Hello there, how’s your Rocktober going? We just had such a stunning weekend—I was so grateful to be out enjoying it after two weeks of absolute blergh over here (I’m all healed up from my oral surgery and Covid, whew and thanks!). Last Friday, I was thrilled to finally leave the house and drive up to Geyserville to Francis Ford Coppola Winery to be a judge for their second annual Perfect Your Pizza contest. It was such a blast to meet the genial Dan Richer (of the renowned Razza in New Jersey and the recent The Joy of Pizza book) and other fellow judges. We enjoyed the festive alfresco kitchen setup on the winery’s beautiful grounds, where we tasted four creative pizzas from the contestants (and their suggested wine pairings). I’m looking forward to the winning pizza recipe being posted soon—in fact, I need a couple of the pizzas we judged in my life. (And an Ooni—I have a fantasy of installing one like an A/C unit in my kitchen window, ha-ha.)
Sunday was action-packed: I led the same family who I recently took on a tablehopper tour of Chinatown on another custom-curated, three-hour tour—this time, we hit up North Beach, visiting many of my secret spots and faves while sharing local history. The family wanted to know what was the top tiramisù in the neighborhood, so I set up a tasting at three different places so they could discover their favorite. Like bagels, everyone has their own preferences of what makes a good tiramisù: do you like it more cakey or creamy, saturated savoiardi or less-so, sweet or tangy? (The best kind of research, we had such a good time.) There’s nothing like showing off one of the coolest neighborhoods in the City.
Sunday evening was the annual Foodwise Sunday Supper, and what a reunion it was! The reception is such a blast: it’s a dream cocktail party with your favorite food industry folks and fab canapés, and you always meet interesting people during the family-style dinner in the elegant Grand Hall of the Ferry Building. The turnout of chefs and farmers and winemakers and bar folks is so impressive, ditto the generosity of our community as they bid on the auction items to support Foodwise’s many programs and farmers’ markets and food access initiatives. Big shout-out to executive director Christine Farren, an absolute force who has been with the organization since 2003, and to her incredible team. Thank you for everything you do.
Last night, I broke my “no plans on Mondays” rule and left my desk so I could attend a preview of Louie’s Original, the new burger shop (and much more!) soft-opening this Wednesday, just next door to La Connessa in Potrero Hill. You’ll read all about it in the chatterbox today.
Since I’m revving up and happily getting back on the track, I’m punching the clock a little early so I can get ready to head to an evening event at Flour + Water Pizzeria celebrating the launch of Shelley Lindgren and Kate Leahy’s fabulous new book from Ten Speed Press: Italian Wine: The History, Regions, and Grapes of an Iconic Wine Country. This book is such a feat—they have been working on it and researching it for years (try two decades). I look forward to raising my glass (again and again)!
And then I’m off to see Janelle Monáe, the queen of my summer soundtrack (The Age of Pleasure). Tuesday night, coming in hot. So is the weather this Wednesday and Thursday—start planning your aperitivo spot now.
Thanks again to everyone for the notes of care and well wishes these past weeks—Fortuna and I are both doing SO much better. What a difference a day makes, when you take things day by day. (Thank goddess.) Take good care of yourselves, these are such intense times—I know our hearts are heavy from the horrors happening in the world. Keep checking in with your beloveds and give long hugs.
Potrero Hill’s New Doughnut Shop and Burger Counter (Where Fried Chicken Is a Surprise Star)
The latest Bacchus Management Group projects to open next door to the splashy La Connessa (you can read my in-depth preview piece here) in the Mason on Mariposa development on Potrero Hill include Magic Donuts & Coffee (1675 Mariposa St.), which has been cranking out 800 big, fluffy, quite tangy sourdough doughnuts a day to meet demand since they opened on October 2nd. They’re rotating 13 creative and classic flavors, like dark chocolate sea salt, double strawberry, lemon meringue pie, maple-pecan, and matcha magic. Open daily 7am–5pm.
And now, the third adjoining project soft-opening this Wednesday October 18th is Louie’s Original, a casual burger and fried chicken and custard cone shop. So, who’s Louie? Bacchus founding partner and president Tim Stannard grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, home of a famous lunch spot called Louis’ Lunch, where he used to get hamburgers as a kid. It’s not only one of the oldest, family-run businesses in the country (since 1895!), but is also recognized by the Liberty of Congress as the “birthplace of the hamburger sandwich” (they serve their burger on toast). Amazing history! I hope to go there someday.
As for Louie’s Original in SF, I got to attend a preview last night, and taste through the menu while sitting at their long counter (there are also two- and four-top tables). The menu features two kinds of burgers, including the namesake Louie’s Original, with American cheese, lettuce, bread & butter pickles, secret sauce, and a house brioche bun that holds up well—you can get a Little Louie (single 4 oz. patty for $10) or Big Louie (double patty for $16) made with 80/20 wagyu beef. Saucy and cheesy!
Prefer one, big, juicy patty? You no longer need to trek to the bar at Spruce for their top-notch burger—which is always a fun outing—but it’s now on the other side of town, listed on the menu as the Big Sister burger ($19), with white cheddar, romaine lettuce, roma tomato, pickled vegetables (which come over from the Spruce kitchen), all tucked inside their perfect house English muffin bun (I asked them to please start selling the buns, we need them in our egg sandwich–making lives at home—I know I do). Add-ons include thick-cut bacon, avocado, braised onions, different cheeses, and more.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with the two fried chicken offerings at the burger shop, but once you try the super-cronchy fried chicken sandwich ($16) and tenders ($15), you’ll see what I’m talkin’ and squawkin’ about. The hefty fried chicken sandwich features a thigh soaked overnight in buttermilk, coated with A/P flour and seven-spice and masterfully fried to a dark golden, burnished color (it’s soooooo flaky), served with slaw, bread & butter pickles, and ’bama white sauce, in a sweet potato bun. Personally, I wanted to shake some hot sauce on it, but I’m such a fire eater.
When they say tenders, they mean it. These juicy breast strips are brined and buttermilk-soaked, and director of culinary operations Angelo Smith told me the cornflake coating was inspired by Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, which here also has garlic salt and powder. The tenders came anointed with honey mustard sauce, and you’ll want even more for dipping. I’m already looking forward to having my leftover pieces over a creamy Little Gem salad for lunch—I love cold fried chicken so damn much.
Vegetarians, you’ll be well taken care of with the Green Goddess sandwich ($15), with avocado, lightly pickled cucumber, and pickled red onion, all dressed with herbaceous Green Goddess dressing, tucked into housemade focaccia (the sea salt on top was the perfect note with the avocado). But be prepared, she’s a little messy (as all goddesses can be, our hilarious server Konstantin quipped).
There are French fries, waffle fries, and sweet potato fries (all $6), and if you’re stoned...
You’ll find three levels of wine by the glass (decent, good, and better, LOL) and beers on draught or in bottle, plus cider, soft drinks, and more. Like all Bacchus projects, the music is never an afterthought (often the soundtrack is the first thing Tim Stannard likes to create), and I was loving the mid-90s hip-hop mix of A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, Beastie Boys, and Gang Starr. Dug the friendly staff—they’re excited to welcome you in and show off the menu. Soft-opening hours are Sun–Thu 4pm–9pm and Fri–Sat 4pm–10pm. 1685 Mariposa St. at Carolina.
A Yakitori Shop from Japan Opens in SF This Wednesday
Fiorella Expands with Another Location Coming to Noe Valley
Cafe Ohlone’s Newest Endeavor Is a Next Step in Land Repatriation
by Savannah Leone Bundy
Cafe Ohlone founders Louis Trevino and Vincent Medina announced their latest project last week on Indigenous People’s Day. Ohlone Land is the next step in a dynamic vision for land reacquisition and restoration, and will be an awe-inspiring testament to Ohlone culture and the natural beauty and abundance of the East Bay. After rehabilitating the land by reinstituting traditional land management practices and reintroducing native plants, Medina and Trevino have plans to acquire 40 acres of land to create a multi-faceted, indoor and outdoor dining experience and cultural space.
The series of remediated native plant gardens will connect three distinct restaurant spaces that honor Ohlone culture, customs, and cuisine. A glass tearoom will serve teas made from freshly harvested plants from the surrounding area, along with shareable small bites that can be enjoyed in the gardens among the flowers; a wooden slat-house/casita will house a speakeasy-style lounge that showcases Ohlone baskets, beadwork, and silk tapestries in a gently lit reimagining of the architecture of late-1800s Sunol Rancheria housing; and the marquee dining space will offer dishes made from native plants sustainably harvested immediately before dinner, within a thatched tule house that pays tribute to traditional Ohlone architecture.
The project is a massive undertaking and a profound milestone in the land repatriation process, and will also serve as an educational center and community space for Ohlone people to be together. Medina and Trevino have set an initial fundraising goal of $5M and contributions can be made here.
Unfortunate Closures Include North Beach Restaurant at the End of the Year
While leading a private food tour of North Beach this past Sunday, I was suddenly saddened while walking by North Beach Restaurant, knowing it will be closing at the end of December. It has been an anchor in the neighborhood since it opened in 1970 from Bruno Orsi and Lorenzo Petroni, who both passed within a year of each other 10 years ago. Petroni’s son, Leo Petroni, took the helm at the Tuscan stalwart, and according to this piece in the Chronicle, brought on GM Maureen Donegan to oversee some menu updates and interior renovations. But the brutal challenges of the pandemic, diminished tourism, and the overall current dining climate in SF have all led to the restaurant’s unfortunate impending closure.
North Beach Restaurant always drew an old-school and regular clientele of politicos and longtime locals, a specific type of classic SF restaurant that is sadly becoming a dying breed. I enjoyed their prosciutto and melon in the summer, and cannelloni in the winter. Unless someone steps in the buy the business, it’s going to be tough to see this 53-year-old icon dim its lights at the end of the year. Thankfully, there’s time to come in for a final farewell. 1512 Stockton St. at Green.
After six-plus years of serving cubanos and namesake media noches in the Mission, owner Jessie Barker is closing Media Noche at the end of service on Saturday October 28th. 3465 19th St. at Lexington. [Via Eater]
A Destination-Worthy Indian Restaurant in Santa Clara: JAKS
I recently had quite the culinary adventure at the stylish JAKS Authentic Indian & Modern Vibe that opened in Santa Clara nine months ago. Chef Prakash Khetwal—who has 18 years of experience working in high-end resorts and hotels in India—has crafted a modern Indian menu with vibrant presentations and flavors that visit 12 regions. Chef has creative flair and will introduce your palate to a vast array of ingredients.
JAKS has an airy and inviting design, with light woods, wicker, and upholstered banquettes. Whether it’s lunch for two or a group dinner (with a mix of omnivores and vegetarians and vegans) on the spacious patio, the extensive menu has enough options for Indian cuisine novices to experienced palates.
Some tablehopper picks: start with the Banarasi Paan Patta Chaat, a popular Delhi street food, here made with fried betel leaf topped with rose yogurt and crispies. Head south to Maharashtra with the Tuk Aloo Aur Bhadang (crispy spiced potatoes with puffed rice and a pop of mint). The Awadhi Murgh Dum Biryani is a special dish from Lucknow, with slow-cooked chicken and aromatic rice pilaf infused with saffron broth, spices, ghee, and almonds.
Owner Michael Agnel (a Chennai native) is the ultimate hospitalitarian, and wants to delight you with playful cocktail presentations—the Jalisco Italiano was a standout. There’s also a dedicated beer list (always a great pairing with Indian food). The next time you’re in Santa Clara for a meeting or business meal, here’s your spot.
Whisky Advocate Brings Another Whisky Tasting Event to the City
by Savannah Leone Bundy
Restaurants Are Now Live for Fall SF Restaurant Week, Plus Three Eat Drink SF Events
SF Restaurant Week is almost here, running Friday November 3rd through Thursday November 16th. Restaurants are now live, so you can start staking out your top picks and making reservations, with 200+ registrants to choose from! Participating restaurants offer special prix-fixe menus throughout 14 days at one (or more) of the following price points:
-Brunch or lunch (2+ items or courses): $10, $15, $25, $30, $40*
-Dinner (3+ items or courses): $30, $45, $65, $75, $90*
Eat Drink SF is also hosting three signature events at restaurants throughout the City, including a collaborative dinner, a cocktail soirée, and a closing brunch. Details about all of the events can be found here.
Friday November 3rd
Opening Celebration Dinner: an all-star collaboration from Jason Halverson and Ryan Cerizo from the Vault Steakhouse and Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group, Kim Alter from Nightbird, Sri Gopinathan from Copra, and pastry chef/partner Serena Chow Fisher from the upcoming 7 Adams. Dinner is $195, and includes four courses, a welcome cocktail, and wine pairings. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be available. Validated parking is available on-site for $5. Reservations will be available from 5:30pm–8:30pm. Location: The Vault Steakhouse.
Wednesday November 8th
Eat Drink SF Cocktail Party: join the Golden Gate Restaurant Association for Eat Drink SF’s Annual Cocktail Party at Curio Bar & Restaurant in the Mission. The reception-style cocktail party will offer drinks and appetizers from 5:30pm–8pm. All-inclusive tickets are $65.
Sunday November 12th
Eat Drink SF Closing Lunch: enjoy an iconic waterfront lunch at Scoma’s Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf. Experience the charm of this timeless venue over a seated, three-course lunch, showcasing many seafood classics, plus a cocktail and choice of wine, all for $85 per person.