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Oct 26, 2020 15 min read

October 27, 2020 - This week's tablehopper: what a circus.

October 27, 2020 - This week's tablehopper: what a circus.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: what a circus.                    

Don’t miss the chance to experience the SkyStar Wheel, America’s largest traveling observation wheel! 2020 marks the 150th birthday of Golden Gate Park—celebrate by going 150 feet up! Photo: ©

Inhale, exhale. Ahhhhhh! And argh! I know most of us are really feeling the pressure this week, with Election Day in a week (VOTE! My gawdess, please vote!) and so much hanging in the balance (I can’t EVEN). Do whatever you need to do for self-care and sanity this week, whether it’s a walk on the beach or a nosedive into a wheel of cheese (and/or bottle of wine) or if you’re me, a nightly cannabis aperitif or weed rosé. I try to go to bed laughing every night, and watching an episode of Schitt’s Creek or Broad City and cackling through the nightly stream o’ memes in Mario Diaz’s Instagram Stories usually does the trick. Take good care.

A couple weekends ago, I headed up to Tomales with my sis and a friend for a two-night getaway—thanks to everyone for sending in tips! We had such a great time at the William Tell House drive-in movie (the last showing is a double-feature this Thursday!), feasting on barbecue and burgers on our blanket, and walking home to our cute suite in the inn was too easy! We managed to get two great beach days in (soooo lucky), and snagged a table at Tony’s Seafood, right on the water, the perfect setting for a couple dozen oysters and rock crab claws and fish tacos for brunch. Our dinner on the patio at William Tell House was fantastic, with more oysters (when in Rome…), insanely delicious chowder, and the burger (with Stemple Creek beef) is a thing of beeftastic beauty. I’ll be posting more pics on Instagram soon—I’m playing a wicked game of catch-up right now. Get outta town!

Speaking of, I’m heading out of town again, this time driving to LA with sis for my birthday this weekend. It’s going to be a quick trip—I’ll be staying with a bestie in Silverlake, and definitely tracking down some tacos while I’m there.

SAVE THE DATE: on Thursday November 19th, I will be presenting a unique pairing event, featuring sushi, wines, and sake from Ju-ni, delivered by SipSend! There will be a limited number of spaces, stand by for details in the next tablehopper!

I hope you had a chance to listen to the most recent episode (our twentieth!) of the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast, with community organizer Vinny Eng! Vinny shares about his recent work with the groundbreaking SF New Deal, and please read their impact report that just came out! It offers an important perspective on the current state of our city, the needs of the community, and how we need to show support.

Thanks to all of you who continue to support tablehopper through your generous tips in my virtual tip jar. It means so much, especially during these weeks when I don’t have any sponsorship to help cover my time and expenses.

Lastly, Eat Drink SF is currently running through November 1st, offering extra-affordable SF Restaurant Week-style menus for lunch and dinner at restaurants all over the city. Enjoy a three-course menu at August (1) Five on their new patio for $40; or China Live (also $40); or a $15 lunch at the new Hummus Bodega; or a $40 dinner on the patio at Ristobar (feasting on their fettuccine with lamb ragù); or lunch or dinner on Town Hall’s new plaza seating; or there are a variety of menus from Z&Y Restaurant. Be sure to check out the virtual culinary programming as well.

Okay, it’s time for my daily walk before it gets too dark out, one of the only things keeping me semi-sane these days. Hang in there, everyone. VOTE.

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

East Bay Openings Include Horn Barbecue, Magnolia Street Wine Lounge, and More Updates


The exterior of Horn Barbecue (the paint color is “Black Panther”). Photo: ©


Chef-owner Leilani Baugh of Magnolia Street Wine Lounge and Kitchen. Photo: ©


A sampling of dishes from Magnolia Street Wine Lounge & Kitchen. Photo: ©


The latest Townhouse burger at Townhouse Bar & Grill. Photo courtesy of Townhouse Bar & Grill.

In case you don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, which is where you will find all the latest updates, I wanted to be sure you knew that HORN BARBECUE has officially opened! Pitmaster and chef-owner Matt Horn has survived the endless, hair-pulling bureaucracy and now the brisket can be yours—if you’re willing to get there early and stand in line for a few hours. (It’s actually so worth it! Just bring a chair and wear a hat so the sun doesn’t fatigue you.)

You can read my original piece here. The outdoor picnic tables are open, or you can bring the goods home. And I hear the beef ribs will be on this Saturday’s menu! (To be clear, the preorder situation is no longer happening—it’s all in person now.) Congrats to Matt and the team! Whew. They’re open Fri-Sun 11am for now, until selling out. 2534 Mandela Parkway at 26th St., Oakland.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting chef-owner Leilani Baugh of the new MAGNOLIA STREET WINE LOUNGE & KITCHEN, who is known for Roux and Vine Catering, which was chosen by ESPN (2017-2019) to be the official caterer for ESPN, NBA Entertainment, NBA TV, and the Turner Network for the NBA Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals for the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Boom! This past June, she appeared on the Food Network’s “Super Market Stakeout” and is one of Square’s small business featured stories. Yeah, she’s a real go-getter.

An Oakland native, she was raised by her two grandmothers (one is a Chinese immigrant—who only spoke Cantonese—and the other African American), and grew up around the corner on Magnolia Street, hence the name. The location is her first brick and mortar in West Oakland, just below the historic California Hotel, offering takeout, outdoor dining, and limited indoor dining is coming this Friday October 30th (during the pandemic, she has been offering weekly pop-ups with food to go). In honor of the musicians and artists and bohemian scene that used to be in the hotel, she is going to be hosting live music a few nights per week, DJs, and rotating art shows. For now, she’s starting with Friday Night Live, with DJs and heat lamps so you can linger outside.

Her menu celebrates her diverse background and family recipes and flavors, spanning Southern, Asian, Creole, and Cajun cuisines (she’s calling it “Casian!”), with dishes like dirty rice arancini, salmon croquettes, shrimp and grits with braised oxtails, and peach cobbler lumpia, plus let’s hope she continues with wing and wine Wednesdays and fish fry Fridays (the menu looks so good)—brunch is featuring oxtail hash and her honey butter biscuits. Leilani pours a variety of BIPOC-owned and -made wines, including Wachira, McBride Sisters, P. Harrell Wines, and Housley.

She has been busy working with World Central Kitchen to help feed the community, although that will be winding down soon and she’s eager to have you come by—help support her in her goal to revitalize the San Pablo corridor, and preserve its original culture. Be sure to follow for updates at @magnoliastwinelounge, and you can hire her for catering.  Open Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-9pm for now—look for expanded hours soon. You can text your orders in as well: 510-205-8540. 3443 San Pablo Ave. at 35th St., Oakland.

In an interesting twist, DoorDash has partnered up for their first time and invested in a new project from Burma Superstar: BURMA BITES, a quick-service restaurant built for delivery only (plus takeout). It’s opening on Wednesday October 28th on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, offering some Burma Superstar favorites (like their tea leaf salad, of course) and new menu items too, like Superstar Spicy Mango Wings and Balachaung Fries. Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm and dinner 5pm-9pm daily. 4911 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St.

Another SF restaurant expanding into the East Bay delivery scene is MONTESACRO OAKLAND, this time via CloudKitchens. No website at this moment, but you will see Montesacro on all the major delivery platforms, offering all kinds of their pinsa (I love them all), cacio e pepe, a meatball sandwich, and more.

There’s a new chef and owner at TOWNHOUSE BAR & GRILL in Emeryville. Chef Jake Kwan Rosenbush, (Hardwood, Stock and Trade, 15 Romolo) has given the menu an update, with new sourcing and housemade items, with a smoker firing up soon, too. The Townhouse Burger is a tavern-style, seven-ounce patty, served with caramelized onions, bacon bits, aged Grafton cheddar from Vermont, and housemade bread and butter pickles, served on an Acme bun; the Townhouse crispy fried chicken wings are Chinese-style, dry-fried chicken wings, served with fried garlic, jalapeño, and spices; and for brunch: there are chilaquiles, and a bacon and egg panzanella salad with two poached eggs on top of grilled Acme pain de mie, served with frisée, bacon vinaigrette, and topped with crispy capers (yum). They’re also making a trendy Basque-style burnt cheesecake. Open for takeout and dining in the parking lot patio, Wed-Fri 12pm-8pm and Sat-Sun 11am-8pm. 5862 Doyle St. at 59th St., Emeryville. Vegans, you’ll want to read this piece in Nosh about THE KING’S FEET from The Butcher’s Son team, serving a plant-based, Italian-influenced menu (primarily a bunch of tasty-sounding pizza and a few pasta dishes until they can return to their original fresh pasta plan). 1401 University Ave. at Acton, Berkeley.

Sad news: after five years of awesome programming, STARLINE SOCIAL CLUB is up for sale. Damn, Miss Rona! You are 86’ed from this club! You can read more in this KQED post here. 2236 Martin Luther King Way at W. Grand, Oakland.

Carb-Filled SF Openings from Maison Nico and Le Dix-Sept Patisserie, Plus Akna, a Pop-Up


The brioche feuilletée from the upcoming Maison Nico. Photo: ©


Enjoy cannelés from Le Dix-Sept’s first brick-and-mortar pâtisserie in the Mission. Photo: Le-Dix Sept.

Just because you need more goodies in your life…especially NOW. A few weeks ago, I mentioned the latest project at Nico, now MAISON NICO, a French-inspired market, épicerie, and café from chef-owner Nicolas Delaroque and Paul Einbund (The Morris), offering French pâtés and terrines, viennoiserie, sweets, coffee (including Paul’s Chartreuse cappuccino), French and Californian wines, and their popular brioche feuilletée (just wait until you bite into it). Grand opening is this Wednesday October 28th, you can read more in this Eater preview. Open Wed-Sun 9am-4pm. 710 Montgomery St. at Washington.

Fans of the gorg cannelés from Michelle Hernandez will be thrilled with the news that after years of pop-ups, she has opened her Mission bakery, LE DIX-SEPT PATISSERIE, serving pastries, confections, breads, and some savory treats as well, plus some beverages. I say order a weekend pastry box and taste your way through the offering. You can read more in this piece on Eater. Open Sat-Sun 10am-3pm for now. 3376 18th St. at Mission.

There’s also a new pop-up in the former Barcino space in Hayes Valley, AKNA, serving Mexican-Mayan cuisine from a father-son duo (Eddie and Ivan Arriaga) who have been part The Absinthe Group for a combined 38 years. The menu features Mexican and Mayan/Yucatecan dishes, including botanas like ceviche and nopalito salad, tacos (including quesabirria tacos) and tamales, and traditional entrées of braised beef, prawns, and a daily special, plus handmade blue corn tortillas, freshly made salsas, and desserts like buñuelos de viento and dulce de papaya. Outside dining on their “palapa,” takeout, and delivery are available Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm. 399 Grove St. at Gough.

SF Classics Return, Including Tommy's Joynt and Vesuvio


The famed neon sign will be lit up once again at Tommy’s Joynt. Photo via Tommy’s Facebook page.

Just a quick note to report the happy news that TOMMY’S JOYNT “is reopening Oct. 29 with reduced hours and a smaller menu,” according to this post on SFGate. The beloved hofbrau temporarily shut down, sending everyone into a tizzy that is was permanent, but thankfully they’ll be back in action, and will be serving their Thanksgiving dinner and more (“the restaurant’s voicemail alerts customers that to-go meals featuring fresh-carved turkey will be available for Thanksgiving day”). Tommy’s Joynt has been open since 1947, much respect. 1101 Geary Blvd. at Van Ness.

And in North Beach, did you know VESUVIO CAFE has reopened with tables in Jack Kerouac Alley? They are offering limited hours in partnership with Bulgara Restaurant: Wed-Thu 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-9pm. As they say on their page: “Serving all wanderers since 1948.” They could really use your support after months of being closed. 255 Columbus Ave. at Pacific.

Closures Include Cockscomb, Alfred's, Nick's on Mission; Fire at The Argentum Project


A look into Cockscomb, with the communal table to the left and wood-burning oven in the open kitchen. Photo: ©


Calm in the Alfred’s dining room (just before we took it over for our Blue Fox dinner!). Photo: Blair Heagerty Photography.


The swanky bar at Selby’s (with green mohair underneath). Photo: ©

Ugh, writing about these closures is just the worst. I’m keeping these brief, we all know why everything is closing. How can restaurants be expected to survive this impossible business climate without federal assistance? The Senate has gone home and failed to pass the $120B restaurant revitalization fund. It’s infuriating.

Last week, chef and co-owner Chris Cosentino took to Instagram to announce the closure of COCKSCOMB in SoMa, after opening six years ago (and suffering through that endless Central Subway construction mess on Fourth Street). They tried to survive with takeout pizza, meal kits, and provisions, while cooking for World Central Kitchen, Frontline Foods, and other aid organizations. But, Miss Rona racks up a huge bill everywhere she goes, making it impossible to keep things going. As winter approaches, things will only get worse.

After Al Petri came out of retirement and took ALFRED’S STEAKHOUSE back over from Daniel Patterson at the end of 2018, SF’s oldest steakhouse (92 years!) has closed yet again, this time permanently. As tablehopper readers well-know, it was once the location of the famed Blue Fox, and I held a fabulous vintage homage dinner event a few years ago! Funnily enough, all the pics in the SFGate story are from my event. I really hope this red-walled vintage palace reopens once again… 659 Merchant St. at Kearny.

In North Beach, chef-owner Joe Lin of PESCE E RISO has made the hard decision to close his restaurant—he opened this charming spot in the summer of 2017 with his wife, Sherry. Best wishes to them both. You can read his thoughtful farewell note here. According to ABC license activity, it looks like a sushi place is opening in its place, Sancha Sushi, from a sushi chef from Elephant Sushi (Enerel Erdenebat). 1224 Grant Ave. at Columbus.

Over in the Filipino cultural district in SoMa, I was sorry to hear chef and co-owner Reina Montenegro had to close NICK’S ON MISSION, SF’s first and only fully vegan Filipino restaurant (Nick’s on Grand in South San Francisco has also closed). But she is now launching a new and rebranded, delivery-focused business out of a ghost kitchen, Chef Reina, where folks in the Peninsula/Daly City will be able to order vegan Filipino dishes, meal kits, and her vegan meats for delivery and pickup Wed-Sat 5pm-8pm.

This is a temporary closure, but I was terribly sorry to see that THE ARGENTUM PROJECT in SoMa suffered significant damage from a fire on October 17th. This Greek café, bakery, and market is such a special business—owners Catherine and Dimitrios Kalessis put so much heart into it. It’s looking like they will be closed through the busy holidays, so a friend launched a GoFundMe to help them get through this challenging time until they can reopen. Best wishes to them, here’s hoping they can reopen as soon as possible. 47 6th St. at Market.

Another unfortunate temporary closure is the glam SELBY’S in Atherton, who has decided to pause their takeout and delivery model until spring 2021 since they can’t offer outdoor seating and indoor seating would be extremely limited. (But they are offering a special Thanksgiving feast to go.) In the meantime, Selby’s team members will be supporting sister restaurants The Village Pub in Woodside, and Spruce in San Francisco.

A Couple Ways to Supplement Your Trips to the Grocery Store and Help Restaurants


Some xiao long bao and pork and chive dumplings from Palette Tea House via Feastin. Photo: ©


Tonkotsu ramen from Angry Ramen on Feastin. Photo: ©


A box of meaty (and eggy) treasures from Roam Butcher Shop. Photo: ©

I wanted to let you know about a couple new ways you can stock your fridge and enjoy some tasty meals at home while helping to support restaurants. First, there’s Feastin, a new delivery platform offering a variety of restaurant meals and dishes and kits, plus groceries and cocktails. What’s great is you can support restaurants and enjoy the convenience of delivery without having to use the primary delivery apps and see the restaurant lose with commission fees—with Feastin, you pay a 20 percent fee that covers contactless delivery throughout the Bay Area, service, tax, and tip for the company’s full-time drivers, all of whom are food handler-certified and wear masks. (Just be sure you’re home for your delivery, since things are held in refrigerated trucks, but aren’t delivered on ice packs.)

Co-founders Sebastiaan Van De Rijt and Hannah Wagner set out on a mission to build a better delivery partnership to support the Bay Area restaurant community. “2020 devastated the restaurant industry in ways no one could have ever predicted and forever changed the way people eat and cook at home,” said Sebastiaan Van De Rijt, Feastin co-founder and restaurateur behind the Bay Area’s Bamboo Asia restaurants. “Even the most exclusive restaurants started selling meal kits, prepared foods, and specialty provisions in order to survive. These restaurants have to rely on doing their own deliveries or working with third-party platforms that take up to 30% of their profits. Feastin is a commission-free platform built to help restaurants thrive and grow revenue opportunities.” You can order heat-up-at-home dishes like two kinds of lasagna from Che Fico, or steam-your-own xiao long bao from Palette Tea House (they come out perfectly), and a hearty tonkotsu ramen from Angry Ramen, plus you can stash some beef noodle soup from Mama Liang’s in the freezer for that night when you have no idea what to cook. Other restaurants include Pinoy Heritage, alaMar, 620 Jones, Atelier Crenn, Zero Zero, Izzy’s Steakhouse, and more.

I also picked up some smoked Nova salmon from Acme at a great price (3 oz. for just $3.29), blueberries for cheap (groceries can be up to 70 percent off), and then you can buy things like a quart of queso dip ($6) that ended up coming in really handy for egg dishes, midnight snack attacks, and drizzling into tacos. I also got a quart of their tikka masala ($6) which I spiked up a bit and used it for four dishes: two quick dinners with seasoned chicken thighs that I sautéed and threw in and served with rice, plus in scrambled eggs with sliced cherry tomatoes (soooo good), and I even made a pasta dish one night with it. Love having things like that on hand. New restaurants are being added (like Presidio Social Club Exchange), and there are also cocktails, pantry items, and more. Check it out.

Meat lovers, you’ll want to check out the goods at Roam Butcher Shop! The folks known for their tasty burgers around town are now offering quality, pasture-raised meats from reputable small-family-owned farms in the U.S. you can buy for cooking at home. You’ll see an array of steaks, tasty grass-fed lamb chops, sausages from Llano Seco, heirloom chicken, and, of course, some grass-fed ground beef from 4K Ranch ($11/lb.), plus a lot more. There are also some themed butcher boxes. Get a $20 gift card to Roam Artisan Burgers and free local delivery in SF, Lafayette, and San Ramon areas (for a limited time for orders $100 or more). Otherwise, you can arrange for local pick-up and delivery, details here.

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