, or consider purchasing an all-access pass for $80. Locations vary.


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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Meet Benjamin Cooper, a New Bar Coming from Mo Hodges and Brian Felley


So while cocktail meisters Brian Felley and Mo Hodges (previously at Big) have been busy working with the R&B Lab group—who own and operate all the restaurants inside the Hotel G, including the recently opened Klyde Café & Wine Bar and 398 Restaurant & Bar—it ends up there’s one more exciting project that’s going to be under that umbrella as well. Brian and Mo will also be co-owners of the new BENJAMIN COOPER, a cocktail and oyster bar they are opening at 398 Geary! There will be around 50 seats, and they hope to open around the end of February or early March. The name is an amalgam of their parents’ surnames and is also a fictional character (more on this mysterious man soon).

We’ll also have details on the cocktails, oysters, bar team, décor, and more in coming weeks. Just know there’s going to be another fantastic watering hole coming to Union Square soon! And it’s worth noting, the duo will still be leading the bar at 398 as well. 398 Geary St. at Mason.

The Barrel Room Moving to Financial District, Expanding


The exterior of Georges, which will become The Barrel Room in April. Yelp photo by Zoey W.

THE BARREL ROOM is moving their San Francisco location in the Tenderloin to the Financial District in mid-April. Owners Sarah Trubnick and Carolyn Johnson have partnered with Stephen Deyton (Park Tavern) and Jay Marx (Georges) on the project, which will function as a retail shop and tasting room during the day, and then transition into a wine bar in the evenings. In addition, there will be a restaurant next door (in the former Georges location) serving lunch and dinner.

The wine list will offer at least 50 selections by the glass, available as flights. On the beer list you’ll find craft beers, and they’ve also added a full liquor license. Cocktails will also be available in flights, which should be fun. Executive chef Manuel Hewitt of Barrel Room Rockridge will be responsible for the menu, which will rotate through different regions on a quarterly basis. There will be in-house charcuterie, along with oysters, caviar, and daily seafood specials.

There will be happy hour Monday through Friday from 4pm until 5:30pm, with $5 beer and $6 wine and cocktails. The wine bar and shop will be open daily 10am-12:30am, and the restaurant will be open 11am-12:30am. 415 Sansome St. at Commercial.

Booze News: Theft at Smuggler's Cove, a Scotch Party, Whiskies of the World, More


The San Francisco Belle; photo from Whiskies of the World.

I was watching the news on Friday night and was sorry to see Martin Cate of SMUGGLER’S COVE talking to a reporter on ABC about how someone (er, a drunken douche) stole a Fijian war club off the bar’s wall, one that was especially made for the bar. If you see someone with a new tiki club in their apartment or dorm room, please whack them with it and then call Cate.

Scotch lovers will be able to get their heat on at this upcoming Scotch party hosted by Nell Waters of SOAK fame, an upcoming urban bathhouse project in SF and advocate of Healthy Hedonism (it’s a lifestyle). There will be Scotches, ryes, Japanese whiskies, and single malts, plus some bites like oysters, Tartine bread with blue cheese, and Negroni popcorn…and music by Brightline. It all goes down on Saturday February 21st. Tickets are $55. 8:30pm-12am. The Barrelhouse, 80 Tehama Alley (between 1st and 2nd streets).

Get your tickets now for the annual Whiskies of the World, coming to the (docked) SF Belle Hornblower Yacht on Saturday March 28th. You’ll meet whisky makers, distillery owners, and brand ambassadors from big brands and boutique distilleries, and sample more than 200 whiskies from all over the world. The show will feature educational master classes, mixology booths, and a full dinner. Tickets are $125. 6pm-9pm. Pier 3, Embarcadero.

Good news: WING WINGS in the Lower Haight is now serving beer and wine (and sake too), from Almanac IPA to wine from E40, plus you can order beer with your delivery order. Sweet. So the next time you are burning your mouth off with too much Hella Hot sauce, a swig of Golden Gate Gose can help extinguish the fuego.

Just a reminder: last month we broke the news BOXING ROOM was going to launch a full bar (yay), featuring classic and straightforward New Orleans cocktails from Jonny Raglin (director of bar operations for The Absinthe Group). You can now get your Hurricane and Sazerac on, just in time for Mardi Gras. There are some new menu items, too, including an expanded seafood bar (raw littleneck clams, marinated mussels, a Gulf shrimp cocktail, New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp, a boozy oyster shooter) and Taste of the Swamp (turtle soup, fried frog legs, alligator sauce piquante).

Boxing Room            - 399 Grove St. San Francisco - 415-430-6590


the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)

Celebrate Chinese New Year and Tet with These Festive Menus and Events


The lion dance. Photo by Alfred Shum via Flickr.

Event Info

Tuesday Feb 10, 2015 – Sunday Mar  8, 2015

The Lunar New Year is here, and this year it’s The Year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep (depending on who you ask). There are lots of delicious ways to celebrate, and these are a few of our picks. For even more banquet ideas, check out this piece the tablehopper wrote for 7x7 on the best banquet dinner locations in town.

On Saturday February 21st, RICE PAPER SCISSORS will be hosting a Lunar Night Market from 5pm to 10pm at Brick & Mortar Music Hall. They’ll be joined by ForageSF, Seoul Patch, Bicycle Banh Mi, and Rijsttafel. The market will offer a small bite from each vendor included in the cost of admission, along with an additional larger plate for $8. Check out the menu for each vendor here; vegetarian options are also available. There will be a cash bar, with special Year of the Ram cocktails and Chinese whiskey. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Drinks and larger plates will be available for cash purchase only. 1710 Mission St. at Duboce, 415-878-6657.

At M.Y. CHINA you’ll have the option of three different menus celebrating the new year. The Prosperity menu is $88 for two people and the Wealth menu is $68 for two. You can also try Grandma Wu’s Chinese New Year Family Dinner, created in homage to the meals chef Tony Wu’s grandmother made for the holiday. It costs $38 per person and is available for groups of six or more people. They will also be giving out red envelopes for good luck and prosperity, filled with prizes like free spring rolls or even the grand prize of dinner for two once a month for a full year. It’s all available from Wednesday February 18th until Sunday March 8th; reservations recommended.

HAKKASAN is offering an eight-course Cantonese menu for the new year, from now until Sunday March 1st. The menu offers a balance of traditional and contemporary dishes, including a dim sum platter, spicy lamb lupin wrap, and Chilean sea bass in honey with lily bulb and French beans. On Thursday February 19th, don’t miss a performance of the lion dance for good luck and joy. The special menu is $138.88 per person, and individual dishes will be available starting at $20.88; reservations recommended.

Nothing says celebration like a suckling pig feast, and CHUBBY NOODLE MARINA has you covered. On Thursday February 19th from 6pm to 10pm, they’ll be serving suckling pig family-style to groups of four or eight, with sides like shrimp fried rice, garlic bok choy, and long beans. Check out the whole menu here, and nab tickets for $58 per person.

For celebrations in the East Bay, Luke Tsai at East Bay Express has put together a list of restaurant and their special menus in Berkeley, Albany, and Oakland. Whether you want to celebrate with seafood, dumplings, or duck, there are plenty of delicious options.

Let the Good Times Roll: Mardi Gras Is February 17th


Mardi Gras beads on a balcony in New Orleans. Photo by Jessica Pepe via Flickr.

Event Info

Tuesday Feb 17, 2015

Mardi Gras is coming up on Tuesday February 17th, and there are lots of ways to get in on the action. TOWN HALL is throwing their annual bash with all the fried chicken, etouffée, gumbo, oysters, barbecued shrimp, jalapeño cornbread, smoked ribs, and crawfish you can stomach. Of course, it wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without free-flowing drinks like New Orleans’ own Abita beer, Hurricanes, and caipirinhas in a nod to the Carnival celebrations of Brazil. In addition to all the food and drink, there will be live music, samba dancers for even more Brazilian flair, and plenty of beads (of course). The festivities begin at 6pm and tickets are $80 in advance or $95 at the door, and include all food, drink, and entertainment.

BLUESTEM BRASSERIE is celebrating Mardi Gras starting Thursday February 12th, with a muffuletta sandwich, Creole-style jambalaya, gumbo, and slices of king cake. You can order a classic Sazerac to pair with it all too. Gumbo and Sazeracs will be available until Tuesday February 17th.

In Hayes Valley, BOXING ROOM will be toasting Mardi Gras with their brand-new full liquor license, which seems only fitting. Order a Hurricane or Sazerac to go along with special dishes like crawfish boil for the holiday, and of course there will be king cake. Their regular menu will also be available.

If celebrating on a Tuesday is, uh, hard for you, try Phat Sunday on February 15th from 11am to 6pm at the SOMA STREAT FOOD PARK. You can hit it a couple of different ways: get a ticket to the crawfish boil, which includes one drink and the crawfish ($32); or get a ticket to the taste-and-pour Beer Week event for all the beer you can manage ($48); or go whole hog with a “phat pack,” which includes all the crawfish and beer ($70). You can also just buy a general admission ticket for $5 and pay per item at the bar and food trucks. 428 11th St. at Bryant.

Nothing says “Fat Tuesday” quite like ice cream, and ICE CREAM BAR has the specials to prove it. They’ll be offering king cake for $5 per slice, and each whole cake will include a baby charm. If you get it, you’ll receive a $10 gift certificate. They will also be offering a special brandy milk punch ice cream flavor. Both will be available on Monday February 16th and Tuesday February 17th. 815 Cole St. at Carl, 415-742-4932.

Oakland’s HOPSCOTCH is serving a special Mardi Gras menu from 11:30am to 10pm, and getting extra celebratory with an extended happy hour from 3pm to 6pm. There will be gumbo, boudin balls, shrimp po’boys, and red beans and rice. For cocktails, classics like the Vieux Carré and Sazerac will be on offer. 1915 San Pablo Ave. at 19th St., 415-788-6217.

Mardi Gras isn’t just limited to New Orleans, of course. Everyone knows about Carnival in Brazil, but don’t forget Italy’s Carnevale (made famous by the stunning pageantry of Venice). DESCO will be celebrating from now until February 17th (except Valentine’s Day) with a special three-course menu that includes traditional Venetian “cicchetti” of salted cod mantecato, black riso venere fritters, marinated white anchovies and radicchio purée, and chicken liver pâté with caramelized onion. You’ll also get a $10 gift voucher for all daytime gondola rides on Lake Merritt (again, excluding Valentine’s Day weekend). 499 9th St. at Washington, 415-663-9000.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Romancing Thelma, Louise, and Kathleen

Actress Susan Sarandon was spotted at Iyasare in Berkeley last week, where she enjoyed lunch.

The week before, actress Kathleen Turner was also at Iyasare. No word what either of them enjoyed, but that is a classy pair of ladies, and with good taste.

Bill on the Waterfront

Former president Bill Clinton was spotted at Waterfront Restaurant after giving a speech in Oakland last Tuesday night. He was with a group of 25 people and they ordered everything on the menu. Reportedly, Clinton has dined at Waterfront many times in the past too.

Tommy Timberlake Spotted Enjoying Ramen

That’s right, actor  Aziz Ansari, who plays the hilariously trendy Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation, was spotted at Orenchi Beyond last week. We’re hoping he enjoyed some “long-ass rice” while he was there, along with his apps and zerts.

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