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Jul 20, 2023 10 min read

This week’s tablehopper: stars and stealie. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: stars and stealie. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

drone show at the final Dead & Company tour concert with the steal your face symbol
The drone show at the final Dead & Company tour concert was out to steal your face. Photo: ©
You’re reading the free version of the tablehopper newsletter, which shows up a day later than the paid version, with less info, pictures, and insider tips! Become a supporting subscriber and get the full scoop.

Hi, it’s me! I know some of you have been wondering where your Tuesday tablehopper was, and between attending the final Dead & Company tour show on Sunday night and the 2023 California Michelin Guide awards parties on Tuesday night, you can just imagine why I decided to postpone my column a day. (And you’re on the free plan, so you get this a day later.) Your hopper has been out laaaaate both of those nights, but I have some fun reports from the field for you.

Tuesday night, restaurant teams from all over California gathered at Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland for the 2023 Michelin Guide California awards. It was great to see so many chefs and restaurant industry folks from LA hanging out with our NorCal industry, it’s fun to mix things up. I just posted a bunch of pics and videos in my Instagram Stories (here’s the highlight since you’re getting this later)—you can see the pre-party, award ceremony highlights, and a couple snaps from the after party at Nari. It was invigorating to hang out, catch up, and see so many of you!

Michelin one-star winners for the 2023 California guide
New Michelin one-star winners for the 2023 California guide. Photo: ©

Some of my personal thoughts about the awards: I was particularly thrilled to see Aphotic (check out my Instagram posts about my recent meal here and here) and Chez Noir in Carmel-by-the-Sea each get a star (you may recall my recent profile of Chez Noir and here’s my Instagram post)—I really enjoyed my recent dining experiences at both restaurants; Aphotic also got a Green Star for their sustainable seafood practices. Pomet in Oakland also got a Green Star—did you know that 15 of the 17 Green-Starred restaurants in North America are in California? And congrats to Nari on finally getting a star!

I do find it strange that so many of our top sushi counters here in SF went unmentioned (subscribers can see my favorite omakase experiences in The Hopper Notebook). Same goes for some of our best restaurants that didn’t get a Bib Gourmand last week, like Besharam, Lily (call me biased since chef Rob Lam is a friend, but still), Ernest (come on now!), The Anchovy Bar, and Prubechu, just to name a few. Don’t get me started!

But overall, it was uplifting to see so many talented folks in our local industry get some shine, especially as they try to recover from the pandemic during these exceedingly tough times here in SF. It’ll be interesting to see where we’re at next year—there’s a lot brewing and changing and developing. (And closing: please think about visiting a favorite restaurant that is downtown or in SoMa, they’d love to see you.)

Another big whoosh of optimism was sparked by having the Dead & Company final tour shows in town this past weekend. People were coming into SF from all over—every day on my walk through the Panhandle last week, I’d see friendly folks in tie-dye shirts and vintage Grateful Dead concert tees. It was a big gathering of the tribe for one last blowout and smoke out and trip out, and spirits were definitely high. Having a lot of Deadhead energy in the City was pretty great—it felt like good ole SF vibes.

I was so lucky to attend the final show at Oracle Park on Sunday night (thanks to longtime tablehopper reader Gnocco for the hook-up), you can see the incredible song lineup for the four-hour show here. We were on the field, and the acoustics of 40,000 people in the stands singing along to Samson and Delilah, Sugar Magnolia, and Franklin’s Tower was something I’ll never forget. And don’t miss my video of the drone show, it was truly mind-blowing. What a finale. Just wow. Thanks for all the memories, all these years.

We all floated out of the stadium on a happy cloud, and it felt so right to cap the night with a pint of Anchor Steam at the Hotel Utah. (I know many of us are now hoping for a miracle with that whole shituation, may the right people help buy and save the 127-year-old brewery.) I’m so ready for an amazing comeback story.

“Nothin’ shakin’ on shakedown street, used to be the heart of town
Don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart, you just gotta poke around

You think you’ve seen this town clear through (well, well, well, you can never tell)
Nothin’ here that could int’rest you (well, well, well, you can never tell)
It's not because you missed out on the thing that we had to start.”

~ Shakedown Street, Grateful Dead

Fare thee well. 🌹

the chatterbox

Chef Matt Horn and his namesake Matty Burger
Chef Matt Horn and his namesake Matty Burger at the new Matty’s Old Fashioned. Photo: ©

Matt Horn’s Latest Project, Matty’s Old Fashioned, Opens in Old Oakland

Last week, yours truly headed over to Old Oakland to check out the soft opening of Matty’s Old Fashioned, before the official opening this Thursday July 20th. It’s the latest project from chef-restaurateur Matt Horn and the recently formed AH2 Hospitality group (with culinary director Kevin Schant, formerly of MINA Group and most recently at Pabu for six years; COO John Costello; and Nina Horn, vice president of operations), joining Horn Barbecue and Kowbird (Oakland and at The Sundry in Las Vegas).

This concept has been in the works for a while (I remember attending the pop-up in March 2021), and it’s now featuring a New American menu highlighting some upscale diner dishes, with Matt’s nostalgic burger at the heart of it. It’s an opportunity for him to explore dishes beyond barbecue and Kowbird’s lineup of fried chicken.

Caesar salad and the neon sign at Matty’s Old Fashioned
Caesar salad and the neon sign at Matty’s Old Fashioned. Photo: ©

You can start with their take on a Caesar salad ($19), with a creamy dressing coating the crisp Little Gem leaves, with boquerones, cured egg yolk, and buttery brioche croutons. A fave was the dry-aged meatball (there are actually two, $18) in a pool of brûléed mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce that you will happily be dunking the accompanying crostini into—the meatballs are juicy, springy, and hella savory, featuring a trifecta of veal, pork, and beef, and a mix of cheeses that includes aged Parmesan, ricotta salata, and mozzarella, with breadcrumbs, parsley, and more.

Additional dippers: pretzels (shaped like a plump breadstick, $14) with cheese dip (made with cream, American cheese, and ghost pepper cheese), and the sea dip ($21) of crab and shrimp (with celery, red onion, crème fraîche, mayo, Parmesan, and topped with a head-on prawn that is grilled and brûléed), inspired by a family recipe. There are also fried Brussels sprouts and a house salad (both $16).

matty burger at matty's old fashioned
The Matty Burger. Photo: ©

The Matty Burger ($26) is a double stack of dry-aged beef patties that are bathed in beef tallow and clarified butter (buckle up)...

The location was previously the longtime New World Vegetarian, and the new design (by Matt Horn) allows the classic Old Town Oakland bone structure to really come through. The room has a classic supperclub-meets-cigar bar feeling, with diamond-patterned wallpaper, a painted tin ceiling, exposed brick walls, and low-slung and well-padded grey-blue chairs with wood slat sides and backs that you can sink into. The overall palette features tones of blues and greys, with a pop of hot pink from the neon sign at the entrance.

Hours to start are Tue–Sat 5pm–10pm. Book a reservation on Tock for now. Instagram: @mattyburgers. 464 8th St. at Broadway, Oakland.

One quick note about Horn Barbecue: it’s now open for dinner Thu–Sun 5pm–9pm, with smoked brisket, spare ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, hot links, and alllll the sides ready for you.

A Closure and Big Changes Coming to the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

La Cocina Municipal Marketplace window
The La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Photo courtesy of La Cocina.

Some tough news from La Cocina about the Municipal Marketplace—after two-plus years of trying to navigate through the pandemic in the toughest neighborhood in the City, La Cocina is closing and converting the food hall concept to an incubator kitchen and small-scale café. You can read this piece by Heather Knight (side note: who just announced she’s leaving the Chronicle after 20 years to become the San Francisco bureau chief for The New York Times) about all the challenges La Cocina has been facing, from massive private security costs to greatly diminished foot traffic. But it hasn’t closed yet—there are still seven businesses in there who would love your support until they close on September 1st.

Here’s more from La Cocina’s Instagram post: “La Cocina is an incubator program that provides affordable commercial kitchen space, technical assistance, and access to sales for primarily BIPOC and immigrant women food businesses. So, this change in format for the Marketplace is our way of adapting to the economic reality we’re facing, which includes not getting enough sales. The hope is to reduce our expenses and make it accessible to more businesses in our incubator program.

La Paloma (formerly the Marketplace bar) will remain open to the public with a smaller-scale cafe featuring pop ups of La Cocina businesses. And we’ll continue to make the space available for entrepreneur trainings, events, community access, and workspace for La Cocina staff.

Until then, the seven talented chefs currently in the Marketplace need your support and will be serving mind-glowingly delicious food until Sept. 1.

We were attempting to do something here that can and should happen in every city in America — a place that provides economic opportunities for working-class immigrant and women-of-color small businesses while creating jobs and a welcoming, inclusive, and affordably delicious space for working-class residents and people who want to eat with purpose.

Places like the Marketplace can’t live on admiration alone. They require support. Come down and see what our Marketplace community is creating, bring your friends, eat, get catering. And when we re-open in our new format, come support all the businesses who will be popping up here. We love our city. We love the Tenderloin. Let’s do what we can to create a vibrant, inclusive and supportive reality. Thanks so much to the City and everyone who has shown up and especially the Tenderloin community and partners who have opened their arms to us and providing so much support along the way. We’ll see you at the Marketplace for lunch.”

I want to thank the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace for being our partner for the Hopper Holiday Gift Bag—they were wonderful (as always) to work with, and here’s the list of some marketplace favorites I sent to everyone who bought a gift bag.

Here are some highlights:

  • Teranga: mango salad, peanut stew/maafe bowl, pizza pulaar, and get the immunity boosting ginger baobab drink
  • Bini’s Kitchen: the turkey/veg momos!
  • Los Cilantros: any of her tostadas, and if you ever see her pineapple tamal, do it
  • Boug Cali: try the shrimp Caesar, shrimp po’boy, or her bonfire wrap with shrimp or jerk chicken (it’s like a burrito)
  • Estrellita’s Snacks: her choriqueso pupusas!
  • Mi Morena: fish tacos (tacos de pescado capeado)
  • Kayma: anything from the grill, but definitely their merguez and their kus kus chicken bowl

The new hours are Mon–Fri 11am–3pm. 101 Hyde St. at Golden Gate.

Giuliana’s Just for You Cafe Due to Open in Dogpatch in August

exterior of the upcoming Giuliana’s Just for You Cafe
The exterior of the upcoming Giuliana’s Just for You Cafe. Photo courtesy of Giuliana’s.

Things are moving along at the former Just For You Cafe in Dogpatch, which I mentioned closed back in April, and just a couple weeks later, I broke the news that it was potentially being taken over by Mike Tufo of Calabria Bros. delicatessen in Excelsior. The lease was finalized, so he has been doing a lot of work the past couple months to update the space (after 30-plus years), which will now be called Giuliana’s Just for You Cafe, named after his daughter.

The menu is going to feature many brunch classics, like Benedicts and omelets, but it will be less southern-style when it reopens (although they will be keeping the iconic beignets on the menu). Tufo wants to keep things simple to start, and to see what the neighborhood really wants. In time, he’ll bring some Calabria Bros. sandwiches over, too. They’ll be offering breakfast and lunch service (7am–2:30pm), and a beer-and-wine license is also in the works. They reapplied to keep the parklet, but it’s TBD at the moment—here’s hoping the City signs off so folks can continue to enjoy it.

Tufo is planning to open in August, and is really excited to create a good neighborhood spot, for the neighborhood. He has enjoyed meeting folks who keep swinging by. I’ll confirm the opening date soon. 732 22nd St. at 3rd St.

the archivist

Ferry Building on a vintage postcard
The Ferry Building on a vintage postcard postmarked 1908. (From the tablehopper postcard collection.)

Written by Savannah Leone Bundy.

This week’s birthday card features a Pacific Novelties Company postcard (postmarked 1908!), showing a ten-year-old Ferry Building nestled between the San Francisco Bay and a moody sunset cloudscape.

Inscribed on the back, a message from Fred to one Miss Alice Watson:

The archivist is celebrating yet another iconic birthday! After undergoing three redesigns and surviving two catastrophic earthquakes, one of our most recognizable buildings turned 125 years old this month.

The birthday celebrations kicked off last week with A Very Ferry Birthday Party, and the party continues with a chocolate tasting with Dandelion Chocolate on July 25th, Imperial Tea Court’s A Journey in Tea with Roy Fong on August 1st, and an epic Clocktower Crawl, with birthday-themed specials from a host of  Ferry Building vendors, leading into Summer Ferry Fest, an evening soirée hosted in partnership with Foodwise and Napa Valley Vintners on August 17th.

tablehopper is wishing the Ferry Building the ferry happiest of birthdays, and many more to come. Cheers! 🥂

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