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Jun 6, 2023 11 min read

This week’s tablehopper: dance yourself clean. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: dance yourself clean. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

LCD soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem at Re:SET! Photo: ©
You’re reading the free edition of tablehopper, which is like the stevia version of the real thing. Subscribe and get the raw turbinado, sugar.

Hey, how’s tricks? Last week was a busy one for your hopper (if you follow my @tablehopper stories on Instagram, then you know alllll about it). Highlights: I swung by the kickoff party for Solaire Terrasse with Veuve Clicquot, happening on the Courtyard Terrace this summer at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco; I enjoyed The Color Dinner with Hilda and Jesse at Besharam, an absolute feast for the senses; I picked up some Lucho’s Hot Chicken at Turntable at Lord Stanley for lunch; and had a really fun overnight in Shallow Alto for the Re:SET Concert Series to see my favorite band of all fricking time, LCD Soundsystem. The Frost Amphitheater at Stanford is an incredible venue: amazing sound, sightlines, lots of grass (in more ways than one, ha-ha), and the dreamy, early-summer warm evening was such a treat. Great set. We danced ourselves clean.

Quick tip for you: if you’re heading to the Frost or Shoreline for any upcoming shows, take a look at getting a room at Hotel Citrine. It was perfect for an overnight (and a quick Uber ride to the venue). The hotel has a pleasant and natural-chic design (some of the rooms have balconies), great beds, kind staff, and there’s a little pool where you can get some sun on your pasty SF body. We loved the glass of sparkling rosé on arrival 🥂, and brunch in their onsite restaurant, Wild Onion, was definitely a click above the usual hotel breakfast (buenos días, carnitas eggs Benedict with chipotle hollandaise). Also: it’s dog-friendly! It was a wonderful 24 hours away from the June gloom, I highly recommend it. (Just FYI: the Hotel Citrine is a Tribute Portfolio premium hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy family, in case you have some points to use; the budget-friendly and pared-down AC Hotel Marriott is just across the driveway.)

Carnitas eggs Benedict
Carnitas eggs Benedict for brunch at Wild Onion at Hotel Citrine.

I’m going to count a second visit to the vet with Fortuna as a definite lowlight of this past week—ends up she was not doing well from 10 days of antibiotics, and baby girl needed more tests and meds. Ugh. Thankfully, she’s back to acting like her spunky self and functions have returned to normal, whew. Guess who just hemorrhaged an obscene amount of money, again? Yeah, I really need to get pet insurance, so I would appreciate recommendations from any fellow cat paw-rents! Thanks!

So, this week is going to be about some tough love, once again. I have to paywall the majority of my newsletter since I need more of you to come over on the supporting subscriber level. What can I say? Your hopper has bills to pay (did you know your free subscription costs me money?), and I have a business to run ovah heah!

Thanks for supporting my work—your subscription is the only way for me to keep tablehopper going and to cover my time to write about all the local businesses we love.

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No comment on last night’s James Beard Awards, SF didn’t come home with anything. However, I always enjoy looking through the Book, Broadcast Media, and Journalism winners. Big congrats to Illyanna Maisonet, who won the Emerging Voice award for her Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook (Ten Speed Press). Take a look at all the winners on the JBFA website.

I’m still catching up on a hideous amount of work over here, so I’m signing off. Have a lovely evening.

the chatterbox

Margie Conrad and Dana Tommasino of gardenias
The chefs-owners of Gardenias: Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino. Photo: Stu Gerry.

Owners of Gardenias Closing Up Shop After Cooking for 30 Years in SF; Marlena Team (with Ryan Cole) Taking Over the Space

It’s the end of a very special SF culinary era for chefs-owners Dana Tommasino and Margie Conard of Gardenias in Lower Pacific Heights/Japantown—they are due to be closing their sweet neighborhood restaurant in mid-July or so (pending transfers and such). An ABC change of ownership reveals the team behind Marlena (Serena Chow Fisher and David Fisher) and Marlena business consultant/partner Ryan Cole (Hi Neighbor Group) are buying the space, doing business as 7 Adams. I’ll be able to share some details about that project later—for now, all Ryan Cole could say is, “No comment.” (SF Business Times wrote about the transfer on Friday.)

Conard and Tommasino first met when they went to the California Culinary Academy in the mid-80s, and became partners in life, love, cooking, and restaurants. Conard cooked at Postrio, and Tommasino at Greens, as well as other places, and they went on to open Woodward’s Garden together in 1993 after some “club guys” Conard knew called and said, “You might be interested in this space!”

citrus and herbs at woodward's garden
A still-life at Woodward’s Garden. Photo: ©

What they created at Woodward’s Garden was so warm and intimate. Back in 2014, when their landlord wouldn’t renew their lease and they were closing, here’s what I wrote: “[they were] pioneers at a difficult corner under the freeway at Mission Street and Duboce. But no matter how desolate the location, within, the place is known for being all heart, with their soulful and seasonal cooking, and personal touches like fresh flowers, mismatched china, vintage silverware, and strong sense of community with their regulars.”

Their romantic, peak NorCal seasonal culinary ethos transferred to a new nest a year later, Gardenias, which they opened in August 2015. The ladies continued to cultivate their neighborhood restaurant-ness, with a dedicated following of regulars and happy diners who would happen to stumble across or get a recommendation for this heartfelt gem.

dining room of gardenias
The cozy dining room. Photo courtesy of Gardenias.

Speaking with the duo, they are so grateful to the Gardenias family and customers, and felt so well-supported by their community. They are thrilled that they were able to follow “their crazy, independent dream as two women for over 30 years, just wow.” They mention it’s time for them to be “shaking out their caftans” (I love this, yes, get it, sisters!) and they are leaving SF and moving to the desert (Palm Springs area) for a while—Tommasino’s mother, who is almost 90, lives there and they have been visiting her often. They want to be clear this isn’t a turning away from San Francisco, hardly: “We adore this city! There’s so much of a boogeyman story happening these days, but it’s not at all why we’re leaving. It’s just time for us.”

I will keep you apprised of their official closing date (in the meantime, I really need to head in for their ricotta gnocchi with oyster mushrooms, pea leaves, and Taleggio cream on their current menu, and their desserts are always dreamy, especially in the summer). I will certainly mention if they start anything up in Palm Springs—goddess knows the desert could use their fresh touch.

I’m just so happy Dana and Margie have been able to follow their culinary journey in San Francisco, offering a sort of bohemian style of restaurant that is a rare and endangered bird these days, and that they are able to fly off to their next nest on their terms. Wishing you a pleasant flight, lovely ladies. 1963 Sutter St. at Fillmore.

Closures Include Don Pisto’s (Nooooooo), Mi Familia, West Coast Wine Cheese

tacos at don pisto's
Don Pisto’s has been making bangin’ tacos since 2011, when I took this pic. Photo: ©

I was surprised to see the Instagram post from North Beach favorite Don Pisto’s announcing its upcoming closure on June 23rd, after 14 years of serving their wicked diabla prawns and the show-stopping Puerto Nuevo lobster (I had fun looking at my review from 13 years ago, and seeing many of the same dishes still on the menu). Owner Pete Mrabe created a really special taqueria-restaurant, with well-executed dishes that were always a touch above.

I reached out to Mrabe for details but didn’t hear back in time. I’m going to head back in for...

This spot will be missed—Pisto’s has quite the following of regulars. 510 Union St. at Grant.

SFGATE reported that Mi Familia taqueria (formerly Zona Rosa) in the Upper Haight is closing on June 22nd, after 30-plus years of business. 797 Haight St. at Shrader.

And a changeover: on June 25th, after nine years of pouring hyper-local/West Coast-only wines for the Cow Hollow/Marina crowd (since 2014), owner Chris Wanner is closing West Coast Wine Cheese. But, some good news: he’s selling it to the friendly folks behind the lively Key Klub and Bodega in North Beach (Lalo Luevano and Paria Sedigh), who are going to renovate a bit and reopen a wine bar in there, with a natural wine/low-intervention focus, and coastal Greek taverna dishes on the menu. 2165 Union St. at Fillmore. [Via Chronicle]

Service Updates: Park Tavern Launches Full Dinner Service, Additions at Avery and Horsefeather

roast chicken at park tavern
Park Tavern’s Sunday Chicken. Photo: Grady Brannan.

Just a follow-up note: after running soft-opening dinner service this past month, Park Tavern has launched full dinner service five nights a week. Reservations are now available. And here’s a first look at the initial menu, with a raw bar, caviar service, cocktails, bar classics, and...

Fine-dining Fillmore restaurant Avery...

I already enjoy the expansive hours at Horsefeather on Divisadero (gotta love a spot open until midnight on Mondays), and owner Justin Lew has just added...

Burglary at Bix (the Nerve!)

Bix stairs
The stairs at Bix. Photo courtesy of Bix.

A tablehopper pal let me know there was a break-in over the weekend at Bix in Jackson Square.

Quick Opening Reminders:

Just wanted to let you know about some upcoming openings of places I have already featured.

Oakland Openings and News: Tarts de Feybesse, Edith’s Pie, The Caffè by Mr. Espresso

éclairs from Tarts de Feybesse
Spectacular éclairs from Tarts de Feybesse. Photo: ©

I have been so slammed with SF news that I haven’t had much bandwidth for Oakland news too, but let’s do this. I was extremely happy to see an Instagram post from Tarts de Feybesse (Paul and Monique Feybesse), announcing the location of their upcoming and first brick-and-mortar shop! They’re coming to...

Not too far away, Mike Raskin and Jeffrey Wright of Edith’s Pie opened their pie-centric café last month after popping up for the past three years. You’ll find sweet and seasonal pies (mixed stonefruit, strawberry streusel) and their World Famous...

pie and a drink at edith's pie
Edith’s PIe and an adult beverage. Photo: Adahlia Cole.

On the savory side, there’s a quiche and a variety of hand pies ($10) that sound fantastic, like...

Co-owner Luigi Di Ruocco behind the bar at The Caffè.
Co-owner Luigi Di Ruocco behind the bar at The Caffè. Photo: Hardy Wilson.

Auguri to Mr. Espresso on opening their first eponymous café in The Key at 12th in downtown Oakland, called The Caffè by Mr. Espresso. Mr. Espresso was founded in 1978 by Carlo Di Ruocco, a native of Salerno and the original “Mr. Espresso”—his wife and their three children (Luigi, John, and Laura) are all actively involved in the family business. I’m a huge fan of their Italian-style, oak-wood roasted coffee (and can’t wait to crack into a bag of their brand-new 45th anniversary blend, featuring five beans). They have a lot to celebrate right now.

The Caffè features a coffee bar that is very Italian in style—instead of sitting down with your coffee, you simply find an open spot at the two-sided bar (a 17-foot-wide wood slab bar crafted out of a centuries-old Valley Oak that was felled by the wind in 2009). Baristas will be taking your order and pulling shots off Faema E71e espresso machines. Above the bar is a hanging wood installation created by the designers at jones | haydu, all in homage to the oak wood used to roast Mr. Espresso beans.

bar and espresso machines at The Caffè.
The eye-catching and state-of-the-art coffee bar at The Caffè . Photo: Hardy Wilson.

The Caffè will offer some unique coffee drinks in addition to the usual suspects, like the nocciola-tte made with hazelnut praliné paste, horchata cold brew, and a shakerato, the Italian chilled and shaken espresso drink (soooo good on a hot day). There will also be drip coffee, cold brew, and a golden latte featuring Oaktown Spice Shop golden milk.

To nosh...

Open Mon–Fri 7am-4pm and Sat 9am–3pm. 1120 Broadway at 11th St., Oakland.

Some Special Meal Ideas for Father’s Day

BBQ Berkshire double pork chop at Lily
The BBQ Berkshire double pork chop at Lily. Photo: ©

the sponsor

Juneteenth on the Waterfront

Celebrate Black Food Makers at Juneteenth on the Waterfront on June 10th

This Saturday June 10th (9am–2pm), kick off a month of Juneteenth celebrations with a day of delicious food, community, and family fun at the Embarcadero Ferry Terminal Plaza (south of the Ferry Building) and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Enjoy handcrafted food from 15+ Black-owned food businesses, plus a Black Chefs & Wine Makers Talk featuring Tanya Holland, In the Black craft market, lounge, and family activities. Savor Gumbo, a Shrimp Po’Boy, and Cali Greens from Gumbo Social, Barley Mushroom Risotto and Flank Steak from Radio Africa & Kitchen, Black Power Bowl from The Vegan Hood Chefs, Organic Lemonades from the Lemonade Bar, Beignets from Sweets by Sevynn, and more!

Entry is free, and food and drinks are available for purchase. See the full lineup here.

the lush

Taste Natural Wines from 56 Female-Identified Companies on Saturday at WINeFare

the archivist

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