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Aug 9, 2023 14 min read

This week’s tablehopper: little fluffy clouds. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: little fluffy clouds. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

A slice of Zanze’s Cheesecake
A slice of Zanze’s Cheesecake is a fluffy cloud of happiness. Photo: ©

Happy sunny-ish SF days to you! I know many of you are closely watching the weather for this weekend’s Outside Lands—eep, I think Karl the Fog got a VIP ticket again this year. Back in May, I outlined some of the new and returning restaurants and dishes (take a look!): there are 96 restaurants slinging over 700 dishes, and nearly 90 percent of the food lineup is from BIPOC and/or female-led restaurateurs and chefs. It’s a sick lineup of eats, but my personal quick vendor picks would be Abacá, Daytrip, El Garage, El Huarache Loco, Fowl + Fare, Horn Barbecue, Jo’s Modern Thai, Kitiya, Merkado, My Friend Fernando, Smish Smash, and Son’s Addition—and don’t forget about the La Cocina Taco Tour! Werq it all off at Dolores’, the new, queer, open-air dance club in the Polo Field. Have fun out there.

Not going to OSL and looking for somewhere to eat with silverware? Over on the ’gram, I’ve been busy posting about a bunch of recent visits: enjoy drinks and bites on the roof at Rise Over Run and dinner at Tenderheart; Bodega SF is perfect if you’re catching a show in the theater district; and for my South Bay folks, the modern Indian menu at JAKS in Santa Clara offers a special experience. I also paid a visit to the new City View Restaurant for dim sum this past weekend—supporting subscribers get the full writeup below! And I’d just like to report that Zanze’s Cheesecake is as fluffy and fantastic as ever (here’s last week’s piece about the happy comeback).

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I was doing a little shopping while I was in Chinatown on Saturday, and noticed some bottles of highly coveted Huy Fong sriracha behind the counter at...

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Looking for something new to watch? With artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinite Love coming to SFMOMA in September, you should watch the moving documentary Infinity (on Amazon) about this brave, pioneering artist, who has become the top-selling female artist in the world, thanks to her talent and vision and belief in herself (and no thanks to the male-dominated art world and her hometown in Japan that shamed her). It’s a miracle our polka dot queen has lived long enough to enjoy this triumphant moment of appreciation and adoration. Her journey has been so arduous. Don’t miss it.

Last summer, I was invited to a screening of Sorry We’re Closed, an independent film from director Peter Ferriero that features chef Elizabeth Falkner traveling across the country early on in the pandemic (summer 2020) as she checks in on her chef and restaurateur colleagues and friends—like Nancy Silverton, Ann Kim, and Alice Waters—and documents how they were coping with the impossible task of keeping their doors open. I know it’s a traumatic time many of us would rather forget, but it’s illuminating to watch with an insider’s perspective on how independent restaurants were affected and bravely adapted during the crisis, and see how food systems must evolve. The film won best documentary feature at Pasadena Film Festival in April this year, and today, August 8th, is now available on-demand on iTunes/AppleTV.  Trailer here.

Okay, it’s time to jump in, today’s column is a hefty one! (Next week’s is gonna be a lot shorter, oof.)

the chatterbox

exterior of Little Shucker.
The exterior of Little Shucker. Photo: ©

Little Shucker, a West Coast Raw Bar and Seafood Bistro, Is Serving Easy-Breezy Vibes on Upper Fillmore

Last week, I attended a media preview dinner for Little Shucker, a West Coast–inspired raw bar and seafood-focused bistro with a spritzy sensibility on Upper Fillmore. The project is from the team behind The Snug (owners/managing partners Shane Matthews, Zack Schwab, Jacob Racusin, and Liv Ringo), as well as executive chef Adrian Garcia (Quince, Benu, Addison) and chef de cuisine Mark Zawiski, with beverage director John Fragola. They know the neighborhood well, and are fired up to open this sweet spot in Pacific Heights (in the former The Grove location).

Bar seating.
Bar seating. Photo: bread & Butter.

You can’t miss the punchy terracotta-colored exterior (my friend and I decided the color could also be named Miami Spray Tan), and the large open windows give it an airy and uplifting feeling—they opened just in time for SF's late summer. There are plenty of tables out front, which catch the afternoon and evening light, and inside there’s seating in a variety of table sections and at counters, including around the raw bar. The room features natural materials, custom woodworking by Jacob Racusin, and a Nordic-like simplicity, boosted with a pleasing palette of dusty blue tiles, grey hexagonal floor tiles, and peachy-vanilla walls. The space was designed by Liv Ringo; Jim Maxwell of Architects II led the project.

A dozen oysters.
A dozen oysters. Photo: ©

The all-day menu features beautifully shucked oysters (3 for $12, 6 for $22, 12 for $39). The opening selection includes Marin Miyagi and Kumamoto oysters from Tomales Bay, and Petit Manan oysters from Steuben, Maine (don’t miss these elegant and creamy-briny beauties that will be on the menu until November). Be sure to try their house-fermented green sauce, with Serrano pepper, garum (Italian fish sauce), and cilantro.

The baked Steamboat Washington oysters (two for $10) include a notable Rockefeller with spinach, pancetta (!), and Grana Padano; miso bone marrow; and garlic butter. There’s The Big Shucker ($98), a plateau de fruits de mer, with a dozen oysters, four chilled mussels, four prawns, kampachi crudo, and Maine lobster. You can also indulge in caviar service from Tsar Nicoulai (1 oz. golden osetra for $88). Pinkies up!

Smoked trout salad.
Smoked trout salad. Photo: ©

Starters include local halibut crudo with gooseberries and avocado mousse ($16), smoked salmon tartine ($14), roasted nori cauliflower ($8), and a couple salads: a Caesar ($15) with add-ons, or smoked trout with frisée, purple mustard greens, and buttermilk-dill ($18).

Large plates feature...

There’s a lot of care in the seafood sourcing, and everything was well-prepared and sparkly-fresh. I can see the neighborhood embracing the approachable and snacky menu that will pair well with wine o’clock.

The low-ABV menu highlights four spritzes (like the White Wine Spritz with Lillet Blanc, Seville orange aperitif, vanilla) and plenty of seafood-friendly wines (the natural Le Haut Planty muscadet with the mussels was a fab pairing). There’s some friendly by-the-glass pricing, like a $12 crémant, and bottles of Old World and New World selections will fit all kinds of budgets.

Whether you want to swing by for lunch, a late-afternoon bite and a glass of vino, or a dinner date, this casual-chic spot has you covered. Starting August 9th, hours are Wed–Sun 11am–10pm. 2016 Fillmore St. at Pine.

Hot Diggity: Hayz Dog Now Open in Hayes Valley

An array of dawgz at Hayz Dog.
An array of dawgz at Hayz Dog. Photo: ©

Who let the dogs out? Newly open in Hayes Valley is Hayz Dog, a globetrotting hot dog shop from David Alexander and David Bazirgan, who worked together at Fifth Floor and Chez Papa—Baz has been living and working in Boston as executive chef at Uni, but came back for a quick visit to SF to fine-tune the menu. (What Now SF first noticed the permit last month; the space was formerly Project Juice and Schulzies Bread Pudding.)

The menu is designed to deliver on flavor and value for the neighborhood, featuring eight-inch smoked beef dogs from Cloverdale, a company from North Dakota (since 1915); the hefty dogs are served in pillowy steamed buns (instead of toasted).

Chicago-style The Fluky dog
The Chicago-style The Fluky. Photo: ©

When I saw the Chicago-style dog on the menu, The Fluky, with sweet relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, pickles, mustard, pickled mustard seed, and celery salt (they couldn’t find a poppyseed bun to fit the dog), it immediately made me think of Moishe’s Pippic. It was an old school, Chicago-style deli that was just a block away for 26 years (it closed in 2013), and was the first place where I ever had a Chicago-style hot dog. Alexander says the Fluky dog is a salute to Moishe’s owner Joe Sattler: they met when Alexander was opening Papito in the former deli’s location, and Sattler reportedly (and sadly) passed away last year. His memory lives on in the neighborhood!

The Elote dog
The Elote. Photo: ©

There’s The Dub, with homemade beef chili, scallion rounds, shredded jack cheese, and Fritos; The Elote with shaved corn, crema, smoked paprika aioli, queso fresco, crispy shallots, and chopped cilantro; The Banh Mi with house lime aioli, shredded carrot/daikon pickle, cilantro, and jalapeño; The Hayz with housemade kimchi relish, Kewpie mayo, spicy gochujang ketchup, fried garlic, and sliced scallions; and The Tramp, with special sauce, bacon, charred Serranos, diced onions, and cilantro. Most of the dogs are $12.50, and The Dub is $14. They’re also going to be doing specials every couple of weeks, from sausages to New York–style dogs.

Vegetarians can order The Heddy, a vegan dog zhooshed up with smoked paprika mayo, charred Serrano relish, cotija cheese, and cilantro—vegans can leave the cotija off. Or you can order any hot dog set with the vegan dog. And if you’re gluten-free/paleo, here’s a tip: they’re happy to do a chopped variation for you, no bun.

As I was looking at the menu, I honestly was having a hard time choosing which one to get! But guess what? I was invited to taste all of them when I came by, woof, so let me tell you my three favorites:

For dessert, there’s the s’mores-like The Sweetie: they’re using a banana instead of a hot dog (cute) inside a Hawaiian King bun with Nutella, toasted mini marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate sauce ($10). Milkshakes are also going to be available, and ice cold beers and wine are coming soon.

exterior of Hayz Dog
The exterior of Hayz Dog. Photo: ©

There are a few stools at a counter inside and some high tables outside; a parklet is coming soon. They’re also playing with their hours—they know folks coming out of the symphony or local bars may be craving a late-night hot dog, so they’re going to try to stay open later if there’s business. Hours for now are daily 11am–9pm, and Thu–Sat until 11pm. 364 Hayes St. at Franklin.

Oaktown Spice Shop Hits the City

Unfortunate Closures and Conflicts and Hoped-For Comebacks

Chef Tommy Cleary in action at Hina.
Chef Tommy Cleary in action at Hina. Photo: ©

Just a couple weeks ago, I was sitting at the counter at Hina with friends for dinner, watching chef Tommy Cleary do course after course (21!) of his chicken yakitori magic over binchotan, and then last Friday, the restaurant announced on Instagram that it’s closing on Saturday August 31st. (You never know when you’re having your last meal somewhere these days.)

There are some sold-out collaboration dinners (you can join the waiting list), and all of August is booked, but I just noticed...

The Ju-Ni team opened the restaurant in September 2019, so the timing could not have been worse, with the pandemic showing up just six months later. The post alludes to some changes (“And stay tuned for details on how our story continues…”), so we’ll have to see what’s next. 808 Divisadero St. at Fulton.

How to strike terror into a San Franciscan’s heart: tell them there was a fire at Liguria Bakery. Mamma mia, no! SFist reported there was a fire related to their century-old brick oven last Friday August 4th (it was “isolated to the stove and kitchen only”), and fortunately, it was quickly contained. There’s no word about the extent of the damages—their outgoing message says they’re closed until further notice. Here’s hoping they’re back tying up parcels of tender focaccia real soon. 1700 Stockton St. at Filbert.

Harmonic Brewing in Dogpatch.
Harmonic Brewing in Dogpatch. Instagram photo via @harmonicbrewing.

More bummer news that I spotted on Instagram: Harmonic Brewing announced their upcoming closure in October, after eight years in Dogpatch. They mention in the post: “Unfortunately, our lease expires Oct 31, and we could not come to a mutual agreement with our new building landlords to continue operating here past then.” Ugh. This spot has done so much to elevate other small businesses and pop-ups, it’s really a shame to see their landlords treat them like this.

But, some good news: “Harmonic will live on through our @harmonic_thrivecity taproom, serving the beer you love and ramping up our live music offerings and other awesome community events. We are also evaluating local partners to continue brewing and distributing our beer with the quality and soul you’ve come to expect from us.” Cheers, gang. 1050 26th St. at Minnesota.

Things keep getting even more intense between China Live and their landlord, 644 Broadway LLC (an affiliate of Cypress Properties). SF Business Times reports the landlord has sued for a third time for alleged breach of contract and owed rent—if you don’t have a Biz Times subscription, you can read the details in this SFGate piece, which also mentions China Live owner George Chen has lined up a new location for China Live that could open within a couple years. We’ll just have to see how this one plays out. 644 Broadway at Stockton.

The news that the OG Philz location on 24th Street in the Mission is closing on October 16th due to their lease ending was initially upsetting and yet another ugh SF story. But then the Mission Local team did some additional research and awesome reporting, and discovered the building is owned by Philz founder’s son and co-founder, Jacob Jaber. Huh. The piece goes on to reveal some pretty terrible worker treatment and workplace conditions, so now the entire shituation is a real bummer for even worse reasons. Smells like burnt coffee. 3101 24th St. at Folsom.

Over in South Park, Caffe Centro has closed after 30-plus years (and two owners). It was such a hotspot in the early 90s—I remember all the Wired magazine folks hanging out and having meetings there (I was trying to get my foot in the door), and I could always get a good shot of espresso there that reminded me of Italy. The Chronicle mentions the workers are trying to buy the business and keep it going; you can follow their updates on Instagram here. 102 S. Park St. at Jack London Alley.

the sponsor

images of hot sauce, olive oil, noodles, bread and the Feed logo

It’s Time for Treats! Have You Placed Your Order with Feed Yet?

Feed recently ran a special offer for tablehopper readers to enjoy $25 off your order of $40 with code tablehopper25.

With Feed’s dynamic social app (download on iOS and Android), you can discover new and emerging brands, connect with fellow foodies and creators (like tablehopper!), and shop over 500 artisanal makers, organic farms, and small businesses—all conveniently delivered to your door (from Rize Up Bakery’s ube sourdough loaf to Frog Hollow Farm’s freshest stone fruit of the season).

A note from Marcia: “I’ve been trawling the virtual shelves of Feed so I could cherry-pick some favorites for you. It can be overwhelming (in the best way) to see so many delicious, small-batch, local, and international treats all at once, so check out my Feed profile (and follow me!) for my faves and top picks. Use my code for $25 off your order of $40 with code tablehopper25.”

Feed ships three times a week throughout California (!), and they have also partnered with Dispatch Goods to provide Bay Area customers the ability to send back their boxes/ice packs and packaging so they can be reused for future shipments. Download the app and check out the Feed feed, where you can see what tablehopper and other users are noshing on, making for dinner, or doing with their anchovies.

the regular

entrance to City View Restaurant
The new entrance to City View Restaurant. Photo: ©

City View Restaurant

Over the weekend, my friend and I headed to Chinatown for dim sum brunch at the newly relocated City View Restaurant, formerly on Commercial Street (for at least 30 years). City View has been a longtime SF dim sum favorite, serving well-executed Cantonese dishes at a nice price.

Open Tue–Fri 11am–2pm, Sat–Sun 10:30am–2:30pm.
33 Walter U Lum Pl. at Washington.

the socialite

Pizzeria Delfina’s annual Cherry Pie.
Pizzeria Delfina’s annual and seasonal Cherry Pie. Photo: Amanda Williams.

You Say ‘Tomato,’ I Say ‘Tomato…Week’ (Happening Now!)

By Savannah Leone Bundy

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association is seeing red with its new Tomato Week celebration. The weeklong promotion (the first in a series of seasonal ingredient–focused events) is highlighting, well, tomatoes with a selection of tomato-forward dishes from restaurants throughout the City.

We have our eyes on Perbacco’s heirloom tomato and pressed watermelon salad (with mint, shiso, pink peppercorn condimento, and ricotta salata); the Early Girl Tomato Sandwich (arugula, fine herbs, anchovy vinaigrette, anchovy aioli, Early Girl tomatoes, potato chips) from Automat; Tomato Tonnato (fried green tomatoes, tonnato sauce) and the iconic, annual Cherry Pie (marinated cherry tomatoes, basil, ricotta salata) from Pizzeria Delfina; and Gialina’s BLT Pizza (organic cherry tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, mozzarella, arugula). Running August 7th–13th, check the link for a list of dishes. Follow @eatdrinksf for updates.

the lush

The Noches en CDMX cocktail at el buen comer
The Noches en CDMX cocktail. Photo: Vladimir Caudillo.

Check Out the New Cocktails at El Buen Comer

Raise your glass: El Buen Comer in La Lengua (Bernal Heights-Mission Street) got a full liquor license, and just launched their new cocktail menu! The next time you come in for chef-owner and La Cocina grad Isabel Pazos Caudillo’s Mexico City home cooking—from her quesadillas to the pambazo to her iconic costillas de puerco en salsa verde con nopales (braised pork ribs with cactus cooked in a green sauce) with the tastiest housemade tortillas—you can enjoy a cocktail or two with your meal. Brunch there just got a little boozy!

The cocktail list includes Maestra Vida (a clarified milk punch with gin, mezcal, pineapple, lime); Buscando Guayabas (vodka, guava, lime juice, elderflower, sparkling rosé); Noches en CDMX (mezcal, pineapple tepache, chamomile, red prickly pear); and El Buen Fizz (pisco, pineapple Jarritos, egg white, lime). One of each, por favor! Lead bar manager Hansel Caudillo and Gibran Garcia (lead bartender at The Bungalow Kitchen–Tiburon) developed the menu together. Open Wed–Thu 10am–8pm, Fri–Sat 10am–8:30pm; Sun 10am–3pm. 3435 Mission St. at Kingston.

the archivist

As the City celebrates the 150th anniversary of one of her most recognizable icons—the cable car—we thought we’d share this totally adorable postcard...

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