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May 15, 2024 13 min read

This week’s tablehopper: softie. (free)

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

what’s cookin’

Chesapeake Bay soft-shell crabs are back on the menu at Hayes Street Grill. Photo: ©
Chesapeake Bay soft-shell crabs are back on the menu at Hayes Street Grill. Photo: ©

I hope you had a swell weekend—did you get to see the aurora borealis? Sis and I drove up to some random hill in San Rafael on Saturday night to escape the fog, but no dice on a sighting. I can’t believe I missed it on Friday night, but at least I had a fun alfresco dinner that evening on the patio at Fisch & Flore (it’s delightfully protected from the wind), I’ll be posting about it soon. If you follow @tablehopper and read my Instagram stories, then you already know F&F just launched weekend brunch (11:30am–3pm).

More flores: on Saturday, I headed over to Clement Nursery to get my annual haul of flowers and herbs to plant on my fire escape. It’s always such a schlep and a bit of a contortionist’s job—I have to climb out my kitchen window, put down paper so all the potting soil doesn’t fall on my neighbors’ fire escapes three floors down, repot all 20 plants on the fire escape (don’t look down!), and then carry out all the dead plants and old soil in paper bags back through my kitchen window. It’s pretty ridiculous, but ultimately worth it when I start seeing butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds enjoying my mini garden (which Fortuna also loves: Kitty Nature TV). Praying I manage to keep my dill alive—I have given up on basil, an impossible thing to grow in my foggy part of the city.

As you can see from today’s main image, it’s soft-shell crab season! When I received the newsletter update from Hayes Street Grill that they were serving softies on the menu over the weekend, I suggested it as an option for Mother’s Day lunch to my family. Fortunately, Mom was up for a low-key and classic SF location to celebrate in. Also fun: I spotted Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) and his family enjoying their Mother’s Day celebration as well at a big table. Great minds, ha!

Our family had a fabulous spring lunch, sharing the Oregon Bay shrimp salad with spring peas, egg, and Green Goddess dressing, plus smoked trout toasts with radishes, and Hog Island Sweetwater oysters to go with our bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvée. The Chesapeake Bay soft-shell crabs ($38) are wondrous, don’t miss them while they’re in season: HSG dips them in buttermilk and seasoned flour, sautés them until crisp, and serves them in a meunière pan sauce of shallots, wine, butter, and parsley (it’s the most fabulous sauce to dip your fries into and clean your plate, my sister even helped). You could pop in for a meal at the bar, treat yourself. Available for lunch and dinner, check for availability by calling 415-863-5355.

One more shoutout for HSG’s extensive dessert list—a rarity these days—with eight options, including the Bête Noire flourless chocolate cake (Mom’s pick), Doris Greenspan’s carrot cake (my pick), and crème brûlée (sissy’s pick).

Since I’m on sweets (but not too sweet!), you should know there’s a new collaborative ice cream with Bi-Rite Creamery and Souvla: Walnut Baklava Cherry Swirl ice cream! It’s a delightfully tangy ice cream (made with Greek yogurt) with a dark Bing cherry syrup swirl and baklava (with ground cinnamon, honey, and toasted walnuts). It’s available by the pint at Bi-Rite Creamery, all Bi-Rite Markets, and all Souvla locations for a limited time.

If you want to escape the 60-degree fog this weekend, don’t forget it’s the Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience (May 16th–19th), and use code tablehopper24 to get 10 percent off à la carte tickets (including Saturday’s Vintners Plaza Grand Tasting). The springtime weather will be gorgeous (hello, 80 degrees), and there’s even a pool party on Sunday.

I’m so glad I played hooky last Thursday and went to Black Sands for the most glorious beach day! Was thinking of all my friends over the years who used to hop in my Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce with me and head over for a sunny beach adventure. My new favorite beach sandwich to pick up is...

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Wishing you a tasty week!
~Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

the chatterbox

The urban-chic interior of the former Le Fantastique. Photo courtesy of Sushi Jang.
The urban-chic interior of the former Le Fantastique. Photo courtesy of Sushi Jang.

Sushi Jang Opens This Week in the Le Fantastique Space in Hayes Valley

New and Casual Openings, from Tacos El Tucán to Mashita Galbi Jjim in Russian Hill

Adobada quesataco, regular taco, and a mulita from Tacos El Tucán in Richmond. Photo: ©
Adobada quesataco, regular taco, and a mulita from Tacos El Tucán in Richmond. Photo: ©

I was driving through the Castro last week and spotted my friends having burritos outside Tacos El Tucán, which just opened in the former Bonita. We are so stoked to have this import from Richmond, known for their Tijuana-style menu of quesatacos, mulitas (they put cheese on both sides, be hungry if you order this), and their red tacos and burritos (the tortilla gets dipped in their birria consommé and is then crisped on the plancha). They even offer keto tacos with a cheese taco shell, which some of the neighborhood gym bunnies will appreciate (know your audience!). While well-known for their birria items, their adobada (marinated pork) is another favorite—although I don’t imagine they have a trompo (vertical spit) at this location, I need to investigate. Time for some tasty research. Open Tue–Sun 11am–9pm. 3600 16th St. at Noe.

Longtime tablehopper reader Amy S. spotted new signage and sent it to me not too long ago for Mashita Galbi Jjim on Russian Hill, and this homey and family-run Korean restaurant has now opened. The name refers to braised beef short-rib stew (Daeho in SF is well-known for their galbi jjim), but supposedly this recipe is the owner’s grandmother’s recipe, and the early reviews are good; it’s served with a variety of banchan, japchae (glass noodles), and rice. Additional items on the menu include chicken wings, beef dumplings, barbecue chicken, pork tonkatsu, and other casual dishes for lunch, dinner, and takeout. Open Tue–Sun 11am–9pm. 2123 Polk St. at Broadway.

Banana split soft-serve cone from The Geez Freeze. Photo: Lorena Masso.
Banana split soft-serve cone from The Geez Freeze. Photo: Lorena Masso.

As the weather continues to hopefully warm up, keep your eyes peeled for The Geez Freeze, a frozen dessert food truck from Gayle Hart. She is a San Francisco-native who was born and raised in The Fillmore, and is in La Cocina’s incubator program. Her menu includes soft-serve ice cream, specialty cones with some creative toppings and combos, sundaes, Italian ices, and frozen daiquiris. Her bright blue truck will be parked on the JFK Promenade across from the Conservatory of Flowers Thursdays to Sundays from 12pm–5pm.

Smell That? Arizmendi Ninth Avenue Has Reopened!

The carb-tastic window at Arizmendi 9th Ave. (in 2021). Photo: ©
The carb-tastic window at Arizmendi 9th Ave. (in 2021). Photo: ©

Great news: Arizmendi 9th Ave. in the Inner Sunset is back in action after getting their new oven installed (a fire damaged their equipment in the fall of 2023). They were able to keep operating with one oven until they closed completely on February 26th for the oven installation and construction, and now the neighborhood can get their focaccia fix once again. Open Tue–Sun 7:30am–6pm. 1331 9th Ave. at Irving.

Making Moves: Rosemary & Pine’s New Digs and Daytime Concept

The new fried chicken sandwich at Rosemary & Pine. Photo courtesy of Rosemary & Pine.
The new fried chicken sandwich at Rosemary & Pine. Photo courtesy of Rosemary & Pine.

Over in the Design District, Rosemary & Pine (part of the Omakase Restaurant Group) has moved just a few blocks away—in a space that was previously Dumpling Time Express—and reopens this Thursday May 16th, with a bit of a concept change as well. The new location will be focused on daily breakfast and lunch service, with weekend brunch (I know, folks are gonna miss that veal Parm).

Executive chef Dustin Falcon’s menu has new items like stracciatella toast ($9) with balsamic and honey-roasted grapes, plus salads, soups, and sandwiches, like a fried chicken sandwich with furikake-ranch coleslaw and housemade gochujang aioli that can all be made to go; weekend brunch faves like eggs Benedict with Benton’s country ham and a shiso Hollandaise, and the buttermilk biscuit with sausage gravy and a sunny-side egg will come over to the new 48-seat location (12 of those seats are outside). You can also come over early for coffee and fresh milk bread donuts (available every day until 11am). Open Mon–Fri 8am–2pm and Sat–Sun 9am–2pm. 55 Division St. at Rhode Island.

Upcoming Projects: Tofino Wines, Ben Tre Restaurant Coming to SF, The Nosh Box SF in SoMa, the Latest Vacant to Vibrant Pop-Ups

The upcoming Inner Richmond location for Tofino Wines.
The upcoming Inner Richmond location for Tofino Wines.

The next round of Vacant to Vibrant storefronts coming to downtown this June has been announced, including Aurora Centro from Dario Barbone of Potrero Hill’s Aurora Alimentari (read more in this piece from 48 Hills about what he’s cooking up), plus Paper Son Coffee, the awesome Koolfi Creamery in San Leandro, boba tea from JUMA Ventures’ Steep Creamery, and more. Eight of the businesses in the original cohort have extended their stay (including Teranga, Devil’s Teeth Bakery, Rosalind Bakery, and Whack! Donuts); read their current hours and locations here.

This Year’s Tasty Lineup of 100 Restaurants and Vendors at Outside Lands 

My fellow lover of prints, Fabien Santos of Merkdao (and their killer nachos). Photo: ©

This year’s food lineup (Taste of the Bay Area) for Outside Lands (August 9th–11th) just dropped, featuring 100 restaurants (94 percent are from POC- and female-led restaurateurs and chefs). 16 are new, including SF old-timers Saigon Sandwich (serving banh mi and nachos) and Mandalay Restaurant (recently honored with the 2024 James Beard America’s Classics Award, serving Burmese-Style Curry Chicken, Kaw Soi Dok Noodles, Tea Leaf Salad); Gumbo Social (Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, Vegan Mushroom Gumbo, Fried Shrimp Po’ Boys); Ramen Shop (Shoyu Ramen w/ Chashu Pork, Vegetable Fried Rice, Pork Lumpia, Pickled Cucumbers); exclusive smashburger tacos, quesadillas, and nachos from the recently closed Copas; Bette’s (Chicken Parm Sandwiches, Korean Tofu Parm Sandwiches, Loaded Parm Fries); Tokachi Musubi (a La Cocina entrepreneur, with Crab Salad Musubi with Ikura, Furikake Edamame); Hayz Dog (Loaded Chili Frito Hot Dogs, Loaded Elote Hot Dogs); Wah Jee Wah (Masala Mac & Cheese, Indian BBQ Rice Bowls, Grilled Lamb Wraps, Chai Tea); and Wooly Pig (Curry Udon w/ Fried Chicken, Asian Cubanos).

Head over to Cocktail Magic for Mediterranean Pita Burgers, Fried Calamari Po’ Boys, and Blooming Fried Oyster Mushrooms from Dalida (who will also be located in the Golden Gate Club), as well as Chicken Kara-age, Japanese Potato Salad, and Shishito Peppers from Bar Iris.

Also new this year is Bites of the Bay, a tasty add-on for $20 that lets you access and enjoy up to 20 snack-sized bites (sold separately!) on secret snack menus at over 70 participating Bay Area restaurant partners, including a smashburger slider from Smish Smash, a mini lobster roll from Woodhouse Fish Co., half-order of bulgogi mandu dumplings from, half birria grilled cheese from El Garage, and a sweet treat from Out the Dough with their mini cookie dough sundae.

Nepalese momo dumplings from Bini’s Kitchen. Photo: ©
Nepalese momo dumplings (with their magic spicy tomato sauce) from Bini’s Kitchen. Photo: ©

Returning favorites include Bini’s Kitchen (Nepalese Momo Dumplings, Gurkha Chicken Rice Plates), Bodega SF (Pancetta Lo Mein, Pho Ga Chicken Soup), El Garage (Quesabirria Tacos, Vegan Al Pastor Tacos, and their new Birria Grilled Cheeses), Fowl + Fare (Citric Hot Fried Chicken Sandwiches, Fried Chicken Sandwiches w/ Pear Slaw), Jo’s Modern Thai (Brisket Drunken Noodles, Jo's Party Wings, Pork Laab Burgers), Merkado (serving Vampiro Tacos, Impossible Nachos, Birria Ramen, Chicken Adobo Rice Bowls this year), My Friend Fernando (Baja-Style Tortas, Hot Pork Milanesa Tortas, Birria Fries, Reem’s California (Sumac Chicken Flatbread Wraps, Vegan Za’atar Flatbread Wraps, Arab-Style Garlic Fries), and so many more!

New VIP vendors include Kantine (offering House-Smoked Trout Bowls, Savory Mushroom Porridge, and Cardamom Knots), joining A16, Bohemian Creamery, Woodhouse Fish Co. (with Lobster Rolls and Clam Chowder Bread Bowls), and others.

In Memoriam

Dearly departed Steven Liles. Instagram photo via @smugglerscovesf.
Dearly departed Steven Liles. Instagram photo via @smugglerscovesf.

We’ve had some tragic losses in the food and beverage community the past few weeks. The bar world was rocked with the sudden death a couple weeks ago of beloved bartender and man-about-town Steven Liles, who provided a warm welcome and expertly made tiki cocktails at Smuggler’s Cove for over a decade. The past couple weeks, my social media has been full of heartfelt homages to his kind spirit, talent, love of SF, his flair, and his cheeky grin (and chuckle) from under his fedora. This post from Smuggler’s Cove was especially poignant, with many comments from adoring industry folks and friends. I was waiting for a more formal obituary to come out to share, but came across this post from Imbibe, which includes some excerpts about his life and bartending history from an interview with him, in his own words. We raise our glasses, high, to this true San Franciscan.

Rest in light, Kiri Fisher. Instagram photo via @kiri_fisher.
Rest in light, Kiri Fisher. Instagram photo via @kiri_fisher.

Another devastating loss was the passing of Kiri Fisher from a rare cancer at the end of April—she was just 45. Awful. I met her back in 2006 when she was the publisher of TODO, a monthly magazine in taxicabs, and our paths crossed again when she took over The Cheese School of San Francisco in 2011. We always connected as fellow entrepreneurs, and members of our city’s tight food community. Be sure to read this thoughtful In Memoriam from Janet Fletcher. (From the post: “The American Cheese Education Foundation has created the Kiri Fisher Memorial Scholarship to fund membership in the American Cheese Society for an independent entrepreneur in the cheese industry, as well as registration and travel expenses to the society’s annual conference.”) I know her family and friends are just reeling, I hear her bravery and deeply soulful manner of handling her imminent death were just astounding. You can read a message from her family here.

Au Chung watching the Taurids meteor shower in 2018, now with the stars. Instagram photo via @goldenstateau.
Au Chung watching the Taurids meteor shower in 2018, now with the stars. Instagram photo via @goldenstateau.

And I can’t believe I’m writing a third announcement about a tragic death in our local F&B industry, but the dynamic Au Chung has passed after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia just back in December. Her younger sister, Wah (who was the donor for Au’s successful bone marrow transplant in March of this year—her leukemia was cured!) posted the heartbreaking update that Au died from complications and was later diagnosed with two rare and severe diseases following the chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant. It all happened so fast. Au was adored by so many folks in the close-knit wine community, as well as her industry family from her time as a sommelier and captain at Hakkasan, Benu, Atelier Crenn, and Manresa, and her cannabis community (she has been a cannabis sommelier/certified Ganjier for the past few years). 

Sending love and healing and so much compassion to everyone who is suffering from the sudden loss of these three extraordinary people in our local food and beverage community. 

the lush

Union Square’s Pacific Cocktail Haven will host several SF AAPI Cocktail Week fĂŞtes and functions throughout the five-day affair. Photo courtesy of Pacific Cocktail Haven. 
Union Square’s PCH will host several SF AAPI Cocktail Week fêtes and functions throughout the five-day affair. Photo courtesy of Pacific Cocktail Haven

SF AAPI Cocktail Week Returns for its Second Year

By Savannah Leone Bundy

May is Asian American and Pacific Heritage Month, and the festivities continue with AAPI Cocktail Week San Francisco happening Sunday May 19th–Thursday May 23rd. Marcia mentioned the upcoming celebration last week (and dropped the link for tickets since events are already selling out) and we’ve got more event deets below!

Things kick off on Sunday night with a party at Pacific Cocktail Haven hosted by VirtĂą Tokyo (SOLD OUT!) and continue through the week with multiple educational experiences—including talks on Polynesian hospitality, the do’s and don’ts of carbonation, a free-pour bartending seminar—plus the Fastest Hands of the West cocktail-making competition, and a series of parties, pop-ups, and happy hour events. 

Monday’s Pacific Islander party at Heartwood—featuring food, music, and drinks from Hawaii’s top bartenders—is also a fundraiser for Maui Relief and proceeds from the $50 ticket sales will help provide shelter and necessities for those affected by natural disasters on the island. 

The finale event is a blow-out celebration at Kona’s on Thursday May 23rd, highlighting the best AAPI bars with featured Bay Area bartenders from Dragonhorse, Viridian, Haberdasher, Alter Ego, Abacá, Pabu, special guests from Mister Paradise in NYC, and more. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased, along with reservations to the rest of the events, here.  

the sponsor

A Free Spirits No-Groni was on the custom cocktail list by West Bev Consulting for Bohemian Sunday at the Savoy Tivoli: a Renewal Party from tablehopper. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.
A Free Spirits No-Groni was on the custom cocktail list by West Bev Consulting for Bohemian Sunday at the Savoy Tivoli: a Renewal Party from tablehopper. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

Make a No-Groni (or Low-Groni!) and Even More Quality N/A Cocktails with Free Spirits

Here’s your chance to score a discounted bundle from Free Spirits, the company behind the Non-Alcoholic Negroni at tablehopper’s Bohemian Sunday event last month. Located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, The Free Spirits Company makes non-alcoholic alternatives to bourbon, gin, tequila, sweet vermouth, and red-bitter aperitivi (like Campari or Aperol) that are infused with B-Vitamins to help elevate your mood, your energy, and your social experience. 

With Free Spirits, you’re in control of how much alcohol is in your cocktail. For a non-alcoholic cocktail, replace your favorite spirit 1:1, or for a low-proof cocktail, split the base 50/50 with Free Spirits. Same great cocktails, less alcohol = more cocktails.

Grab the Negroni bundle at an extra 15% off (the onetime code TABLEHOPPER is already applied) and recapture the tasty magic guests experienced at Bohemian Sunday. Not craving a Negroni? The TABLEHOPPER code will work for 15 percent off anything on the Free Spirits site, including their brand-new, ready-to-drink Margaritas, which are ready for your next beach day or picnic. Enjoy free shipping (for a limited time)! Cheers.

the archivist

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