The best moment I had at Lake Tahoe: when the AQI was green for a few hours, all the boats had left, the clear water was calm, and the shadows hadn’t overtaken the beach yet. Just me and the ducks. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Howdy, friends. I’m sitting here at my desk, in a state of deep gratitude for my open windows, with fresh air coming into my apartment for the first time in weeks, and enjoying some bird chirps and city sounds. I know the green AQI dots can shift at any moment, but for now, I am deeply, spiritually savoring this moment and the light breeze and sunlight. I know you’re with me. I’m thinking of our brave firefighters, and everyone suffering from the fires and the heavy blanket of smoke all up and down the West Coast—it’s truly awful. Sending hope and positivity to all.
It has been so brutal for our poor restaurants and bars and businesses to not know if they could open each day based on the air quality. You know, because things weren’t hard enough. If you can make an extra effort to support them as they reopen their outdoor spaces this week, it would mean a great deal. Even think about takeout if you can!
I got home on Sunday from my part-time vacation in Lake Tahoe—I was supposed to be away for a week, but since the air quality was so bad in SF, I pushed my stay as long as I possibly could. I had to spend a couple days inside our family cabin because of the smoke, but am so thankful for the moments of yellow and orange dots that would appear when the winds would shift, and I would hop on my bike and pedal to the beach. It was sad to not be able see the other side of the lake, and it was missing its true blue tones, but the water was clear and cool and deeply restorative. I even managed to finish a book (finally had the right time and place to read Season of the Witch, which felt apropos to read during these difficult times—San Francisco sure has some dark history, wowza).
It was so perfect to return home to a couple bottles of pre-made cocktails after my drive, thanks to the San Francisco Cocktail Club for the sneak peek/taste (their first delivery from Padrecito goes out starting September 22nd)! I’ll be posting about this new delivery service and club on Instagram/Facebook shortly—check them out! They’ll be delivering cocktails from local restaurants every two weeks, along with a food item and playlist to really set the mood. I really love having ready-to-pour drinks in the fridge; I’m already looking forward to another round this evening on my porch with Padrecito’s Piñata (I’m ready to hit it, ha!). I will toast the fresh air, oh you know it.
It’s also Negroni Week, which just started yesterday, and runs through September 20th. Imbibe and Campari are hosting this popular event virtually this year, and for the month of September, they’re fundraising to support organizations and initiatives that are providing relief to the hospitality industry. Campari will be matching up to $200K in donations, so anything you can give is doubled. Cheers to that.
Get excited: I just recorded an interview with the inspiring force that is Reem Assil (Reem’s California) for the On the Fly podcast—it will be airing this week! I’ve been wanting to catch up with her since I started the podcast—we had a lot to talk about, including what it’s like to open a restaurant/bakery during the pandemic, and the many structural changes she is trying to implement moving forward as she explores a worker-owned model. She also talks about some of the amazing dishes and baked goods they’re making—you’re going to want to head over, tout suite.
It’s Rosh Hashanah this week, and I know Canela, One Market, Schmaltz, Pomella, and Wise Sons are all offering special menus, check ‘em out and enjoy some brisket!
More special meals: I want to do a special shout-out to my much-appreciated sponsors this week, who are keeping things going over here! Thank you for supporting them with your clicks and interest. The Vault Garden is hosting a tomato feast next Fri-Sat on their fabulous patio (perhaps you remember my post about the special and safe dining experience they have created?); be sure to check out chef Robin Song’s dream summer tomato menu.
And Club Feast is hosting a $50 coupon giveaway for you to try their new SF delivery service! I’ve been feasting on a few of their partner meals the past couple days—it’s an affordable and unique option! Enter to win the $50 coupon on Instagram (just wait until you see the bountiful fried chicken plate from Voodoo Love that showed up!) and use my code tablehopper10 for $10 off your first order! Yup, I like to keep you well-fed.
Take good care, everyone. Let’s breathe. Marcia Gagliardi
When the news came out in June that the 38-year-old TOY BOAT DESSERT CAFE on Clement Street was closing, there was a sadness that swept through the city. SF native Amanda Michael of Jane the Bakery and Jane cafés tells me she was really depressed about it—she used to go there in high school, and fast forward to her taking her kids there. She says she was really down about it, and a friend sent her an article about the closure and said, “You need to take this on.”
As someone who has been struggling and in survival mode (like any food business right now), she says, “There were a million reasons why not to do it, and a million others why I should do it.” She notes they weren’t looking to expand, at all, but she liked the idea of stepping into a positive project for the city, noting “the pandemic has been so hard on everyone, in so many ways.” So, after working with the former owners Jesse and Roberta Fink, she took the torch, and is opening TOY BOAT BY JANE.
Toy Boat served a simple menu of salads, sandwiches, coffee, and of course, ice cream—all things Jane already serves at their bakeries and cafés—except for the ice cream, but that’s the fun part! Michael wanted to keep the tradition of serving Double Rainbow ice cream, but they’re now making all the sauces and caramel for sundaes, plus adding fun toppings, like Jane’s crazy cookie. She is planning to make sundae kits for home, too. There will also be Jane’s cookies, take-home cookie dough, pastries, breads, butter, cheeses, soup, and more. The other Jane locations will be supplying all the grab-and-go salads and sandwiches, which will keep things pretty streamlined—and they’re all located pretty close to the Geary corridor, a straight shot.
As for the interior, which was packed tight with a massive and dense collection of vintage toys, they had to take everything down for a deep cleaning and repainting. They have been carefully editing down the collection of toys and need to declutter the space for ease of cleaning and sanitization, a requisite these days. Any of the toys that didn’t make the cut will be returned to previous owner Jesse Fink, so fear not—if you don’t see one of your favorites, it wasn’t heartlessly cast away to the toy heap! They have also added a mural.
The hope is to open this Friday September 18th (thanks to Eater for the tip-off about the opening date), once they get their health department inspection and sign-off. Follow @toyboatbyjane for the official opening announcement!
Initial hours will be 8am-8pm—they want to see what the neighborhood needs (online ordering is coming soon). Michael’s hope is that people will come by for an ice cream after dinner at home, and it would be a fun field trip for kids (and adults, let’s be real here). Because: ice cream! She is so touched by the neighborhood’s excitement to see Toy Boat reopen—she said people have even been slipping notes under the door. Awwww! Here’s to keeping an SF treasure box open—both for the kids, and our inner children. 401 Clement St. at 5th Ave.
After being closed the past six months, it’s great to hear that 17-year-old TOWN HALL (since 2003!) has dusted off the pass and is back in action. Chef-owner Mitchell Rosenthal was interviewed by Eater about all the changes happening at the collection of restaurants he operates with his brother, Steven (Salt House—closed; Anchor & Hope—maybe returning as a beer hall; and Jersey—which I reported is temporarily closed), and Town Hall, which has reopened and is returning to its deep New Orleans roots with a new menu that has dishes that pay homage to chef Paul Prudhomme’s famed K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen (he was a mentor to Mitchell), as well as offering weekend brunch (Fri-Sun) for the first time. While the long bar at Town Hall was always the spot to be, now it’s all about their patio and plaza, with plenty of room for distanced seating and heaters.
Take a look at the dinner and brunch menus, with Town Hall favorites like their Benton’s Tennessee country ham served with buttermilk biscuits and red pepper jelly, and their buttermilk fried chicken, plus K-Paul dishes like Cajun popcorn shrimp (arugula, green beans, peanuts, ham, harissa benne vinaigrette), shrimp and crawfish gumbo (okra, scallions, Carolina gold rice), BBQ Gulf shrimp (Worcestershire sauce, garlic herb toast), and blackened rib-eye (brown butter garlic sauce, French fries). Plus oysters on the half shell, because I know how we all miss those. Brunch has a Hangtown fry, eggs Benedict, and more. Bring on the Sazeracs—they really look forward to seeing their regulars! And parking is easy down there for a change. Takeout and delivery are also available. Dinner: Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm, brunch: Fri-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm. 342 Howard St. at Fremont.
Do you follow @tablehopper on Instagram? It’s where I post a bunch of reopenings in my Stories, but I want to make sure you knew that BOULEVARD has reopened with a full-service patio (make reservations and read the terms and peek at the menus here); the soft-shell crab BLT awaits. Lunch: Sat-Sun 11:30am-2pm, dinner Wed-Sun 4pm-8:30pm. Takeout is also available. 1 Mission St. at Steuart.
Lower Polk’s KUMA SUSHI is back open for takeout and delivery Thu-Sun. Ryo and Cory have put a lot of thought into their offering (and decision to reopen)—they swapped out their nigiri selection with their own take on chirashi, which will travel further and maintain quality longer than nigiri, and they are also offering some maki that holds up. They’ll be updating their great list of sake regularly, available by the bottle or a take-out “carafe.” The next soft-open run is this Thursday 9/17 through Sunday 9/20, 5pm-9pm. I love this place, be sure to read the personal note on their site. 1040 Polk St. at Post.
Closed since the beginning of the pandemic, the ever-busy TRICK DOG bar is coming back this Thursday September 17th as a new, interim concept: QUIK DOG, operating out of Trick Dog’s space. The Bon Vivants Hospitality team is trying out this quick-food, takeout concept, focusing on burgers, hot dogs, salads, and fries (thrice-cooked Kennebec potatoes, to be exact), with the return of a couple of their classics: the kale salad, and their Trick Dog burger in a hot dog bun is now the Quik Dog Burger (house-ground blend of chuck and brisket with lettuce, onion, pickles, cheddar, and Doggie sauce on a hot dog bun—also available as a meatless “Beyond” version).
They brought on chef Timmy Malloy (The Douglas Room), who is adding new items like the QD Mission Dog, inspired by bacon-wrapped Mission hot dogs (butterflied all-beef hot dog, applewood bacon, fire-roasted jalepeño, sautéed onions, mustard, and Doggie sauce) and QuikNuggets (boneless buttermilk-brined crispy chicken nuggets, served à la carte or with lettuce, onion, pickles, and Doggie sauce as a sandwich). In SFGate’s article, you can read about all the R&D they have been doing to make sure the food travels well.
As for their famed cocktail list, things are pared down, although the new to-go bottles serve six—they’re designed to be an easy pour and to last in your fridge. You can order a Negroni Bianco with gin, bitter bianco, and blanc vermouth; and the Cruel Summer, with reposado tequila, amaro, and sweet vermouth. There are two-ingredient highballs as well, like mezcal + grapefruit soda; rye + BubbleUp; or aged rum + pineapple soda. You can also order these highball combos as full-sized setups with complete bottles, six-packs of mixers, and fruit. (Some top spirits will be available for sale as well.) Beer and wine will be offered by the can and bottle, and a selection of sodas, like Moxie and Cel-Ray.
You can also pick up their new branded merch, featuring Ferris Plock’s snappy Quik Dog. Keep track of updates at @quik_dog. Open Wed-Sun 4pm-9pm for takeout. 3010 20th St. at Florida.
Also in the Mission, owner Matt Straus of HEIRLOOM CAFÉ has expanded their weekly Saturday Wine offering with some food—pizza, in fact. They’ve been busy workshopping the ingredients and pairings and just launched Heirloom Pizza, selling a variety of 10-inch pizzas to go, like a summer pizza with corn, zucchini, fresh ricotta, and pesto; the Alpine with chanterelles, bacon, sherried onion, Alpine cheeses (uh huh); and the Gettin’ Figgy, with fennel sausage, broccoli rabe, and mission figs. There are also a couple salads, and, of course, a selection of wines to bring home, with a few splurge bottles. Hours for now are Tue-Fri 4pm-8pm and Sat 2pm-5pm. Order ahead for pick-up or delivery. 2500 Folsom St. at 21st St.
Over in Russian Hill, Hoodline reports the chic Kinjo sushi bar has closed, and the owners have opened a second location of SARU SUSHI BAR in its place, the popular Noe Valley sushi spot. You can order takeout and delivery (limited area) from their menu here. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo.
Back in July, I wrote about the upcoming MARLENA RESTAURANT opening in the former Hillside Supper Club on Precita Park (read all the details here), and they’re now offering their picnic basket service every Thu-Sun afternoon, starting this Thursday September 17th (just in time for the clearing skies!). Each basket comes with everything you’ll need for a picnic, including a blanket, plateware, and different food and beverage offerings. All baskets serve two people.
There are three options: cheese and charcuterie ($25 per person), the sandwich picnic basket ($27.50/pp), and the deluxe picnic basket ($45/pp). You can reserve your basket here (select a pickup time between 12pm-3pm), and note there is a $35 refundable fee to reserve the picnic experience, which will be refunded to you upon return of the basket and blanket. 300 Precita Ave. at Folsom.
It was definitely tragic when Lower Haight’s Cafe du Soleil was forced to close in the beginning of April (after 15 years!) due to an inability to come to an agreement with the landlord. But, hope really springs eternal, and thanks to a tip-off from @lowerhaightsf, I see that TARRAGON CAFÉ has opened in the corner space. Hoodline previously shared some details about the couple opening the space. Take a look at their menu here, which includes breakfast items, panini, salads, pizza, and shared plates, like charcuterie or a hummus plate, plus Mr. Espresso coffee service, pastries from Starter Bakery, beer, and wine. Outdoor seating and takeout are available. Hours are 8am-6pm. 200 Fillmore St. at Waller.
Closures and Changes at Besharam, Bussaba, Pera; Plus Dosa on Fillmore, Trou Normand, Obispo, and Nommo Close Permanently
I was so, so sorry to read chef-owner Heena Patel’s post on Instagram that they were temporarily closing BESHARAM in Dogpatch due to alllll the difficulties of running a restaurant right now (please click to read it). Her soulful Gujarati dishes are one of our city’s treasures. Which is why I was thrilled to see a follow-up post that announces: “For a very (very) limited time, we will be serving a pick up menu steeped in the traditions of Gujarati comfort food.” Stand by, follow @besharamsf, and prepare to show as much support as you can to her upcoming takeout offering!
Over in the Inner Sunset, Eater reports that local Thai favorite BUSSABA has closed after 10 years in business, according to a farewell note on their website. But like Besharam, it sounds like they are going to try a home-delivery service: “Sometime in the near future we will be kicking off a new home-delivery food service project which we hope will be a better fit for our sheltered-in-place way of life whilst COVID-19 persists (and perhaps beyond!). It will be called Bussabasf.Baan (Baan means “home” in Thai and feels like an appropriate homage to our original name). More details will come soon, so please check back here in the future.” You can sign up for their mailing list for updates.
The charming Turkish PERA in Potrero Hill has closed after ten years of business (and serving their beautiful stuffed apricots), but Hoodline reports that the kindly owner Irfan Yalcin is going to move his Papito taqueria (currently at 317 Connecticut Street) into the location. No word on timing. (There is also a Papito location in Hayes Valley, under different ownership.) 1457 18th St. at Connecticut.
Such a bummer: Anjan Mitra has made the hard decision to close the glam DOSA ON FILLMORE, after 12 years on the corner of Fillmore and Post (Dosa on Valencia closed last year, after 14 years). The Chronicle article mentions the Fillmore lease was coming up for renewal, and this Eater piece goes deeper into the financial issues Dosa has been facing (and almost any restaurant in SF, for that matter).
I have many fond memories sitting at the bar, eating vada pav after a movie at the Kabuki, and Todd “Spor” Smith sharing his latest inspired wine pairings to go with the uttapam. So many star sightings! It was an important culinary anchor in the neighborhood. Thanks for all the fantastic meals, and I loved the Indian street food event I hosted there, ten years ago… Sigh. Fortunately, Dosa by Dosa remains open in Oakland for now, and some Dosa dishes are available for delivery throughout the Bay Area via virtual/ghost kitchens; you can also find some of their products in Whole Foods. 1700 Fillmore St. at Post.
It’s hard enough to close one business, but in this Chronicle interview with Thad Vogler, he talks frankly about the permanent closure of three of his businesses: TROU NORMAND, NOMMO, and his most recent project, OBISPO in the Mission. It’s a tough read, and I know many folks await the reopening of Bar Agricole in its new location next year (at 1550 Mission St.), where he’s also “planning to add a liquor store there, too, where he’ll sell single-origin spirits imported under his own label.”
There have been a bunch of happenings in the East Bay, and I want to give you a quick round-up of updates. Apologies for not personally following up with these owners for deeper stories here—I didn’t have cell service in the mountains this past week (it was great!) and I didn’t have time to call for more details before my deadline. Too much catch-up going on here. One story I am definitely going to have details on in the next tablehopper is about the opening of HORN BARBECUE in Oakland at the end of this month, stand by. I’ve been avidly tracking Matt Horn’s updates on Instagram—his brisket and ribs were some of the most magical things I ate last year. Here’s an update from Eater in the meantime.
I’m happy to see bartender extraordinaire Simone Mims is the beverage manager at the newly open PORT KITCHENS MARKETPLACE in Jack London Square in Oakland—it was originally going to be an event space, and now it’s a marketplace, serving cocktails, coffee service featuring 3-19 Roasters, fried chicken sandwiches and more from Fowl + Fare, and plenty of ingredients to stock your fridge, pantry, and bar. Look for other micro-businesses to join the co-working kitchen lineup, like Poppy Bagels (follow @portkitchensmarketplace for updates as they grow). Order for takeout or pull up a chair at their outdoor tables. Open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm. 101 Broadway at Embarcadero, Oakland.
Just in case you’ve been missing my updates on Instagram, the S+M Vegan crew have soft-opened their new brick-and-mortar location, LION DANCE CAFE. You can preorder from their menu on Wed at noon (yes, their crazy-popular shaobing sandwich is on the menu, snag it!), and pick up your order on Friday and Saturday evenings (5pm-9pm). They’re keeping things limited as they get their sea legs, look for expanded hours and more soon. 380 17th St. at Franklin, Oakland.
I loved reading about this new Trinidadian restaurant in Oakland, COCOBREEZE from chef Annabelle Goodridge. Eater reports you’ll find “a whole lineup of traditional dishes from its owner’s native Trinidad and Tobago: the savory split-pea fritters known as pholourie; chicken or goat served over pelau, the classic Trinidadian rice dish; and yes, roti with a choice of several different fillings.” She also makes a variety of drinks and baked goods, be sure to read all about the things. Open for outdoor dining and takeout Wed, Fri-Sat 11am-8pm. 2370 High Street at Lyon, Oakland.
Melissa Axelrod and William Johnson have reopened MOCKINGBIRD, with “To the Nest by Mockingbird,” a collection of take-home-and-heat offerings, and cocktails, too; check out the menu here. (Inside tip: chef Rebecca Boice, previously at Zuni and Flora, has been working with them part-time, alongside sous chef Oscar Suarez!) Available for pickup Thu-Sat 4pm-8pm and Sun 2pm-6pm. 416 13th St. at Franklin, Oakland.
Chef-owner Nelson German’s gorgeous SOBRE MESA COCKTAIL LOUNGE—which opened just before the pandemic hit and then sadly had to close a week and a half later—is reopening tomorrow, Wednesday September 16th for takeout and delivery! You’ll find breakfast items and pastries and coffee, plus specialty cocktails in 8 oz. bottles, and three kinds of wings. Open Wed-Thu 8:30am-1:30pm and 5pm-10pm; Fri 8:30am-1:30pm and 5pm-11pm; Sat 10am-3pm and 5pm-11pm; Sun 10am-3pm and 5pm-10pm. 1618 Franklin St. at 17th St., Oakland.
I was happy to read in Nosh about the comeback of Marco Senghor and Bissab Baobab in Oakland, now BISSAP BAOBAB OAKLAND COLLECTIVE KITCHEN, with a new collective model of female-owned businesses joining him (including Kasa Indian Eatery, Mama Juju Tea, and Marina’s Sweet Catering). 381 15th St. at Franklin, Oakland.
Iso Rabins and Matt Johansen of FORAGE KITCHEN have partnered with Fabricius (Fabi) Wiest and Matt Johansen (Suppenküche, Hayes Valley Biergarten) to open a German biergarten, Hofkuche, which means “outdoor kitchen.” Expect boots of beer, sausage platters, potato salad, wienerschnitzel, weekly live music, and family-friendly, outdoor, socially distanced seating. Opening Saturday September 19th. Hours: Wed-Fri 12pm-7:30pm, Sat-Sun 2pm-8pm. (In case you’re looking for the former Shawarmaji pop-up, he’s trying to open a brick-and-mortar location in October, check out his Kickstarter here.) 478 25th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.
Due to open next week in Alameda is THE PREACHER’S DAUGHTER WINE BAR & BISTRO, with chef Casey Rebecca Nunes (formerly Media Noche, now at Smitten) helping out on the menu! Look for some killer sandwiches to go with Old World wines, craft beers, and craft-roasted coffee, too. Follow @thepreachersdaughterwinebistro for updates on the opening. There’s a parklet outside where you’ll be able to linger. 1629 Park St. at Oak, Alameda.
On Friday September 25th and Saturday September 26th, The Vault Garden will be immersed in all things tomatoes! The outdoor oasis in downtown San Francisco will feature a five-course tomato feast by chef Robin Song, showcasing peak-season, juicy tomatoes in all their late-summer glory from top local farmers (including Dirty Girl Farms and Star Route Farms). Just wait until you read the menu below!
Dinner ($95/person) is served both Friday and Saturday nights and a lighter lunch option ($55/person) will be available on Saturday. Tickets are available via Tock.
Dinner ticket includes: -The Vault Garden’s Signature Parker House Roll ‘BLT’ Style with Tomato Gazpacho -DIY Tomato Salad Board w/ Burrata, Tomato-Salt Crusted Beef Carpaccio -Flannery Beef Dry-Aged Prime Rib with Tomato-Peppercorn Sauce -Tomato Tart, Tomato-Baked Gnocchi, Grilled Escarole & Tomato Vinaigrette -Whipped Strawberry Cheesecake w/ Sweet Tomato Compote -Complimentary parking
$3 from each ticket will be donated to CUESA, a nonprofit dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food, and operator of the world-renowned Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
The Vault Garden 555 California St. San Francisco, CA
Tired of resorting to overpriced food delivery after another hard day’s work from home? Club Feast is looking to treat one lucky giveaway winner to a real Feast! With a $50 coupon off their restaurant delivery services, feel free to spoil yourself, send food to your loved ones, or even enjoy a socially distanced Feast together.
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Enter the $50 coupon giveaway:
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*Service fee (15%) and state and city tax (8.5%) not included in price.