This week's tablehopper: my big, fat quinceañera!
I decided to celebrate tablehopper’s fifteenth on Sunday with some omakase from Sasa in Japantown, one of my favorite SF sushi deals. (There were bubbles, of course.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Howdy, gang! Happy sunny day to you—it’s a perfect evening to go eat and drink outdoors (Z&Y has their Shared Space open again, here’s what to order), or grab some delicious takeout (like ma po pizza from Sunset Squares, Latin American-Caribbean goodness from Chao Pescao, and if you’re near the South Bay, check out Aurum!). I know there are thousands of local businesses who would love to feed you.
This past month has been a whirlwind, whooooosh! As many of you know, February is tablehopper’s fifteenth anniversary (I sent my first newsletter out on February 21st, 2006)! I was completely blown away by this thoughtful and extensive piece by SFGATE about tablehopper—thanks to all of you who texted, emailed, and DM’ed about it, and shared it! So grateful to Dianne de Guzman for taking the time to write this profile—it’s a powerful thing to feel seen by a fellow journalist, especially someone on the same beat. Mwah!
I am also so grateful to all of you who purchased the latest tablehopper thank you x 15 gift bag—you helped support fifteen local businesses, and we’re making another donation to SF New Deal! You rock! It ends up I printed some extra tablehopper 15 tote bags, stand by for those to go live in my tablehopper shop this week. They’re perfect for schlepping your takeout home, LOL. Thanks again to studio1500 for the fun design!
I can’t believe I was hired for a last-minute gig working on a cannabis and culinary show in the desert (can it be any more custom-made for me?) the exact same week my gift bag was going to be assembled and distributed, but thanks to my posse of angels (you know who you are!), it all got done. Whew. When it rains, it pours. Mille grazie to all of you, especially to China Live for being such a great pick-up point. I was so happy I took a few days for myself to decompress and float in the warm saltwater pool at the charming Del Marcos Hotel in Palm Springs when it was all done. I could have stayed there for weeks! Caftan life.
Since you’re such a big part of my anniversary, you deserve a treat, too! Check out today’s awesome giveaway from Mark ‘n Mike’s at One Market Restaurant! Calling all big fressers!
And one more item of note: March is Women’s History Month, and on International Women’s Day (Monday March 8th), there is going to be a Dine Together & Let’s Talk event from Let’s Talk Womxn (this is happening across twelve cities and 350 womxn restaurateurs to lift each other up amidst this crisis). Enjoy a four-course tasting menu and candid conversation with May German of alaMar Kitchen, Jen Biesty of Shakewell, Heena Patel of Besharam, and Romney Steele of The Cook and Her Farmer.
I have been invited as a moderator, so I hope you can join us! The Zoom conversation is from 7pm-8pm, and you can pre-order the two-person menu for $100 (fees, taxes, and cocktails are available for an additional charge). Diners will have a choice between a vegetarian or omnivore menu. Pick-up is at alaMar, 100 Grand Ave., Oakland. (Maybe SF folks can band together for a pick-up—we can hire my awesome bag delivery driver. Hit me up if you’re interested—just hit reply—and I will try to work something out.) Deadline to order is March 4th, Zoom link will be sent by March 6th. Thanks for joining us and spreading the word!
Lastly, if you work in the restaurant industry, you should know Walgreens is now accepting vaccine appointments in SF for Tier 1B! Make that appointment, sweeties!
Enjoy the sun, thanks for being here.
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
New Openings Include Lazy Susan, Santeria, Art's Cafe Returns, and More
Now open in the temporarily closed B-Side at SFJAZZ in Hayes Valley is LAZY SUSAN, a takeout and delivery concept from Salt Partners (Crenn Dining Group, Horsefeather, Humphry Slocombe), with chef Eric Ehler (Fort Point Beer, Mister Jiu’s) behind the menu of Chinese-American takeout classics (think General Tso’s chicken, crab Rangoon, and chow mein, with a contemporary touch). There has been a bit of a dust-up on Instagram over an obnoxious post that grossly misrepresented Eric, and I’m not going to dedicate many pixels or links to it except to point to Eric’s poignant video, and to say Eric is a helluva chef who is going to crush this menu (like he does everywhere he works), and I can’t wait to dig into his version of beef with two kinds of broccoli and chow mein.
Check the menu here, featuring 25 dishes with housemade sauces and developed to travel well for delivery—and all entrées are gluten-free (you’ll also see Impossible meat in the ma po tofu). Dishes are designed to be approachable at $8-$9 for apps and $11-$15 (for entrées). Open Wed-Sun 5pm-9:30pm. 208 Fell St. at Franklin.
I heard there was a new Mexican spot opening in the former Finn Town in the Castro, and Hoodline has the update: it’s SANTERIA, from owner Eduardo Sandoval of the nearby Tacorgasmico. They won’t be serving their full menu just yet—just brunch on the weekend at the moment. For now, pop-up Tejas Forever is offering a menu of Tex-Mex dishes (which will continue to be available on delivery/takeout apps once Santeria’s menu fully rolls out—they’re operating like a ghost kitchen in the space). Consultant Samantha Kharma has put together the cocktail list, with drinks available to go and out front, like the Relentless Sinner (spiced hibiscus, tequila, Cynar, Campari, agave, lemon, bitters, $13), and Mexican Gringo (tamarindo-chile tequila, mango cordial, lime, $12), and frozen margaritas. The interior was lightly refreshed and there’s outdoor seating. Open Sun-Thu 11am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. 2251 Market St. at Sanchez.
Just in case you missed the amazing news: beloved ART’S CAFE, home of the hash brown sandwich (that’s my old review from 2009!), has reopened with a Korean couple who kept the space and most of the menu the same, from the diner counter with vintage postcards to the Samurai omelet, plus some new additions! I tweeted the great news about their opening before leaving town, and now it’s time to head over for some takeout and to welcome this marvelous couple (Lee and Young Lee) to the neighborhood. You can read more about them in this Eater piece. Talk about saving the day, and the diner! The little Korean-American diner that could! Open Tue-Sun 7:30am-3pm for takeout only. 747 Irving St. at 9th St.
I was trying to get some info from the owners of the new HINOYA CURRY in the Marina back in January, but they weren’t very forthcoming with details at that time. They have since opened in the former Mac’d, serving “curry rice, pork katsu curry, chicken katsu curry, and chicken karaage over curry” for now—along with beer and sake. You can read more about this relatively well-known curry spot in Japan in this Eater piece. Takeout and outdoor searing are available. Open Fri-Sat 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm, and Sun 11am-3pm for now. 3347 Fillmore St. at Chestnut.
How’s this for a pandemic-themed opening? There’s a new spot popping up in the evening in Mission Picnic on Valencia called TOTAL MELTDOWN SF, specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches (including The Millionaire, with gochujang-maple glazed, thick-cut bacon and gouda), mac and cheese, and cheesy tots with all kinds of toppings, from pulled pork to Brussels sprouts (with Green Goddess drizzle, goat cheese). And, of course, there’s a birria grilled cheese. May as well call the place Totally Baked. (Oh hey, I just found this piece by Mission Local if you’d like to read more.) Open Tue-Sun 4pm-9pm. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St.
Coming Soon: Sushi Hakko to Union Street, Biriani House, Ham & Cheese, More
I have a few upcoming projects for you, starting with SUSHI HAKKO from the Mins Group (Sushi Hon, Sushi Shio, Tamashisoul, Barnzu, and Sushi Ondo). It will be a contemporary-fine Japanese restaurant, offering omakase (a 14-course chef’s tasting menu for $90: 2 starters, 10 pieces seasonal sushi, middle dish, dessert; $45 supplement available with truffle, caviar, uni, wagyu add-ons), sashimi omakase, a special tuna menu, individual nigiri, a few maki, and some cold and hot dishes. The kitchen team is led by chef Alex Kim, the current executive head chef at Mins Group. It’s opening in the former Little Gem on Union Street, and they’re planning to open in the first week of March. Reservations will be available on OpenTable, and delivery will also be offered. They will be open six nights a week, 5pm-10pm. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore.
There’s a new Pakistani and Indian restaurant opening in the former Dosa on Valencia (sniff sniff) on Thursday February 25th: BIRIANI HOUSE, from Five Eric Brothers. Their website mentions their chef has “more than 20 years of experience cooking in the finest restaurants.” You may recognize them from their food stand at various events. Take a look at the affordably priced menu here. 995 Valencia St. at 21st St.
My fellow sandwich lovers, we’ll find each other at the upcoming HAM & CHEESE coming to the Richmond in March. The menu spans Italian, California, French, and Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches, plus some simpler torpedo roll numbers for $7. According to their Instagram account, some breakfast sandwiches, vegan nachos, and coffee service from Sight Glass are also in the works. 5501 California St. at 17th Ave.
I’m cracking up over this article that has an Aussie thinking his rotisserie chicken concept coming to Noe Valley is something completely new and unfamiliar to us. May I introduce you to Il Pollaio (since 1984!), Limón, RT Rotisserie, and others, Mr. Schulte?! Anyway, this rotisserie chook spot and wine bar (DBA as NOE BIRDS on their ABC license) is coming to the former Le Zinc from some folks behind Hotel San Francisco. 4063 24th St. at Castro. [Via Noe Valley SF]
According to some posts on Nextdoor, I learned SUPER DUPER is planning to open a location in Laurel Village, in the former Miz Brown’s Feed Bag, most recently Beautifull. 3401 California St. at Laurel.
Partnership Changes in the Nopa Group and Other Updates
There are some big changes over in the Nopa/Nopalito universe. As NOPA approaches fifteen years (this April!), Laurence Jossel is now the sole owner of the restaurant, while former group partners Jeff Hanak and Allyson Jossel, and Gonzalo Guzman, will remain owners/partners of Nopalito (which is coming up on twelve years). Hanak also remains a partner of Liholiho Yacht Club and Dear Inga. Laurence Jossel (with his wife, Holly Rhodes) have been sprucing up Nopa’s space in advance of their big birthday, with a new floor that has been revealed, and they’re also going to be setting up outdoor seating on that wide sidewalk on the Hayes Street side.
Meanwhile, the new NOPALITO on 18th Street (3674 18th St. at Dolores) is now offering Café y Conchas, their new coffee and pastry service, featuring Mexican postres from Raquel Goldman/Norte54, Andytown drip coffee, and two Mexican specialties made by chef Gonzalo Guzman (café de olla with spiced piloncillo syrup, and champurrado, a masa-based hot chocolate). Service starts at 8am (closed Mon-Tue); look for service at Broderick Street soon.
Closures Include Arguello, The Commissary, Takara, Muddy's Coffee House
Chef Traci Des Jardins recently announced on Instagram: “I am saddened to share the news that the restaurants (in partnership with Bon Appétit Management Co. and the Presidio Trust) ARGUELLO, THE COMMISSARY, and Presidio Foods Catering, will not be reopening. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to every single staff member, farmer, vendor, and patron who contributed to making the restaurants a joyous and special place to be. I am very proud of what we achieved during our time there and I will miss the community we built.” Sigh. It ends up The Presidio Trust changed their leasing structure for the restaurants, and is now looking for new tenants, you can read more details in this SFGATE post.
It broke my heart to learn that the kind owner of TAKARA in Japantown was unable to negotiate a penny of rent relief from her (%#*!) landlord, 3D Investments, and was forced to close after more than 20 years of business. (I swear, what is happening to Japantown businesses because of that evil developer—and the other corporate landlord, Kinokuniya Bookstores of America—is a travesty. I curse them with 100 years of bad fish and splintery chopsticks.) Takara was a homey and traditional spot, and I have chef Michael Black (Sebo) to thank for turning me on to it many years ago. You have to hand it to the plucky 91-year-old owner, Lena Turner, who originally “opened the very first restaurant in the Japan Center, Sapporo-ya Ramen, in 1976”—the Eater piece says she has bought the nearby Kiss Seafood (another old-school spot I used to love, which closed at the beginning of the pandemic), and will reopen Takara in its place soon, offering lunchtime takeout. You can’t keep a hospitality angel down. 1700 Laguna St. at Sutter.
I know a number of SF old-timers and Mission residents have been saddened by the news in Mission Local that MUDDY’S COFFEE HOUSE is closing after 27 years. Unfortunately, owner Elham Massarweh was unable to negotiate a rent reduction with her landlord. The stalwart café at 24th Street and Valencia is closing February 25th; the sister café, Muddy’s Coffee House (521 Valencia St.), which she also runs with her husband, will remain open, 30 years and counting.
East Bay Updates and Openings: The Alice Market, Square Pie Guys, La Perla, Casa Barotti
There are some changes at THE ALICE COLLECTIVE in Oakland. Obviously, this event space has taken a hit during the pandemic, and is now converting into The Alice Market, featuring small businesses offering food and drink on Thursdays (6pm-8pm) and Saturdays (11am-1pm). Take a look at this post for links to some of the awesome businesses at the weekly market, like Edith’s Pie and Bolita masa. 272 14th St. at Alice, Oakland.
Opening Monday March 1st in Old Oakland is a second location of SQUARE PIE GUYS in the former Benchmark Pizzeria location from Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter. They’re bringing over their popular menu of Detroit-style pizzas with creative toppings and their square and crispy-cheesy edges (including their collaborative pizza with NBA star Jeremy Lin, the JLIN, with lemon-garlic ricotta cream, Pavone pepperoni, Green Goddess Caesar, grana, parsley, and red chili flake), and they’ve even developed a gluten-free pizza dough with various vegan toppings, like the Vegan Beet-An-Esca (with no-cream beet cream, Good Planet vegan cheese, and more)—they also make some great salads.
They’ll be bringing their Hot Calabrese fried chicken sandwich (from their Hetchy’s Hots Sandwiches business) too, plus wings, and there’s a liquor license, so they’ll be offering some equally creative cocktails: the Bianco DiMary features vodka, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, signature spice blend, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, a hot spice rim, and a roni and mozzarella garnish. Sign me up! Then there’s the Bold Fashioned, with a Mike’s Hot Honey infusion, bourbon, and Angostura bitters.
They’re working closely with local community partners (Hijas del Campo, Prospera, Co-Fed, Frontline Foods, and Homeless Action Center), donating both food and proceeds, while partners such as Co-Fed will also be providing support to management and staff with anti-racist training. They will also continue to partner with Dispatch Goods to offer a zero waste alternative for to-go packaging. They’re starting with takeout and delivery only (outdoor will come later), Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm and Sun 11:30am-8pm. 499 9th St. at Washington, Old Oakland.
Great news for fans of LA PERLA—the adored Puerto Rican takeout counter inside Two Star Market now has their own brick-and-mortar location right around the corner. The father-son duo of Cheo and Gabriel Ortiz are not only open for business, but they have been selling out of their delicious food! Bring on the pernil. Read more in this Eater report. Open Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm and 4pm-7pm and Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm. 3409 Fruitvale Ave. at Bienati, Oakland.
Over in Berkeley, I’ve been eagerly tracking the opening of CASA BAROTTI for quite a while, a spizzicheria offering a variety of regional Italian snacks and focaccia, pizza al taglio, tramezzini, farinata, panzerotti, and more. They will even have a Recco-style focaccia, a crisp and thin bread round filled with stracchino cheese, a specialty I have been missing since Farina closed many years ago in the Mission. (It’s a magnificent thing.) The proprietor is Daniele Carsano (co-owner of 54 Mint Forno Italiano in Walnut Creek) who is collaborating with two longtime friends from Torino who currently can’t be here due to the pandemic. Read more in this detailed piece from Nosh. They open today! Open Tue-Sat 11am-5pm. 3204 College Ave. at Alcatraz, Berkeley.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): Check Out My Club Feast Pick of the Month!
Drum roll please, it’s time for my third Club Feast Pick of the Month! Hop on over to Instagram to see my pic of the Spicy Mission MeltBurger from The Melt, which comes with a juicy and more than a third-pound grilled patty of angus and wagyu beef, plus pepper jack, avocado, lettuce, pickled onions, sliced jalapeños, and spicy ketchup, all on a toasted artisan bun; it’s the perfect burger for my fellow spice lovers when the burger craving hits. Since I pre-ordered it on Club Feast, the whole thing was delivered for less than $10, and was truly a feast!
Try Club Feast for your first time and get $20 off with code HOPPER20. I’ll continue highlighting some of my favorite dishes on Instagram (@tablehopper) to inspire you to check it out (be sure to peek at my Club Feast Highlight). Also: Club Feast just launched in Berkeley and Oakland!
You just need to order a day in advance, it’s not on-demand. And some places are closed on Mondays and/or Tuesdays, so be sure to change up your delivery days to see what’s available. And don’t forget to set a nice tip for your delivery person. Have fun exploring this new and affordable delivery option in the SF Bay Area.
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Terrible Fire at PCH, Virgil's Closes, But El Rio Returns, and The Pilsner, Too!
We had quite a bit of news swirl around in the bar world this past week, some good, and some terrible, like the fire that struck PCH very early Monday morning (three businesses on the 500 block of Sutter were damaged in the electrical fire). Fortunately, no one was harmed, but owner Kevin Dietrich was confronted with a basement full of water, extensive fire damage, and destroyed inventory—just when he was getting everything ramped back up with outdoor service. As if this year wasn’t awful enough for every single bar in this town. I’m happy to see the GoFundMe for the bar performing well, let’s get the Pacific Cocktail Haven team back on their feet. You can read more in this Eater recap. 580 Sutter St. at Mason.
More sad news: the delightful VIRGIL’S SEA ROOM has decided to throw in the bar towel. In their Instagram post, they share: “After a year of constant loss, not enough help from the feds, and a mental fatigue that can’t quite be described… Virgil’s has made the tough decision to close.” This was a favorite bar of many, with affordable cocktails, a fun mixed crowd (love that), and that patio! Seven years of providing a safe space. With love from your many fans, you will be sorely missed. 3152 Mission St. at Powers.
Now is the moment when I share some great news about their neighbor: after being closed for the duration of the pandemic, EL RIO has reopened for to-go cocktails on the weekend (!), along with some tamales and other bites. Menu here. Please support this beloved SF bar with your business (and grab some swag!)—as we have learned, it’s sadly up to us to save our bars since our federal and state and city government haven’t and won’t do enough. SAVE SF BARS! Open Fri 4pm-8pm and Sat-Sun 2pm-6pm; they plan to open the patio soon. Read more on SFist. 3158 Mission St. at Powers.
And to end things on another high note, the PILSNER INN has reopened in the Castro, with new floors, refinished tables and benches, and a patio designed for safe distancing (they’ll also be adding a Shared Space out front soon). They have partnered with neighbors Red Jade and Il Casaro for the required food service. Come by and welcome them back—it has almost been a year. Open daily 12pm-10pm. [Via Hoodline.] 225 Church St. at Market.
the sugar mama
(Sponsored Giveaway): Enter to Win Mark 'n Mike's Big Fresser!
One Market Restaurant’s new New York-style delicatessen, Mark ‘n Mike’s, wants you to nosh more! So much so, that they’re giving away their Big Fresser. The feast includes 10 ounces each of smoked brisket, pastrami, turkey breast, and Swiss cheese; 1 quart of potato salad and coleslaw; half-loaf of rye bread; half-loaf of challah; 6 whole pickles; a half-pint of Russian dressing and deli mustard; 6 jumbo chocolate macaroons; and 6 rugelach.
Head to @tablehopper on Instagram to enter the giveaway.
One lucky (and hopefully hungry!) winner will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021, at 10am PT. Good luck!
Mark ‘n Mike’s, new from One Market Restaurant (1 Market St., San Francisco) is open for takeout and delivery Wed-Sat 11:30am-7pm. On the menu are New York-style deli favorites like hot pastrami, smoked brisket on twice-baked rye or challah, thinly sliced cold-smoked Bodega Bay salmon on a Boichik bagel, Mark’s matzo ball soup, meats by the pound, and signature sandwiches. You can find their full menu and ordering details here.