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Nov 29, 2023 12 min read

This week’s tablehopper: ready to start elfing. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: ready to start elfing. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

the glowing 555 California tree after the rain
The 555 California tree in 2021. Photo: ©

Hello, hopper posse. Greetings from El Sicko, yours truly, who has been home now for 17 days with various viruses from hell. I’m finally feeling a bit better today, but still homebound, super snuffly, and not capable of tasting very well (so freaky, please stop). Fun! Thanks to all of you who wrote in with so many remedies, from saltwater mouth washing to help get some taste back before eating (wild), to Umcka (trying it!), to green tea capsules and Vitamin C from acerola to boost immunity, and the healing powers of wonton soup from Henry’s Hunan (I concur!). I look forward to finally heading out for some holiday cheer soon with real, live people—Fortuna really doesn’t offer much in the way of scintillating conversation, but she sure does make me laugh.

On Sunday, I sent an email about the tablehopper Hella Cyber Subscription Sale, offering 30 percent off all annual subscriptions. This is the best price you’re going to see, so I'd hop on it before it expires tonight at midnight!

I’m running this sale because I need to hit my end-of-the-year goal in order to make this year’s newsletter relaunch and new business model work. I’ve been spending a LOT of time (you don’t even know) and money on this relaunch over the past two years. tablehopper is member-supported and depends upon readers like you to be willing to spend what equates to a matcha latte (just $8.69/month!) every month to keep things chugging over here. That’s it!

Take 30 percent off an annual subscription until midnight this Wednesday (November 29th). That’s just $104.30/year (almost $45 off!), and the best deal of the year!

Start getting all the extra content, perks, hot tips, and insider access tablehopper supporting subscribers enjoy, now for just $8.69/month, the cost of a regular burrito at El Farolito (no cheese). But a tablehopper subscription is super, baby.

Feel like leveling up? Take 30 percent off a Patron subscription and really put some gas in my tank (and enjoy some great perks). Your subscription also helps subsidize a subscription for someone who can’t afford one! Thank you!

But here’s the pro holiday move: Super Patrons get 30 percent off an annual subscription, and they also receive an extra subscription that they can gift to whoever they want! So, it’s a win/win for you, me (thanks!), and one lucky recipient of a gift subscription 🎁 to tablehopper (one size fits all!).

Thank you so much for supporting my work. As a member-supported and independent publication (17 years and counting!), I really can’t do this without you. And I have some really exciting things coming up for subscribers in 2024, so get on board now! 🚀

More exciting news! I know I said last year was the last Hopper Holiday Gift Bag, something I started during the pandemic to help show support to local food businesses. Sadly, the logistics were just too much for this busy lady to manage (and weren’t making my holidays very fun—although I always loved meeting so many of you on the bag stuffing and delivery days!). But huge thanks to my recent sponsorship and collaboration partner Feed, because we’re going to be able to bring it back! 

This year’s bag will be the tablehopper’s Taste of San Francisco box. And here’s the best part: Feed will be able to deliver the box all up and down the West Coast, as well as to Phoenix, Scottsdale, Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, and more! I knowwwww, you can get a tablehopper’s Taste of San Francisco box sent to your doorstep here in the City, and easily ship one to your cousin in Seattle! We’re almost done finalizing the lineup of oh-so-delicious, unique, gourmet products from local restaurants and makers—look for updates very soon on @tablehopper on Instagram and in next week’s newsletter! And tablehopper supporting subscribers will also get a special perk in their holiday box! Thanks for all your support!

In the midst of all the sales and shopping, we can’t forget to look out for our community organizations! Today is Giving Tuesday, and I wanted to direct attention to a few of my favorite local orgs who could use your generous support!

  • Today, all Giving Tuesday gifts to the SF-Marin Food Bank will be tripled (until midnight) by Wells Fargo Bank. The food bank helps provide crucial support to so many people. In a recent survey of more than 9,000 Food Bank participants, 54 percent said that the rising cost of groceries alone was forcing them to cut back on food. And during the holidays—when food is so emotionally tied to good times with loved ones—the struggle of affording groceries is especially difficult.
  • Help Foodwise support small family farms and feed (and educate!) our Bay Area community. All donations today will be matched (up to $15K), thanks to a generous group of Foodwise supporters.
  • For Giving Tuesday, all donations to KQED will be doubled today (until midnight). Update: this is still going!
  • Can you imagine SF without La Cocina? Donate and support the future of so many talented food entrepreneurs.
  • Some of you may remember a few years ago when I went to Thailand with Pencils for Kids, an organization dedicated to helping children in need in developing countries attend school. Donate a backpack full of school supplies and a school uniform and help build the foundation for education and a better future.

Thanks for your support to these (and many many other) wonderful organizations who need our help this year, now more than ever.

Today’s issue has a little bit of news for you, but is mostly about holiday meals, cocktails, experiences, and festive ways to enjoy the City! (Just so you know, the subscriber newsletter is a 20-minute read!) I’ll be posting more in next week’s column, including a hopper gift guide. I hope to see you on the town.

If you’re out and about this weekend (December 2nd–3rd), get ready to spot 100 drag queens and kings around the City, who will be performing from 1pm–6pm near popular street corners and LGBTQ+-owned businesses! San Francisco Is a Drag! is from the Civic Joy Fund, collaborating with legends D’Arcy Drollinger, Honey Mahogany, and Juanita MORE!

Saturday performances: North Beach/Chinatown; Pacific Heights; Polk Gulch/Nob Hill; Union Square/Mid-Market/Theatre District; SOMA. Sunday performances: The Castro; Haight Ashbury; Hayes Valley; Lower Haight; Mission Dolores/Mission. Go to for access to performance locations and a real-time drag map. Here’s to elevating voices and creating a safe space for expression, joy, and acceptance. Werq! 👠

~Marcia (AKA Champers the elf)

the chatterbox

Stonemill Matcha exterior in blue with tables out front
Stonemill Matcha when it opened on Valencia in May 2018. Photo: ©

An Unexpected Comeback: Stonemill Matcha Returns! Plus: an Update on Palmer’s Tavern

I have a couple updates for you, starting with the surprising news that Stonemill Matcha on Valencia will be returning after all, thanks to Japanese neighbor Taishoken, famed for their housemade ramen and tsukemen. I didn’t see this one coming! The neighborhood was so sorry to see this Mission favorite close in August after five years on Valencia, serving all their matcha drinks and incredible matcha cream pie (a favorite) and katsu sandwiches.

Mission Local reports: “A chef at Taishoken, Yosuke Tajiri, will head Stonemill, according to an employee at Taishoken … ‘We will keep the same menu,’ said Tajiri, working in Stonemill’s kitchen on Monday afternoon. He said he might add a few new items on the menu, but prefers not to reveal too many details for now. He wasn’t sure when the reopen date will be, but ‘hopefully in December.’” How fantastic, right? 561 Valencia St. at 17th St.

The bright-orange exterior of Palmer’s Tavern.
The exterior of Palmer’s Tavern. Photo: ©

I can’t for the life of me recall which media outlets previously covered this story (I couldn’t find it online), but a tablehopper reader let me know that there’s still a sign in the window of Palmer’s Tavern on Fillmore saying that they’re “closed for renovations due to water damage from a burst pipe in the unit above the restaurant” and the sign in the window mentioned repairs would take “several months.” The flood occurred on September 14th, so I reached out for an update and owner Sam Fechheimer says they “will have to do quite an extensive remodel. Hopefully construction can start early January and should take about four months. However this is SF and really all depends on the permitting necessary.” Ain’t that the painful truth. Here’s hoping they can reopen by springtime. There’s a GoFundMe to help support Palmer’s employees. 2298 Fillmore St. at Clay.

ROOH Founders Bring Pan-Indian Cuisine to the East Bay with Pippal, a New, Casual Dining Concept

Pippal’s Goan chorizo and chicken tikka trio
Pippal’s Goan chorizo and chicken tikka trio are on the top of the “to try” list. Photo courtesy of @eatatpippal

By Savannah Leone Bundy

In the East Bay, Emeryville just got a chic new Indian spot from Anu and Vikram Bhambri (the folks who brought you ROOH Progressive Indian) called Pippal Regional Indian. Pippal (pronounced like “people”) is a celebration of dishes and techniques from regions spanning the entirety of India, and aims to put a “casual, yet modern twist on traditional cuisine.” 

The fast casual-meets-upscale dining space, located on the second level of Emeryville’s Bay Street shopping center, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony last week to mark its grand opening and preview items from the inaugural menu. The evening began with live music and glasses of bubbly passed around the outdoor fire table, while bowls of brightly colored far far (similar to Mexican duros) were conveniently scattered about—crispy, crunchy, and spiced to perfection—making a delightful accompaniment to the craft cocktails that came out next.

The cocktail menu is also inspired by India’s geography, and features concoctions such as the Howrah Bridge (bourbon, Jaan paan liqueur, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters), representing Kolkata; the Red Fort (gin, Aperol, strawberry, pink peppercorn, lemon juice, egg white), a reference to the historic fort in Delhi; the Jim Corbett (gin, green chartreuse, green apple, basil leaf, lemon juice, egg white), named for Uttarakhand’s famed national park; and my personal favorite (and I’m an infrequent rum drinker!), the CST (rum, Campari, caramelized pineapple, acid orange, fizzy coconut water), a nod to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Bombay (Marcia visited this jaw-dropping train station during her stay in Mumbai in 2010, you can check out some images starting here). 

The procession of small bites that followed gave tribute to Punjab state with lightly battered, expertly fried fish Amritsari; Chennai and Bangalore with pan-seared momo dumplings; Mumbai with vada pav—a potato-based fritter served slider-style on a warm, pillowy roll; and Kolkata with chicken kathi rolls (slow-cooked chicken wrapped in warm paratha bread and topped with mint chutney). I had to go back for seconds of the pepper fry prawns (a popular Tamil dish), and definitely recommend the gongura (sorrel) chicken fritters. I’m looking forward to visiting again for the Kerala Dungeness crab masala and Goan chorizo pulao (a seasoned rice dish that calls attention to the Portuguese influence in southern Indian cuisine).

Pippal is open now Mon–Sat 10am–8pm and Sun 11am–6pm. 5614 Bay St. #235, Emeryville. 

The Festival of Lights Is Almost Here and It Already Smells Like Latkes

One Market’s delicious Hanukkah dinner includes brisket and latkes!
One Market’s delicious Hanukkah dinner. Photo courtesy of One Market.

It’s latke season, with Hanukkah beginning the evening of Thursday December 7th, through Friday December 15th. If you want to go out for latkes and save yourself from cooking at home with messy oil, be sure to visit One Market for Latkepalooza (December 1st–23rd), when they offer a variety of latkes with different toppings (will the Philly cheesesteak latke return this year?).

For Hanukkah (December 7th–15th), they’re doing a three-course meal for $59 per person, featuring Mark ’n Mike’s matzo ball soup (these balls are so tasty, even more than Schweddy Balls); 12-hour smoked beef brisket with farro, pomegranate molasses–glazed carrots, and a rich onion gravy; and traditional sufganiyot for dessert. (This sounds so good that this shiksa may need to visit!) 1 Market St. at Steuart.

I’ll be sharing more in my @tablehopper Instagram stories as I see things—Pomella in Oakland always does something for Hanukkah!

More Special Holiday Menus and Festive Experiences

lineup of holiday cocktails at The Vault Garden’s Winter Wonderland
The lineup of holiday cocktails at The Vault Garden’s Winter Wonderland. Photo courtesy of The Vault Garden.

The Vault Garden is hosting their Winter Wonderland again this year (into January), with a fully tented, expansive outdoor space, all-new lounge seating, and an outdoor bar, with fun decorations and a ringside seat view of the twinkling 555 California Christmas tree at San Francisco’s Bank of America Plaza. Enjoy festive cocktails by Kate Bolton and bites off their regular menu. Tue–Sat; reserve. 555 California St. at Kearny...

A supporting subscriber said this about this week’s column: “You outdid even yourself on this one!!! Thanks for all the hard work in bringing us the best of SF during the holidaze.” Subscribe and don’t miss out!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Meals, from Brunch Buffets to Feasts of the Seven Fishes

private room at A16
The glowing private party room at A16. Photo via @a16sf.

Christmas Eve (Sunday December 24th)

Cruising through OpenTable and Resy listings, you’d be surprised at how many places are open for Christmas Eve dinner, from Perbacco to China Live to Amber India to Gold Mirror—punch in the date and take a look! But here are spots offering special meals and menus for the occasion:

A16 is hosting a Feast of the Seven Fishes (La Vigilia) at both their locations, check out the menu here (the fregola dish sounds fantastico). Served 12pm–9:30pm.

I spent waaaaaayyyyyyy too much time writing up all these dinners and experiences to do it for free—this sick elf was burning the midnight oil. Buy a monthly subscription and support my work and time, thanks! Love, Champers 🥂

A few restaurants I was looking at haven’t released their special menus yet, like 54 Mint, Seven Hills/Collina, and more. I’ll be sharing additional Christmas Eve menus on @tablehopper in my Stories in coming days.

grand Garden Court at The Palace Hotel.
The grand Garden Court at The Palace Hotel. Photo: ©

Christmas Day (Monday December 25th)

Be sure to look above in the Christmas Eve piece for a few more Christmas Day mentions (bolded). I’ll be sharing additional Christmas Day menus on @tablehopper in my Stories in coming days.

the socialite

holiday wreath and candles
Learn to make a wreath at 1 Hotel San Francisco’s holiday event. Photo courtesy of 1 Hotel.

Get Crafty This Holiday Season

Starting Saturday December 2nd, 1 Hotel San Francisco is offering a variety of holiday events, from a wreath-making workshop to candle-making: 

Saturday 12/2–Holiday Wreath Making Workshop ft. Natalie B.

Sunday 12/10–Holiday Candle Making Workshop ft. Penrose Apothecary

Saturday 12/16–Mindful Mixology Masterclass: Holiday Edition

Additional events include a Holiday Happy Hour ft. Muttville Senior Dog Rescue and more. View all events here (including Christmas Eve and Day meals). 

Look for Terrene’s covered and heated Embarcadero patio to be transformed into an Après-Ski Chalet experience (through January 19th). There will be special warming cocktails, and fondue made with an assortment of Cowgirl Creamery cheeses.  

the lush

Grandma Cozies eggnog at The Summer Place’s Mistletoe pop-up
Grandma Cozies eggnog at The Summer Place’s Mistletoe pop-up. Photo: ©

It’s Time to Plan Your Own Holiday Spirits Tour of the City

Every holiday season, I love to get together with various friends and my sissy for my annual and unofficial Holiday Spirits Tour! It changes every year, depending upon who’s throwing parties, and which bars have the best cocktails (and décor!). It’s always a great night for the elves to get together, check out the holiday lights, and get lit.

Supporting subscribers get alllllll my Holiday Spirits insider tips! I’ve put together an extensive and personal list of where to go for holiday cheer—there are more than 10 bars and festive locations on my list, I hope you get to see it (and score the best eggnog)! Subscribe now—even for just a month and get the ’nog. And don’t miss this last day of the subscription sale!

the archivist

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