Char siew danish from Sunday Bakeshop (which I ordered via sponsor Pastel’s awesome service). Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Brrrrr, how are y’all doing with this frigid, annoying wind? Seriously, so rude. Glad I have my cute, snuggly cat to keep me toasty. And cheese. Lots of cheese this week. Today’s column has an awesome sponsored ticket giveaway to the California Artisan Cheese Festival, which is returning after two years of hiatus.
I’m also going to be interviewing author Erika Kubick of Cheese Sex Death: A Bible for the Cheese Obsessed this Saturday evening April 16th at The Cheese School of San Francisco! We’ll snack on cheese platters and enjoy adult beverages while we learn about Erika’s life as a preacher of the curd word! Use code tablehopper for $15 off tickets to the event, or for Easter Sunday’s cheese church! (If you feel like playing hooky, there’s a Marin farm tour this Friday April 15th as well!) Hope to see you Saturday! Check out all the cheesetastic events here.
As my fellow lovers of green flower already know, next Wednesday April 20th is 420, and there are all kinds of events sparking up this month. I enjoyed giving a talk on microdosing cannabis to The Metropolitan Club last week, and next Friday April 22nd, I’ll be giving a similar presentation for the San Francisco Public Library, as part of Evergreen San Francisco, a celebration of our weedy city! Sign up for my talk, How to Microdose Cannabis for Sanity, Sleep, and Self-Care (it’s free and on Zoom at 4pm). I never ever thought I’d be presenting a talk about cannabis for the public library, but here we are, yay! Check out the calendar of events for other stony things happening that week (use code highmilligram if you’re interested in the Collective High scavenger hunt!).
I want to give a shout-out for my fellow writer Trevor Felch, who is presenting his new book, San Francisco Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by the City by the Bay, at Omnivore Books on Thursday April 21st at 6:30pm (Golden Rule Spirits will be on hand to pour some of their cocktail mixes)! Enjoy having some classic (and contemporary) SF cocktail recipes on hand, along with interviews with local bartenders, stories, history, and more! Over 100 Bay Area restaurants, bars, independent bartenders, and distilleries contributed to the book. Cheers!
Just making sure you know I have added even more updates to my Instagram Highlights on Passover and Easter options around the Bay, in case you’re looking for places for a seder, Easter brunch, or treats!
Lastly, mark your calendar for Tuesday April 26th, when the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) will host the 22nd Dining Out for Life event. This annual fundraiser sees thousands of community members dine out at around 50 participating restaurants, where a portion of their bill is generously donated to SFAF (usually 25 percent, but Kahnfections in the Mission and Amici’s in the Marina are actually donating 100 percent of sales on April 26th to the organization)! These funds directly support the HIV prevention and care services the Foundation provides to over 21,000 clients each year, free of charge. Please take a look at the participating restaurants and plan a meal out that evening with friends. Check out the new Vico Cavone (pizza fritta, baby!) or tuck into some pasta at Poesia (and tell them how much you love their new Popmenu-powered site, thanks to you!). There are some great restaurants to choose from, have fun.
OK, gang. That’s a wrap. Let’s dive into the news. Have a nice evening. Marcia Gagliardi
Recently, a dear friend and I were wondering aloud about the whereabouts of chef Loretta Keller and how she was doing as we all slowly make our way out of bunkers. It’s like the universe must have heard us, because I just received an email from her business partner Clay Reynolds, announcing the opening of their latest project together, UCCELLO LOUNGE. Chirp chirp! (Uccello means “bird” in Italian.)
The restaurant and lounge is on the ground floor of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s new building, the Bowes Center, which is just across from Davies Symphony Hall. (Perhaps you have noticed the recitals happening in the top floor? Looks so cool.) It ends up the building now houses Conservatory students, and they needed to be fed (all 450 of them!), so chef Keller was approached to help create an in-house food program. (For the past 10 years, she has run a restaurant and café with Reynolds at The Exploratorium, the Seismic Joint Café and Seaglass Restaurant in the Bay Observatory.) The concept for the lounge and restaurant on the ground floor was added as another component, and now the team is juggling the student food program and opening a restaurant—it’s quite the undertaking (any restaurant that cooked for SF New Deal during the pandemic understands the double-duty demands).
Uccello Lounge has 55 seats, offering seating at both a horseshoe bar and at tables. Take a look at Keller’s peak season menu here, which includes upscale bar snacks like steak tartare ($22) with nasturtium leaves and puffed rice; the pictured potato straw mats and caviar ($35) with trout roe caviar, crème fraîche, and dill; and former COCO500 fans will be happy to see the return of the flatbread, a truffled mushroom flatbread ($17) with crème fraîche, Parmesan, and sea salt.
There are also small and large dishes, like buckwheat and ricotta cavatelli, chilled Delta asparagus with sauce gribiche and a seven-minute farm egg, and lamb shoulder Saint-Menehould with roasted artichokes, Niçoise olives, wild fennel, spring onions, and green garlic. It all sounds so delicious. Reynolds has assembled a list of wines by the glass, both from California as well as some Old World selections. You’ll also see a cocktail list, with three zero-proof options as well.
Here’s the extra-fun part: every evening, starting at 8pm, there’s live music from SFCM students and graduates, from trios to classical strings and contemporary pieces, too. Pretty fabulous, no? Hours for now are Thu-Sat 5pm-11pm, making it an ideal stop before or after nearby performances, with plans to extend to Wednesday evenings in time. Reservations are available. 200 Van Ness Ave. at Hayes.
Coming Soon: New Project in Dosa Fillmore Space, Butter& Cake Shop, Il Casaro Team to Cow Hollow, More
It looks like the former Dosa on Fillmore location has new takers: SF Business Times reports the team behind Taj Campton Place Restaurant and Ettan in Palo Alto—chef Srijith Gopinathan and business partner Ayesha Thapar—as well as the recently opened Little Blue Door at State Street Market in Los Altos, will be opening a project in six or seven months. Details are forthcoming, but the space will be undergoing a major renovation into a landmark-style restaurant. You can read a recap in SFist. 1700 Fillmore St. at Post.
Moving into the beautifully designed Noon All Day space in Dogpatch will be a BUTTER& cake shop from Amanda Nguyen (who also owns Pastel delivery) with her life and business partner, Ted Moran. It will be the first storefront for her buttercream cakes, and a new individual-sized cake will be available, five different flavors in all (stand by for some chef collaborations too); tea service will also be offered. They plan to open this summer. 690 Indiana St. at 19th St.
Francesco Covucci (Il Casaro, CA Fish Market Restaurant) will be opening a new project in Cow Hollow, in the former Contrada. It’s going to be a hybrid concept of his popular North Beach and Castro pizzeria, IL CASARO and CA FISH MARKET RESTAURANT. The plan is to offer a variety of seafood (oysters, crudi, caviar, clams, mussels), as well as four-five pizzas, and a bunch of sparkling rosé. (Sounds like my kind of heaven.) The location has an awesome back deck, making it a perfect hangout. They’re planning to open in September, once the liquor license transfers over, and, of course, staffing takes time these days. 2136 Union St. at Webster.
Meanwhile, SOUVLA is opening their fifth location in Dogpatch this May in the former Magnolia Brewing Co. space. Since it’s such a spacious location, the team will be expanding the wine list with even more by-the-glass Greek selections and adding traditional mezes, including dips and hand pies. Hours will be daily 11am-10pm. 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.
Some great news: after being denied approval to open due to SF’s formula retail restrictions,EL FAROLITO will be opening after all in North Beach in the former The House space, thanks to some intervention from Supervisor Aaron Peskin. Read more back story here in the Chronicle. It’s due to open this month. Bring on the “Bosses burrito.” 1230 Grant Ave. at Columbus.
Some new openings around town include MIJOTÉ, the new French bistro with a prix-fixe menu ($82) that will change weekly with the seasons, alongside a list of natural wines. Chef Kosuke Tada and his wife Grace turned the former Sasaki space around quickly (I just mentioned this project barely a month ago!), and reservations are now open (walk-ins are also welcome). Open Fri-Tue 5pm-9pm. 2400 Harrison St. at 20th St.
I’ve been keeping an eye on MENYA KANEMARU GOLDEN RAMEN after reading about its upcoming opening on WhatNowSF, and this updated concept inside the former Orenchi Beyond is now open (under the same owners). The all-day menu is now focused on appetizers (both hot and cold), ramen (including some vegan and gluten-free options), and a variety of bento boxes—you can flip through the menu sections here. Open Sun-Mon 11am-9:30pm, Tue-Thu 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. Delivery is also available. 174 Valencia St. at Duboce.
There’s a new Nepali-fusion spot called PIROO in Lower Nob Hill, serving an eclectic menu of bar bites and tapas, including chicken choila wraps in lettuce cups or bowls, ceviche, pani puri, a beet salad, and more. They’re also offering $2 oysters and a second round of any drink is on the house (they have local beers and an edited wine list). OK then! Open daily 11am-9pm. 1101 Polk St. at Post.
EL PORTEÑO EMPANADAS just opened a new location near Oracle Park. You can easily pick up their Argentinian empanadas before or after a baseball game. Open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Saturdays coming soon. 700 2nd St. at Townsend.
Also in SoMa, the folks behind HIDDEN SPOT in South San Francisco and Emeryville just opened a location inside Trademark bar. Their extensive menu of hot sandwiches, wagyu burgers, karaage chicken burgers, wings, and beer-battered onion rings will pair well with Trademark’s cocktails, which you can enjoy inside or on the patio. Open Tue-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat 10am-10pm, and Sun 10am-7pm. 1123 Folsom St. at Langton.
Tragic news on the Wharf: after 97 years of business, the iconic ALIOTO’S is closing permanently, after shuttering for the pandemic the past two years. SF Business Times reports they’re getting approval from the Port of San Francisco to get out of their lease (and the $770,000 in back rent owed). Since the Business Times article is paywalled, you can read more details in SFist here.
It’s truly a tragedy to lose one of San Francisco’s most longstanding restaurants, the site of so many memories, from locals going there for dinner for prom, to family gatherings, to tourists making their annual cioppino pilgrimage. Alioto’s first started as a fish stand in 1925 at stall No. 8, and the restaurant opened in 1938 (you can read more of the restaurant’s long history here). This is exactly why we need to put pressure on the Senate to refill the RRF (Restaurant Revitalization Fund), so we don’t keep having to watch otherwise-successful businesses close and lose our landmarks that have been open for almost a century. It’s a damn shame. Please take action on the Independent Restaurant Coalition page.
Another restaurant that couldn’t survive pandemic-related woes is LUPULANDIA, the three-year-old Mission brewpub from Anthony LaVia. You can read more about the ups and downs of the business as it fought to survive these past two years in this Mission Local piece. 2243 Mission St. at 18th St.
After 11 years of DJ nights and burgers and cocktails, ASIENTO in the Mission has closed. Hoodline mentions the business is reportedly being remodeled, with owner Debi Cohn stating in a Facebook post: “Bringing on a partner and remodeling/rebranding. A new bar is coming soon!” Stand by for details in the future on what the comeback is going to look like. 2730 21st St. at Bryant.
And Eater reports that longtime, Inner Sunset sister businesses TART TO TART and MEXICAN GRILL are closing their current locations on Irving Street due to an impending rent increase. Mexican Grill will be closing after 45 years in business, but Tart to Tart will live on and is moving to a smaller nearby location. 641 Irving St. at 8th Ave.
You’d think one of SF’s most well-known slice shops would be doing okay during these tough times, but even ARINELL PIZZA is on the precipice of closing due to reduced foot traffic (and the diminished number of people getting drunk in the Mission and needing a slice at 2am)—read more in this SFGate story. Owner Ron Demirdjian needs to see a bunch more customers to pull through this tough time, like, right now, so please, swing by as soon as you can and order a pizza, or at least a couple slices of their legit New York-style pizza. Help save this 33-year-old slice shop with our business and support. Arinell opened on Valencia in 1989, and the original opened in Berkeley in 1975—it has a long history that deserves to continue. Fortunately, the Berkeley shop is reportedly doing okay, but Valencia needs our business. Hours are Wed-Thu 3pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm, Sun 3pm-9pm. 509 Valencia St. at 16th St.
Friendly reminder: The nice folks at Pastel are offering tablehopper readers an exclusive $25 off your first order of $40+! Snag the code TABLEHOPPER.
Tasting notes from Marcia: I’m always on the hunt for tasty things, and it can be a full-time job driving all over the Bay, but I love how Pastel makes it easy with one neighborhood pickup. From the bacon fat tortillas from XULO (your next breakfast taco will thank you), to the latest creation from Pizzeria Delfina (the best frozen pizzas on the market, IMHO), to quiche from Arsicault (they’re not just makers of SF’s top croissants)—and don’t forget the noodle soups from new-to-me makers like Chiang Beef Noodle—it’s like your dream shopping experience. I also dig how they run their business, and make sure everyone is paid fairly. I’m so excited for you to check this out, which is why I asked for an extra-special discount code for my extra-special readers. Enjoy!
Wait, what’s Pastel? Pastel is a startup that brings the buzziest treats to your neighborhood—and supports small food businesses. Pastel was founded during the pandemic by a small business owner: Amanda Nguyen also owns Butter&, known for its beautiful buttercream cakes. Unlike third-party delivery apps, which take as much as 30 percent from restaurants, Pastel food makers pay a sustainable 10 percent. The purple vans roll to 20 neighborhood pickup locations all around the Bay Area. Hungry for more? Check out the Pastel blog and follow them on social media.
After nine years of business, NOIR LOUNGE in Hayes Valley is closing this Saturday April 16th. Taking over the space is Cezar Kusik (Rubicon, Butterfly, 25 Lusk) and Edward Calhoun (Southpaw, Dogpatch Saloon, Peacekeeper, 25 Lusk), who will be opening GAMBIT LOUNGE in a couple months or so. The duo have been looking for a location for three years, and this will be Cezar’s first independent project, after always working for great people, like Larry Stone.
Cezar is going to be focused on building a quality wine program, while Ed will be offering great classic cocktails and select spirits. They plan to offer a sophisticated adult atmosphere, with some speakeasy vibes. There’s the main bar, a communal table area, and they’re going to convert the back area into a Champagne lounge, where they will project films. The décor will have artistic touches and some jazz themes at the communal table. They want to offer Hayes Valley a place for a sophisticated wine and bar experience—the wine list will fulfill their savvy SF clientele’s needs, with wines that offer quality and value, with some well-rounded international selections, with a premium wine list, too (there will be 60-80 bottles in all).
Some small plates will be offered on a medium-sized menu, with eclectic dishes inspired by diverse Eastern and Central European kitchens (Cezar is Polish and quite the cook). They’re currently testing and dialing in their kitchen team and menu. Stand by for more updates on this summertime project. 581 Hayes St. at Laguna.
(Sponsored Giveaway): Enter to Win Two VIP Early-Entry Tickets to California Artisan Cheese Festival!
Don’t be late for the cheese! Enter to win two VIP early-entry tickets to the 16th annual California Artisan Cheese Festival!
Get your tickets to an afternoon of cheese bliss at this year’s California Artisan Cheese Festival on Saturday May 7th in Santa Rosa! Spend the day tasting Calilfornia’s finest artisan cheeses, wine, beer, and spirits from local makers, and a selection of handcrafted products perfect for pairing with cheese, all while enjoying live entertainment by the King Street Giants. This is the first time in two years that the California Artisan Cheese Festival has been able to host their event in person, and you don’t want to miss it!
To enter to win, all you need to do is visit this @tablehopper post on Instagram!
One lucky winner will be announced on Friday April 15th (at 10am PT), so don’t delay!
Retail value: $150.