The annual wisteria show in SF never ceases to delight. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Howdy, gang. Or perhaps I should say, “High!” Some of you may have noticed I didn’t hop into your inboxes last week—boss of me decided to take last Tuesday off and celebrate 420 instead. Yeah, it’s a high holiday! I was invited to a private party at Sonoma Hills Farm in the Petaluma Gap, and it was a joy to be surrounded by the springtime green hills while dining on an incredible lunch prepared by Kim Alter (Nightbird) and her talented team. It was seriously the farm buffet of my dreams, with so many vegetable dishes, lamb chops and braised lamb, polenta from the farm, lamb liver tacos…and then, of course, a day smoking some of my favorite cannabis flower with some of the finest folks in the cannabiz. What a wonderful reunion. (I was not the only one on cloud nine.)
I’m also so excited that Chopped 420 came out on 4/20 on Discovery+—it’s the show I worked on earlier this year as a cannabis consultant! Watch two local chefs—Victor Aguilera of Arepas en Bici and Solomon Johnson of the Bussdown in Oakland—compete on this entirely new cannabis cooking show (you can read more about their participation in this SFGate piece).
Restaurant owners: the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grant program will begin accepting applications Monday May 3rd (12pm ET). Make sure all your paperwork is ready! To prepare to apply, please visit restaurants.sba.gov this Friday April 30th after 9am ET to create your account. (Try to register on Friday and download the latest forms, and submit your application on Monday.) Visit saverestaurants.com for more, and here’s an update from the National Restaurant Association. Relief is finally on the way (for those who made it this far).
Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday May 9th, and there are a bunch of tasty options, from dining out to takeout feasts. I have a Mother’s Day highlight going on my Instagram feed (I will be updating it often), and here’s another idea: buy a ticket to take Mom up to Nick’s Cove for a special brunch celebrating their new cookbook, Table with a View! (Tickets include a cookbook.) Upcoming dates are May 23rd, June 27th, July 25th, and August 22nd.
So, I am about to embark on an absolutely huge project this week: I’m painting my apartment! As someone who lives in a studio, this is a logistical beast. Let’s just say I’ll be excited when this is all done, but for the next week, my life is about to get pretty chaotic. I’m going to be down the rabbit hole (or should I say deep in the paint can), so I am signing off! I have a bunch of catch-up news and updates for you in the meantime, please enjoy this week’s column.
Ciao for now! Marcia Gagliardi
There are a number of new projects in the works, and many are pop-ups finding their first brick-and-mortar location, something that fills me with optimism after this bleak year. I was thrilled to see the co-founders behind the ongoing pop-up HILDA AND JESSE—Rachel Sillcocks (Range, Piccino) and Kristina Compton (Avery, Atelier Crenn, Range)—have found a brick-and-mortar location in North Beach. Their concept has always been an “all-day breakfast restaurant and neighborhood hangout,” with an all-day menu that will go into late afternoon. Breakfast without boundaries! Details are slim at the moment, but we’ll have to see what they’re planning for this sunny corner spot. More soon! 1665 Powell St. at Union.
The daytime Italian café and deli spot, NORCINA, has closed its Waterfront Plaza location. After slinging tigelle and gelato for a few years there, and preparing takeout food over the pandemic, owner Kaitlynn Bauman is opening a larger location in the Marina. With the bigger space, she is going to be expanding the concept into more of a restaurant, with reservations open in May. Sadly, we didn’t connect in time for my deadline, but I will have more details soon. 3251 Pierce St. at Chestnut.
I’ve been tracking chef David Yoshimura’s new brick-and-mortar location for his RESTAURANT NISEI concept, but didn’t manage to get back to him in time before my last (monster) deadline—someone was buried (per usual). And what a location it is: the former La Folie restaurant and bar on Polk in Russian Hill. Yoshimura was previously chef de cuisine at Californios, and his tasting menu at his pre-pandemic pop-up (Oji) was an elegant exploration of Japanese washoku (home cooking) cuisine. Of late, you may have tried his bento boxes he was selling out of Mister Jiu’s during the pandemic. But now, with Nisei (which is the Japanese term for a person born in the United States whose parents were immigrants from Japan), he’s going to really highlight his Japanese-American heritage and is calling it fine dining Californian washoku. He mentioned in a newsletter that Ilya Romanov from Niku Steakhouse and The Beehive will be spearheading the bar program. I’ll have a more detailed update as the project comes along (they’re aiming to open mid-2021); he’s fundraising, if you want to be part of it. 2316 Polk St. at Green.
Another pop-up team, Francis Ang and his wife Dian of Pinoy Heritage, are going to be opening ABACÁ, a full-service, Californian-Filipino restaurant in the Kimpton Alton Hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf this summer. Think delicious small plates; family recipes; NorCal ingredients; a panaderia featuring fresh-baked pastries, ensaymada, and espresso drinks from Oakland’s Mr. Espresso (open daily from 7am); and cocktails. You can read more in this Eater piece. 2700 Jones St. at North point.
And over in my neck of the woods, I was happy to see pop-up SCHLOK’S BAGELS from Zack Schwab and James Lok—who have been operating their bagel pop-up out of The Snug on Fillmore during the pandemic—have found a brick-and-mortar location in a former laundromat at 1263 Fell St. (at Broderick, near Falletti’s). They’re aiming to open by September, so their pop-up is now on hiatus while they focus on opening.
The former Obispo location in the Mission, Thad Vogler’s rhum agricole bar, is going to become ITRIA, a modern Italian restaurant and pizzeria. Eater reports the new owners are Daniel Evers (previously AL’s Place, Cotogna, and Marea in New York) who is partnering with Min Park (Rooster and Rice, Omakase Capital). Evers will be focused on rectangular pan pizzas, which travel well for takeout/delivery, which is what they’re starting with. There will be some other dishes on the limited opening menu, like meatballs and a couple salads (chopped, Caesar), with an expanded menu coming when they open for indoor dining (housemade pasta, crudos, wine, and more). Stand by for an opening soon. 3266 24th St. at Capp.
Now open in Mission Bay is NEW BELGIUM BREWING, the Colorado craft brewer’s first restaurant and taproom. There’s a four-barrel pilot system that will produce an array of brews and small-batch specialty beers, from classic Belgian-style offerings, to experimental hoppy beers, to on-site sour blends. The on-site brewing team will collaborate with chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz (previously Noosh) on some special one-offs to pair with dishes on their menu, which includes shareable and multicultural dishes, from tacos (like the Thai paratha taco with shrimp, papaya salad, crispy shallots, kosho mayo) to burgers to salads to tartines. There are a bunch of beer-friendly apps, like chicken wings with hot honey, and fried green olives stuffed with pepper jack and battered, served with yuzu aioli (want!). It’s spacious, with indoor seating for over 110 guests and 60 outdoor patio seats. Open Mon-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 3pm-9pm. Hours may vary due to game day schedules; check social media or call for updates. 1000a 3rd St. at Channel.
There is now a brick-and-mortar location of SANGUCHON, a former Peruvian food truck from chef Carlos Altamirano (known for many Peruvian businesses in the Bay Area, including Mochica, Piqueos, Parada, Baranco, and La Costanera). This new Mission location is offering seven sandwiches (sanguchon means “sandwich”), empanadas, skewers, salads, and sides, with housemade sauces, alfajores, and beer and wine. There’s indoor and outdoor seating. Open Tue-Sun 11am-9pm. 1182 Valencia St. at 23rd St.
Also open on Valencia is ALNICO, an offshoot from the 1608 Bistro on Bush (known for their Filipino brunch) which appears to be temporarily closed until December 2021. Alnico is now serving brunch only, offering dishes like steak and eggs, Korean chicken and waffles, ube pancakes, waffles with black sesame butter, and more. Open Sat 9:30am-2:30pm and Sun 9am-2:30pm. 1050 Valencia St. at 22nd St.
One more new Valencia spot is VALENCIA SUBS, an offshoot from the well-known Irving Subs. It’s open in the former Zaytoon space. Open daily 11:30am-7:30pm. 1136 Valencia St. at 22nd St.
The former East Side West, Cow Marlowe, and most recently Greenwich, is now WILDER, from the new owners behind the nearby Westwood (known for its mechanical bull). Opening Friday April 30th, this restaurant and bar will also include live music, cocktails, and an international menu from chef Jesus Dominguez (previously Delfina, Americano, Spork, and Campton Place). The interior has a woodsy/great outdoors vibe, and there’s indoor and outdoor seating. Open Wed-Sun for dinner, with weekend brunch, starting at 11am. 3154 Fillmore St. at Greenwich.
Exciting news for SF: THE RAMP is finally reopening! Exhale, I know. Some of you have been reaching out to me asking what was up, and I was so happy to see their post that they’re reopening today (April 27th), with an updated patio (now with artificial grass, picnic tables, new umbrellas and shade structures), a fresh paint job in some spots, new cocktails (don’t worry, the Bloody Mary is a staple), and an updated menu. Live music will be returning soon. Woot woot! Hours are Tue-Sat 11am-6pm for now. 855 Terry Francois St. at Mariposa.
More great news: REEM’S CALIFORNIA finally has a new oven (after the last one exploded five months ago, what a nightmare, thankfully no one was hurt), and the Arab bakery has reopened for business. Whew! Time to enjoy their delicious workers’ wreaths. Hours are Wed-Sat 9am-9pm and Sun 10am-5pm, although do note they will be closed Saturday May 1st, in solidarity with May Day. 2901 Mission St. at 25th St.
You should also know chef-founder Reem Assil launched a line with Burlap and Barrel: Reem’s Spice Blends. This limited run of baharat (seven spice blend), za’atar (herb, sumac, and sesame), and khalta hara chile spice will liven up your eggs and cooking right-quick.
Another reopening and remodel is the BEACH CHALET, with an updated bar and dining room, plus a new chef and menu, but the same great view. Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm and Sat-Sun 10am-9pm, with brunch from 10am-2:30pm. 1000 Great Highway at Ocean Beach.
Some good news from the former CatHead’s BBQ team, husband and wife Richard Park and Pam Schafer, who sadly had to close their restaurant last August: they have taken over the kitchen space at Bender’s Bar in the Mission and opened as OverKill Grill. They refreshed and sharpened the space, and Richard tells me they’re offering bar-friendly dishes, like their Chixx Schnitzz (a chicken schnitzel sandwich), Pizza Rollzz, spicy peanut noodles, and Burgs. They’re open Wed-Sun 2pm-10pm. Bender’s has two outdoor Shared Spaces, and there’s room for up to 50 inside. 806 S. Van Ness Ave. at 19th St.
I noticed there’s a brand-new breakfast pop-up at Fig & Thistle wine bar in Hayes Valley called POPPY, serving California breakfast items, from waffles to tater towers to egg sandos, with local and seasonal produce. It all looks lovely. Open Sat-Sun 10am-2pm. 429 Gough St. at Ivy.
This is always the part of my column I hate writing. Over the weekend, chef-owner Trish Tracey announced the closure of the six-year-old MYRIAD GASTROPUB in the Mission. Be sure to read her thoughtful note about her decision to pass the space onto someone else while she ponders her next move and project. Best to you and your staff, Trish. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St.
Over in the Marina, RISTORANTE PARMA is closing after 40 years in business (since 1980!). Two generations of the Elia family have run the neighborhood favorite: it was started by Italian native Pietro Elia, and now his daughter, Angela—who has been working at the restaurant for almost 20 years—runs the business. You can read her farewell note here, and their last night of service is Friday April 30th. 3314 Steiner St. at Lombard.
A tablehopper reader sent me a video of the TYGER’S COFFEE SHOP sign coming down in Glen Park, and Glen Park News reports they were open for more than 30 years of business. 2798 Diamond St. at Chenery.
I was so terribly sorry and shocked to hear the news that chef Terrell Brunet unexpectedly passed away in March, which I just learned a couple weeks ago. He was such a big personality, so kind-hearted and a true bon vivant. Wearer of jaunty fedoras. Wicked gumbo-maker. It’s so hard when a light that shines that brightly goes dim, although I know his legacy will burn on with many fond memories and stories held in the hearts of those who loved and knew him. You can read some remembrances and see photos on the page linked above.
I first met Terrell back in 2006, when he was working at the Elite Cafe with chef pal Joanna Karlinsky, who has known him for years (since their days at the CIA). I asked her if she could share a remembrance of him and his culinary background, and she kindly obliged. Thank you, Jo.
“We’ve lost another one too soon. Terrell Brunet was a quintessential New Orleanian and never let anyone forget it. Intoxicating. Bawdy. Always ready to show you something new about himself. He graduated from the CIA in 1989, spent some of the 90’s in SF working at Julie’s Supper Club, Red Devil Lounge, Blue Light Café, and then returned to CIA as a chef-instructor. He loved it. Almost as much as his newborn son.
“But New Orleans called him back and he went to teach there. Hurricane Katrina hit him hard; the school closed and he lost all of his teaching tools. Interestingly for him, old friends were reopening the Elite Café, here in SF, and he came running to help. There he met his soon-to-be wife, Neely, and they made a home in Oakland. He loved throwing backyard parties and seeing his old students; teaching restaurant work, and returning to NOLA to play. He will be missed.”
There is going to be a memorial on Sunday May 16th, but due to Covid, the gathering is extremely limited in capacity. There is going to be a casual backyard gathering the day before to accommodate some of the folks who can’t fit into the memorial—If you want to reach out to Neely, you can email her here. Sending love and deep condolences to all of T’s family and many friends and students—he touched so many lives with his cooking and knowledge and big heart.
With the continued and distressing hate crimes and violence against the AAPI community, a number of folks in our local restaurant industry are rallying to support, and raise funds and awareness. First, ZUNI CAFE is hosting another bake sale, with 32 participants (!) on Saturday May 1st. Proceeds will benefit AAPI Women Lead, the Asian Pacific American Community Center, and Third Culture Bakery’s community safety kits. Pastry boxes are $30 each, and include five pastries of your choosing (no pre-orders). The bake sale starts at 11am and is first-come, first-served until sold out, with no limit on the quantity of boxes you can purchase. So yeah, you’ll want to get there early!
Are you in the East Bay? Don’t miss Bake Love Not Hate (@bakelovenothate_oakland), an Oakland-based fundraising bake sale on Saturday May 1st from 12pm-6pm (at 59 Grand Ave. at Webster St. in Oakland). Participants include Boichik Bagels, Firebrand Artisan Breads, La Farine, and many more.
There is also an online auction (Friday April 30th at 12pm through Sunday May 2nd at 11:59pm), featuring products, services, gift cards, and experiences (from Levis, Vans Vault, Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese, Taylor Stitch, Tellason, Farmhouse Thai, and more). Lastly, Saturday May 1st is A Day of Giving, when partnering businesses will graciously dedicate a small portion of their proceeds to combat systemic racism. 100 percent of the proceeds from all three components will benefit AAPI Women Lead (empowering AAPI women and girls through leadership programs), Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and Hate Is A Virus (amplifying awareness of AAPI discrimination and hate crimes while standing in solidarity with our BIPOC siblings).
Coming to SF for the month of May is Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate (CSAH), a fundraising dinner series in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Founded in Washington D.C., by chefs Kevin Tien of Moon Rabbit and Tim Ma of Lucky Danger, Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate is a five-course takeout dinner series, created in response to the escalating cases of anti-Asian hate crimes and xenophobic attacks on the AAPI community across the country.
Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate is working with OpenTable to host the Bay Area dinner series. The dinners will take place every Tuesday for four consecutive weeks beginning on May 4th. Every week, five different chefs are each contributing one course to a five-course takeout meal for two. Participating restaurants include: b. Patisserie, Commis, Ernest, Liholiho Yacht Club, Mister Jiu’s, Nari, Nightbird, SingleThread, Sorrel, State Bird Provisions, and more. Tickets for each dinner are now available for purchase on OpenTable, where guests can reserve and pre-select individual pick-up times.
I am so outta time (overtime!) writing this column, so this East Bay update is a quickfire round of info for you.
Opening this Friday in Oakland in the former Flora and Fauna bar is PALMETTO and The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto, a Caribbean restaurant and bar from The Kon-Tiki team. Owners Christ Aivaliotis and Matt Reagan are excited to be in this historic, Art Deco space, serving tropical takes on steakhouse staples from chef Manny Bonilla, and classic cocktails, served in pared-down portions so you can enjoy more spirit-forward drinks, without getting too loaded. Cheers to that. The space is filled with pastels, tropical plants, and lots of glam touches (I’m basically ready to move into their Instagram feed), while The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto is more nautical. Reservations available Saturday and onwards. Hours: Tue-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm; brunch coming soon. 1900 Telegraph Ave. at 19th St., Oakland.
Opening soon in Alameda is COFFEE CULTURES ALAMEDA from Jason Paul, David Burke, and Luigi DiRuocco (they were all born and raised in Alameda, so this location is very special to the group of partners). Coffee Cultures was established in 2013 at their original location at 225 Bush St. in SF (this location closed in 2019). They opened a second location in SF at 1301 Mission St. in 2015, which is currently open Mon-Fri 9am-2pm. And now they have a new Alameda location, with a beautiful courtyard with a mural, tables, and chairs. They will have a counter and banquettes inside, but in the beginning, it will just be to-go and courtyard seating. Phase two will bring a pick-up window on the Blanding Street side.
In addition to full coffee service (featuring Perennial Espresso, Half Baked Decaf Espresso, and single origin coffees, plus they partnered with Mr. Espresso on a private label Coffee Cultures), there will be Straus soft-serve ice cream, Straus yogurt parfaits, Starter Bakery pastries, steel-cut Irish oatmeal, and affogatos. Opening hours are Mon-Fri 6am-2pm and Sat-Sun 7am-2pm. 1926 Park St. at Blanding, Alameda.
It has been so exciting to watch RED BAY COFFEE open their breathtaking new Oakland café and headquarters in a former bank at International Boulevard and Fruitvale Avenue—take a look and get all the details in this Eater piece.
Now more than ever, talented chefs need the support of their communities. Cooking Crown’s Top Oakland Culinary Artist competition is an opportunity for culinary artists to be their best and experience their dream of opening and running a successful Oakland food business. The winner will be crowned the Top Oakland Culinary Artist, will receive $10,000 in capital from food angel Shawn Tsao, and work with him as their advisor.
Enter at Cookingcrown.com. Entry to each round is free. Enter by June 12th. All are welcome to enter, but there will be a focus on pitches for fast-casual restaurants. Culinary artists that enter can currently own restaurants and dining establishments or be first-time business owners. Each round will utilize the Spotidol platform for entry, voting, scoring, and for providing feedback. Voting will be used for tie-breakers. More info is given to pre-registrants.
Judges include Shawn Tsao, co-founder of Caviar and general partner of Umai Hospitality; Min Park, CFO of Rooster & Rice; and Meche Sansores, senior loan officer of Feed the Hunger Fund.
Partners and sponsors for the competition include: Beluga Capital, Umai Hospitality, Visit Oakland, Port Kitchens, Replate, tablehopper, Sankofa Garden, and Feeding Opportunities on Demand.
Last week, I had a delightful evening with friends checking out INDIE WINE & BEER BAR at the new location of the San Francisco Wine Center, which moved from their Bryant Street address last year to this spot near Levi’s Plaza. There’s a spacious, warm, and protected outdoor space (they call it Indie Station) with room for 60—they take table reservations, and it would be perfect for a gathering or event. There’s also interior seating at a long banquette, tables, and some lounge seating.
The extensive menu goes far beyond the usual cheese and charcuterie offering. Chef Carina Lampkin was previously at Bar Crudo, and you’ll note her seafood skills with the two raw oyster presentations ($24 for six), there’s a local halibut crudo ($15), and day boat scallops tucked in the stunning sunchoke soup ($13), with fennel and Tokyo turnips.
The beet, bacon, and blue cheese salad ($13) was our group’s favorite—it’s one of the best beet salads I’ve ever had, actually, with golden and Chioggia beets, red wine vinaigrette, and the kicker: whipped horseradish crème fraîche. Don’t miss it. Your table can choose from a couple flatbreads to share, and heartier appetites will find almond-crusted halibut ($25) and New Zealand lamb ribs ($28), with a tasty side of smoked yucca root. You even get three desserts to choose from—the classic French crème brûlée was what won the affection of our dessert spoons.
The wine list is full of treasures available by the glass that you rarely see (2015 Hanzell Vineyards chardonnay, or how about 2009 Marchesi di Barolo?). You can keep things affordable or totally splash out, there are so many options! Get a few pals and taste your way through this exciting list. Owner Brian McGonigle is excited to be able to open and share these wines with his guests. Oh, and wine classes will start up again soon. Open Thu-Sat 3pm-8pm. 175 Green St. at Sansome.
Mark your calendar for WINeFare, the first international wine tasting event focused on the women in the natural wine movement, founded by Pamela Busch of The Vinguard. This year, it’s a three-day virtual event from May 21st-23rd. Over 100 women and women-owned businesses from a dozen countries, 13 states, and the District of Columbia are participating. Bottles Without Borders will have 16 panel discussions ranging from Quevri This: The Women Taking Over Georgia’s Natural Wine Movement to New Voices in California Wine.
WINeFare is also partnering with 40 women-owned natural wine shops throughout the United States and in other countries so that attendees can find wines from the winemakers participating. Tickets are available on a sliding scale basis ($20-$50).
Come join the Nopa team! If you’re passionate about service, impeccable local ingredients, craft cocktails, and beautiful wine, we want to meet you. We are currently hiring cooks, bartenders, and servers. Ideal candidates are kind, hard-working, positive people who are excited to contribute, grow, and learn.
Email your résumé.
Fiorella Restaurant Group is looking for an experienced general manager to lead the opening of our third location in the Inner Sunset. You thrive in a fast-paced environment, possess excellent communication and organizational skills, and excel at sharing your knowledge with your team. You are a leader who unifies the front and back of house, radiates hospitality, and promotes a positive work environment. We would love to hear from you!
Please email your résumé and cover letter.
Join China Live’s award-winning team! “Restaurant of the Year” - Eater “The World’s Greatest Places, 100 Destinations to Visit Right Now” - TIME Magazine “Top Chinese Restaurants in the Bay Area” - San Francisco Chronicle “Top Grossing Independent Chinese Restaurant in America” - Restaurants & Institutions
We encourage prospective candidates to learn more about us at ChinaLiveSF.com! Or better yet, please visit us in person and check out what makes us special!
Qualified applicants will have a great attitude, are professional, driven, and detail-oriented, and have open availability and flexible hours. Apply now!