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Feb 4, 2019 15 min read

February 5, 2019 - This week's tablehopper: happy year of piggin' out.

February  5, 2019 - This week's tablehopper: happy year of piggin' out.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: happy year of piggin' out.                    

Meet the Emperor, one of the many chicken sandwiches at Paper Rooster in the Tenderloin, with housemade sriracha chips and ginger ale. Photo: ©

Gung Hei Fat Choy! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Happy Lunar New Year, and year of the pig! If you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate, I just saw this post on Bay Area Bites about lunar new year treats. And today’s tablehopper has some new dumpling places for you to check out as well—be sure to order some long noodles.

It’s also SF Beer Week, with more events than my inbox can handle. So, why don’t you just head on over to their site and see what you want to do? (Hint: click “types” to limit the kind of event you’re looking for, like food pairings.) You’ll also want to take a look at the lineup from today’s sponsor, The Monk’s Kettle!

And just in case you’re a (fellow) woman who loves whiskey, there’s an event with Westland Distillery (and master distiller Matt Hofmann) at Noosh tonight with a few tickets left! You’ll get a sneak peek of this almost-open spot and some great tastes (of both whiskey and snacks).

Last week, I thoroughly enjoyed my late-night dinner at La Calenda, the new Mexican restaurant from Thomas Keller Restaurant Group in Yountville. (A beautiful homage to masa, in all its forms.) Read all about it in my weekly Table Talk column, plus three Valentine’s Day dinners worth the expense and hassle of going out on a very busy night of hearts and flowers.

And don’t miss last week’s column, with a taste of what’s on the menu at the newly opened El Pípila in SoMa and Paper Rooster in the Tenderloin, plus a crab feast for Valentine’s Day, and two ongoing prime rib specials.

You may have heard about the new Udon Time (it’s perfect weather for noodles!) and soon-to-open Niku Steakhouse—I’m going to check them out this week and will have a firsthand report in the next tablehopper.

I’m busy once again curating the restaurants for this year’s Academy of Friends gala and Oscars viewing party! We have some fantastic partners this year, including Avery and Nico in VIP, along with China Live, Izakaya Sushi Ran, Cento Osteria, The Saratoga, Gio Gelati, Bluestem Brasserie, Tank18, and Uno Dos Tacos, with more to be confirmed this week! Get your ticket for Neptune’s Fantasy, and prepare for a fun evening! I will definitely see you there.

Keep warm, and enjoy all of your lunar new year festivities! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Openings: Beit Rima, Smokebread, The Pawn Shop, Mamo, Breakfast Little, New Banh Mi Places, Dim Sum, and More


Ful (fava beans) with an egg and pita at Beit Rima. Yelp photo by Dan B..


The exterior of The Pawn Shop. Photo: ©


The eclectic and communal interior of The Pawn Shop. Photo: ©


The montado de atún at The Pawn Shop. Photo: ©


Tequeños at the new Mamo in Cow Hollow. Yelp photo courtesy of Mamo.


The namesake breakfast little sandwich on a pan de sal roll. Yelp photo by Thomas K..


The combo banh mi at B and B. Yelp photo by JM Y..


Har gow that look like goldfish at Golden Saba Seafood. Yelp photo by Johnson H.

The former Burgermeister on Church is now home to BEIT RIMA, a casual place for Arabic comfort food. The name means “Rima’s House,” an homage to owner Samir Mogannam’s mother and her wonderful cooking (she is originally from Jordan). His father is Paul Mogannam, founder of Burgermeister, who is retiring and passing the mantle to his son. The menu includes falafel or kebab-stuffed pita, shakshuka all day, hummus (including a version topped with spiced beef), fattoush salad, vegetables from Mariquita Farm for dipping, and more. A post on Eater reveals he has quite the cooking pedigree, working at Aziza, Tawla, and Dyafa. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. 138 Church St. at Duboce. [Via Hoodline.]

I was happy to see Nick Balla’s SMOKEBREAD back in action as a kiosk in the Market on Market in the Twitter building. Yup, his tasty dips and spreads made from B-grade produce are back! Eater got some additional details: it’s a permanent kiosk, serving one item for $4, or three items for $10, choosing from smoked potato bread (made from ugly potatoes!), dips, vegetables to dip, and pickles. The selection will change based on what he’s sourcing from farmers markets, Good Eggs, Imperfect Produce, and other purveyors. It will also be “a launching pad for Balla’s wholesale and packaged business; he plans to expand production to accommodate white labeling for bigger companies and distribution to other markets.” Think: airports and other quick-serve spaces. We’ll be hearing and seeing more in coming months. Open Mon-Fri 11am-2pm. 1355 Market St. at 10th St.

The teams behind Monarch Management Group (Monarch, The Great Northern) and Bisou Group (Beso, ChouChou) have opened a quirky wine bar and restaurant on Mission at Sixth Street called THE PAWN SHOP in a space that was originally…a pawn shop. The exterior and front area look just like a vintage pawn shop (designed by Jesse “Roadkill” Wilson), complete with VHS tapes and a fast-talking “pawn master” who wants to make some deals. After some initial haggling, he’ll press some buttons and open a secret door built into a shelf, which opens onto a rather spacious bar and dining area with high-top communal tables and an eclectic tropical style. Service is friendly in spite of the bustle as servers navigate the room (it can get a little tight). The wine list is heavy on the Old World selections, with some California wines, and flights offered. There are also four low-ABV cocktails, but they could use some fine-tuning.

The mostly Spanish-inspired menu of tapas with a few Cuban dishes is extensive (perhaps a bit too much so), and the pricing is all over the map (the fried cauliflower with romesco was a great snacky dish, and just $10, while a minuscule escarole salad was $12, and mini lamb chop “lollipops”—with nothing listed about their sourcing—were a whopping $19 each). The montados (toasted baguette toast points loaded up with toppings) ended up being a favorite bite, like the tuna or the cojonudo with chorizo and quail egg, a nicely priced bite at $6 each. I also snuck one of my friend’s tostones ($8), with an avocado pistachio sauce that worked much better with the plantains than the lamb lollipops. There are also oysters, charcuterie and cheese, skewers, tapas (including a vegan section), flatbreads that are like an island of cheese (good for the end of the night but maybe not the beginning if you’re planning to dance at Monarch next door), and piping hot churros.

Some folks are decrying the insensitivity of opening a mock pawn shop in the middle of one of the city’s most downtrodden areas, but I almost take greater offense at the lack of prices on the online menu—maybe it’s just part of the pawn shop schtick. Open Mon-Sat 4pm-2am, happy hour 4pm-6pm and late 10pm-12am, Sat-Sun brunch 10am-3pm. 993 Mission St. at 6th St.

Now open in the Marina/Cow Hollow is MAMO, a restaurant blending Colombian, Venezuelan, and Californian cuisines. The South American menu includes small plates, salads, and larger plates like pork shoulder guajillo with arepas, poached white fish, and even a vegan bowl, plus beer and wine. It’s a tiny spot, but looks like it will be a cozy neighborhood joint. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 3659 Buchanan St. at Bay.

You love breakfast sandwiches? Yeah, me too. The one they’re serving at BREAKFAST LITTLE looks like a winner, along with their ham and cheese French toast, savory toasts, oatmeals, and breakfast burrito with tater tots inside. It’s a sister business to Piccolo Pete’s, so you’ll find coffee from Henry’s House of Coffee. It’s tiny, so plan on take-out. Open Mon-Fri 6am-6pm, Sat 7am-6pm, and Sun 8am-6pm. 3224 1/2 22nd St. at Bartlett.

There are some new banh mi spots that opened, starting with LE TRIO in the Outer Sunset, serving banh mi like slow-roasted pork with lemongrass (from 11:30am-3pm) in a stylin’ café space, along with scones, cakes, and coffee drinks from Temple Coffee and tea. Open Wed-Sun 8am-3pm. 2575 Judah St. at 30th Ave.

Another spot is B&B BANH MI & BOBA in the Inner Sunset, which reportedly has special bread made for them. I’ll be checking this one out soon (b&b special combo with house-roasted pork, fancy pork loaf, headcheese, pate, and b&b special sauce, you are mine), let me know if you’ve already been! Open Tue-Sun 11am-7pm, but it sounds like the banh mi can run out around 4pm, FYI. 1634 Irving St. at 17th Ave.

Now, let’s look at dumplings. There’s a new Shanghaiese noodle and dumpling spot in the Inner Richmond called ALLEY HOUSE, and taking a quick glance at their album of photos on Yelp is enough to make me want to check it out stat. Bring on the saozi noodles. Open Tue-Sun 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm (until 9:30pm Fri-Sat). 3751 Geary Blvd. at Arguello Blvd

Downtown workers will want to check out GOLDEN SABA SEAFOOD, offering freshly made dim sum like har gow, steamed bao (including trendy colorful ones), xiao long bao, siu mai, and fun dumplings like the tom yum goong ones from Dumpling Time, plus some lunch specials and small plates. Open daily 11am-3pm. 646 Washington St. at Kearny.

You can pick up some quality vegetarian and meat handheld pies from PYE, who you may know from various farmers markets and festivals, who are now serving from inside San Franpsycho in the Inner Sunset. Brothers Caleb and Cody use local and regional ingredients, organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, dairy, and grains, along with no added hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or harmful chemicals in their ingredients. Available Thu-Sun 10am-3pm. 1248 9th Ave. at Irving.

Meanwhile, a second location of the kosher FRENA BAKERY has opened in the Outer Richmond, serving everything from pizza bagels to sambusak, burekas, shakshuka, challah and other breads, halva, and doughnuts. I have never been particularly in love with the goods from their location on 6th Street, but some people seem to dig it, and I do appreciate their fluffy pita. Here’s a second location for you. Open Mon-Thu 8am-8pm, Fri 8am-3pm, Sun 9am-7pm. 5549 Geary Blvd. at 19th Ave.

Coming Soon: City View to The Empress, Señor Sisig's Brick and Mortar


The ground floor of the building at 838 Grant. Photo with Google Maps.

Just some quick coming soon news for you: according to some agenda notes from the Planning Commission, it looks like the well-known downtown dim sum parlor, CITY VIEW, is planning to open a location in the ground floor of the former and iconic Empress of China building. The six-story behemoth, famous for its banquets, opened in 1966 and sadly closed in 2014. I’m bummed this project doesn’t involve an upper-level floor (City View really deserves a view with that name, and The Empress had such an amazing view!). I’ll let you know when I hear back with any updates. 838 Grant St. at Clay, 415-434-1345.

SEÑOR SISIG is going to be opening a brick and mortar in the former Blue Fig on Valencia, which includes a parklet and sunny back patio. Don’t worry, the five trucks will continue circulating (for now). Owner Evan Kidera is aiming for a May opening. 990 Valencia St. at 21st St. [Via Eater.]

Closures Include Lucca Ravioli (in April, Dear Lord, No), The Perennial, The Board, and More


The classic exterior of Lucca Ravioli Company. Photo via Lucca’s Facebook page.


The long bar at The Perennial. Photo courtesy of The Perennial.


The dining room at The Perennial. Photo courtesy of The Perennial.


I’m gonna miss you, beastmode double cheeseburger from The Board. Photo: ©

Just a couple weeks ago, I was driving by LUCCA RAVIOLI CO. late one night in the Mission, and there was a little voice in my head that quickly gave thanks that this iconic SF Italian-American deli was still with us, with its quirky hand-painted signs and jaunty tricolore awning and signage. Well, that little voice that was comforting me was wrong.

The sad news that this beloved deli and shop is closing on Saturday April 20th (the day before Easter Sunday) has been cascading and crashing throughout the city. When I moved back to California after living in Italy, Lucca was the only place I could find my Lavazza coffee for my Moka pot (and replacement gaskets), and they’d always slice my finocchiona and spicy coppa just-so, but would still show me my first slice for approval before tiling and layering the meats with care like the pros they are. I posted some more thoughts on tablehopper’s Facebook page… At least it’s not a case of a greedy landlord: it’s just that the owner (Michael Feno) is ready to retire and there aren’t any successors to take over the business.

It’s a huge loss to SF—that shop was one in a million. And those union guys who ran the counter, also one in a million. After 94 years, you tend to think something will be here forever, but sadly, that is not the case. Time for me to have a final photoshoot since the last one was for an article in the Chronicle back in 2007! At least we have a couple months to take a number, say our goodbyes, eat some final ravioli, and hope the guys offer me one last breadstick dipped in their pesto. I’ll also pick up a bottle something bitter so I can pour some out—here’s to 94 years, since 1925, what a feat. Grazie, Lucca! And if you have a cool $8.3M, you can buy Lucca and its neighboring buildings. Sigh. 1100 Valencia St. at 22nd St.

One of SF’s most eco-conscious restaurants, THE PERENNIAL is closing after service this Saturday February 9th. In the farewell note from owners Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint, they say, “So much has happened at The Perennial to give us hope and make us grateful to everyone who made this mission-driven restaurant a reality—and we have witnessed a real shift toward food and agriculture in the conversation around sustainability, which we are proud to have been part of. Meanwhile, during the same years we have run The Perennial, we were also building another labor of love: a non-profit sister organization we named The Perennial Farming Initiative, which is dedicated to the same mission as The Perennial. We have learned so much from toggling between the two projects, but as founders we have come to the conclusion that we can be more effective advocates for a renewable food system through PFI. As people, as parents, as partners, we recognize that it is time to close.” Best wishes to them, and thanks for everything they do to pioneer sustainability in food businesses and beyond. 59 9th St. at Mission.

Darn it, one of the dirtiest burgers in the City is leaving us: THE BOARD in SoMa has closed. Owner Adam Mesnick was having difficulties making things work with staffing while keeping costs affordable—it wasn’t for lack of trying. At least we can still get his wicked sandwiches at DELI BOARD. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.

Fans of DUMPLING KITCHEN in Parkside will be bummed to learn it has suddenly closed—the owners are retiring, and decided to close after eight years of making their tasty dumplings. 1935 Taraval St. at 29th Ave. [Via Eater.]

Another unexpected closure was COFFEE BAR in the Mission, which suddenly closed without any explanation. I checked in with original owners Robert Stang and Luigi Di Ruocco (Mr. Espresso) on the closure, who said, “We learned of the Bryant location’s closure along with the general public, closed doors with no explanation. We sold that location to a group of private investors, our agreement prohibits us from discussing them or the sale. We have inquired with them with no response.” We’ll have to see what happens next at the location. Coffee Bar’s other locations remain open and unaffected. 1890 Bryant St. at Florida.

Things also look a little up in the air at ALLEGRO ROMANO on Russian Hill. A tablehopper reader sent in a pic of a notice of suspension in the window, and you can’t make any reservations on OpenTable. I’ve reached out to owner Lorenzo Logoreci, and will let you know if I hear back. 1701 Jones St. at Broadway.

New Service: Angler Serving Lunch, Kaiyo's New Brunch


The open kitchen and hearth at Angler. Photo courtesy of Angler.


The new brunch burger at Kaiyo with a housemade Spam patty. Photo courtesy of Kaiyo.

Now open for lunch, you can come by ANGLER for their trademark Radicchio with Radicchio X.O. dish and more. Menu here (menu changes daily). Lunch served Thu-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm. 132 The Embarcadero at Mission, 415-872-9442.

Weekend brunch at the stylish KAIYO in Cow Hollow sounds like a winner to me, especially with the sunny front patio area. The newly launched brunch menu includes kakuni-braised pork belly hash with Peruvian potato hash, panca, shishito peppers, onion, sunny-side up egg, and uchucuta sauce; karaage chicken and waffles with a sesame and scallion waffle, miso maple butter, poached egg, and seasonal greens; or there’s also a Kaiyo burger. If you like something sweeter, there’s passionfruit-soaked French toast with macha crème Chantilly, fresh berries, mango syrup, and cinnamon. Don’t forget their bar, full of creative and well-executed cocktails. Served Sat-Sun 10:30am-3pm. 1838 Union St. at Octavia, 415-525-4804.

510 Openings: North Light, Redfield, and Red Door


Come in to North Light for a cocktail and dinner, and be surrounded by books and music. Photo: Savage Bureau.


The front room (and books!) at North Light. Photo: Savage Bureau.

Looking for a place that welcomes bookworms and lovers of cocktails and espresso shakeratos and ricotta meatballs? There will be a light on for you at NORTH LIGHT, an all-day café and bookstore that morphs into a bar in the late afternoon and evening. You can come by for breakfast (soft-scrambled eggs and papas bravas sound good?) and a Turkish coffee, or salads and toasts for lunch (including some day drinking options), and nighttime brings a few more heftier plates, along with boozier drinks from bar manager Den Stephens, but you’ll also find a kid’s menu if you have any little ones. Well-selected wines, also on the list. I’m happy that we have chef Ronnie New back in the Bay Area, and he’s running the kitchen here.

Owners Dan Stone and Lee Smith have some amazing people choosing the selection of books they sell (oh, like the favorite books of Patti Smith and Rebecca Solnit), and there are also records that will be for sale, and will also be playing. Back patio, check. Sounds just like my sort of place. Open Tue-Sun 7am-12am. 4915 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland.

If you’re a fan of cider or just want to learn more, you can head to REDFIELD, the East Bay’s first cider bar and bottle shop, which recently opened in Rockridge from wife-and-husband team Olivia Maki (Bi-Rite Market) and Mike Reis (Monk’s Kettle, Lagunitas Brewing Company). There are 16 beer and cider draft lines for by-the-glass bottle pours and tasting flights, plus 150 or so ciders. You can also get bottles and cans to go. You’ll also find wine and food, like sandwiches, salads, and small plates, influenced by the cuisine of great cider cultures. Open Sun-Thu 12pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 12pm-12am. 5815 College Ave. at Chabot, Oakland.

There’s a new sandwich and salad spot near UC campus with a focus on housemade, quality ingredients and affordable pricing called RED DOOR EATS, take a look at the menu here, which includes romesco roast beef and crunchy bird turkey with layered chips (my kind of sandwich). Open Mon-Sat 11am-8pm. 2282 Fulton St. at Bancroft, 510-709-0009.

the sponsor

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


(Sponsored Event): SF Beer Week Lineup at The Monk's Kettle

Take a look at what’s on tap and happening for SF Beer Week (click for more details!) at The Monk’s Kettle.

Beer and Cookies Pairing-Tue Feb 5 A selection of cookies served alongside specific beer pairings.

Triple IPA Fest-Wed Feb 6 Six Triple IPAs on tap including Pliny the Younger and 2014 120 Minute

Meet & Greet w/ Boulevard’s Jeremy Danner-Thu Feb 7 Meet Jeremy Danner, Boulevard’s Ambassador Brewer from 4pm-6pm.

Deschutes’ The Abyss Vertical-Sat Feb 9 2013/2015/2017 on draft, other vintages in the bottle.

“Cider Sunday”-Sun Feb 10 Explore the full range of ciders. Various cidery owners will be here 12pm-4pm.

Read more details on all these events here.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

That Time The Morris Became a Private Dining Room (and Kanye Was a Guest)

A few weeks ago, THE MORRIS was closed for quite the private event for one of their regulars, who was celebrating a birthday. It got a beautiful transformation into a private dining room, with tons of amazing flowers from Birch, and check out the baller lineup of wines they poured to go with a high-end tostada and taco bar. It ends up Kanye West was part of the party, but had to hurry off to hit John Legend’s birthday in LA right after dinner. (And I thought I was a tablehopper.)

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