This week's tablehopper: marching forward.
The breathtaking view from the new Kaiyo Rooftop in SoMa. Order the aptly named (and pisco sour-ish) The Wind Rises. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hello friends. Wow, it’s already a new month. How are you hanging in there? This past week’s world news has been brutal to watch and process, and has definitely flattened out my usual effervescence, so please excuse the absence of my typical sass this week. I’m also dealing with a sad family situation (my dear grandma isn’t doing well, our beloved matriarch), so I needed to cut my content short and send this issue early today so I can be with my family, thanks for understanding. I will keep posting about local fundraisers and ways to support Ukraine in my Instagram Stories once I am back online…but in the meantime, World Central Kitchen is doing some heroic work feeding refugees, and can always use your support.
But the world keeps spinning, and there’s always a party somewhere. It’s wild to think Mardi Gras is today (let the good times roll), and so many folks in our local culinary scene are still riding high from their James Beard Award semifinalist nominations, which has to feel extra-good after the past two years of hell they’ve been through. Congrats to all. Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees will be revealed on Wednesday March 16th.
I am also SO HAPPY we get to announce the winner of the Popmenu and tablehopper “Pophop” campaign we launched at the end of last year. Thanks to all of you who nominated local restaurants (and your own businesses!) for the contest—it was really heartwarming to read all the personal notes. Keep reading today’s newsletter to see who won the digital makeover and six months of Popmenu + Boost marketing support! Couldn’t happen to a nicer operator. Thanks for your support of our F&B industry!
Let’s also congratulate Deborah Alvarez-Rodriguez, La Cocina’s New executive director. Read more about this wonderful hire who is taking the baton from Caleb ZIgas, who departed in January 2022, after 16 years with the organization. Here’s to continuing on the path of a bright future.
I also want to do a shout-out for our beloved Vinny Eng, who was nominated to serve as a Community Grand Marshal for this year’s San Francisco Pride! What a well-deserved honor for this wonderful, loving human who does so much for our community! Click here to cast your vote! Poll closes at 12 noon on Tuesday, March 8th.
One last reminder: have you joined me at the new Bay Area News Party group on Facebook? It’s a group of local publications like Broke-Ass Stuart, 48Hills, SF Funcheap, and yours truly, where we share news, events, and more about what’s happening in the Bay. Join right here to keep up on all the latest.
Thanks for reading, take good care of yourself and others, and I’ll catch up with you soon. Marcia Gagliardi
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
New Openings Include Yakiniku Shodai, Almadura, Korean Fried Chicken, and more
Recently opened in the former Kaya (previously Alta) in Mid-Market is YAKINIKU SHODA from Taiwanese chef-owner Andy Chiang. Yakiniku is a Japanese style of barbecue, and here they’re offering a high-end presentation of American, Japanese, and Australian wagyu grilled over charcoal for you, along with Hokkaido scallops topped with caviar, and other luxe ingredients like black truffle and uni (the yakishabu Japanese wagyu, a thin slice of New York strip with truffle egg sauce over rice looks utterly amazing).
The prix-fixe menu is $225, you DM them on Instagram for reservations. They also have a list of rare sakes and more. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm. 1420 Market St. at Fell, 415-757-0201.
Now open in Lower Nob Hill is ALMADURA, a tiny spot from the couple behind catering outfit Charlie’s Food Trailer, Veronica and Carlos Santos (according to What Now SF). The menu has small plates like shrimp in garlic or mussels with chorizo, a variety of tacos (including pork belly, sweet potato), and larger plates like lamb chops and a burger (nothing is over $24). Look for a variety of local beers on draft. Open Tue-Sat 4pm-9pm. 1022 Bush St. at Jones.
There’s a new Korean fried chicken place in the Outer Sunset called DAK CHICKEN. The menu includes fried chicken (available by the piece, in combo meals, or half or full family meals) in original, chile garlic, sweet garlic, yang nyum (a sweet and spicy sauce), and gochujang rose (a creamy version), plus sandwiches and sides. Open daily 11am-9pm. 2045 Irving St. at 22nd Ave.
Coming Soon: Damansara, Handroll Project, Chuy's Fiestas Taqueria, and So Much More
I have some quick notes about some exciting upcoming openings for you, starting with the great news that Tracy Goh of @eatwithtracy— known for her Malaysian pop-ups and amazing laksa suppers (since 2013!) and cooking classes—has found a brick-and-mortar location to open her restaurant, DAMANSARA. Since I’m a restaurant P.I., I figured out from her post that she’s opening in the former Ardiana (previously La Nebbia, La Ciccia’s wine bar) in Noe Valley—what a perfect neighborhood location (love that bar!). Stand by for updates soon, she’s targeting to open this year but is keeping things quiet for now. She is a La Cocina entrepreneur, so it’s good to know she’ll be getting some seasoned support for her opening. 1781 Church St. at 30th St.
It looks like Ju-Ni’s HANDROLL PROJECT opening in the Mission in the former AL’s Deli is very close, take a look at this interior pic here. Will the corner location’s curse finally be reversed? Here’s hoping they’re smudging the place daily. Partner Tan Truong and chef Geoffrey Lee will be releasing the temaki soon, stand by for details. (And happy sixth birthday to Ju-Ni.) 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St.
Fans of CHUY’S FIESTAS in the Mission (and their awesome party patio) are opening a taqueria in Lower Nob Hill! The banner on the storefront announces tacos, quesabirrias, burritos, quesadillas, and more. They plan to open the second week of March. 710 Post St. at Jones.
Congrats to chef-owner Jose Calvo Perez of SF Peruvian stalwart Fresca, Pasion, Puerto 27, and his Lomo Libre truck, who is going to be opening a brick-and-mortar LOMO LIBRE in the former Taco Shop at Underdogs space in the Sunset. Bring on the lomo saltado and agave spirits. 1824 Irving St. at 19th Ave. [Via Eater]
And our Detroit-style pizza innovators Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter of SQUARE PIE GUYS are opening a location this summer in the former Pub at Ghirardelli Square, with cocktails (similar to their Oakland location), outdoor seating, and a nice waterfront view. 851 Beach St. at Larkin. [Via Eater]
AARNA, a “Nepali-Indian-American fusion restaurant” is opening in the former El Coreano/Buttermilk Southern Kitchen location in the Mission, offering “momos, fusion dishes, like Indian burritos and omelet parathas, and some classic American fare, like burgers and sandwiches.” It’s from Raj Gotame (with additional partners, including chef Kashi Kandel), and is due to open early March for lunch, dinner, and brunch. 2848 23rd St. at Bryant. [Via Mission Local]
Mission Local also reported that Jalal Heydari of the much-adored LIMONCELLO sandwich shop in Pacific Heights is partnering with his wife, Rozita Shaker, to transform her Zita Wine Bar in the Mission into another Limoncello, but with wine (and pizza)! After Lucca Ravioli closed, the neighborhood definitely needed a spot for Italian-style sandwiches. They’re targeting a March 15th opening, and will be kindly giving the community 120 free sandwiches on the first two days of business, with another 120 free sandwiches going to SF General Hospital employees on day three. So big-hearted. Keep track on their Instagram account. 2862 24th St. at Bryant.
Bagel Shop News: Schlock's Opens in NoPa, Poppy Bagels Finds an Oakland Home
It’s a great week for bagel news. Now open in Nopa (after the typical bureaucratic delays and other shenanigans) is SCHLOK’S, which started as a pop-up out of The Snug in the Fillmore from Zack Schwab and James Lok during the pandemic. These hefty, crusty, New York-style bagels are known for their one-sided toppings (one side remains plain) and their housemade schmears. Their new location is in a former part of the laundromat space (which downsized, but still exists).
While their production is ramping up significantly with all their new equipment and space, I have been watching them sell out since they soft-opened over the weekend. Early birds get the worm since you can preorder bagels on their site starting at 6:45am for same-day pick-up. Additional bagels, plus bagel sandwiches and coffee, are available via walk-up ordering, but they seem to sell out by 9am or so. We’ll see how things settle down in a couple weeks as they ramp up production. You can read more in their FAQ and in this in-depth Eater piece. Open Wed-Sun 7:30am-12pm (or sold out). 1263 Fell St. at Broderick.
I was so thrilled to see my favorite bagel maker (there, I said it), Reesa Kashuk of POPPY BAGELS, landed her dream bakery and shop space in Temescal (the former Doña Tomás). In her announcement post, she mentions is targeting late summer/early fall, and you know this native New Yorker is going to be serving a bagel egg and cheese. She will continue making and delivering her fantastic hand-rolled bagels during this ramp-up as long as she can, and if you want to support this badass female entrepreneur, she is raising capital on SMBX. 5004 Telegraph Ave. at 50th St., Oakland.
Closures and Departures
This is always the section I wish I didn’t have to write. MAGNOLIA BREWING COMPANY (which New Belgium took over in 2018) announced the closure of the Magnolia Dogpatch location on Instagram: “COVID-19 has been a huge challenge for every hospitality business, including ours. When it came time to renew our lease in the Dogpatch, we made the tough decision to refocus our attention solely on Magnolia’s original home in the Haight, which is full of tradition, great beer, and good people. We’ve loved our time in the Dogpatch and will miss our neighbors there, but we’re excited to continue welcoming our entire community at Magnolia Haight.” Sad news, but am thankful Magnolia lives on in its original space (since 1997). This Eater post mentions a plant-based salmon company is moving in. Sigh. So much craft went into the design of that unique space in Dogpatch when Dave McLean opened it as Smokehouse. 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.
After almost 20 years in North Beach (since 2004!), and close to 11 years in the Mission in the former and forever-beloved Ti Couz space (here’s my original post about the opening in 2011), GIORDANO BROS. closed its doors this past Sunday February 27th. Owners Jeff and Allison Jordan, with Adam DeMezza, left a farewell note on their homepage. Best wishes for their next ventures.
One of the city’s first Thai restaurants, THAILAND RESTAURANT, has closed after nearly 30 years in the neighborhood. “For those still looking to get their Thai food fix in the Castro, [owners] Narongchai and Nopparat Wirattigowit still own and operate Thai Chef, another Thai restaurant just around the corner at 4133 18th St.” [via Hoodline and SFGate]
This isn’t a restaurant closure, but I did want to note that La Cocina’s program director extraordinaire Geetika Agrawal is departing after nine years (since 2013). She has worked with over 70 businesses, and “under her leadership, the number of La Cocina born brick-and-mortar launches grew from two to 33.” What a force. You may have listened to her inspiring episode on my *On the Fly podcast *in the beginning of the pandemic. Geetika, enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Thank you for all your heart, soul, and dedication to so many people and their dreams.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Sponsored: Announcing the Winner of the Popmenu and tablehopper "Pophop" Campaign!
We asked you to nominate your favorite Bay Area restaurants for a digital makeover with six months of Popmenu + Boost for FREE…and boy did you deliver! We received so many great submissions and had fun reading all the reasons you love your local spots. Well, it’s finally time to congratulate the lucky winner: Poesia in the Castro!!
We know restaurants are a key part of how we connect with one another—a lot happens over the dinner table! So, whether you submitted a nomination as an owner/operator or a regular customer, we want to thank you for continuing to show the San Francisco restaurant community your love and support! Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for a look at Poesia’s digital transformation!
Looking to boost your own restaurant website and marketing? See what Popmenu has to offer!
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Che Bello Yellow: Bar Piccino Is Opening in the Yellow Building in Dogpatch, Plus More Updates
A number of exciting things are in the works with the Piccino team in Dogpatch, starting with the upcoming BAR PICCINO, slated to open just before summer begins. This spacious and stylish project is opening in the vacant MAC space in the Yellow Building, just next to the restaurant. It’s around 2,000 square feet, with an airy and light feeling from the 15-foot ceilings, with room for 65-75 guests at the Carrara marble and cypress-topped bar (12 seats), at a long standing bar (15-18 spots), and some other cozy spots, like a window seat.
There’s also going to be a jewel box lounge (with room for 20-30), with leather and velvet banquettes, some Mid-Century style, low lights, and a lower ceiling (which will build the intimate vibe). There will be lots of wood (like cypress) and rough-hewn floors, marble-topped tables, brass accents, and tones of blue and green throughout. And then there’s the restaurant’s beautiful pavilion parklet out front, which will have a standing bar for Bar Piccino customers to hang out and enjoy Dogpatch’s great weather over a cocktail. Whether you’re starting your evening, spending your evening, or ending your evening, Bar Piccino will have the right vibe.
It’s going to be craft-driven, just like the restaurant, with a focus on the terroir of agave spirits (the team loves tequila, mezcal, and sotol) and seasonal ingredients. There will also be Italian amari, whiskies, and low-ABV/no-ABV options, too. Bar manager Andi Miller has been in hospitality for 15 years, and started working in SF with Enrique “Keeke” Sanchez at Arguello in 2015, eventually becoming the lead bartender and managing for one-and-a-half years. During the pandemic, Arguello sadly closed, and Miller started working with Phil West and Jeff Lyon at Third Rail in Dogpatch, going through the rollercoaster of pandemic pivots and to-go cocktails. She’s fired up to work with a restaurant again, collaborating with Piccino executive chef Daniella Banchero (who will be making a number of inventive bar bites) and highlighting ingredients in season, making syrups, gastriques, juices, and shrubs that use produce from Piccino’s farm in Healdsburg. Miller says her cocktails will be diverse but simple, utilizing the best ingredients (a similar ethos at the restaurant).
A new partner in Piccino’s overall business with owners Sher Rogat and Margherita Sagan is the talented and seasoned industry operator *Sean Manchester *(including Chambers eat + drink and the former Mighty), who is not only working with the team on developing Bar Piccino, but also two private dining/meeting rooms in the adjoining Blue Building, as well as updating the rooftop event space they call “The Guest House.” (You can rest assured the bar’s soundtrack is going to be good with Manchester’s bar and club history.) Manchester is additionally partnering with BUILD founder Loring Sagan on a project in Sausalito: Piccino Sull’Acqua (more on that later)—Sagan is a partner in Piccino with his wife Margherita (quick reminder: BUILD is the developer behind the Yellow Building).
Piccino is also going to be getting some updates, but will need to temporarily close in April for about six weeks so they can demolish and then add an additional restroom, expand the kitchen and walk-in, and install a new, state-of-the-art (and more efficient) pizza oven. The plan is to keep the kitchen open as long as possible, and then close for construction, hopefully reopening in May, with a grand opening in June. They just got their permits issued for construction, so things are now getting underway. Espresso fanatics: please note the café will remain open throughout construction. These are all such fantastic developments for the Piccino group, who just celebrated their 15th anniversary in December. I’m looking forward to keep raising my glass, again and again.