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Aug 20, 2018 17 min read

August 21, 2018 - This week's tablehopper: summer wine.

August 21, 2018 - This week's tablehopper: summer wine.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: summer wine.                    

A summer evening dinner at A16 with Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore (this summer squash and torchio pasta course with Grana Padano, preserved egg yolk, and lemon was a stunna with the Sommariva). Photo: ©

How’s it going out there? Did everyone recover from Outside Lands? That was a blast (per usual) and totally kicked my butt—on Friday alone, I walked 20K steps around the park. And then there’s the bike ride there and back! The fempire weekend of Florence, Janelle, and Janet was so awesome, Beck really brought the visuals (like WOW), the cocktails were flowin’ (special thanks to my party buddies, Hendrick’s and Jim Beam), plus there was some really special sandwich love from Tartine Manufactory (OMG that grilled cheese) and Son’s Addition’s pinnacle of munchies vittles. And then there’s the natural beauty of Golden Gate Park, the ultimate backdrop, no filter needed but totally enhanced by some of my favorite treats from mymilligram. Thanks to everyone for all the hard work that goes into pulling off that massive event.

I know a bunch of you are frantically preparing and packing to head to the playa. I wish I could say the same, but a week relaxing in Tahoe while working part-time is as close as I will physically get to the desert. I couldn’t really do Russia AND Burning Man, try as I might. Speaking of, did you catch my big Russia recap in the last tablehopper issue? Take a break from the horrible news stories and read about the people and food instead. What a country.

I have a couple more recaps for you, and you don’t want to miss these! Be sure to read my Table Talk column on KQED’s Bay Area Bites for details on Tuezday Noodz and Breadbelly (which some of you noticed in my Instagram feed a few weeks ago!). Indian food lovers, do not delay on grabbing a meal at Ritu, and check out an amazing Farming Hope fundraiser happening at Mister Jiu’s. And a clambake! And a Cubano.

Want to explore some great places to buy wine? I just wrote this post for Blackboard Eats on SF’s seven best wine shops that offer something extra.

Since we’re talking extra, check out this post I wrote on mymilligram about the Wine & Weed Symposium I attended a couple of weeks ago (plus the Terpenes and Terroir dinner I attended).

This weekend (August 24th-26th) is the annual Eat Drink SF, our city’s extravaganza of food, cocktails, wine, and more. There are daytime and evening tasting sessions with some of SF’s best restaurants, bartenders, and purveyors, don’t miss it.

Here’s wishing you a great upcoming Labor Day holiday, I’ll see ya in two weeks when we all return. I hope you get some sun on you.

Cheers! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Coming Soon: Isla Vida Bringing Afro-Caribbean Vibes to Fillmore


Get ready for the Afro-Caribbean flavors of Isla Vida Afro-Caribbean Grill. Photo via Facebook.

I’m always happy to hear when farmerbrown’s Jay Foster is up to something, and this time it’s a new project coming to the Fillmore this mid-September: ISLA VIDA AFRO-CARIBBEAN GRILL. This new restaurant is going to be a casual spot, “inspired by the islands, people, and lifestyle of the African diaspora. It’s a warm, vibrant place where flavors are rooted in the culture and prepared with love and craft. Expect wood-fired meats, tostones, Cubanos, great music, and good vibes.” He’s partnering with farmerbrown friends Matthew Washington and Erin Traylor and is excited to be able to open a project in the historic Fillmore District (it’s going to be the former Black Bark BBQ space). The team traveled to New York, Miami, and Cuba for some culinary inspiration for the concept.

There will be 40 seats inside, and 20 outside, and will have a counter/quick service model—Foster says they expect a fair amount of take-out and delivery. They actually want to handle their own delivery in order to keep control over customer service and offer a full circle of hospitality.

They just launched an Indiegogo campaign (please be sure to watch their video) for a final funding push to help add outdoor seating, purchase eco-friendly electric cargo bikes for delivery, and better signage and bar equipment. Please show some support to this black-owned business trying to keep the soul of the Fillmore alive—like they said in an email, even $5 helps.

Hours will be Wed-Sun 11am-8pm, and opening at 10am on the weekends for brunch. 1325 Fillmore St. at Ellis.

New Openings Include Theorita, Mendocino Farms, Outer Orbit


A selection of baked goods from Theorita. Photo via Facebook.


Now that’s an egg sandwich (on housemade English muffins). At Theorita. Photo via Facebook.


A look at the gray-toned Mendocino Farms. Photo courtesy Mendocino Farms.


One of the records for Outer Orbit’s jukebox: Yello’s Pinball Cha Cha. Photo via Facebook.

First it was the Boba Guys opening at 838 Divisadero under Che Fico, and now opening just next door is THEORITA from the Che Fico team. As I previously mentioned, the name is in homage to pastry chef Angela Pinkerton’s grandmother and is a pie shop and dinette. It’s reportedly opening this Wednesday August 22nd, serving some sick breakfast sandwiches, Danishes, salted pecan sticky buns, and coffee for breakfast, plus burgers, salads, and pie whenever you want it. Breakfast and lunch to start, and dinner is coming next week. The 60-seat space has booths and a kitchen counter. Open Wed-Sun 7am-3pm; dinner will be 5pm-11pm. 838 Divisadero St. at McAllister.

Downtown workers have a new lunchtime spot: MENDOCINO FARMS, which originally launched in LA, but is gradually making its way up north (founders Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen are NorCal natives). It’s a fast-casual chain primarily known for salads and sandwiches made with quality local ingredients—some menu classics include the “Not So Fried” Mary’s Chicken Sandwich, Mendo’s Original Pork Belly Banh Mi, and the Avocado and Quinoa Superfood Ensalada. There are also breakfast items and coffee (from Verve Coffee Roasters), and in a first for this location, there will be grab-and-go items as well. It’s located in the Merchants Exchange Building, a spacious 5,882 square feet designed by Valerio Architects. There is a variety of seating options, including a patio. Initial hours are Mon-Fri 11am-7pm, with breakfast service launching soon. 465 California St. at Montgomery.

Opening Friday August 24th in Bernal is OUTER ORBIT, a family-friendly and retro-inspired pinball saloon that also serves food and drink. It’s opening in the former Bel from Christian Gainsley and Elisabeth Kohnke, with chef Sam DeCamp (Gibson, Finn Town) leading the Hawaiian-inspired menu. Dishes include musubi with spicy McFarland Springs trout; togarashi tots; a Hawaiian plate lunch; and a kalua pig melt with guava-smoked pork shoulder, wasabi-lime aioli, provolone, and house-pickled shallots, on toasted brioche dipped in au jus. Brunch includes mochi chicken and waffles, classic loco moco, mazemen ramen, and more. There’s also a kids’ menu, so Mom and Dad can enjoy some beer off the 12 taps while everyone plays pinball (there’s wine too).

As for the pins, look for nine machines, from retro to current, plus a vinyl jukebox that also spans many musical eras. Open Wed-Thu 4pm-10pm, Fri 4pm-12am, Sat 11am-12am, Sun 11am-10pm. 3215 Mission St. at Valencia.

Tidbits: Al Pastor Papi, New Ramen Spots, Next Level Burger


An al pastor taco from Al Pastor Papi. Photo via Facebook.


The signature spicy ramen from The Story of Ramen. Photo courtesy of The Story of Ramen.


Spicy ramen with bone marrow at Ushi Taro. Photo courtesy of Ushi Taro on Yelp.

Some quick notes for you:

It’s tough to find some true al pastor tacos in SF with meat shaved off the trompo, but that’s what Miguel Escobedo (previously Papalote—he sold his portion of the business back to his brother) is doing at Al Pastor Papi. Escobedo’s new biz has opened in a hot pink trailer parked at the new Parklab Gardens in Mission Bay, next door to the Warriors arena. I’ve been following his al pastor obsession on Instagram after reading a preview of his tacos and look forward to checking out his Mexico City-inspired tacos (he’s using tortillas from La Palma and also offering carne asada, pollo asado, and a vegan option too). Hours are Tue-Fri 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-9pm.

Here’s more on Parklab Gardens: it’s operated by Carlos Muela of food truck parks SF Spark Social and StrEat Food, and also plays home to Hookt doughnuts (from the Frozen Kuhsterd folks), rotating trucks, and there’s a bar serving beer and wine. A main feature is Stagecoach Greens, a high-tech, outdoor miniature golf course from Esther Stearns and Jan Cohn Stearns, with 18 holes inspired by cycles of boom and bust around the West. There’s also an app to keep score and book tee times (open daily). 1379 4th St. at Mission Bay Blvd.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned THE STORY OF RAMEN coming to the Mission, a weekday ramen shop that’s also a classroom at night. Founder Manville Chan says they are soft-opening for lunch this Friday August 24th, 11am-2pm. You can take a look at the menu, which includes a couple of kinds of tonkotsu, vegetarian, and chicken broth selections, plus add-ons and gyoza. For weekday evenings and weekends, their restaurant accepts advanced reservations for their educational and interactive ramen experience, when diners participate in making noodles and learning more about ramen and the broth. In the coming weeks, hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, closed on Labor Day. 3231 24th St. at Mission.

Since we’re talking ramen, there’s a place that has caught my eye: it’s called USHI TARO in the Inner Sunset, and they make a bone marrow ramen. With summer black truffles. Whoa, hearty—perfect for Fogust. It ends up their focus is on ramen with beef bone broth (shio, spicy, and paitan), and they also make oxtail and tomato ramen, and tsukemen. Other sides are available as well. I’ll report back! Open Mon-Fri 5pm-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-9:30pm. 1382 9th Ave. at Judah, 415-702-6014.

And now we’re taking a break from the beef: opening this Friday August 24th is NEXT LEVEL BURGER, a plant-based burger joint in Potrero Hill. The menu includes plant-based burgers, hot dogs, salads, sandwiches, sides, and dairy-free (soy- or coconut-based) shakes. 450 Rhode Island St. at 17th St.

Chef Moves and Menu Updates


The cheerful exterior of Stones Throw. Photo courtesy of Stones Throw.


The dining room at Trestle. Photo courtesy Trestle.


Don’t miss the swell cocktails at Nico from Simone Mims. Photo: ©

A couple of quick updates, first in the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group: chef Robin Song has moved on from Gibson (as I previously reported) and is now chef de cuisine of STONES THROW in Russian Hill. He’s collaborating with group executive chef Jason Halverson on updating the menu, come by for some of his summer dishes.

Meanwhile, over at TRESTLE in North Beach, the new executive chef is Claudio Dell’Anno (previously Belgium’s Ciccio, Le Gavroche in London, De Librije in the Netherlands, and LA’s Bestia and Papilles). Look for some updates to the restaurant’s popular $38 three-course prix-fixe menu.

Over at ASTER, chef Brett Cooper has transitioned the four-course menu to a seven-course menu, now $135, with an optional sommelier pairing for an additional $79. I ran into Brett in the neighborhood, and he said guests were happy to have an upgraded tasting experience. And with summer produce in full swing, you can be sure his vegetable-driven menu is really shining right now.

Have you had a chance to check out the new NICO location in North Beach yet? It’s really a beaut, and they just launched their new six-course chef’s choice menu ($85) in case you want an excuse to return! They have also added a dish that is going to remain a constant: pithivier, with savory layers of aged duck, duck stuffing, and foie gras wrapped in puff pastry and served with seasonal purée and greens. (Lipitor supplement is up to you.) You can also opt for wine pairings from GM and wine director Gideon Levine for $75, and do not miss a cocktail from bar manager Simone Mims, they are magic.

Closures: City Counter (No!), Shanghai Dumpling King (Noooo!), The Chairman


A peek at the counter (during an evening preview party). Photo: ©


Sugar eggs puffs from Shanghai Dumpling King. Yelp photo by Christine C.

Man, these are some lousy pieces of news about places closing. Sorry to report that FiDi’s CITY COUNTER is no longer open and serving their luncheonette-inspired menu. We’ll have to see what’s next for owner Harper Matheson and talented chef Sean Thomas. 115 Sansome St. at Bush.

A major bummer is SHANGHAI DUMPLING KING, home of the amazing sugar egg puffs (and affordable massive plates of steamed dumplings), has closed. According to a post on Yelp, the 696 Monterey Blvd. location remains open, and “an employee mentioned that his boss is retiring and wanted to close that [SF] location down because that location is too small and couldn’t keep up with the high demand of to-go orders.” (I have been guilty of adding to the dumpling delivery overload.)

Hoodline reports the new owner is Mary Feng Shimei, who will be reopening it as Bao Bao Noodle Bar in September. She will reportedly continue to offer the same dumplings at the same price. No word on the puffs. Sigh. That place was always a little pocket of no-fuss and vintage charm. 3319 Balboa St. at 34th St.

Since we’re talking bao, Hoodline also reported the brick-and-mortar Tenderloin location of THE CHAIRMAN has closed. The truck continues, and they may be seeking a new location. 670 Larkin St. at Ellis.

Due to close at the end of September will be HOFFMANN’S GRILL & ROTISSERIE in the Mission. An impending soft-story retrofit of the building was going to necessitate a yearlong closure, which chef-owner Karen Hoffmann and partner Chandra Asken didn’t want to weather. There’s a new business coming in, however, called Plain Jane, and according to the ABC beer and wine license transfer, it looks like the owners are behind the breakfast place Mymy cafe on California St. in Polk Gulch. 1000 Guerrero St. at 22nd St.


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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Brews News: Radhaus Opens, Plus Hop Oast, Ballast Point Coming, Old Bus Tavern Closing


The industrial-meets-natural style at Radhaus. Photo courtesy of Radhaus.


Enjoy the view and natural light at Radhaus. Photo courtesy of Radhaus.


What’s on tap at Hop Oast. Photo via Facebook.

A few months ago, I wrote that a modern Bavarian beer hall from the beer-lovin’ gents behind Biergarten and Suppenküche (Aaron and Matt Hulme) was coming to Fort Mason Center: RADHAUS. And it’s now open. The 3,700-square-foot industrial space includes a bar, communal bench, and plenty of tables, plus some amazing wood elements (bar tops, communal seating) made from a 200-foot ponderosa pine tree sourced by Evan Shively, with quite a view of the bay; Envelope A+D is behind the design. It’s the perfect spot to visit after a visit to the weekly farmers’ market, or hanging out at Marina Green. Or in my case, a visit to FLAX.

Talented chef Timmy Malloy’s menu of Cali-Bavarian eats spans breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. He even traveled to Germany and trained at a 12th-century Bavarian castle and inn. His menu includes a chicken schnitzel sandwich with buttermilk sauce, cucumber, dill, and pickled onion; a roast half chicken with bread dumplings; and more.

As for the beers, you’ll find Bavarian Biers from some of the world’s oldest breweries, including Weltenburger Kloster, an operating monastic brewery since 1050. There’s also a wine list with selections from Germany, Austria, Italy, and West Coast wineries, plus a selection of cocktails. Radhaus will pour specialty, regional liqueurs and will be the first to import Bavarian spirits distilled from Bier into the U.S.

Open daily 11am-2pm and 5pm-10pm for dinner. 2 Marina Blvd., Bldg A, Fort Mason, 415-445-4556.

A tablehopper reader let me know a new pub and brewery has opened at Cesar Chavez and Bryant in the former D&J Furniture, HOP OAST. Hoodline shares details about owner Aron Deorsey’s background and what he’s brewing in the three-barrel system (currently an IPA and golden ale). They also serve some guest beers, plus sandwiches, sausages, and snacks. Open Thu-Mon 2pm-10pm, with happy hour 5pm-7pm. 2887 Bryant St. at Cesar Chavez.

I saw Ballast Point’s name hit the ABC wire and was like, wow, that’s interesting. It ends up the San Diego brewery is planning to open an “on-site R&D brewery” in Mission Bay near the Warriors stadium in San Francisco in 2019, along with a restaurant that will highlight San Diego-style food, like Baja fish tacos. Stand by for more. 705 16th St. at Owens.

One last piece of breaking news: OLD BUS TAVERN is closing on September 8th after three years in Bernal/La Lengua. They hope you’ll stop by for a last beer and bowl of chili. Eater mentions the brewpub has new owners lined up who are taking over the lease. 3193 Mission St. at Valencia.

Newly Refreshed Bars Include Laureate and White Rabbit


Yes way there’s rosé at White Rabbit. Photo courtesy of White Rabbit.

The former Swank at The Laurel Inn (a Joie de Vivre property) in Pacific Heights just got a whole new look and upgrade, graduating to its latest incarnation of LAUREATE. The space has a residential and midcentury modern look, courtesy of RPM Studio, complete with brass accents and the iconic fireplace has a new terrazzo exterior.

Bar manager Sam McGinnis has put together a menu of classic cocktails like Negronis, Palomas, and martinis with a seasonal and local twist ($12), along with specialty cocktails, local craft beers, wines, and there will be hot toddies in the winter (although we could totally drink them now). There are bar snacks as well, plus live music. Open Mon-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-1am. Happy hour runs Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm and Sat 5pm-7pm. 444 Presidio Ave. at California.

The former Matrix in the Marina is now WHITE RABBIT, part of The PlumpJack Group’s portfolio (along with Forgery and Wildhawk). The name pays homage to the building’s history as the location where Jefferson Airplane recorded “White Rabbit” in 1967. Like Laureate, they’re going for a residential style here with couches and low-slung tables (the space was designed by Shopworks)—it’s meant to be chic yet comfortable.

There are classic and specialty cocktails (no comment on the “Skinny Rabbit”), beer and rosé on tap, and small, shareable plates (view the full menu here). There’s also a chose-your-own vinyl record player, with a stash of records of bands who played at the Matrix in the ’60s (The Doors and Janis Joplin) to current artists, although DJs are in charge of the soundtrack Thu-Sat nights. There are also private areas you can reserve. Wed-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri 5pm-2am, Sat 2pm-2am, Sun 2pm-10pm. 3138 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-993-5399.

Big Changes on Polk Street (Hemlock Closing, Vertigo Sold), Tradition Closed, More


Polk Street’s Vertigo is in the process of being sold. Yelp photo by Adam S..


The bar at Tradition. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©

Some big news happening over in Polk Gulch: after rumblings for the past few years that the 1145 Polk Street block was going to be razed for new housing, it’s actually happening. The classic live music venue and bar HEMLOCK TAVERN has announced it has been sold and will close on October 6th (after their 17th anniversary party)—they will continue to feature live music and bands through September 30th. They state “15,000 local/national/international bands and music acts [have] performed over 5,000 shows in our back room since October 2001.” Man. You can read more in their Facebook post and this in-depth post on KQED that shares the ownership’s take on things. 1131 Polk St. at Post.

Just across the street, VERTIGO is in the process of being sold to Anzhelika (Angela) Voloshyna of Iron Horse, Topsy’s, and Playland. (I reached out to her for comments on her plans, but haven’t heard back.) This one is particularly nostalgic for me: I used to host a happy hour here with friends called Knees Up when the bar opened 15 years ago (where does the time go?!). So many fun memories with owners Kenny Meade and Derek Burke…Bora Bora Bombs forever! 1160 Polk St. at Post.

After six years of running as TRADITION, Future Bars has closed the bar to transform it into ZOMBIE VILLAGE (yes, yet another tiki bar is opening in SF). The name pays homage to the former Skipper Kent’s Zombie Village (in the ’60s, it was located where Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Curry House is now), and there was another location also in Oakland. Eater mentions it’s going to feature some interiors as dramatic as the name, stand by for more. 441 Jones St. at O’Farrell.

Just in case you’re looking for a place to grab a cocktail after a show at Minnesota Street Projects in Dogpatch, BESHARAM is now serving cocktails featuring Indian ingredients, from curry leaves to fenugreek. (The new $59 family-style feast also looks amazing, btw.) 1275 Minnesota St. at 24th St., 415-580-7662.


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