This week's tablehopper: Pride goeth before a fall.
Proudly, joyfully marching in community grand marshal Vinny Eng’s love contingent on Pride Sunday.
Howdy, friends. I decided to take the Fourth of July off as well, so that’s why you’re getting the newsletter a day later on a Wednesday. Three-day weekends are the best, we all really need them right now, am I right? Anything to help assist stress reduction right now, I swear. I hope you guys are hanging in there—there is far too much to be upset about right now in the world, and quite furious about, too (losing bodily autonomy can do that to a person with a uterus). I’m seeing a number of people struggling, myself included, so let’s try to take good care of each other and be understanding and kind (with ourselves and others).
I’m recuperating from a traumatic situation (a complete shituation, actually) that happened the early evening of Pride Sunday, during my favorite weekend in San Francisco. I was just catching a ride home from Juanita More’s annual Pride partay for a quick wardrobe change before heading back out, and got caught in a stampede of panicked people fleeing Civic Center when someone sprayed mace or bear spray into the crowd during Martha Walsh’s performance. No!
People thought there was an active shooter, and were running for their lives. It was terrible to witness—all I could hear was people yelling there was a shooter, and that someone had a gun. I had my driver pull over and we hunkered and waited to figure out what to do next—honestly, I fully expected a queer-bashing monster to come tearing around the corner wielding an AR-15 based on the way people were responding. It was horrific. (Kudos to Honey Mahogany and Sister Roma and the Pride event team for trying to keep people safe during the incident. Sadly, we couldn’t hear their announcements all the way out on Turk Street.)
Everyone was on high alert during Pride weekend, and sadly, with the tragic state of things in our wayward country, it seemed completely feasible that our queer celebration was under attack. I tried to stay calm, and eventually it felt like the right moment to try to get out of that terrifying scene, and my driver and I carefully navigated our way safely out of there. Whew.
Suffice to say, I didn’t go back out that night, and actually for most of the week following the incident. (So grateful for all the snuggles at home from my dear Fortuna.) I am so sorry for anyone else who experienced that hellish scenario, and I hope you can find some ways to help heal any trauma from it—don’t let it keep replaying in your head and take up residence in your body (I went to an amazing somatic healer/body worker on the advice of a good friend). I’m doing better now, thanks, and am gently making my way back out in the world.
It was a terrible way to end a joyous weekend celebrating our queer community and love and resilience (and being reunited with so many dear friends), and I tried to stay focused on all the love instead. It’s awful to experience how close violence lurks and can change everything dramatically in just a few seconds. I’m so grateful there wasn’t actually a shooter, and I’m also glad that even while it was happening, something deep within me was telling me this wasn’t my script, and I knew that my grandmas were looking over me and keeping me safe. Goddess bless. EXHALING.
It will be especially sweet to head out of town this weekend and be in nature and the enjoy the sun. This Friday July 8th, I’m heading up to the always-dreamy boon hotel + spa in Guerneville to see an outdoor screening of chef Elizabeth Falkner’s new film, “Sorry We’re Closed” about restaurants grappling with the pandemic. There will also be craft cocktails (we’ll need ‘em) and A16 will be slinging their pizzas! Tickets are still available. (Hit me up if you’re going! I’ll look for you.)
There is also an amazing event and dinner on Saturday the 9th, including conversation around an intimate five-course tasting menu from chefs Elizabeth Falkner, Shirley Chung, Duskie Estes, Domenica Catelli, and host chef Crista Luedtke of boon, with cocktail pairings from local bar stars! There’s also an afternoon Bombay Gin tasting and botanical walk at Solar Punk Farms (next to boon). Sounds amazing, right? Blocks of rooms for the weekend are available close-by at partner hotels. Get outta town!
On Saturday, I’m actually heading up to Anderson Valley to visit The Apple Farm in Philo for a dinner highlighting recipes and dishes from Sally Schmitt’s fantastic cookbook, Six California Kitchens (you can read my review of it). It will be wonderful to hang with the family and friends of Sally, I wish I knew her before she passed earlier this year, what a woman.
Sunday, I’m going to hustle back into the city for the Foodwise Summer Bash at the Ferry Building. It’s shaping up to be quite the epic food and drink event, something I know we have all missed! Summer produce will be in full effect! I really hope to see you there, get your ticket! Save $15 on tickets with promo code tablehopper! Mwah.
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Frances Reopens with a New Look, Menu Format, and More
It felt strange to have one of San Francisco’s most iconic restaurants temporarily closed for so long (18 months!), with some FXMP pop-up dinners to tide us over, but now it’s official: chef-owner Melissa Perello and her team have swung open the doors to FRANCES the beloved Castro restaurant, and there’s a lot to be excited about. After opening in 2009, it was ready for an interior refresh, and there’s now expanded outdoor parklet seating for 28 guests. Architect Seth Boor created the updated interior, which will continue to strike the tone of refined yet casual elegance, with vintage décor curated by Laurie Furber of Elsie Green, and a deep-toned ombré wall in the dining room by decorative painter and muralist Caroline Lizarraga.
Perello’s current team includes director of operations Robert Wright, chef de cuisine Jordan Wittrock (his background includes Tartine Manufactory, plus Momofuku Nishi and Atera in NYC, as well as FOH work as a captain at Benu, interesting!), and wine director Iris Rowlee (who is also at sister restaurant Octavia). The menu is now a family-style format of 8-10 dishes that come out in waves—they will change weekly and highlight ingredients sourced from the team’s diverse network of local farmers, ranchers, seafood purveyors, and artisans.
Some sample dishes to share could include creamed corn campanelle with sweet summer peppers and Parmesan; Olivier’s pork loin with eggplant, green farro, and salsa verde; and blistered pole beans, guanciale, and chile XO. There are optional wine pairings from Rowlee, who just returned from a honeymoon in Italy and is fired up on producers from Campania right now. There will also be a limited à la carte menu at the bar for walk-ins, featuring some of the restaurant’s dishes that have been staples since the beginning (panisse frites!). There’s also a low-ABV Negroni sbagliato you can try, and the Market Shots that used to commence the start of the meal have returned.
Dinner is served Wed-Sat 5pm-9:15pm. Private events are also available in the parklet and dining room. Welcome back, Frances! 3870 17th St. at Pond.
New Openings Include Ancora, Southern Indian Cuisine at Aaha Indian Cuisine, The Old Clam House Is Back, New Vietnamese, and More
The former Locanda location is now home to ANCORA, which means “anchor” in Latin, from owners Andi and Joe Conte of Water2Table, the local hook-and-line and sustainable fish company that services Bay Area restaurants (and now consumers). They were originally going to open as Seven Fishes, but the pandemic had a funny way of changing things, and they ended up running their pandemic meal delivery service out of Locanda, eventually deciding to take over the location permanently.
They brought on Nick Anichini, formerly chef de cuisine at Atelier Crenn, who is now executive chef and partner. According to their website, “Inspired by his love of European simplicity and fine dining technique, Chef Anichini has designed a thoughtful prix-fixe and a-la-carte menu to be shared with family, friends, and neighbors.” The prix-fixe menu is $125, and the bar will be serving a relaxed format of snacks and fish charcuterie.
The beverage program, led by certified sommelier Andi Conte, will include a diverse wine list focusing on local producers and low-intervention vineyards, as well as wineries highlighting California’s coastal expression.
You can read more in this Eater piece. Sample menus here—it all sounds so delicious. Did someone say cardoons and artichokes with ham fat-poached sablefish, herbs, Aleppo, and breadcrumbs? Grilled spot prawn with smoked mussel-caviar sauce? Pappardelle with sugo made from abalone? Foie fat waffles á la mode for dessert? Oh yeahhhh. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9:30pm. 557 Valencia St. at 17th St.
Just around the corner is a new Indian restaurant, AAHA INDIAN CUISINE, with a menu that has a number of Southern Indian dishes, like three kinds of vadas, dosas, uthappams, and egg bajji! Bring on the rasam and pomfret fish fry. Based on the long list of biriyanis, and pics of their dosas and naan, I really wanna check this place out! It was most recently Brazilian Restaurant Brewing. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm. 3316 17th St. at Mission.
Also in the Mission: there’s a new Lebanese spot that opened in the former Mission Beach Cafe space (most recently El Capitan) called MEZZE AND MOOORE. The menu goes beyond the usual hummus, falafel, kefte, and shawarma wraps—you’ll see homestyle hot and cold mezze like fattet batinjan (fried eggplant topped with garlic yogurt sauce, pita, and croutons), beets, lentil soup, and moussaka (there are halal options). I tried calling a few times for details but no one ever picked up. Hours (unconfirmed) are Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm. 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St.
I’m happy to see THE OLD CLAM HOUSE has officially reopened, SF’s oldest restaurant (161 years old!)! A couple months ago, I mentioned the new owners are the family behind Mona Lisa in North Beach, and planned to keep things mostly the same. You can take a look at the menu here, and check out the extensive pasta selection they added. Open for lunch and dinner daily, 11:30am-9:30pm. 299 Bayshore Blvd. at Oakdale.
There are a few new Vietnamese spots that just opened, starting with CHEZ NGUYEN downtown, serving a couple versions of pho, Southern Vietnamese bo kho (beef stew), a bun cha vermicelli salad bowl, chicken rice, and a steak and eggs plate. There are two floors, so there’s plenty of room for you to sit and slurp your noods. Open for lunch Mon-Fri 10am-2:30pm. 132 Bush St. at Battery.
Over in Bernal is PHO DAY, offering an extensive menu of banh mi, pho, and rice plates (plus some wonton soup and potstickers are on there), with coffee and boba drinks. You can’t miss the jaunty yellow and white exterior. Open daily 10:30am-8pm. 59 30th St. at San Jose Ave.
And over in the Inner Sunset, faithful tablehopper tipster Paul G. let me know about BAHN BAHN GO, coming soon to a former laundromat space. The menu includes banh mi and some American sandwich classics, like turkey and egg salad. 434 Irving St. at 6th Ave.
Chef Moves: Nopa's Alejandro Rodriguez Now at 20 Spot
There’s some top SF talent now in the kitchen at 20 SPOT in the Mission: chef Alejandro Rodriguez, who was previously the chef de cuisine at Nopa (he was there since the day it opened, in 2006!). He is joined by his wife, Marcella Lew, another Nopa and Nopalito alum, and Oscar, who has already been working at 20 Spot and helps with prep and makes the pizzas.
Chatting with Alejandro, he says at the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, he was in Mexico for a three-week trip that turned into three months. Nopa was operating with a truly bare bones/skeleton crew during those early months, so he never really came back, and instead bopped around some local businesses like Palm City and Nightbird (plus more travel in Mexico), before Jessie Barker at nearby Media Noche told him about the opportunity at 20 Spot. Since Alejandro and Marcella live just a couple blocks away, it helps keep things low-key (strive for that live-work balance!)—he’s happy about being back in the kitchen.
It’s a big adjustment to go from Nopa’s huge kitchen with a wood-fired grill and massive team, but now he’s learning the way of the TurboChef oven, and getting used to buying 10 avocados at the nearby Mission Community Market on Thursdays, instead of ordering 50 cases. Alejandro is excited to be reaching back out to smaller, local purveyors and artisanal makers for ingredients for new dishes and updating 20 Spot’s well-known cheese and charcuterie plates.
20 Spot is always the perfect spot to swing by for some insane bubbles poured by owner Bodhi Freedom, a plate of oysters, some choice vinyl beats (Bodhi had a bass tube installed under the bar, love!), a fun social scene in the parklet, and some tasty seasonal salads and small plates. But now, Alejandro is updating the menu and working on how to make 20 Spot more of a dinner destination instead of just about wine and gorgeous snacks, so stand by for some changes. He’s going to experiment to see what people want, and we’re so here for it. See you there. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat until 10:30pm. 3565 20th St. at Lexington.
Quick Hits: Miss Ollie's Has a New Home (and Name), Restaurants Getting Harassed on Google with One-Star Reviews
This exciting news rolled in just as I was wrapping up today’s column, so I will have to share more details in my next issue, but I wanted you to know Sarah Kirnon of MISS OLLIE’S has landed at Forage Kitchen in Oakland, and she tells me she will be in the space for two years. (She closed her iconic, 10-year-old spot in Old Oakland earlier this year, in March.) The new name and concept is HOLDER’S HOUSE, and the pic on Instagram refers to Holder’s House in Barbados—I’ll have to get the details on what that place means to her, because obviously there’s a good story there.
But for now, Holder’s House is soft-open tonight, Wednesday July 6th, serving from 5pm-9pm. What’s for dinner? How about slow-cooked oxtails, rotisserie jerk chicken, mustard greens, plantains, and rice and peas?! Yes! She was also serving her famed skillet-fried chicken a couple days ago. There’s Champagne, wine, and beer. Takeout, check. Follow the Holder’s House IG page for updates on what days/times she’s cooking and open since this is a true soft opening (and Sarah is known for surprise announcements). I’ll have more backstory soon. 478 25th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.
My friend at Town Hall alerted me to a new scam erupting throughout the restaurant industry where scammers are leaving a flurry of one-star Google reviews on SF restaurant Google pages, driving their overall rating down and threatening to leave a bad rating every day unless the restaurant sends a Google Play card with the value of $75. Seriously, what?! (Thanks to @hungryhungryhooker for posting a story with the passive-aggressive “ransom” note from the scammers claiming they live in India and “see no other way to survive.”) Hopefully someone at Google (know anyone??) will notice this scourge of one-star reviews, remove them, and find a way to shut this BS down. For now, if you see scammy one-star ratings with no review from the past five days, flag them so Google will start noticing the problem. Other restaurants that have been hit include Avery, Nightbird, Nari, Birdsong, and Sons & Daughters.
So Many Pizza Updates...
Wow, the abbondanza of pizza places can’t stop, won’t stop (I am not complaining). First up, SQUARE PIE GUYS have officially opened their Ghirardelli Square location after running a soft opening for a bit. This is owners Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter’s third location, serving up their creative, Detroit-style, square-crusted, pan-baked pizzas, plus wings, sides, and salads, and local beer and expanded wine offerings. The 3,300-square-foot space is sleek and modern, and also has a 1,000-square-foot patio with waterfront views.
To kick off their new location and summer menu, they teamed up with 106.1 KMEL’s Shay Diddy, a San Francisco native. The Shay Diddy is a Detroit-style pie topped with white sauce, Italian sausage, roasted broccoli, chile flakes, and Mike’s Hot Honey. Tasty! From July to September, three percent of all Shay Diddy pizza sales will support Camp Mendocino and the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco. The awesome JLIN pie (white sauce, pepperoni, Italian sausage, chile flakes, Green Goddess dressing, parsley and grated grana cheese) is also back for three months, benefiting the Jeremy Lin Foundation, with Lin matching the donations. Hours are Sun-Thu 11:30am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm. 845 Beach St. at Larkin.
I had been tracking what Lane Ford and Eric Passetti were opening in the previous Jersey space in SoMa, and they just opened PIE PUNKS, serving East Coast pies, Detroit-style pizza, and thin and crisp grandma pies (and slices). Plus a few apps, tiki drinks, and beers. (Read more on Eater.) No apps for now, call 415-535-2898 to order for pick-up. Open Tue-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat noon-10pm. 145 2nd St. at Minna.
Some changes in the Flour+Water world: FLOUR+WATER PIZZERIA is no longer on Valencia (former partner David White left the group and is opening YELLOW MOTO PIZZERIA in its place very soon, you can peek at the upcoming menu here.
F+W co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow and partners will reopen Flour+Water Pizzeria in North Beach in the former Rose Pistola location. Lundberg Design will be overseeing the transformation of the 4,000-square-foot space, which will include a glassed-in dough room. There will be a robust delivery and takeout business (they will be tweaking the Neapolitan-inspired dough for maximum portability), and group wine director Sam Bogue will oversee the wine, beer, and cocktail list. Look for a wintertime opening (and future to-go-only outposts). 532 Columbus Ave. at Union.
PIZZERIA DELFINA on California Street is reopening for lunch service Fri-Sun this coming weekend (starting at 12pm). You can check out their gorgeous remodel from Boor Projects and Cookline in the daylight now! 2406 California St. at Fillmore.
Closures Include the Villa D'Este, Cha Cha Cha Mission, Trouble Coffee, and More
When a friend sent me the SFGate story that the VILLA D’ESTE in Lakeside Village was closing after 44 years of serving Hollywood levels of glam drama and veal parm, we had to go out and pay our respects to the interior (you can read more about the restaurant’s history here—it originally opened in 1942 as the Townhouse Restaurant). I swear, if someone takes over the place and doesn’t leave this epic time capsule intact, I’m gonna cut somebody. It’s enough to make me want to go into the restaurant business to have my dream Regency restaurant—but no, never. Maybe some employees will take it over and preserve it. Anyone? Best wishes to owner Ramon Oropeza Sr. and his family on his retirement. 2623 Ocean Ave. at Woodacre.
I am sorry to see that one of my Thai favorites, DERM on Geary, has closed. Seems like customers have been confused for the past month, making reservations and then finding a closed restaurant. D’oh. Derm opened in 2017, and I have a tablehopper reader to thank for turning me on to this tasty place. 3226 Geary Blvd. at Spruce.
SF oldtimer CHA CHA CHA in the Mission has closed after 25 years, which has been a dinner party headquarters (fueled by pitchers of sangria) for so many folks over the years. Owner Irfan Yalcin is keeping the Haight Street location open, so you can still get your spicy shrimp and patatas bravas fix. As for the Mission location, the SF Business Times reports new owners are opening Kuba in the space, and will be keeping things mostly the same. 2327 Mission St. at 19th St.
I noticed a cryptic farewell post from Giulietta Carrelli of TROUBLE COFFEE on the gram, and it ends up she is closing the trailblazing Outer Sunset café after 15 years. (But Build Your Own Damn House is forever!) She is credited with starting the toast trend in SF, and you really should read this incredible story about her (and the toast) in Pacific Standard, which ran in 2014.
The owners of DamnFine pizza are going to be opening DAMNFINE COFFEE in the space—Giulietta reportedly reached out to them about taking over the location (they’re longtime customers). This piece in the Chronicle mentions DamnFine Coffee will have the same hours as Trouble (daily 8am-5pm), but the toast will now be focaccia. It looks like you can still order Trouble Coffee for delivery, maybe (I reached out for confirmation but didn’t hear back). Thanks for being such a spark plug in our local coffee scene, Giulietta. [Cue My Way.] 4033 Judah St. at 45th Ave.
After almost 40 years in business (since 1984!), GOURMET CAROUSEL, a neighborhood staple for family-style Chinese food in Lower Pacific Heights, has reportedly closed (no one picks up, and they are not available for delivery or on OpenTable anymore). You have definitely seen the sign for this restaurant at the busy intersection of Franklin and Pine. But, here’s something: according to an ABC license transfer, it looks like someone named Rui Sen Zhou is going to take over and reopen it as Gourmet Carousel, so stand by. 1559 Franklin St. at Pine.
Over in the Lower Haight, FORT POINT BEER announced the closure of their Lower Haight taproom, which originally opened as Black Sands in 2015. Their parklet has been a popular spot in the neighborhood during the pandemic, hopefully the next owner can offer a similar gathering space. Fort Point mentions in their post, “While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye, this means we can devote more time, effort, and resources into our Ferry Building Beer Garden and Valencia Beer Hall (just a mile away) - and we’re excited to make these spaces even better experiences for all of you.” 701 Haight St. at Pierce.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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