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Jun 21, 2023 12 min read

This week’s tablehopper: fired up. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: fired up. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

Grasshopper at Dawn Club cocktail jazz club san francisco
The perfect nightcap: the Grasshopper at Dawn Club! Photo: ©
You’re reading the free version of the tablehopper newsletter, which means you’re receiving an abridged version of my column AND it’s arriving in your inbox a day later. 🫤 Become a supporting subscriber and get the whole enchilada, hot out of the kitchen!

Happy PRIDE (I see you gleaming over the City, pink triangle!). Happy Solstice. Happy sunny windless day (for now, ha). I wanted to make it to the Flour + Water Pizzeria pre-opening party last night, so since you’re on a free subscription, you’re getting the newsletter a day later than subscribers. (Yup, I chose pizza over revising and sending the free version of the newsletter. Priorities!)

I really hit the town hard over the past week, so stand by for some fun posts and recaps here and on @tablehopper, from new brunches to jazz and dinner spots to sushi. I recently posted about the new Aphotic (the best fine dining deal in town right now), take a look at my pics and Reel (which includes a late-night delivery of hundreds of pounds of skate, right in front of the restaurant!). I also have a follow-up report in today’s newsletter on Social Cafe, the new Cuban bakery and café I mentioned to paying subscribers in last week’s column. Yup, I’m eating all the calories and carbs and cheese for you.

What did you think of last week’s amazing sponsor partner, Feed? I was so excited to partner with them. Have you placed an order with my code yet? Enjoy $25 off your next Feed order of $40 with code tablehopper25, even if you’ve already placed an order with Feed before. 🙌 It’s a very special offer, just for tablehopper readers!

There are many fantastic products on their shelves, and I can’t wait for my delivery today (come to mama, Frog Hollow Farm apriums). You can see what I’m ordering and making on the Feed feed if you download the app (iOS and Android)—last night’s taco-Louie salad with Bay shrimp was pretty damn delicious. It has been fun to see some of you follow me (just search for Marcia Gagliardi), I love to see what you’re ordering. 🥂 Buon appetito!

OK, gang, have a fabulous, Pride-filled week 🌈! I hope to see you!

XO 💋

the chatterbox

smoky eggplant pizza at Flour + Water Pizzeria
Smoky eggplant pizza with smoked mozz, oregano, Taggiasca olive, Calabrian chile, and Parm at Flour + Water Pizzeria (plus shrimp scampi). Photo: Kristen Loken.

Opening This Week (and Next): Flour + Water Pizzeria, Kuma on Valencia, and More

This week, I’m lucky to be attending two soft-opening previews for restaurants opening verrrrry soon (the upcoming Flour + Water Pizzeria and Kuma on Valencia), so I’ll be sharing firsthand details and pics in my next tablehopper issue and @tablehopper on the ‘gram. Here’s what I do know: Flour + Water Pizzeria is opening in the former Rose Pistola on Wednesday June 28th. The 4,000-square-foot restaurant (by Lundberg Design and project architect Gavin Knowles) has an expansive full-service dining room and bar, a glassed-in Dough Room, and a dedicated Pizza Shop (entrance at 1533 Stockton Street) for quick service, pick-up, and delivery.

Co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow have crafted a menu of pizzas, antipasti, and salads that highlight ingredients from their longstanding relationships with Northern California producers and farmers. Their hand-rolled mozzarella sticks and Double8 Dairy buffalo gelato soft-serve will return from their former Mission pizzeria menu, along with new additions, such as head-on shrimp scampi, Hawaiian pizza with chile crisp, and a dine-in exclusive bone marrow pie (a nod to Flour + Water).

Beverage director Samuel Bogue’s wine list will feature predominantly Italian producers, as well as domestic offerings, and he worked alongside North Beach  cocktail maestro Elmer Mejicanos on the cocktail list (think Negronis on tap, Daiquiris, and the aperitif-inspired Boozy Slushy with Fiero aperitivo, passion fruit, Prosecco). Wine and beer selections are also available to-go from the Pizza Shop.

Reservations are now live on Resy. Open for dinner service to start (5pm–10pm), but they’ll add lunch service starting mid-July, when hours will be 11:30am–10pm. 532 Columbus Ave. at Union.

Meanwhile, the second location of Kuma Sushi + Sake, Kuma on Valencia, is due to open on...

You can read my original story about what’s coming here; I will share more details next week after my preview visit. 198 Valencia St. at 13th St./Duboce.

Opening this Wednesday June 21st is Teakwood from the Burma Superstar family of restaurants (including Burma Love and B Star) and owners Desmond Tan and Jocelyn Lee. Look for a Burmese menu with influences from neighboring countries Thailand, China, India, and Laos. Teakwood is opening in the former Akna/Barcino/Boxing Room in Hayes Valley. (You may recall Burma Superstar employees won a class-action settlement for unfair wages back in the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020.) If you want a reservation, I’m seeing spots on OpenTable starting Friday June 23rd. Hours will be Mon–Thu 4pm–9pm, Fri–Sat 4pm–10pm, Sun 4pm–8pm to start. 399 Grove St. at Gough.

Some Backstory on Social Cafe, the New Cuban Bakeshop in SoMa

croqueta preparada sandwich at social cafe
The can’t-miss croqueta preparada sandwich. Photo: ©

Last week, I mentioned the newly opened Social Cafe, and was so excited to check it out that I headed over with my sis for lunch. This petite Cuban café has a counter where you order your meal, but there’s also a working bakery (you can look at it through the glass window). The Romeu family (Terry and her husband Ruben) are from Miami, where they made their own Pika spicy sauce, and have been dreaming about opening this much-needed Cuban café since they moved to the Bay Area in 2015. Two of their three kids are also helping out, so it’s a hard-working family business.

They’re thrilled with how well things are going (they saved up for a long time to open it), and feel fortunate for finding such a busy location, just next to the Hall of Justice on Bryant. Terry was previously working at Land of Medicine Buddha in Santa Cruz and Dio Deka in Los Gatos, and now her family is working hard around the clock with their new café.

menu on the wall at social cafe
A look at the menu. Don’t forget a cafecito. Photo: ©

The menu features a delicious Cubano on their house-baked bread (it’s such a difference to have one on fresh, Cuban-style bread), but honestly, the sneaker hit is the croqueta preparada ($12), which is like a Cubano (with sliced ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard), but instead of the roasted pork, it comes with a couple croquettes (béchamel, ham, parsley) pressed inside. Whut. It’s a perfectly assembled and rich-but-balanced sandwich that you are going to obsess over after you try it. There’s also a chicken salad and a Miami sandwich (turkey, bacon, Swiss, housemade mayo, lettuce, tomato), but the croqueta is a must.

Spicy pika beef pastelito
Spicy pika beef pastelito. Photo: ©

There’s just one table outside, and they’re planning to add a couple more, but it’s mostly a tiny to-go shop. A sign is also coming! Open Mon–Fri 7:30am–4pm, Sat 8am–3pm, and Sun 8am–1pm. 804 Bryant St. at 6th St.

Experience Malaysian Brunch Dishes at Damansara’s Weekend Lunch Service

Bak kut teh and Malaysian brunch sets at Damansara
Bak kut teh and Malaysian brunch sets at Damansara. Photo: ©

Are you looking for a new kind of brunch? Maybe a mellow one where you can catch up with a friend and not have to shout? On Saturday, I experienced the new bak kut teh pop-up for brunch at the recently opened Damansara in Noe Valley, the only central Malaysian restaurant in San Francisco. If you’re on chef-owner Tracy Goh’s mailing list (you can subscribe at the bottom of their page here), you would have seen the preorder for this special brunch item ($28). She’s going to offer it again this weekend: the preorder link is live, just choose your time slot for Sat or Sun and order before Friday noon!

dining room at Damansara
The dining room at Damansara. Photo: ©

You get a large bowl with a meaty pork rib and slices of belly in a savory, overnight bone broth made with Chinese herbs, ginseng, goji berries, mushrooms, soft garlic, mountain yam, and more. You can put the garlic rice in your soup bowl, add some stalks of the gailan/broccoli in house onion sauce, and dip the you tiao/fried doughnut. It’s a deeply restorative and aromatic soup, which Tracy explains was “originally a pork and herbal medicine tonic served as breakfast to Chinese laborers who worked in the port city of Klang. Today in modern Klang, some restaurants serve innovative and gourmet versions day and night. This dish holds a very special place in my heart as BKT is not just a dish or a meal, it's a bonding ritual to many ethnic Chinese-Malaysian families akin to dim sum culture in Hong Kong, or Sunday brunch with family.” The set also came with lychee black tea, which is supposed to help you digest the pork fat and starch better. It’s a fulfilling meal—I even had some leftover soup to enjoy on my deadline.

Kaya in white toast with eggs at damansara
Kaya in white toast (that you dunk into the soft-boiled eggs!). Photo: ©

I shared this hearty BKT set with my brunch guest, and we also shared the Malaysian weekend brunch set ($28, no preorder necessary), with char kway teow (perfectly cooked flat rice noodles, shrimp, eggs, chives, bean sprouts, garlic), and kaya in white toast (homemade coconut pandan jam) that you dunk into two very custardy sous vide eggs (you add some soy sauce to the eggs, and it’s the most incredible flavor journey, you gotta try this). Plus, you get sweetened milk tea.

Did you enjoy reading this piece? Want me to be able to feature more places and unique meals like this with you? Please support my work with a subscription (even a month is appreciated!).

As you can see, this was more of a lunch-brunch than eggy brunch. There are also some small plates and a vegan lunch bowl with jackfruit, and you can order beer, wine, or sake. Follow @damansara for more. Weekend brunch/lunch is Sat–Sun 11am–2pm. 1781 Church St. at 30th St.

Emerging from the Pandemic Crypt: Bruno’s!

exterior of Bruno’s back in 2009
The exterior of Bruno’s back in 2009. Photo courtesy of Bruno’s (via Yelp).

I was thrilled to see this Mission Local piece about Bruno’s reopening in the Mission. This iconic restaurant and nightclub has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic (2020), and owner George Karas is working hard to make some major renovations to the venue and get through what sounds like an onerous permitting process. Timing is TBD for now, maybe a couple months from now, but you can drive by and admire the newly repainted lettering in the meantime. Here’s hoping it returns to its classy, mid-century style (check out today’s vintage photo in the archivist!)—the animal-striped, strip club style upstairs was so cheesy. See you in the Cork Club! 2389 Mission St. at 20th St.

Recent Openings Include Noe Café, Dosa Corner, and Pasha

the socialite

patio at La Bande with bubbles and salumi
The patio at La Bande will offer a PRIDE Parade party oasis. Photo: Alinya Tyulyu.

Pride Drag Brunches, Chanteuses, Parade Viewing Parties, and More

There are soooo many Pride events happening, and most of my Pride weekend will be spent on dance floors and outdoor patios, but here are all kinds of festive options where you can celebrate and support the community, because goddess knows we need to.

In honor of PRIDE, and in support of these events and fundraisers, I’m keeping this entire section visible to free subscribers. Maybe this is the week you become a tablehopper supporting subscriber

Hot off the digital press is Marke B’s annual Ultimate Pride Guide party round-up on 48 Hills (the best!). And if you are partying this weekend, please remember to test your party supplies for fentanyl. Here’s a kit with multiple tests you can order online (sharing is caring), here’s a map of FentCheck venues where you can pick up strips around the Bay, and you can always swing by Strut in the Castro. Throw some Narcan in your bag, please stay safe, have so much fun!

singer Veronica Klaus and the Tammy Hall Trio performing at The Oasis
Veronica Klaus and the Tammy Hall Trio performing at The Oasis in 2015. Photo: ©

I’m looking forward to kicking things off this Wednesday with San Francisco's legendary vocalist, Veronica Klaus, who’s in town and performing with the Tammy Hall Trio at Saint Joseph’s Art Society for a special Pride concert. My fellow vintage lovers and fans of the 1940s–50s will enjoy Veronica’s look, style, attitude, and musique. I never miss a show! Tickets here. VIP tickets guarantee reserved seating and a free sip on the house! 1401 Howard St.

After Veronica’s show, I’m going to be heading over to the patio at Casements in the Mission for Pridetinis, a fundraiser party for 48 Hills. Food specials, cool drinks, raffle prizes, DJ Rolo on the decks, celebrity drag queen host Kochina Rude, and a special guest appearance by Tom Ammiano. Cheers! 6pm–10pm. Free to RSVP. 2351 Mission St.

Now through Saturday July 22nd, Zanele Muholi will be showcasing an exhibition especially for PRIDE in the new Jonathan Carver Moore gallery on the street level of LINE SF. Muholi is a South African visual activist and photographer, who for over a decade has documented Black queer people’s lives in various townships in South Africa. The gallery is usually by appointment, but you can come by this Friday from 2pm–6pm and Saturday 1pm–4pm! 966 Market St.

charity bingo with The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence®

On Friday June 23rd from 5pm–8pm, Hotel Zeppelin (545 Post Street) will present an evening of charity bingo with The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence® (yup, the queer and trans nuns recently disinvited and then re-invited by the Dodgers for their Pride Night). Plan on plenty of laughs and the chance to win fabulous prizes. Tickets are $25, with all proceeds donated back to The Sisters, renowned for their commitment to making a positive and charitable impact in the community. Attendees must be 18+ to attend. Tickets can be purchased here.

Whew, the queens are gonna be so tired having to get into full face first thing in the morning for all these drag brunches going on this weekend. On Saturday June 24th, there’s a Drag Brunch at True Laurel ($60: three-course, family-style menu, welcome cocktail, coffee or tea). Tickets available via TOCK. Donations and proceeds will benefit San Francisco’s LGBTQ Center. 753 Alabama St.

Drag Bingo Brunch at Abacá

Also on Saturday, there’s Drag Bingo Brunch at Abacá in Fisherman’s Wharf from 11am–1pm, and all bingo card sales go to The Trevor Project. Abacá will be serving an à la carte brunch menu, with performances from Katya Smirnoff-Skyy and Dulce De Leche. Reservations available via Resy. 2700 Jones St.

And don’t forget the Pink Saturday AAPI Drag Brunch I mentioned in my column last week happening at Kokak Chocolates in the Castro, there are two seatings. 3901 18th St.

For those participating in the PRIDE Parade on Sunday June 25th, LINE will be hosting a PRIDE Brunch in Tenderheart after the end of the parade to keep the celebration going. For $45, guests will enjoy bottomless Mimosas or Bellinis and a prix-fixe menu from chef Joe Hou (which includes their popular Royale…with Cheese burger). I just dined there last week and the food was so good (ditto the cocktails) and the staff was incredibly nice. Link here to reserve your spot, menu here. 33 Turk St.

Another great spot for parade attendees to party will be on the La Bande patio (11am–4pm) at SF Proper, with live DJ beats under the shade of the umbrellas while the Pride parade passes right by. General admission tickets include cost of entry (and access to a bathroom, yay!), but all food and drink must be ordered à la carte. SF Proper will donate $1 of every Big Cat cocktail sold in the month of June to the Our Trans Home SF Coalition. Reserve via OpenTable.

See you out on the track! 🌈

the archivist

I wanted to dig this one up in honor of today’s news about Bruno’s reopening happening soon...

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