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Sep 20, 2023 11 min read

This week’s tablehopper: ups and downs. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: ups and downs. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

tomato exploration: one of the courses on the tasting menu at Anomaly
A salute to summer (tomato exploration: one of the courses on the tasting menu at Anomaly). Photo: ©
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Hello, friends. I hope you’re well, and not being absolutely munched by mosquitos in this muggy weather (I seem to have become an all-you-can-eat buffet). But I guess my windows will be closed due to the intense smoke that just rolled into the City, so awful. Time to dig out my air purifier, never a pleasant moment.

It's also time for a cocktail. Have you made plans for a Negroni this week? (Or a Faux-Groni, like the one at Nopa.) It’s Negroni Week, and a bunch of restaurants and bars have created some special concoctions for you (and it helps support Slow Food). Cin cin.

I definitely need a strong one—the past two weeks have been pretty rough. My dear Fortuna has been going through an extremely frustrating and painful health situation. (I posted about it on Instagram Monday night.) I didn’t want to mention it here last week, because who wants to hear about your pet’s bladder inflammation? Yeah, I know.

But, I could use your help. On Monday, we got some results back, and it ends up it’s not a UTI—the vet says Fortuna has FIC (feline interstitial cystitis/feline idiopathic cystitis), which is known for being stress-related. I have a couple strong hunches about what triggered it, but for now, we need to get the inflammation to diminish/clear up, because this cycle of flare-ups is brutal. Baby girl is miserable.

I bring this all up in case any of you have gone through FIC with your feline fur-riend and have any tips for me. I’d so appreciate any insights. (You guys are always a wealth of information, truly.) My vet has prescribed a variety of meds to help with the pain, inflammation, and anxiety, and I have Tuna on prescription food (Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d wet food, which I hydrate). I just got a pheromone machine, and we’re going to try some pet CBD (like mother, like baby girl), and an Instagram friend even suggested some kitty calming music, which she seems to be enjoying in her doped-up state right now. Thanks so much from both of us.

It was a bummer to cancel so many outings I was looking forward to this past week, including Nick Balla’s pop-up at Turntable—which is running through September 30th, don’t miss it—and Sunday supper at Burdell in Oakland. I’m trying to be optimistic about being able to pop by and see Etienne de Crecy/Boombass at the Phoenix Hotel on Sunday at the Summertime Radness day party; it would be so fun to be poolside and listen to some French house and electro music that I adored back in the 90s. (Just in case you aren’t going to Folsom Street Fair.) But, that feels like a stretch. Time will tell—I’m taking things day by day here and staying super-close to my girl.

In all honesty, I’m pretty exhausted and wrung-out, so I gotta keep things to the point today. I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to interview people, and I’m all out of sass and jokes. Just the facts, ma’am. Thank you for understanding.

Thanks for being here.

One more thing: in honor of my 29 years of living in SF, I’m offering $29 off an annual subscription for the month of September. I want you to live your best SF life, too! Join me, and you’ll receive my special post at the end of the month: 29 Things I’m Loving About SF Right Now. Thanks to all of you who have already bumped up your membership. Mwah! 💋

the chatterbox

A selection of skewers at Yokai.
A selection of skewers at Yokai. Photo: Joseph Weaver.

Yokai Now Open in SoMa, Serving Up Skewers and Highballs with a Hi-Fi System

Newly open in SoMa is Yokai, a new hi-fi listening cocktail bar and casual restaurant from MZ Dining Group, the same team behind the nearby Gozu: chef-owner Mark Zimmerman, business partner Ben Jorgensen, and architect Andrea Lendardin Madden (ALM Project). Cool facts: the brick, pre-Prohibition era manufacturing building was the first permanent structure built on Mission Street after the 1906 earthquake; it was previously Salt House. The team repurposed the live-edge dining tables and bar top (by Terry Castilyn), and the mezzanine space is now a private dining area.

the bar at yokai
It’s time for jazz, vinyl, vintage speakers, and highballs. Photo: Joseph Weaver.

As for the hi-fi experience, jazz vinyl records will be transmitted to vintage JBL Pro Series studio speakers (it ends up Zimmerman studied to become a music engineer, but he decided to pursue cooking instead). Good jazz goes hand-in-hand with cocktails—beverage director Jordan Abraham will be featuring both Japanese and American spirits, like in the Pretty Bird (Kiyomi Japanese rum, coconut water, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, lime).

But instead of Gozu's tasting menu format, at Yokai, guests can come by for an à la carte menu...

Hours are Tue–Sat 3pm–9pm, and lunch will be coming soon. 545 Mission St. at 1st St.

The Return of a Landmark Property: What’s Next for the Cliff House Location

The former exterior of the Cliff House.
The former exterior of the Cliff House. Photo: ©

After months of wondering who was going to take over the landmark Cliff House property, all has been revealed. The National Park Service has awarded Sutro Lands End Partners, LLC a 20-year lease to continue the building’s historic uses, which include a restaurant, café, event space, and retail shop, as well as the Lookout Cafe inside the Lands End Visitors Center (a block away). The location is expected to reopen to the public in late 2024.

Helming Sutro Lands End Partners is Alexander Leff, a San Francisco native who grew up in the Richmond, and is an attorney who has rejuvenated other notable California landmarks, including the Malibu Pier.

Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group (Vault Steakhouse, Trestle), will be consulting on the project. Co-founder Ryan Cole says, “We look forward to bringing local hospitality businesses to this historic site that will offer a variety of food options at different price points. Each will demonstrate the depth and diversity of food and beverage talent in the Bay Area as well as showcase products from local and sustainable farmers, fisherman, and food purveyors.”

BCV Architecture + Interiors, an award-winning San Francisco-based architecture firm (who did the Ferry Building Marketplace and Oxbow Public Market), will be leading the repair and renovation of the building. Hans Baldauf, Principal of BCV states, “Our goal will be to institute building improvements and décor that will create a warm welcome for arriving visitors, connecting them to the rich history of the building and its site, and encouraging engagement with the natural environment through activation of the building’s outdoor decks, terraces and street frontages.”

A plot twist: the property may or may not be called the Cliff House when it reopens. It was leased and operated by Mary and Dan Hountalas for over forty years before they relinquished the lease at the end of 2020 (let’s just say things did not end well). Prior to terminating the lease, they trademarked the Cliff House name, and when they vacated the building, they removed all Cliff House signage from its exterior (it was a sad thing to see, I hoped it was because they wanted to keep it safe). According to the press release, “Mr. and Mrs. Hountalas claim to be the exclusive owners of the trademark and are seeking payment in order to allow the building to continue to be called the Cliff House.” You may remember the auction of the Cliff House memorabilia as well—over 60 pieces were saved by local historians and the community. We’ll have to see how this all shakes out.

In the meantime, in recognition of the Cliff House’s iconic and sentimental reputation for generations of visitors, Sutro Lands End Partners has created a webpage at, where the public can share their memories of the Cliff House and their ideas for its future. The company also intends to hold a series of public meetings to learn what types of food, events, and retail the community would like to see offered at the property. It’s such a challenging time to be opening something of this scale, so I really love the call for community engagement on this project to help formulate its future success.

Mr. Leff shares, “San Francisco has been good to me and to my family ever since my grandparents arrived here during World War II. I am well aware that it is a tough time to undertake a major hospitality project in San Francisco. But it is an honor to be given the opportunity to restore this beloved landmark and doing so is my way of expressing my gratitude and lending a helping hand to our beautiful city at a moment when it can use help from all of us who live here.” Cheers to that.

A Major Light Has Gone Out in the Tenderloin: Turtle Tower Has Sadly Closed

lunch at Turtle Tower on Larkin sticky rice lap cheong sausage
My last lunch at Turtle Tower on Larkin in July. Photo: ©

Back in June, I broke the story with the distressing news that Turtle Tower on Larkin Street had listed their building for sale. After 23 years of being the crown jewel of Little Saigon, the iconic Vietnamese restaurant has now closed. You can read more in my original piece. What is the TL without TT? At least the SoMa location remains open at 501 6th Street, which has extended hours (11am–8pm daily). 645 Larkin St. at Ellis.

Bandit Opening This Weekend in the Mission

Bandit’s breakfast sandwich
Some of Bandit’s breakfast sandwich badassery (back in 2017). Photo: ©

How about some good news? Calling all brioche breakfast sandwich aficionados and burger lovers and dirty tots fans: our fun friends at Bandit are opening their latest location in the Mission, kitty corner to Dolores Park (in the former Namu Stonepot). Back in March, they opened their second location in Dogpatch—the original is in the TenderNob (since 2017).

The soft opening is this Sunday September 24th, and they’ll be open 7am–2pm for the first two weeks, and then expanding their hours in time. The menu will be the same as their other locations, but there will be some new drinks coming. It’s already a sunny corner space, and the updated interior is outfitted in white tile with cheerful yellow grout and accents. Welcome to the neighborhood, hangover slayer! 699 Dolores St. at 18th St.

Reopenings Include Hashiri, Cha Cha Cha, and More

Convivium Enoteca in North Beach sadly closed back in July, and a new Italian restaurant called Bocconcino (which means “little bite”) has opened in its place. Owner Sofia Scarpone is still listed on the ABC license. A peek at a lunch menu includes a few multi-regional pasta dishes (including spaghetti Trapanese), trippa Lucchese, chicken parm, a couple sandwiches, and interestingly, fish and chips (nothing is over $20). I’ll share more details once I have a chance to connect with them. Open Tue 5pm–9pm, Wed–Fri 11:30am–2pm and 5pm–9:30pm, Sat 11:30am–2pm and 4pm–10pm, and Sun 11:30am–2pm and 4pm–9:30pm. 516 Green St. at Grant.

New Menu and Experience at Copas: The Tasting Room

A selection of dishes from the new The Tasting Room menu at Copas. Photo via @copasonmarket.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know how much I dig the sick street-style tacos from chef Julio Aguilera at Copas in the Castro. When I came in to dine at the bar, he mentioned he was going to launch a special experience in the back room, and it’s here: The Tasting Room, a seven-course menu highlighting the ingredients and techniques of Oaxaca, Puebla, Yucatán, and Baja.

Les Dames d’Escoffier International to Give $5,000 Grants to Local Women Business Owners

San Francisco Dame Kimberly Charles (who sponsored Dame tablehopper, also pictured), at a Les Dames SF chapter luncheon in 2022. Photo: ©

by Savannah Leone Bundy

The San Francisco chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (the very organization that brought me and Marcia together!) has recently announced a new grant and entrepreneurship program benefiting femme-identifying business owners in the food, culinary, and hospitality industry in the Bay Area.

Two grant recipients will be selected and awarded $5,000, and one year of mentorship meetings with the esteemed members of the LDEI-SF Business Grant Committee—all of whom are successful business owners and entrepreneurs. Applicants have until October 11th to submit a written essay or video, along with a few supporting documents in order to be considered. For a complete list of requirements and to apply, visit here.

This exciting new initiative will not only provide well-deserving entrepreneurs with cash, but the opportunity to create and develop meaningful relationships within a community of wonderful and talented women…and as a former recipient of the Les Dames SF scholarship, I’m speaking from experience. ☺️

the socialite

Barbacoa and carnitas tacos from La Cocina vendor Los Cilantros. Photo: ⓒ Lorena Masso.

This Weekend: Save on Tickets to La Cocina’s Tacolado Event

by Savannah Leone Bundy

A friendly reminder to all taco and/or ice cream enthusiasts: this Sunday September 24th, La Cocina is hosting a magnificent celebration of the two classics, featuring an all-star chef lineup, signature cocktails, music, raffles, and, of course, tacos and ice cream.

Tacolado (a mashup of tacos and the Spanish word for ice cream, helado) will go from 11am–5pm at Spark Social (601 Mission Bay Blvd. North) and boast an innovative selection of sweet and savory tacos created by La Cocina alumni and participants. You can find the delicious details from our previous announcement here.

General Taco Sale tickets (three tacos for $21) are available until Saturday the 23rd, and VIP tickets ($220 for unlimited tacos, premium vendors, and complimentary drinks, and other luxury  perks) are also available with an exclusive offer for tablehopper subscribers. Use promo code TABLEHOPPER-FRIEND for $20 off VIP tickets until midnight Wednesday night.

All proceeds from the event will go right back to the La Cocina Incubator Program, helping to support businesses run by low-income food entrepreneurs and provide resources to women from communities of color and immigrant communities.

Sunday September 24th, 11am–5pm. 601 Mission Blvd. North at 4th St.

the matchmaker

InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hiring for Multiple Positions

InterContinental Mark Hopkins seeks an executive chef to lead their culinary team at the historic landmark hotel. The executive chef will oversee kitchen operations for a restaurant, a sky lounge, room service, and banquets for corporate/social/wedding events, and manage menu design, food costs, budgets, and financial/operational goals for the department.

Additionally, we’re hiring a manager for our renowned sky lounge, the Top of the Mark (#2 on USA Today’s 10 Best Hotel Bars 2023), who will maintain high food and beverage standards, guest satisfaction, tackle administrative tasks, and supervise staff, as well as recruit, train, and evaluate employees. Apply here.

the archivist

by Savannah Leone Bundy

This past week, it was announced that the Lands End landmark Cliff House, which has sat empty upon its oceanfront perch since its devastating closure during the pandemic, will reopen in 2024 with the Hi Neighbor restaurant group (Vault Steakhouse, Trestle, Mama, The Madrigal) consulting. (More on this news in this week’s chatterbox!)


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