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Oct 16, 2017 13 min read

October 17, 2017 - This week's tablehopper: gracias.

October 17, 2017 - This week's tablehopper: gracias.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: gracias.                    

Fab flounder ceviche from Copita at SF ❤️ MX! Instagram photo courtesy of @copitacomida.

Hello dear readers! You hanging in there? My lord, what a week it has been. Everyone is working so hard to help, in so many ways. Not much sleep happening out there. It breaks my heart to see San Francisco full of smoke again today, which only points to how the devastating fires rage on in the North Bay. Fortunately the containment percentages keep rising. But so do the needs for help and support and funds and food. I put together another North Bay fire assistance recap today with some ways you can continue to help. Please take a look, volunteer, give money, share, whatever you can do, keep doing it!

As you are probably well aware, last Friday was our SF ❤️ MX fundraiser, and wow, what a night. Couldn’t have done it without everyone’s support, in so many capacities. A huge round of applause to everyone who donated (so much!!), bought tickets, made cocktails, made food, volunteered, hosted, helped, poured, served, cleaned, loaded in, loaded out, bid, tipped, spread the word, and showed up! I share the total we made in the fundraiser recap below. I know, I’m leaving you hangin’. ;) Muchísimas gracias, I am so thrilled to make this 100 percent donation to our precious México for earthquake relief in the name of San Francisco!

That fundraiser took a lot out of me, so I’m going to catch my breath for a few days before this next round of helping and volunteering for our dear North Bay community. (We’ve got so much work to do.) I’m heading up to Washington tomorrow to visit family (and to experience harvest on a family member’s cannabis farm!). I will be back writing tablehopper in a fuller way next Tuesday. I just didn’t feel particularly enthused writing about restaurant opening news and non-fundraising events this week with all these intense things going on, to be perfectly honest.

Love to all, and so much gratitude for living in a community that is so helpful, generous, and caring. You are all doing a lot of amazing work out there. Heroes!

Besos, Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

SF Loves MX a Whole Bunch, Like, SO MUCH


Cambria Gallery was the dream fiesta space. Photo: Haven Mastenbrook.


Hecho en Mexico! Photo: Haven Mastenbrook.


Texas pulled pork tacos (with queso!) from Villa Montez and Cafe Bravo on housemade tortillas! Photo: Albert Flores.


Chefs Javier Cancino of Cafe Bravo (Oakdale) and Carlos Villapudua of Villa Montez and 1836 Texas Kitchen (Tyler, Texas). Photo: Cynthia Vega.


Tasty tostaditas de tinga from El Huarache Loco! Photo: ©


Keeke was keeping the Espolòn Tequila flowing! Photo: ©


The margaritas were tops, thanks to Milagro Tequila and Alberto Soto of El Techo! (The spicy Techo Margarita with Montelobos Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, and habanero was fantastico!) Photo: ©


Gracias Chambers & Chambers for stocking our wine island with French rosé! Photo: Haven Mastenbrook.


Cambria’s Heather Mickley and James Stolich of Cook With James at our wine island. Photo: ©

Well, you guys, we did it! Friday night was our SF ❤️ MX fundraiser for Mexico earthquake relief, and it was all hands on deck! Not only did we sell out of tickets (thank you thank you!), but we also surpassed the $10K goal I had flitting around in my mind. We raised $10,727.56!!!! Ayyyyyyyyiiiiiiiiii!

I am so thrilled we can make such a significant contribution to Omaze and Ambulante’s fundraiser, started by Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal to help Mexico rebuild. One hundred percent of the event’s fundraising is going to this initiative—and if you couldn’t attend our event, you can still donate directly to it! Mexico still needs help! People are sleeping outside in the rain, there aren’t enough supplies and water and medicine, especially in the rural areas. It’s heartbreaking. Any amount helps. Gracias.

There can be some potential cognitive dissonance being at a party when there is so much suffering going on in the world (especially in our backyard), but it was good to get everyone together and do something to help. The feeling in the room was incredible, such a warm and loving group (and seriously good looking, I might add). It was the first time for many guests to visit the contemporary chic Cambria Gallery in SoMa, such wonderful hosts—we could not have asked for a lovelier setting for our event. Thank you to my cohost, Itzel Percival of Cambria, for all her help in pulling this off, and Heather Mickley for the warm welcome.

You guys, the food was over the top. It was a dream SF event. Everyone who participated was so generous with their time and talent. What a fantastic array of handmade dishes from our La Cocina ladies (who were already so busy preparing food for Sunday’s Street Food Fest): Sal de Vida Gourmet (brilliant cochinita pibil mini tostadas with pickled onions), Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas (hand-stuffed vegetable and meat tamales with her incredible salsas), and El Huarache Loco,  (mini tostaditas de tinga and mini huarachitos con nopales).

My heart almost leapt out of my chest when I found out chef Carlos Villapudua (Villa Montez and 1836 Texas Kitchen) was flying out from Tyler, Texas, to cook at our event. It wouldn’t have been possible without all the help of his wingman, chef Javier Cancino of Cafe Bravo, who not only cooked with Carlos, but hosted and helped with all the food prep at his restaurant in Oakdale.

Their tacos were such tasty works of art: chile colorado tenderloin tacos with housemade and organic cilantro-corn tortillas and garlic-laced mushrooms; Texas pulled pork tacos with pink organic beet and corn tortillas with Texas queso and smoked pulled pork, roasted green chile salsa, and black bean puree (my favorite); and tacos del jardin with roasted avocado-black bean puree, grilled vegetables, and roasted tomatillo sauce. Tremendous gracias to Cynthia Vega for bringing us all together. Carlos, come back soon! Love you guys!

Everyone was beyond thrilled to see the crowd-pleasing taco tropical from Loló, the elegant flounder ceviche from chef Daniel Tellez of Copita (who was on-site on a busy Friday night with his team!), the spicy albondigas and rich pork tamales from Don Pistos, and the grains & greens salad from Green Chile Kitchen. I know, what a spread.

It would not be a party without bowls everywhere of the perfect tortilla chips from La Palma, matched with SF’s favorite salsa from Papalote. And after alllllll the margaritas (heh heh), the late-night crew got to enjoy nachos doused with queso from WesBurger ‘N’ More. We also sold to-go boxes of chips and salsa for chilaquiles in the morning and a few leftover tamales for the freezer. (The late-night chip and tamale sale was hilarious.)

Our bar was en fuego! We were so fortunate to have three of SF’s best barmen running the show: Alberto Soto (El Techo), Enrique Sanchez (Arguello), and Reza Esmaili (Ananas Consulting). We had five fantastic cocktails (click those links to see the menus!) on offer, thanks to the batching artistry of Rye on the Road (thanks for setting up the bar, Jon Gasparini!) and El Techo!, featuring top spirits from Campari America/Espolòn Tequila, Milagro Tequila, Montelobos Mezcal, and Ancho Reyes.

And at the end of the night, the guys handed me a box of cash with all their tips they collected and donated it all to our fundraiser. I mean, come ON. Love you!

We had two huge tubs of ice-cold Mexican cervezas generously provided by Cadillac Bar & Grill—so good to have after everything was all cleaned up—and some of you got to try the brand-new cold-fermented aguas frescas from Hard Frescos (you can find them here).

I saw a lot of you at rosé island, enjoying French rosé donated by Chambers & Chambers. If you want to pick up some bottles of the Petit Bourgeois rosé de pinot noir from the Loire (2016) or the Triennes Vin de Pays du Var rosé (2016), you can find them at Bi-Rite Market, D&M Wine & Liquor, Gus’s Community Market, Plumpjack Wine Shop, Flatiron Wines, Canyon Market, and Haight Street Market. Salud!

The silent auction was a hit! With the generous contributions from so many local businesses, artists, and individuals, we raised $3,309! There were many gift certificates (thanks to Nopa, Nopalito, Flores, Uno Dos Tacos y Tequila, 54 Mint, Montesacro, and Hakkasan); a VIP experience for the San Francisco Street Food Festival from La Cocina; special dinners with wine pairings from Devil’s Gulch Ranch and Locanda; gift boxes and bottles from Campari America, Milagro Tequila, Domaine Chandon, The Terraces Winery, ZD Wines, and Manicaretti; gift certificates from Ginger Rubio Salon; and an ice cream maker AND Le Creuset pan from Joanne Weir.

Plus, we had local art from Rob Delamater and Adam McCauley, and a signed copy of The Art of the Bar Cart! You were all so generous, thank you!

There is no way we could have pulled this all off without the fleet of incredible volunteers who offered their help! They were a blur of activity, from serving food, greeting, keeping the place spotless, to assisting the chefs. (Special shout-out to Willow Blish, who became our ad hoc kitchen manager and ran such a tight ship.) From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for donating your time and skills and hands and running the event like it was your own!

Special thanks to Dominic Philips Event Marketing for the generous donation of serveware and utensils for the event.

And last but certainly not least, this event would have been nothing without everyone who attended, bought tickets, invited friends, bid on the silent auction, tipped heavy at the bar, and bought queso at the end of the night. :) We had such a beautiful, generous crowd! Love you all.

Thanks to all my fellow media folks who helped promote the event, including 48 Hills, Blackboard Eats, and SF Weekly! Mwah!

I will be posting pictures as soon as I have them on Facebook. Unfortunately my camera is on the fritz (it’s stuck on just one focus mode, ugh), and I was only able to capture a few images that were usable. Fortunately a couple of friends showed up with their cameras, thanks!

We are living in a crazy, heartbreaking state of the world right now, with so much loss and disasters and suffering at every turn, but we also have a world full of people who love to help, to give, and come together. We can make a difference. Let’s keep it up. A lot of people need our help right now. Besos y amor!

More Updates on How to Help Those Affected by the North Bay Fires


Meredith Miller delivering sandwiches: “With my favorite firefighter today, Dave. Taking sandwiches to the helicopters going up with the huge water drops.” Photo via Facebook.


Napa Private Tours and Taco Addiction have teamed up and are doing a great job feeding first responders and more.

It’s hell on earth in the North Bay, and there is a tremendous, awe-inspiring amount of effort happening in the Bay Area from so many people trying to help, from feeding people to providing shelter and supplies and medical attention, let alone emotional support, to helping animals and livestock. It’s a huge triage situation that’s changing hourly. Some systems are coming into focus, with organizations like Facebook preparing and delivering 5,000 meals at a time. Incredible.

We’re in this for the long haul, folks. Here are places and organizations where you can donate time, money, meals, and more. Even if you can’t help RIGHT NOW, how about next week?

A group of top SF restaurateurs and businesses have banded together to bring food to the North Bay and help care for the community. Whether you’re a chef who wants to cook/prepare food or a volunteer who can help with phone calls and admin and deliveries, please take a look at SF Fights Fire and sign up. (You can also donate to help their efforts.) Since last Thursday, they have delivered more than 15,000 meals, working closely with the Salvation Army, Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol, and small evacuation centers.

Huge kudos to Off the Grid for rallying their vendors and trucks to help feed people. Please support them in their efforts here.

Here’s a page with food needs set up by a nonprofit group in Santa Rosa, Worth Our Weight (see contact info at the top), where you can offer to provide food.

Meredith Miller in Petaluma and her group of #sandwichangels have been feeding sandwiches to first responders and evacuees—she started with 200 sandwiches in her home kitchen and is now up to 2,000 at a commercial kitchen. Here’s how to help financially, and there’s info on how you can volunteer here.

Our friend at Pizzalina brought UndocuFund to my attention, which is bringing fire relief to undocumented workers in Sonoma County (who aren’t eligible for fire relief from FEMA, and have diminished access to other disaster relief services). Please take a look. To add some perspective, an estimated 28,000 undocumented immigrants live and work in Sonoma County.

Our friends at Napa Private Tours have been feeding first responders, evacuees, and volunteers (you can follow their efforts on their Instagram too), here’s how to help them: “We are in for the long run and we need you to partner with us. If you are among those who has asked for a way to give us a tax-deductible donation, we are fortunate and blessed to have an option for you. Our wonderful friends at Feast It Forward have set up a direct account to point money our way and help us keep going as we try to meet the immediate needs of first responders and fire evacuees.”

Can you drive? Copia is looking for delivery volunteers!

Our friends at Heath have this to say: “We’re heartbroken by the devastating impact of the North Bay’s wildfires and all of our neighbors who have been impacted. We’ve been thinking about how Heath can help immediate, critical needs, and believe that the way that we can potentially have the most impact is to support the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB). REFB is providing critical food to shelters for neighbors displaced by fires and working to ensure that those who needed food assistance before the fires are still able to access their help.

“REFB is in dire need of ready-to-eat, nonperishable foods that they can provide to the evacuation centers immediately and for weeks to come. These foods should be easy to open and easy to eat; many shelters do not have kitchens for heating and preparing food. Please do not bring glass containers.

“Feel free to drop off food donations to the Heath SF or Heath Sausalito showrooms. We’ll use our Heath van to deliver donations to REFB on Friday, October 20. And we’ll continue to evaluate our contributions as needs and news evolves.”

“And our friends at Bay Grape have been doing a lot to help (follow on Facebook and sign up for their newsletter); here’s what they recommend:

“1) GIVE MONEY for the long road of rebuilding ahead. The Napa Valley Community Foundation and Sonoma County Resilience Fund are two good options among many.

“2) BUY PRODUCTS FROM AFFECTED AREAS. We cannot overstate this enough. It can feel shallow to just ‘drink a bottle of wine’ and think you’re helping, but you truly are. Your purchase is REAL money going to REAL businesses, families, livelihoods that have been totally decimated by these fires.

“3) VISIT THE AFFECTED AREAS, eat at the restaurants, shop at the stores, drink at the tasting rooms, tip well. Again: REAL money going to REAL businesses, families, and livelihoods. We’ll be majorly amping up our stock of Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa wines at the shop in the coming months as a way to support this effort.”

And from Reeve Wines: “Sonoma-based Reeve Wines, from husband-and-wife team Noah and Kelly Dorrance, has put together an all-star effort for fire relief. Based in Healdsburg in the Dry Creek Valley, Noah and Kelly have called upon friends and family to create an epic raffle event with 100 percent of all money raised going to help fire victims, with a focus on giving to the most vulnerable and those who were uninsured.”

Donors and friends will match dollar for dollar all the money raised (that means this doubles the impact of the gift). All funds raised through the purchase of entry tickets will be divided to three different organizations—the Redwood Credit Union Fund, Redwood Empire Food Bank, and to a local to Healdsburg organization called Corazon. Tickets are 1 for $25, 5 for $100, 15 for $200, 50 for $500. Drawing will be held on Facebook Live at 11am PST, November 1st.

The Absinthe Group is hosting a fundraising event this Sunday October 22nd at BELLOTA from 3pm-7pm, with 100 percent of ticket sales ($100 per person) going directly to fire relief efforts. The walk-around event will feature food and drink from Bellota, plus dishes from contributing chefs, including Antelmo Faria (Uma Casa), Kim Alter (Nightbird), Jason Berthold (Monsieur Benjamin), Anjan Mitra (Dosa), and more. Tickets and more info can be found here.

And lastly, we could all use a drink. Come by THE FRONT PORCH tomorrow, Wednesday October 18th, for the Lo-Fi x Front Porch fundraiser—all Lo-Fi drink proceeds will be donated to North Bay fire relief. 5:30pm-8:30pm.

the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)


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Follow @uniqueeatssf on Instagram, plus author @KimberleyLovato, and/or on Twitter, and Facebook for book tour updates, appearances, and more!

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