Hello, friends. Let’s all take a big inhale together (although I hope your windows are closed with today’s unhealthy AQI). And exhalllllle. How about one more deep breath. Maybe another. Okay. Drop and roll those shoulders. Unclench that jaw. Massage that jawline, along with your temples and neck for a moment. Whewwwww. There is so much happening that is so utterly awful and depressing and traumatizing, all at once. The terrifying fires (and seeing our friends and family and colleagues and workers fleeing and evacuating again and again, and suffering terrible losses, from Meadowood to wineries to family homes, to the very worst of all, a rising death toll—our hearts are heavy). A million people dead from Covid-19 worldwide. The shocking and tragic death of chef Todd Shoberg (Molina) on Monday (there’s a fundraiser for his family, what a heartbreak). Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Breonna Taylor. Tuesday night’s revulsive debate. The election in five weeks. It’s really, truly too much. Just keep coming back to your breath, to the love in your heart, to what you’re grateful for. Take your time if you can, take it hour by hour, day by day.
It’s why I clocked out on Monday and went to the beach—I needed to clear my head, be in nature, enjoy the sun on my body instead of roasting in my apartment, and step away from the doom-scrolling and sadness. (Which is why you’re receiving the newsletter a couple days late.) If you can give yourself some time to be in nature (once the air improves), maybe go for a hike or just drive to a pretty place, do it. Self-care is in the ocean breeze.
Can you believe it’s the first day of October? I know, what?! I just want to do my part and check in and make sure you have registered to vote, yes? (You have until October 19th.) Are you sure? All registered voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 3rd General Election. Registered voters do not have to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot for this election. But all California voters should check the address where they are registered—check your voter status here. Read more about voting in California in this New York Times piece.
Another thing about voting, although this one is fun: I’m thrilled to have 48 Hills promoting the Bay Guardian Best of the Bay awards in today’s newsletter! Help support our local businesses, bands, people, services, and publications! Pretend you’re writing a love letter to all the people and places you love in SF with your vote. (Shameless plug: I’d be so grateful for your nomination for tablehopper for best local website! Thank you kindly.) Vote now—you have until October 10th!
Annnnnd another thing: did you fill out the Census? Please do it now, it has such a big impact on how things are determined for our community, from programs to systems to services to volunteers.
I’d like to give a special shout-out to one of my favorite angels during this pandemic: Joanna Karlinsky, who continues to feed the unhoused in SF (we featured her on the On the Fly podcast). Check out this segment about her on KRON, and you can continue to donate to her fundraiser here. Thank you.
Just in case you don’t subscribe to On the Fly by tablehopper on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, I wanted to be sure you caught the latest episode with Reem Assil of Reem’s California! We talk about what it’s like to launch a restaurant in the first month of a pandemic, to the many adjustments they’ve had to make along the way, to her current exploration of how to build a worker-owned model. You’ll also hear about her incredible pastries, meal kits, and more. Listen in, and thanks for sharing!
Yesterday was a big day for the San Francisco restaurant industry: it was the first day to allow indoor dining (at 25 percent capacity—technically, it could be at 50 percent, but our city is thankfully being relatively cautious with this first step). Guests are required to wear their masks at all times unless they are actively eating or drinking (talking doesn’t count—pull it back up), and whenever someone approaches your table, or when you get up. Restaurants are required to follow the initial guidelines from the Department of Health, and guests (both indoor and outdoor) should expect to answer a few screening questions before being seated about your possible Covid exposure and contact tracing (it helps if you take part—especially in this early stage of things), and you will be informed about a time limit at your table (max two hours).
Honestly, I have complicated feelings about indoor dining. My primary concern is about protecting the health of our restaurant and bar workers, and keeping them safe. It’s very clear how much I love and support restaurants, and miss them terribly, and want to see them survive this current nightmare, but I worry about guest behavior, and how it can adversely impact the people serving us, making our food, and hosting us. Considering the raucous group of about 100 partiers I saw on Ocean Beach on Sunday evening, dancing and drinking and with barely anyone wearing masks—I hate to think of where they’re eating indoors next. I have a lot of trust in (most) restaurateurs to take all the necessary precautions, but it’s the mixed bag of clientele I’m more concerned about.
On Instagram, I’m seeing restaurants announcing they’re open for indoor dining (like Boulevard, Montesacro, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, and John’s Grill), with many talking about their upgraded HVAC systems, open windows, spaced tables, and cleanliness protocols. Some restaurants were never able to open outdoor seating, so this is their first opportunity to serve guests in person (like Kokkari, which is opening October 3rd).
There are people happy to be returning to and dining in their beloved restaurants—I’m hearing of reservations filling up already. Others, like me, are more than content to stick with takeout or outdoor dining for now, especially with this gorgeous weather (as long as the air quality is okay, tables are well-spaced or there are dividers, and customers are respecting the rules and what it means to share space in the time of Covid). And then there’s takeout, when I can enjoy a feast at home or with a friend on my porch, and not have to think about much besides how good the food is. Everyone has their own perceptions and boundaries and thresholds of where they feel comfortable or nervous on the risk spectrum. A friend said it’s like gender: we all have our own expression of it. You do you, and I’m gonna do me. It’s also about respecting others and supporting their safety.
Until we see how this first stage goes, I will not be mentioning restaurants that are open for indoor dining in @tablehopper Highlights—I’m just sticking with outdoor dining and takeout updates for now (pssst, Town Hall has reopened with an awesome outdoor plaza and brunch, and Nari is due to open outdoor seating this Thu or Fri, air quality pending). Basically, I don’t want to encourage anyone to do anything I personally am not comfortable doing yet. Maybe everything will be fine. I hope so. There are just too many things we don’t know right now.
Please be careful, respectful, and diligently wear that mask of yours, no matter how annoying or hot or cumbersome it is. Think of others. We don’t want this big step forward that our city is taking to be a setback. It’s entirely up to us.
Another thing I’ve been watching: the delivery commission fee cap (currently 15 percent). Mayor London Breed has just extended the cap timeline until 50 percent of indoor dining returns (we’re currently at 25 percent). (I’m sure GrubHub has already crafted or sent their commission fee raise emails.) There is also legislation to set a permanent cap in the works—an initial hearing with the public safety services committee is October 8th.
Since we’re talking delivery, I want to thank all of you who entered the Club Feast sponsored giveaway a couple weeks ago! The winner has been chosen, but now it’s your turn to be a winner. Club Feast has kindly offered tablehopper readers $10 off your first order (code: tablehopper10). You can pre-order a dim sum lunch from City View, or a kimchi burrito from HRD Coffee Shop, falafel sandwiches from Sunrise Deli, and many, many more, for just $6.95-$8.95 per meal and no delivery fee—please note the service fee (15 percent) and tax (8.5 percent) are not included in the price. But it’s still crazy-affordable, and some of the meals are really abundant! You’ll find breakfast burritos, banh mi, wonton soup, bento boxes, tikka masala, even ten-inch pizzas! They keep adding restaurant partners daily. Big thanks to Feast for their sponsorship during these financially unstable times—I appreciate it, and look forward to using their service more. Check it out!
Since I don’t have a paying sponsor this week, if you’re able to throw anything in the tip jar, it would help cover some of my monthly operational costs. (Let alone the days I spent writing this beast of a column, ay yi yi, I’ve been up past 2am the last two nights—so please excuse any typos, I’m whupped.) Even “buying me a coffee” with a few bucks helps, truly. I know times are really tight, so maybe you can share the tablehopper newsletter with friends instead? Post about my podcast? Everything and anything is appreciated. Thanks, y’all.
Hang in there. Sending best wishes. Keep your head and spirits up. Find and create and share moments of joy and kindness. XO ~Marcia
Matt Horn Is (Finally, Thankfully, Partially) Serving His Famed Barbecue at Horn Barbecue in West Oakland
For a change, there’s a smell of smoke in the air that is greatly desired and appreciated, and it’s coming from the (almost/sorta/kinda) soft-opened and much-awaited location of HORN BARBECUE in West Oakland. Pitmaster Matt Horn has been slowly, steadily, thoughtfully, and steadfastly working toward this moment: the opening of his first brick-and-mortar location. Instead of hauling his 500-gallon smoker Lucille to the Tracy farmers’ market and pop-ups and breweries, as he has been doing over past four-plus years, he finally has a place to land: Tanya Holland’s former Brown Sugar Kitchen location—from one significant Black-owned business owner to another.
The project has been besieged by city bureaucracy and endless frustrations and pandemic-related delays, but thankfully, Matt Horn is all about perseverance. Not unlike his fans, who will camp out overnight and wait hours in line for his barbecue at his pop-ups (they will even grill and do tailgate-style cookouts while patiently waiting). Over time, he has built up a dedicated fan base, a true community, who will travel from far away (like Arizona, LA, Mexico) for his barbecue that is uniquely his style, pulling from Central Texas traditions, the South, and honoring his Central California roots and Bay Area connections. There are people who have even met in his lines and gotten married, how about that?
In this world of hype and Instagram-fueled madness, it can sometimes be hard to discern what is truly warranted, and what is just a bunch of people trying to check a box and post a pic: “Yeah, I had it.” But last August, at his pop-up in Alameda at Hangar 1 distillery, I pretty much had my mind blown with his brisket, and spare ribs, and pulled pork, and his wondrous beef ribs (big wow, never had anything like it). Killer beans and potato salad. The long line of (smiling) people waiting in the sun made much more sense to me.
I’ve been thinking about that brisket for a year, and when I suddenly had it back in front of me at a media preview last week, I felt something click in my taste memory bank. The rich texture of it is not unlike having marbled A4 beef—it’s infinitely tender and the way the meat and fat meld together is almost custardy—no sinewy or flaky shards of brisket here. It’s lovingly smoked for 16-18 hours, and has the smoke ring to show for it. The smoky bark doesn’t overwhelm, nor does any seasoning distract. It’s a supremely special thing, and definitely worth $30/pound.
The menu will feature tender spare ribs smoked hot and then slow, served with a tasty house sauce that is sweet with honey mustard ($25/lb.); pulled pork ($25/lb.) that is juicy, textured, and so fantastic piled into a squishy Martin’s potato roll with some kicky coleslaw (you can also get brisket or tri-tip in a sandwich, all $15). There will also be St. Louis ribs, turkey, and hot links (plus some special sausages coming soon), and if you see the beef ribs, snag one. Rotating specials and additions will also include oxtails, chicken, lamb shoulder, and they’re going to be smoking whole hogs and lambs (on a different smoker) on Saturdays. He has always sourced quality meats, from using Prime brisket for his pop-ups to heritage hogs.
Sides include pit beans, a stellar eggy potato salad (thanks to his wife Nina’s recipe), slaw, Granny’s potatoes (a cheesy, casserole-like dish his grandmother made, who was famous for her big spreads), mac and cheese (they use shells, all the better to catch all the cheesy goodness), collards, and black-eyed peas (medium, $6, large $10). Matt’s wife and partner Nina is also behind the desserts, which include banana pudding, bread pudding, and Kahlua cake ($6). Beer, wine, sweet tea, and custom sodas will also be available.
Inside the restaurant, there’s a long counter where Matt and his team will be slicing and weighing meats, scooping up sides, and serving you on custom metal sheet pans. When they eventually start indoor dining, there are tables and a counter with cowhide-covered stools, while the back of the restaurant is anchored by a 1,000-gallon smoker from Harper Barbecue in Costa Mesa that resides is in its own 750-square-foot room (it took a crane and forklifts to get it in place), with a 26-foot hood. The smoker was originally going to be outside the restaurant, naturally, but the city wouldn’t allow it (long and frustrating story), so his team had to come up with this indoor solution instead. Diners in the restaurant and folks outside will be able to see it in action from windows on both sides of the room—Horn thinks it’s important for people to be able to see the barbecue process. It’s reportedly the first indoor barbecue pit in California, and what a journey it has been. While they originally planned to open this past Saturday September 26th, there was yet another snag, this time involving the indoor smoker.
For now, Horn is running things like a pop-up and doing pre-orders off a limited menu for pick-up Thu-Sun (they announce when the sale is live on Instagram). Once they get through the endless hurdles, they’ll be opening their two picnic areas for on-site dining with room for 100—one area is an enclosed patio, and they got permission to take over Campbell Street behind the restaurant to set up a number of picnic tables and a few standing counters as part of the Flex Streets Initiative. The murals on the fence and restaurant are by Steven Anderson Art.
Stand by for updates as things progress. It’s a shame this project has been so mired in bureaucracy and Alameda County-related difficulties. It’s a much-needed, high-profile, Black-owned addition to the neighborhood, and Horn has already been taking care of the community and feeding his unhoused neighbors. During the pandemic, he launched a fundraiser, the Horn Initiative, so he could serve thousands of meals to the Oakland community, as well as frontline workers in local hospitals. There’s a reason he has been getting up at 2am to fire up his smoker all these years, tend it through the night, and then serve his carefully crafted barbecue to you with a warm smile—he loves to feed people. He treats his guests like family. We’re lucky, here, and waiting. Once things are fully up and running, they will be open Thu-Sun, from 11am to sold out. 2534 Mandela Parkway at 26th St., Oakland.
A tablehopper reader spotted and sent me this Craigslist ad listing the CALIFORNIOS location for sale, and my heart dropped for a moment. But after talking with chef-owner Val M. Cantu, there’s some good news behind it.
The award-winning, upscale, and downright fantastic Californios has been closed since the stay-at-home order in March, and even though the team wrestled with the options of offering a takeout experience or building a parklet for $10k-$20k, they just couldn’t make the numbers work with either or both of those scenarios.
But like a butterfly back in its chrysalis state, it ends up that just prior to the pandemic, Californios was looking at larger locations to move to (in fact, they were close to a deal, and it thankfully fell through—whew, close call). They had outgrown their cozy Mission location, and in order to keep attracting top talent and really be able to grow, they needed more space. They’re close to finalizing a deal on a stylish location in SoMa with a large patio—I can’t share the location just yet, but as soon as the ink is dry, I will update this post.
The hope is to open around December or January—sadly the beer and wine license will take about that much time, and wine director-partner’s Charlotte Randolph’s selections are an integral part of the tasting menu experience. (She has been busy selecting wines for her Coco’s Wine Club in the meantime.) They plan to focus on a comfortable outdoor dining experience to start, giving them time to update the interior.
Cantu is excited for this transformation and maturation of the Californios concept, its ethos, and of their cooks, who will be returning as a “better, stronger version of themselves.” He brought up the Black Lives Matter movement in our conversation, and talks about a new and extensive employee manual he is diligently working on for the kitchen team, which talks about where they were, and where they’re going. While he mentions they have always had an inclusive work environment, he says, “We have all grown, and can be better.” He’s always looking ahead. I have enjoyed following Cantu’s path from the very beginning (I remember a pop-up at Naked Kitchen in 2013!), and am happy to see this next chapter with his team take shape.
Californios - 3115 22nd St. San Francisco - 415-757-0994
Back in August, I broke the news that chef Rob Lam (Perle) of the upcoming LILY on Clement was going to be offering a to-go version of the upscale Vietnamese restaurant, which was due to open in March with owners Lily and Lucy Lieu, but then Miss Rona did a buyout of the restaurant for the past six months (so to speak) and they couldn’t open.
Anyway, starting today, Thursday October 1st, you can come by for Lily To Go, featuring Rob’s soigné chao (Vietnamese rice porridge), including a forbidden rice version with rock shrimp, crispy dry shrimp, uni XO, and cherry tomatoes; bright green pea leaf and cilantro chao with a trio of mushrooms, bamboo pith, chive blossoms, and toasted shallot; or duck confit, with century egg, cilantro, scallions, and pickles (you can also add on a fried cruller, poached egg, or century egg).
There are also three bánh mi, from the op la breakfast with incredibly orange sunny side farm eggs, housemade giò (it’s like Vietnamese bologna), lap cheong sausage, pâté, and chef-made mayo and pickles, to a chả cá thăng long (bring on the dill and turmeric!), or French dip phở au jus (an upgrade of his famed dip at the former Butterfly). There are a couple noodle dishes, a shaking beef salad, and be sure to check out the unique non-alcoholic drinks. Menu here; you can pre-order on their website!
As you can see, he’s definitely offering an elevated experience with his housemade touches and quality sourcing, even though it’s meant to be casual. Takeout is available Thu-Sun 10am-3pm. 225 Clement St. at 3rd Ave.
After launching with their weekend picnic baskets, MARLENA RESTAURANT on Precita Park in Bernal has opened for outdoor dining Thu-Sat 5pm-9pm and Sun 5pm-8pm. You can get some duck jus poured tableside, yeehaw. Check out their $49, four-course menu here, and read up past details about the project here. 300 Precita Ave. at Folsom.
As I first mentioned in tablehopper back in August, KIN KHAO was going to be opening in the former Noon All Day in Dogpatch, and it’s now open for outdoor dining on their terrace (fast-casual style) or takeout. Menu here—check out that Thai iced tea slushie. Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm. 690 Indiana St. at 19th St.
While I was trying out the Terrace at Palette a couple weeks ago, I spotted some friends who just had drinks at the brand-new BUENA VIDA CANTINA in the former Oola. Chef Eric Hopfinger’s menu includes tacos (including fish tacos), burritos, ceviche, chicken tortilla soup, salads, queso dip, and a hamburguesa, while the cocktails by Janice Bailon look so very delicious: how about a Jalisco Martini, made with Espolòn blanco, Mexican greens vermouth (tomatillo, cucumber, cilantro), smoked achiote, and housemade Tajín! There’s a spacious parklet where you can enjoy your cocktail and chile relleno, and they also offer delivery via DoorDash. Open Tue-Sat 4pm-10pm. 860 Folsom St. at 5th St.
Last week, I noticed on Instagram that Nashville hot chicken spot HOTBIRD had soft-opened in a temporary commissary kitchen in the Twitter building while their space continues its buildout, and started serving a limited number of their hot chicken sandwich for pre-order. Eater has more on the backstory here (they started in Oakland as a truck). For now, you can pre-order Tue-Sat 11:30am-3pm until sold out; additional dishes to come soon. Follow them on Instagram for updates. 1355 Market St. Ste. 180 at 9th St.
The Castro’s SAUCY ASIAN, a fast-casual spot that makes Korean-inspired “super fusion” bowls, burritos, tacos, and more is opening a second location in FiDi/Embarcadero in conjunction with a company called Reef Kitchens. Reef operates on a pickup and delivery-only model, so they will be accepting orders through all major third-party food ordering platforms 11am-3pm and 4pm-12am. You can pick up food at 365 Pacific Ave. at Sansome.
Another fusion-y combo: tablehopper tipster (thanks, Karen!) sent in an update that EL COREANO, serving Korean-Mexican dishes, has moved into the Buttermilk Southern Kitchen space in the Mission, and is now open. Their delivery menu on Seamless includes bento boxes (so, Japanese too) with katsu and spicy pork bulgogi, plus burritos, tacos, tortas, and more. Available Tue-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-7pm, for delivery and takeout. Former tablehopper associate editor Dana Eastland (meow!) did some extra-sleuthing for me, and said the Buttermilk menu is also up in the window, offering their Southern dishes like fried chicken, BBQ ribs, country-fried steak, and more (with two sides). The gravy thickens… 2848 23rd St. at Bryant.
After solely offering takeout and delivery service during the pandemic, AL’S PLACE has reopened with table service on a new and revamped patio (takeout is on hold for now). I had a chance to check it out at a preview last week, and was so impressed with the stylish and safe atmosphere—there are eight tables along the side of the building, with transparent, suspended Plexi dividers between guests that are wiped down between table turns. There’s also punchy artwork and bright colors, along with the always-cool music they play at AL’s, which all energize the vibe—plus there are heaters. You’ll find hand sanitizer on the table (the new salt and pepper), and in order to turn the tables in a timely manner, you’ll be informed of a time limit at the beginning of your meal. They plan to add more seating with an outdoor parklet, but for now, those tables are their sole breadwinners, so be respectful of the reservations coming after you.
Chef-owner Aaron London has unleashed a new menu, with dishes that will rotate weekly, and boy, after doing a fair amount of cooking at home and eating mostly comfort food around town, it was such a treat to have a full-on flavor explosion! No one layers and plays with ingredients like Aaron and his team, with so much technique in play.
I chuckled over the ultra-moist (LOL) cornbread ($8) in the Snackles: the quenelle of peanut butter butter on the side is pure creamy creativity—inspired by a spicy satay sauce, it features peanuts cooked in pineapple skin oil, galangal, tamari, pickled chile, and garlic, and is melded in a Robo Coupe with butter. Yeah, like I’m gonna make that for my toast at home. So, get it—along with the stone fruit curry bright with Makrut lime and poha berries, the decadent yet summery king salmon in a divine allium broth/fumé with fish sauce, and the steak tartare with pickled kohlrabi was incredible paired with one of their low-ABV cocktails, same goes for their trademark brine-pickled French fries. Just tell your server the kinds of cocktails you like and they’ll matchmake you with a good one. (Whiskey lovers, try the Nod ‘n’ Mob with fino, Bonal, and campfire bitters.)
Enjoy the Indian summer weather while you can (since it’s in the Mission, evenings are extra-nice), with the final salute to summer ingredients (like the fig and Meyer lemon tart for dessert). Kudos to the team for their exquisite care and keeping it fun while we all smile from under our masks. Patio service Thu-Sun 5:30pm-10pm. Reserve online. 1499 Valencia St. at 26th St.
Here’s some unexpected news: the HOUSE OF NANKING in Chinatown (a new Legacy business!) is reopening today, Thursday October 1st, and for the first time in the restaurant’s 32-year history, they will be offering takeout and delivery, seven days a week. Chef Peter Fang’s menu will span some classics and new dishes, and family meals serving 4-6 people are also available. You can pick up some merch while you’re at it. Outdoor seating is also in the works. Open daily 11:30am-8:30pm. 919 Kearny St. at Jackson.
If you follow me on Instagram at @tablehopper, then you already saw my recap of the new TERRACE AT PALETTE in SoMa. Chef Peter J. Hemsley’s Cal-coastal menu is an extensive one, full of bites, starters, mains, and desserts. Begin with their awesome nori chips and glistening cubes of California big-eye tuna, and I know we have all been missing oysters. Peak season Fully Belly Farm tomatoes with salsa macha and grilled Bay halibut with baby fennel, peppers, and confit potatoes keep the summer vibes going. Save room for the Ortiz Farms strawberry confit with ricotta cheesecake, which comes with a divine sablé Breton for dessert.
Everything comes out on beautiful plateware and custom serveware, even the glassware is custom (there’s also a new cocktail list from Trevin Hutchins). The 60-foot Terrace has plants and good lighting, and there are some very thoughtful touches to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience, from heaters to hand sanitizer, and it will be ready for winter weather.
You’ll notice the eye-catching mural on the exterior of the building from artist Nathan Richard Phelps that extends out to the parklet, and there’s also a new gallery show you should be sure to check out, debuting October 2nd: Flavors of Photography, an exhibit dedicated to the work of Bay Area food photographers, including Caren Alpert, Ed Anderson, Maren Caruso, Molly DeCoudreaux, Aubrie Pick, Kelly Puleio, Eric Wolfinger, and more, 19 in all. On display until November 28th, open Tue-Sat 4pm-9pm.
The Palette at Home delivery service continues, with five percent of every to-go or delivery order going to the Bay Area Arts Worker Relief Funds. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm. 816 Folsom St. at 4th St.
Just wanted to be sure you knew PERBACCO is back from their two-month break, and have reopened for sidewalk seating Mon-Fri 11:30am-8pm, takeout, and delivery.
If you’re looking for a new outdoor adventure, check out the Undiscovered SF Sunday Streets with Kultivate Labs, starting this Sunday October 4th, and running every Sunday for the month of October, 11am-4pm. There will be two blocks of car-free, daytime outdoor dining, artisan stands, a farmers’ market, and street art in SOMA Pilipinas, running along Folsom St. between 6th-8th Streets. Highlights include food and drinks from Mestiza Taqueria, Ox & Tiger, Uncle Tito, Basil Thai, Cat Club, Trademark & Copyright, and Decant SF. Sanitized and supervised public dining tables will be available, with sanitation stations, health screenings, and other proactive safety measures. Check out their site for more info and help support local business, artists, and more.
Last weekend, there were also streets closed in the Tenderloin in order for restaurants, merchants, and locals to be able to sit outside and enjoy some open space (I was so happy to see Vacation’s sidewalk sale of vintage clothes!). Streets will be closed to cars every Thursday-Sunday 8am-11pm, including parts of Golden Gate and Larkin. Read more here
Okay gang, I’m really going to threaten your future ability to get into a pair of jeans any time soon with this post. (Let me welcome you to #kaftanlife.) Chef-owner Sarah Kirnon of MISS OLLIE’S in Oakland is popping up at ELDA in the Mission for the next three months (lucky us!), serving a rotating menu of her phenomenal dishes like curry goat, jerk pork, fried chicken, and more. You can order takeout or dine in their expansive parklet, and enjoy some of Elda’s fantastic cocktails. Thu-Sat 4pm-9pm. Read more details in Eater’s piece, and you can listen to Sarah in the On the Fly podcast here. 3198 16th St. at Guerrero.
Chef-owner Heena Patel of the currently closed BESHARAM in Dogpatch is back in the kitchen, by herself, cooking a takeout menu of her Gujarati comfort food and classics (it’s a feast for one!). Available Tue-Sat 2pm-7pm, and there are a couple cocktails you can order as well. Please support this talented, hard-working woman who just wants to feed you, and is trying to make it through these impossible times! Order here, and you can also order delivery via DoorDash (here’s my discount code for first-time users). Follow @besharamsf for updates.
There are some changes coming over at NICO/GAP YEAR AT NICO in Jackson Square—in October, chef-owner Nicolas Delaroque and Paul Einbund (The Morris) are continuing their partnership to open Maison Nico in October. It will be a French-inspired market (with special imported items you can’t find elsewhere), épicerie, and café, offering sophisticated French pâtés and terrines, viennoiserie, sweets, coffee (including Paul’s Chartreuse cappuccino), French and Californian wines, and more.
They are already revving the engine by offering their exquisite brioche feuilletée, which is a dreamy little loaf of layered brioche, with ribbons of laminated dough on top, and a crackly textured base, all ready for your breakfast or midnight snack or both. You can pre-order it on Sundays for Wednesday pick-up at THE MORRIS, and look for additional treats to be added soon, like pâté en croûte.
You will also see a Maison Nico stand at CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (at the back plaza) on Saturdays, 8am-2pm, starting this Saturday October 3rd.
More carbs! DAILY DRIVER—who make some of my very favorite bagels in SF—have been perfecting their pizza bagel, and chef Marty will be launching them Thursday October 8th. Just like the ones you ate in college (but much better), they will be frozen and you can warm them up when the munchies or “what the hell is for lunch?” situation strikes. The frozen, pre-packaged bagels come with four bagel halves, with sauce, cheese, and the option of pepperoni on a garlic or plain bagel ($14.50-$15). They will also be selling hot pizza bagels at the Dogpatch location (two halves, $8.50-$9), with fresh buttermilk ranch. You can have them delivered via DoorDash as well.
The weather is still perfect for picnics, and PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB EXCHANGE just launched PXCNIC @ Gardener Road. Swing by the kiosk for salads, sandwiches, snack boxes, desserts, and drinks, including their PXC prime rib sandwich, meatloaf sandwich, and Aperol spritzes. You can dine on their newly open patio area with Italian bistro tables or anywhere throughout the Presidio. Fri-Sun 10am-4pm. 563 Ruger St. at Lombard.
Some unfortunate closures to report include the popular SOUTHERN PACIFIC BREWING, which reopened with outdoor seating for a bit, but sadly owner and SF native Chris Lawrence says it wasn’t enough to survive in this Eater piece. The nine-year-old brewery in the Mission is closed “but will continue to sell beer at occasional pop-up events—at least until it finds a buyer” and try to distribute their beers in local bars and restaurants. Follow along on Instagram for updates. 620 Treat Ave. at 19th St.
And over in the Tenderloin, RUSTY’S SOUTHERN has thrown in the towel after five years. Hoodline reports they had a rent increase coupled with decreased sales, and really gave it their best shot these past six months. I know a bunch of regulars are going to miss this friendly spot. 750 Ellis St. at Larkin.
And read this heartbreaker SFGate piece about the closure of LOVE N HAIGHT DELI in the Lower Haight, after 21 years. Here’s hoping owner Fey Chao is able to reopen her affordable vegetarian deli after the pandemic; for now, it’s just too hard to stay open. Today is the last day. 533 Haight St. at Fillmore.
If you’ve ever managed to get a ticket to La Cocina’s storytelling event series, Voices from the Kitchen, or maybe you never got to attend because it always sold out, here’s your chance to watch on their YouTube channel on Thursday October 29th at 5:30pm. It will be available to viewers nationwide for free, with a suggested donation starting at $10.
“The theme of this year’s program is ‘Choices’ through the lens of food: choices that arise during a pandemic, those that voters will make this election season, who gets to choose, and what choices get our collective attention.” The lineup includes Fernay McPherson of Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement, Jenny 8. Lee, Mayukh Sen, and many more.
Additionally, there will be an option for Bay Area residents and national viewers to purchase food boxes prepared by La Cocina chefs to enjoy at home while watching the virtual event ($75-$150). Registration for the event, donations, and food box orders: click here.
Beyond Differences, a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire middle school students all across the country to end social isolation and create cultures of belonging, is thrilled to announce a new spin on fine dining, in your house!
You’re invited into the kitchen of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top chefs to enjoy a cooking class with them—all from your own home. Each class comes with a menu, food shopping list, and a one-hour lesson on how to prepare the meal. Check out this awesome lineup: October 7th, chefs Ulrich, Land, and Baade of Waterbar; October 14th, chef Heena Patel of Besharam; October 21st, chef Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana; October 28th, chef Hoss Zare of Cuisin; November 11th, chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen; and November 18th, chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn.
Each class costs $99 and all proceeds go to support Beyond Differences’ signature school program, No One Eats Alone! To sign up, visit beyonddifferences.org.
Hoopes Vineyard is hosting a virtual cooking class series with some renowned chefs, and a portion of proceeds from each class will be donated to various charities. October 3rd: Michelle Minori, October 24th: Reem Assil, and more coming soon. Details here.
And next week, Cochon555 is kicking off a series of Zoom dinners with top local chefs. Guests cook along for one course, while the rest of your meal is either picked up or delivered, with pre-mixed cocktails, wine, and more. Wednesday October 7th is with chef Lorenzo Caamal of Merkado; Thursday October 8th is chef Kim Alter of Nightbird; and Friday October 9th is chef Dirk Tolsa of Epic Steakhouse. For further information and to purchase tickets, go here. [POSTPONED UNTIL NOVEMBER]
Oakland Updates: Daughter's Diner and Wise Sons Open, New Chef at Sister, Dopo Sadly Closes, Fire in Chinatown
Soft-opening today (Thursday October 1st) in Uptown Oakland is DAUGHTER’S DINER, a modern take on a classic diner from chef Keven Wilson (Perbacco, Volta, Picco, RN74) and his wife Justyna Wilson. They’re opening in the former Hawker Fare, and signed the lease in January—the pandemic obviously pushed things back and changed their business plan drastically, but they’re happy to be opening with takeout and 13 tables out front. They reached out to me back in May, and have been updating me as their opening got closer—congrats to them for managing to open in such challenging times.
Keven is taking inspiration from the diners he remembers in his native Connecticut, but bringing a California focus on quality sourcing and seasonality to his dishes, plus a sustainable and minimal-waste approach to everything they do. They want it to be a community- and family-oriented space (they have a daughter of their own, hence the name), where folks can come by daily for affordable meals—they’re serving breakfast all day, lunch, and dinner—but the elevated and creative touches will keep them coming back.
It’s the kind of menu that reads simply, but has so much more going on. For example, the Ham on the Run sandwich comes with chopped ham salad, an egg patty, and arugula in a gougère (want!). There’s a roasted chicken sandwich with watercress on a soft bun, and an avocado-cucumber wrap for vegetarians and vegans, and of course there’s a burger (or a double, the Double D Homewrecker, to be exact). Soups include a minestrone with Borlotti beans, and there’s a Cobb salad (among others, including a warm potato salad with duck confit). Snacks include potato tots and Buffalo wings with urfa biber chile pepper.
Plates range from all-day egg plates with bacon or sausage and toast, to chicken livers, to roasted chicken or pork shoulder, and both adults and kids can enjoy the princess pancakes with raspberry jam and coated with almond marzipan, a spin on a princess cake. Wine and beer are available. You can also come by for coffee, smoothies, milkshakes, ice cream, floats, and baked goods, plus cheesecake.
Since there aren’t many places to pick up groceries nearby, they’re going to offer a market and pantry, with eggs, milk, canned goods, and provisions, like their bacon butter (“szmalec” in Polish—Justyna is Polish). Delivery will be added soon. Soft opening hours are Wed-Sun 11am-8pm to start, and starting October 14th, they will run 9am-2pm and 4pm-10pm, depending upon what the neighborhood needs. They’re excited to serve you. 326 23rd St. at Webster, Oakland.
WISE SONS JEWISH DELICATESSEN has expanded to the East Bay and just opened a new counter-service location in downtown Oakland, a former Beauty’s Bagel Shop (Wise Sons recently acquired Beauty’s Bagel). Since there’s a full kitchen, they’ll be offering their matzo ball soup, sandwiches, and “new dishes like a smash burger [with pastrami jam] and a kimchi Reuben.” You can read more in this Eater post, and all about the Beauty’s acquisition here. 1700 Franklin St. at 17th St., Oakland.
Last week, I was happy to get a text from chef Melissa Perfit (Niku Steakhouse, Ayala, Bar Crudo) telling me she is the new executive chef at SISTER (from owners Jen Cremer and Richard Clark). You can peep her new menu here, which includes tortelloni with roasted heirloom tomato sauce, crispy salametto, caramelized spring onion, and fresh basil; five pizzas; a couple salads; and their awesome breads and baked goods continue! Their bottled cocktail game and extensive pantry offerings are also notable—including housemade ice cream. Outdoor dining has started, and they’re serving Thu-Sat 4pm-8pm (café service is Fri-Sat 8am-12pm). 3308 Grand Ave. at Elwood, Oakland.
It was such a bummer to read DOPO’s Instagram post about their closure after 17 years of service. In their post, owners Jon and Kayta Smulewitz say, “We are sad, frustrated, angry. The government has failed restaurants and small businesses; each one lost is a small ecosystem down, a network of people negatively impacted. Each one lost is heartbreaking and infuriating. We’re struggling with this loss and we’ll be processing it for a long time. Even though these past months have challenged us, they also gave us the opportunity to witness depths of kindness, loyalty & generosity so vast that they will get us through this moment and beyond.” You should read the rest of their heartfelt post. Their last service is this Saturday October 3rd. Come by for a last caponata, pizza, and thank them for the many years of hospitality and serving the community. (Their pizzeria in Berkeley, Pollara, remains open.) 4293 Piedmont Ave., Oakland.
I was heartbroken to see one of my favorite noodle spots in Oakland, HUANGCHENG NOODLE HOUSE, was damaged in a fire, along with Chinatown neighbor RANG DONG (known for their Vietnamese noodle soups), and other businesses as well. UGH. 2020, why so damn hard? Read more in this Eater piece, and how you can help. 718 Webster St. at 7th St.
You can read more East Bay updates in this post from Nosh.
Best pizza? Best ramen? Best gay bar? Best burrito? Tell us your favorites and support our local food and drink culture in the Bay Guardian Best of the Bay, hosted by 48 Hills. Now more than ever, we want to come together and show the world the strength and beauty of our community. This year, we’re also asking voters to share stories of resilience—what small businesses, organizations, or individuals went above and beyond to serve their communities, amplify Black voices, or stay afloat in troubled times? Let the Bay Area know!
Vote here now—and spread the word. Voting ends October 10th!