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new neon sign at Tony Nik’s
The new neon sign at Tony Nik’s (see #13 on the list!). Photo: ©

In honor of my 29 years of living in San Francisco (lucky me!), I wanted to share a list of 29 of my favorite things in the City right now, from tasty bites to clever cocktails to local retail loves. (Thanks to Andrew Freeman for the excellent idea to do this list!)

I meant to send this sooner, but the last two months’ pileup of health and kitty issues delayed things a bit. In fact, I need to make The Hopper Notebook a quarterly feature—these pieces end up being entirely too long (my fault!) and I don’t have the time or bandwidth to crank them out monthly. Quality over quantity!

Many thanks to all of you who recently took advantage of my 29th anniversary special deal to become supporting subscribers. Welcome to the party. Here’s to living your best SF life!

And now, here are 29 fabulous SF things to track down and experience (or revisit)! Feel free to tag @tablehopper or #tablehopper so I can see you enjoying yourself! 🥂

The Van Nesscafé cocktail
The Van Nesscafé at Uccello Lounge. Photo: ©

1. Van Nesscafé at Uccello Lounge 

This coffee-spiked Boulevardier with bourbon, Campari, and coffee-infused vermouth is the perfect way to start the evening after a long day. Love the live music here as well, with jazz trios and more.

Mini pan-fried pork buns at Mini Potstickers
Mini pan-fried pork buns at Mini Potstickers. Photo: ©

2. Mini Potstickers

Such a fun, indulgent novelty: a dozen mini pan-fried sheng jian bao ($12.99, listed as “mini pan-fried pork buns” on the menu), sprinkled with sesame seeds. They’re juicy little one-bite wonders with lightly crisp and golden bases, and you absolutely need to eat them on-premise. You can watch the crew make them in the front window of this Outer Sunset shop. (Once you scratch these off your list, some other dumplings here are also good, like the Sichuan hot & spicy wontons and boiled pork dumplings.) 2045 Irving St. at 22nd Ave.

3. Italian Rainbow Cookie at Toscano Brothers Italian Bakery

I can’t go to North Beach and miss picking up one of these almond-scented, tricolore (green, white, and red 🇮🇹), three-layer, cake-meets-cookie bites, with raspberry jam, and a thin chocolate layer on top.

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