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Jun 13, 2023 13 min read

This week’s tablehopper: feeling so gay. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: feeling so gay. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

poulet-frites lunch at The Morris san francisco restaurant
I can’t wait to tell you about this amazing poulet-frites lunch at The Morris! Photo: ©
You’re reading the free edition of tablehopper, which is like the Designer Imposters version of the real thing (Primo instead of Giorgio, sweetie). Subscribe and things will smell downright exquisite over here! Like, SO GOOD. And, you get the newsletter earlier. Fabulous!

Ciao, amici! I hope you’re enjoying these paltry two hours of sun we seem to get after lunch, before Karl rolls back in for dinner. June gloom is no joke, it was even cloudy in Berkeley on Saturday when I went to The Greek to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (what a kickass show, Karen O is such a ROCK STAR, and fellow fans will love today’s starlet sighting!).

I have been tablehopping around and will be posting some amazing meals this week on @tablehopper on Instagram (or here’s Facebook, if you prefer), like that poulet-frites lunch you see above. You don’t even KNOW, there is so much to it. Get excited. I fell behind a bit from my New Mexico vacation, but I just posted some highlights from that trip as well. I’ll be doing a jetsetter recap for supporting subscribers soon, stand by!

Father’s Day is this Sunday, and if you’re a tablehopper supporting subscriber, you received my list of ideas for special meals last week. I do have a couple more things to add: this Friday June 16th is a Beer and Cheese class at The Cheese School of SF (perfect!), and the folks at New West Knifeworks are offering 15 percent off their site right now, AND you get a free spatula with a chef's knife purchase (use code FREESPATULA). Their eye-catching knives are so special—I wrote about my favorite “hopper chopper” santoku a couple months ago here. Chop chop!

Lastly, I want to be sure you keep your eyes peeled for a sponsored email from me later this week. If you love great food and deals (HELLO! 🙋‍♀️)—and you’re reading my column, so I imagine that’s the case—then you’ll want to make sure you click to open it! I’m super fired up about this new partnership. It’s tasty. You’re gonna be stoked!

Okerrrrrr, let’s get to it—I am so thrilled to be featuring so many lesbian and queer-owned businesses and drag parties this week, yes ma’am! Pride Month 🌈 is in effect! Have a great week.

~Marcia (and Fortuna, who is back in action, purr 😻)

the chatterbox

Gelato in a cannolo with pistachio and croccante all’amarena (crispy amarena chocolate chips) at Hila.
Gelato in a cannolo with pistachio and croccante all’amarena (crispy amarena chocolate chips). Photo courtesy of Hila.

New Openings Include Hila Sicilian Gelato, Bistro Ember (Soft Opening This Week), a Cuban Bakeshop, and More!

There’s a new Sicilian gelato shop that opened in the former and longtime Xanath Ice Cream location on Valencia. Hila Gelato is from two queer women (a married couple): Sicilian gelato maker Ilary Biondo (Hila is her nickname) and her wife, Cecilia Casarini. You can read more about their backstory in this Mission Local piece, which also reports they will have 24 housemade flavors, and 8 are vegan.

I spoke with Biondo, who ran me through some flavors, like pistachio (with pistachios from Sicily, of course); sette veli/seven veils, a layered flavor with gianduia, nocciola (hazelnut), and dark chocolate, drizzled with a chocolate and cornflake topping; plus they make olive oil gelato; amarena/cherry with amaretti cookies and chocolate (OMG); a fun Blaze gelato flavor inspired by Fireball (cinnamon, orange, ginger) and in honor of the Bay Area women’s soccer team; saffron; lemon; raspberry; as well as gelato in...

It ends up Biondo is going to be baking the proper round brioche for it soon—her award-winning gelateria in Palermo (Gelateria Al Cassaro) was also a pasticceria, lucky us.

Another thing coming will be granita (I can’t wait for a granita di caffè con panna)! They also offer espresso service (affogato time!). And: the shop is solar-powered. They conduct business in an eco-minded way, and want to source their seasonal ingredients from small farmers. Benvenute! Look for the bike racks shaped like ice cream cones out front. Open Wed–Sun 12pm–9pm. 951 Valencia St. at 20th St.

Bistro Ember’s signature yogurt soup, served with a seared scallop.
Old Anatolian flavors will appear in Bistro Ember’s signature yogurt soup, served with a seared scallop. Photo courtesy of Deniz Sezer.

I broke the news back in May about the modern Turkish Bistro Ember, from executive chef Deniz Sezer and restaurateur Giorgio Yesilyurt, and thanks to an eagle-eyed neighbor and tablehopper reader, they let me know the soft opening is this Thursday June 15th. You can read my past piece for all the details about the menu and more. Hours will be Tue–Sun 5pm–10pm. 1298 Church St. at Jersey.

SFGATE mentioned there’s another hopeful business that is popping up in the greenhouse of the dreamy Stable Cafe, Secret Garden, serving freestyle, Norcal dishes with Mexican and Lebanese flair from Guillermo Perez and Najla Turczyn (previously 20th Century Cafe, Martini House, Ame). Dishes are à la carte ($10–$20) and there are some sparkling wines and beers. Here’s a sneak peek Reel.

Open Mon–Wed 4pm–8pm, it’s sure to be a hit with industry workers. No reservations. Fortunately, it’s summertime, so they don’t have to worry about getting flooded for now (which ended up forcing Saison and The Cheese School of SF to relocate in the past, big sigh). 2128 Folsom St. at 17th St.

Now open in the former Yukol Palace in the Marina is Phat Thai, the first brick-and-mortar location of the longtime food truck from Bobby Hossain. Eater first reported on the project, mentioning the menu would be similar to the truck, but now the popular weekly specials (and the crispy pork fried rice) will be on the menu regularly.

There will also be a selection of beer, sake, and soju. Hours: Mon and Wed–Thu 11am–3pm and 4pm–9pm, Fri–Sun 11am–3pm and 4pm–10pm, closed Tue. 2380 Lombard St. at Scott.

Over in Mission Bay, there’s a new Cuban bakery...

Cheese bread drizzled with honey with Yemeni coffee at Sana’a Cafe
Instagram photo via @sanaa_cafe.

Opening Night Visit to Katsuo & Kombu for Housemade Udon

Tan tan dry udon at Katsuo & Kombu.
Tan tan dry udon at Katsuo & Kombu. Photo: ©

I swung by Katsuo & Kombu for their opening night on Friday to check out their housemade udon, both hot and cold. I have mentioned this project a couple times, it’s from Jiro Lin and chef-partner Takashi “Taka” Saito of Hamano in Noe Valley.

Now, you can take a peek at the menu, with eight bowls of hot and cold udon, which includes their truly delicious imperial wagyu beef curry presented with...

Coming Soon to the Castro: The Rustic, with Chef David Guilloty

Due to open in July in the former Chow location in the Castro is The Rustic, which Hoodline reported is coming from Chez Panisse alum (eight years!),  Zoti Ali Turap. The restaurant’s Instagram profile mentions Boricua chef David Guilloty...

An Expanded Offering at Kokak Chocolates and a Special Pride Drag Brunch

Founder and head chocolatier Carol Gancia of Kokak Chocolates with her new chocolate cookies.
Founder and head chocolatier Carol Gancia of Kokak Chocolates with her new chocolate cookies. Photo: ©

After opening three years ago and making it through some of the toughest years in business, founder and head chocolatier Carol Gancia of the queer-owned Kokak Chocolates in the Castro is spreading her wings a bit with the addition of a pastry program. You have probably seen the bright green-trimmed corner building (kokak means “ribbit” in Filipino—Gancia was raised in Manila, Philippines).

You have hopefully tried her handcrafted, single-origin, organic chocolates that are made on-site with Arriba Naciónal, a rare and heirloom cacao variety that is sourced from a fair trade and sustainable collective in Ecuador. Gancia is deeply in love with and committed to highlighting this prized cacao—it’s full of fruity, complex, and enduring flavor—even though it’s more expensive for her to use (and does a number on her food costs). Arriba Naciónal was the first domestically grown cacao in the world, and kind of like old vine grapes, it offers less yield, but the flavor is so special.

heirloom chocolate cookie at kokak
The new heirloom chocolate cookie. Photo: ©

But with one bite of her new heirloom chocolate cookie, and you’re going to notice and savor the chocolate like no other. These cookies are pure decadence: they’re made with 70% dark chocolate discs (instead of chips), drizzled with dark chocolate, and topped with cacao nibs. Ooof. You absolutely need to have it warmed up for maximum cookie sexiness. There’s also an heirloom chocolate orange cookie with orange zest and candied orange.

The new and dense brownies are equally special (and a chocolate lover’s dream). In honor of Pride parties and celebrations, there’s a brunch box you can order with a half-dozen brownies ($30) available for in-store, pick-up, or delivery through June 30th.

Become a tablehopper subscriber so I can continue to write profiles like this one (and you can read them—I decided to keep this feature visible in support of Kokak Chocolates). When you subscribe to tablehopper, you help me support fellow small businesses. 🙏
Rainbow Love Truffle Collection for Pride by Kokak
The Rainbow Love Truffle Collection for Pride. Photo courtesy of Kokak Chocolates.

You can also celebrate with her chocolates in the Say It Louder Pride Collection (16 pieces, $51.95), and the Rainbow Love Truffle Collection ($37.95), nine pieces of hazelnut praline and kalamansi (Philippine lime) truffles (wait until you taste the 64% dark chocolate with the citrus!), in a darling rainbow box—both make beautiful host gifts or offer ways to say “I’m proud to love you!” Check out the entire Pride collection here. You can also ship them within the continental U.S.

drag brunch at kokak
Drag brunch on June 24th!

In honor of Pride, Gancia is hosting a Drag Brunch on Pink Saturday June 24th (two seatings)—enjoy brunch before heading over to Dolores Park for the Dyke March! This AAPI drag brunch will feature live performances and a whole lotta sass, hosted by Mx Kiki Krunch, featuring Xtina Agitera, Ehra Amaya, Lady P Galore, and Nutasha Quintine. The events range from $100–$120 per person, with a prix-fixe menu featuring a Filipino-inspired chocolate brunch that includes arroz caldo: savory Filipino rice porridge (beef or vegan); champorado shooter: Filipino sticky rice with mango and coconut flakes; Filipino empanadas: baked hand pies (chicken or vegetarian); chocolate pastry flight; and choice of coffee, tea, or tsokolate eh (European-style sipping hot chocolate), and kalamansi mimosas or virgin spritzers. Book/RSVP here. Two seatings: 10:30am–12pm and 1pm–2:30pm.

Consider it a fun preview of Gancia’s upcoming Filipino lunch menu items (she does have a sweet and salty cacao porridge that is available now). You can always swing by the shop for a cookie or chocolate or sipping chocolate: Tue–Sun 11:30am–6pm. 3901 18th St. at Sanchez.

the sponsor

savor the azores with chef telmo
Pack your bags and come hungry.

Savor the Azores for a Week with Chef Telmo, Departing August 31st!

Indulge your palate on this savory journey through the Azores islands with chef Telmo Faria of San Francisco’s renowned Portuguese restaurant Uma Casa, who is a native Azorean! During the weeklong trip, you will visit local markets and some of the nicest eateries in town, taste locally produced wines and foods and spirits, and learn about Azorean cheeses and winemaking, as well as Azorean culture, architecture, and history.

In this chef-led, food and wine–focused tour, you will take in the dramatic scenery, and taste your way through the regional specialties of the “triangle” islands: Faial, São Jorge, and Pico. An archipelago of islands located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, this Portuguese paradise is sure to capture your hearts (and stomachs!), and create lifelong memories.

You will have an amazing time with chef Telmo, while getting an insider’s view of the Azorean food scene. Read more in this Forbes article. Trip limited to 16 travelers. Details and more here.

the lush

A peek through the window of Scarlet Fox, now open in Nopa! Photo: ©

Nature Is Healing: Lesbian-Owned Wine Bar Scarlet Fox Opens in Nopa

I was happy to receive an email about the opening of Scarlet Fox, the queer-owned wine bar from married couple Kate Maeder and sommelier Kaela Miller (who live in the Nopa neighborhood, just a couple blocks away). I am loving seeing the addition of a queer-owned wine bar in Nopa, and Kate and Kaela were thrilled with the number of women from the lesbian community who came through during the opening weekend (but to be clear, all are welcome)!

Whether you want a bottle of wine to bring home (an early peek at their shelves shows some extremely friendly neighborhood pricing—take $10 off bottles to go) or a glass at the bar or larger communal table, you’ll find a variety of approachable selections. The list spans Old World (with a number of Italian, French, and Spanish wines) and New World, with some West Coast selects. You’ll be able to ask Kaela some questions if you want to nerd out on wine together, or you can just enjoy your glass without a side of education. There are also some mixed nuts and cheeses, just small bites for now.

Scarlet Fox soft-opened over the weekend, and is next door to the longtime Central Coffee (whose owner, Ali Garavy, could really use your help, by the way). You can read more about their story in this SF Standard piece. Open Wed–Thu 2pm–9pm, Fri–Sat 12pm–10pm, Sun 11:30am–6pm. Happy hour is Wed–Fri before 6pm, with three $9 glasses. (Closed Friday June 16th at 4pm for a private event, FYI.) 1690 Hayes St. at Central.

The Iceman Cometh: Learn “Ice Butchering” from Camper English

The Ice Book was just released this May.

Longtime cocktail writer and author (his latest: The Ice Book), Camper English, is leading ice butchering” classes at Dalva in the Mission on Wednesday June 21st and 28th. Students will learn to carve up a block into cubes, diamonds, and spheres, use an ice ball press, and other tools to bling out their ice with patterns.

Camper is also doing an event at The Morris on June 20th: he’s working with owner Paul Einbund and bar manager Jack to create some fun cocktail and ice experiences. Chef Gavin is cooking up ice-themed bites, and Camper is even planning a couple of ice demos! More here. You can just show up, or make a reservation, and/or buy a book from The Morris in advance to guarantee one (you want to do that).

the sponsor

This Saturday June 17th!

Spiked Snow Cones, Custom Cocktails, Drag Show, and Waterfront Views—Celebrate Pride with the Queens at Terrene Brunch!

This Saturday June 17th, you won’t want to miss the lively Queens at Terrene Pride Celebration at the 1 Hotel San Francisco. Toast to Pride with spiked snow cones, handcrafted cocktails, and a drag show featuring top talent from the Bay Area and beyond. The event will take place at Terrene’s outdoor patio on the Embarcadero waterfront. Savor Hanson’s organic vodkas in custom cocktails along with brunch bites from multiple chef-attended stations.

Entertainment will include a live DJ set by Jimmy DePre, and fabulous drag performances by a lineup including Melissa Befierce, Helixir Jynder Byntwell, Betty Fresas, and Sister Anya Streets of San Francisco’s own Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as the MC. 1 Hotel San Francisco is proud to support the ACLU’s Drag Defense Fund, which aims to educate and activate against restrictive anti-LGBTQ legislation.

The Queens at Terrene Pride Celebration will take place on Saturday June 17th, from 11:30am-2pm. Book via Eventbrite HERE.

the socialite

Happening August 19th!

Get Your Ticket for SF’s First Pizza, Bagel, and Beer Festival!

Are you ready to hear about the most carb-loaded festival you could ever dream up? On Saturday August 19th will be San Francisco’s first-ever Pizza, Bagel & Beer Festival in North Beach, from 13-time World Pizza Champion and unofficial North Beach mayor Tony Gemignani. Over 45 local pizzerias, bagel bakeries, and breweries will be highlighted, including Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Capo’s, Ragazza, Long Bridge Pizza Co., Delarosa, Montesacero, Doppio Zero, Giorgio’s Pizzeria, DamnFine, Empire Pizza, Il Casaro Pizzeria, Del Popolo, PizzaHacker, Mozzeria, and A16.

The Ooni Zone will be primarily featuring women in pizza: Laura Meyer of Pizzeria da Laura, Leah Scurto of PizzaLeah, Cristina Aceves Smith of State of Mind Pizza, and Kira Zabrowski of Much Ado About Pizza.

Subscribers get to read the lineup of bagels and brews.

There will also be a celebrity pizza toss, a special appearance by East Coast rapper Kosha Dillz, and more TBA. The family-friendly festival will support several great local causes, with proceeds benefitting Slice Out Hunger, the Salesian Boys & Girls Club, San Francisco Italian Athletic Club Foundation, Saints Peter & Paul School, and the North Beach Business Association.

Tickets are available for purchase here and include limited VIP tickets (with early entry, a private lounge/open bar at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club, charcuterie, and a gift bag), and tickets for different age groups (21+, young adult, and kids); children under five enjoy free admission. 12pm–4pm.

the starlet

the archivist

bus going turbo with a wheelie
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