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Mar 20, 2024 11 min read

This week’s tablehopper: I ❤️ SF. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: I ❤️ SF. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

From a night walk in Chinatown. Photo: © a night walk in Chinatown. A mural and life-size replica statues of China's Terracotta Warriors. Photo: ©
On a night walk in Chinatown: a mural and life-size replica statues of China’s Terracotta Warriors on Grant Avenue. Photo: ©

How much are we loving the springy weather and these longer evening hours? And tonight, the vernal equinox will occur at 8:06pm Pacific. Enjoy.

This weekend is the 18th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival (March 22nd–24th) in Santa Rosa—since the weather isn’t going to be much fun on Friday and Saturday, wah, you should stay indoors and enjoy some cheese! You can still attend pairing and tasting seminars on Saturday, and the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace is on Sunday—you’re able to buy cheeses direct from cheesemakers on-site, which is pretty great (I have been posting Instagram stories about the variety of offerings from Achadinha Cheese Company, and don’t miss their lemon kefir cheese, which is otherworldly). 

A couple quick links: I was happy to see this panel recap for Foodwise by tablehopper editorial assistant Savannah Leone Bundy: How Small Food Businesses Are Essential to San Francisco’s Revitalization, and What They Need to Thrive.

Two weeks ago, I shared the sad news about the passing of Margaret Grade of Manka’s, and here’s an obit by Kim Severson in The New York Times.

If you care about the preservation of cool modern buildings, and you follow tablehopper on social media, hopefully you saw my recent post about one of my favorite modernist buildings in SF (at 675 California) falling into an unacceptable state of neglect and I am trying to get some attention on it! Fortunately, a kind person at the AIASF reached out to a board member at Docomomo US to see if they’re aware of the building’s blighted condition and if there’s anyone doing something about it, and they also forwarded my post to John King at the Chronicle, who is going to check out the building this week. If you have any other connections to our local architecture community, thanks for forwarding my post to them! I’m also going to reach out to Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s office, and file a complaint with the city so they have the landlord’s negligence on record. I refuse to sit back and watch the gems of our beautiful city go to hell in a hand basket. Join me!

I hope to see you at the Carol Doda documentary at the Roxie this weekend (another SF treasure!).

Cheers! 🥂

the chatterbox

Probably the only time you won’t see a line outside Four Kings on Commercial Street in Chinatown. Photo: ©

The Next Generation of Cantonese Cooking in SF Is on Full Blast at Four Kings

Last month, I mentioned the upcoming opening of Four Kings in Chinatown from chefs and co-owners Mike Long and Franky Ho (they met while working at Mister Jiu’s) with partners Millie Boonkokua and Lucy Li. After hosting sold-out pop-ups around the Bay with their freestyle Cantonese dishes, they just opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant on Thursday March 14th—I swung by for dinner with a friend on Friday to check it out.

Chef Mike Long serving guests in the narrow dining room. Photo: ©
Chef Mike Long serving guests in the narrow dining room. Photo: ©
You’re reading the free version of the tablehopper newsletter. If you want to read my preview piece of Four Kings (trust me, you do), become a supporting subscriber. You can even subscribe for just a month and read this entire piece, plus many more articles on Live your best SF life!

Quick Bites: New Openings and a Calçotada Party

This Sunday March 24th is El Lopo’s fifth anniversary, and the porróns of sherry will be flowing at this Polk Street wine bar. In honor of the occasion, owner Daniel Azarkman (who once interned for tablehopper) is hosting a calçotada (onion party) outside in the adjacent Austin Alley. In Spain in the springtime, there are festivals where people dip grilled green onions native to Catalunya into romesco sauce, so he wanted to offer it here. It’s free from 2pm–5pm, but they do ask for an RSVP so they order enough calçots from All-Star Organics in Marin. There will also be flamenco, grilled dishes for purchase, and even more festivities starting at 6pm. 1327 Polk St. at Bush.

BAIA Closing in Hayes Valley, and Horn Barbecue Won’t Reopen in Its Original Location

The exterior of BAIA in Hayes Valley. Photo courtesy of BAIA via Facebook.
The exterior of BAIA in Hayes Valley. Photo courtesy of BAIA via Facebook.

Last week, a tablehopper reader let me know her April reservation at BAIA was canceled by the restaurant, and when I went online to check their reservations, I didn’t see anything available past March 31st. The restaurant just announced on their website and on Instagram that they are closing after service on March 30th. The vegan restaurant from Kyle and Tracy Vogt (Kyle was a co-founder of Cruise, who quit last November) and chef Matthew Kenney opened three and a half years ago in the former Jardinière in Hayes Valley. 300 Grove St. at Franklin.

Over in West Oakland, I was sorry to see Matt Horn’s announcement that his team will not be reopening their flagship Horn Barbecue location at 2534 Mandela Parkway after suffering a terrible fire last November. He mentions in the post that extensive damage to the restaurant, in addition to local crime and vandalism exacerbating the already extremely challenging situation, all “made it clear that reopening at this location would not be in the best interest of our staff, our patrons, or the broader community we aim to serve.” The team is staying focused on Kowbird and Matty’s in Old Oakland.

In a follow-up post, Horn mentions they are looking to secure a new location for Horn Barbecue (“we are actively and have been in conversations for a new Oakland location for a while now”), and addresses the online conversation about the $100k government grant they have yet to receive. You can read additional and recent messages from the team in their GoFundMe. Here’s hoping they have smoother sailing with this next version of Horn Barbecue—they went through so much to get this restaurant open. May the return of the brisket be swift.

the lush

The vibrant style of Zhuzh Bar. Photo: Ashley Ann Photos.
The vibrant style of Zhuzh Bar. Photo: Ashley Ann Photos.

A New Queer Bar and Mini Disco Is Here to Zhuzh Your Night (and Mood)

I’ve been keeping an eye on the opening of Zhuzh Bar in the former Soda Popinski’s on Nob Hill since their liquor license hit the ABC wires, and swung by for a preview look just before they opened their doors for business this past Friday. What a welcome breath of fun and electric style! You can’t miss the hot pink acrylic sign outside with retro carnival pink lights.

The owners are Aaron Paul, Jacob Roberts, and Eric Passetti—who own Macondray together—and for Zhuzh Bar, they’re bringing back some classic SF micro-club vibes. It reminds me of when I used to throw parties at Vertigo and The Hush Hush Lounge, with a little dance floor, DJs, drinks, and a mostly queer crowd that liked to party down (and oh, the late nights at 222 Lounge and Arrow Bar!).

One of the cutest DJ booths I have seen in a while. This is your captain speaking. Photo: Ashley Ann Photos.
One of the cutest DJ booths I have seen in a while. This is your captain speaking. Photo: Ashley Ann Photos.

Paul has been in SF since 2005, and is excited to open a queer-owned bar that is creating a new space for the community outside the Castro (their location in between Upper and Lower Polk is perfect). It’s going to be an inclusive space, and they hope to see a mixed crowd of all ages and persuasions, but they know the neighborhood will tell them what it needs. Paul is also fired up to have a bar on a cable car line, something he’s always wanted (only in SF dreams!).

Custom neon flowers from Neon Works installed over the floral wallpaper. Photo: Ashley Ann Photos.
Custom neon flowers from Neon Works installed over the floral wallpaper. Photo: Ashley Ann Photos.

The vibrant space was designed by Marissa Marsh, and Paul says “we wanted something unabashedly fun and not pretentious!” The space is quite fab, from the floral wallpaper with (actual) neon flower outlines (by Jim Rizzo of Neon Works), to the concrete floor finished with polyurethane and holographic glitter, and shimmery walls painted with metallic paint and glitter additive. There’s a YSL pink DJ booth, a glittery cluster of disco balls spinning over the dance floor, and upcoming A/V features will include a laser harp you can play with while waiting for the bathroom (trippy). I also love the high ceilings (a rare treat) and the hand-painted and hot pink cheetah print in the bathrooms.

They are just getting the programming and party calendar lined up, but plan on disco and house music, a happy vibe, and lots of queer parties, from gay disco tea dances to a Latino night.

But it’s healthy! The Genmaicha Matchatini. Photo: Ashley Ann Photos.
But it’s healthy! The Genmaicha Matchatini. Photo: Ashley Ann Photos.

When you rock up to the copper-topped bar, you’ll see a list of four cocktails on tap, and the rest are batched club-style, so service will be fast. Cocktails are $15, and include a Genmaicha Matchatini that will perk you up with green tea, vodka, and oat milk (it’s like a party smoothie!), while the Magic Wand is a lightly spiced version of a Margarita with a tequila-mezcal split, infused with Makrut lime leaf, blood orange zest, and serrano chile. It’s brilliant.

Paul worked for Daniel Patterson for seven years—first at Alta, and then as beverage director for the entire restaurant and bar group—so he uses a number of techniques for their drinks, like infusing seasonal ingredients via sous vide, and wait until you taste the rim of Makrut lime leaves blended with salt (on the Magic Wand, just being clearrrrr).

There are four wines, from a savvy b to sparkling rosé (know your audience!), and four beers, including the recently launched Enterprise pilsner, which I adore, and Standard Deviant’s hazy IPA.

As for the name, if you’re in hospitality or design or fashun, you know all about “zhuzhing”—whether you’re adding some flair to an outfit or a room to dialing something up and making it cute. The name came to Paul in a dream about six months ago, and they just discovered the Zhuzh SF pop-up I wrote about back in February (so, not related, but they are all longtime hospitality folks).

Hours are Mon–Fri 4pm–2am and Sat–Sun 2pm–2am. (Eater first wrote about the bar here.) 1548 California St. at Polk.

the socialite

An incredible lobster and poached eggs situation at Spruce for brunch some years ago. Photo: ©
An incredible lobster and poached eggs situation at Spruce for brunch some years ago. Photo: ©

Where to Hop for Easter Brunch

It’s “thank you Easter bunny, bwok bwok!” season, and it’s hopping up early this year: Easter is Sunday March 31st! Here are some quick ideas for you for Easter brunch (these are also great spots to keep in mind for Mother’s Day!):

Spruce has a multi-course Easter brunch ($125 per guest, exclusive of tax and fees), with dishes like grilled Zuckerman Family Farms asparagus (soft herbs and greens, pomelo, hazelnut vinaigrette); ricotta gnudi (sweet carrots, young fava beans and blossoms); and for the main course: Maine lobster frittata (spring garlic, Savoy spinach, crème fraîche) or soft-rolled French omelet (Champagne-braised morel mushrooms, Fontina d’Alpeggio fonduta, red sorrel), among other elegant dishes. 3640 Sacramento St.

Brunch at Foreign Cinema on their spacious patio is always a good time. They will be offering a three-course menu: $70 per adult, and $35 per child (doesn’t include drinks, tax, or gratuity). Available 10:30am–2:15pm. Book your reservation by calling 415-648-7600 or visit 2534 Mission St.

A16 always gets into the Pasqua spirit, offering a special à la carte menu in addition to their regular menu at both their locations (SF and Rockridge) and extended hours (11am–8pm). You can also find huge Italian chocolate Easter eggs (with treats inside) and their Easter colomba (dove) made from panettone-like bread by Namesday at A16 La Pala at the Ferry Building. 

Hop on over to Old Skool Cafe in Bayview for an Easter brunch for the whole family. Chef Blyden and the Old Skool Cafe youth will prepare a brunch buffet featuring soul food classics, like Jordan’s fried chicken, honey ham, greens, and a carving station. Enjoy live music while dining. Tickets now available: $90/person; $75 for members. Child ticket (12 & under): $30/person; $25 for members. After purchasing tickets, the team will contact you for your preferred seating time (11am–2pm). 1429 Mendell St.

Cassava in North Beach would be such a charming setting for Easter brunch. From 11am–4pm, you can enjoy their three-course, prix-fixe menu with a family-style array of appetizers to start, plus a main and dessert for $65. Hello, spring lasagna and prime rib with hash browns and an egg ($7 more). 401 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo.

You can check out the new Alora at Pier 3 (which has a lovely and heated patio overlooking the water, FYI). They’ll be offering an Easter brunch menu with smoked salmon and caviar flatbread with preserved lemon and a caramelized onion and chive labneh; roast lamb gyro with tzatziki and marinated eggplant, butter lettuce, pickles; and brown butter Hollandaise, poached eggs, prosciutto, spinach, and toasted focaccia.

The Vault Garden will be open from 11:30am–3pm, with a three-course menu for $59 (kiddos get two courses for $25). Dishes include truffle deviled eggs (togarashi, chive); spring frittata (English peas, foraged mushroom, cipolline onion, truffle foam); and Ora King salmon (asparagus, olive oil–crushed potatoes, Maltaise sauce). 555 California St. at Kearny.

If you’re up for spending the big bucks at an over-the-top hotel buffet, the Palace Hotel is hosting Easter brunch ($225 for adults, and $100 for children ages 5 to 11), while the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco has their fantastic view and numerous buffet stations ($189 per adult, $70 per child ages 4-12).

the starlet

the archivist

Menu from Coppa’s Restaurant, San Francisco, California; menu collection, courtesy of California Historical Society.
Menu from Coppa’s Restaurant, San Francisco, California; menu collection, courtesy of California Historical Society.

By Savannah Leone Bundy

As we all know, there was a very special birthday in the City last month: tablehopper turned 18, and there’s gonna be a party! A very chic, sexy Bohemian party to be exact—and as the big day approaches, we thought we’d share some true vintage Boho SF vibes to set the mood…

Coppa’s Restaurant, once called “the heart of San Francisco’s Bohemia” was founded by Joseph Coppa in the late 1800s.

Subscribers get to learn all about this inimitable SF restaurant from Marcia’s vintage books, view the fantastically surreal murals, and read Bohemia’s Toast! Let’s 🥂!

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