The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
September 27, 2022
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Some of the stellar nigiri you’ll find at Kuma Sushi + Sake. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Kuma’s Ryo Sakai doing what he does when you sit at his spot at the counter. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I’m so happy to have some positive news to report: owners Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson of neighborhood favorite ~KUMA SUSHI + SAKE~ in Lower Polk are opening a second location, Kuma Valencia, in spring-summer of 2023. After opening their first location in August 2017, they have steadily built up a loyal clientele who know this is some of the best nigiri in town (spicy scallop, you have my heart forever). They also feature some incredible sakes (they pour by the glass or carafe, so you can try different sakes without committing to a whole bottle, and their list is always rotating). It’s also one of the friendliest sushi counters, with a fun, local vibe (it’s so good to back!).

They plan to keep all these elements intact in their new location, which will be right across the street from Zeitgeist on Valencia. They said to expect some neighborhood flair to appear on the menu, like names and dishes inspired by local industry pals and businesses (e.g. there’s a Jackalope roll on their Kuma Polk menu, named after the nearby bar).

They’re opening in a new condo that used to be a garage/smog station. They’re excited for the sunny corner exposure, and are working with Pablo Ortiz (Pop /A Design) on the design/architecture. The plan is to have 12 seats at the bar (same as Kuma Polk) and 12-16 seats at tables inside; outdoor is TBD. There will be stone, metal elements, and wood screens, with dynamic lighting (which is going to be given special attention in this location, allowing for better photos for guests and the chefs alike—they’re currently using black cutting boards for more appealing images). They’re working again with general contractor Conor Sweitzer of Sweitzer Inc., who did their original location.

There will also be some custom ceramics by Ryo’s wife, Linnan Ye of Neko.Co.Neko., like sake cups and chopstick rests (you may have noticed them at Kuma Polk). I’ll keep you posted on how the project is going. 198 Valencia St. at 13th St./Duboce.

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Chefs-owners David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher of Marlena. Photo: Dana Plucinski.

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A look at the curving bar (and bright barstools) at the updated Causwells. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Enjoy a tableside pour of the Deconstructed Pimm’s Cup. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

After being closed temporarily for an update to their dining room’s interior design, husband-and-wife chefs David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher of ~MARLENA~ are back in their Bernal Heights home, and their popular $65, four-course tasting menu is back with them, too! During the summer, they cleverly ran Summer Camp at Hotel Zeppelin as a pop-up (I wrote it up for Nob Hill Gazette). But now they’re open in their home base, featuring a significant redesign from M. Chad Kellogg of architecture and design studio AMLGM, bringing a comfortable, residential feel, with lots of curving elements to build a relaxed vibe. There’s spacious banquette seating, lots of plants, and soft lighting, too.

The new menu reflects the seasons, with dishes like shaved celtuce with kombu broth, tofu purée, and nori powder; a hamachi crudo with apple vinegar, green peppercorns, and sour gherkins; raviolini with smoked rosa bianca eggplant, early girl tomatoes, and baby leeks; grilled beef cheeks with beef sausage, honey nut squash, and broccoli di ciccio; and a kabocha squash “cheesecake” for dessert. There are also new supplements to the menu (“snax!”) and aged Liberty Farm duck breast as well. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 300 Precita Ave. at Folsom.

~CAUSWELLS~ in the Marina reopens tonight (September 27th) with a refreshed interior, food menu, and cocktail program. I had a chance to check it out on Sunday evening, and am happy to see chef-owner Adam Rosenblum and beverage director/managing partner Elmer Mejicanos stretching their wings after being open for eight years (with owner Tom Patella). The menu has expanded with numerous small plates, like oysters with Angostura mignonette; light dishes like salmon tartare and heirloom tomatoes with melon vinaigrette; heartier bites like Detroit-style cheesy bread and juicy “Cali hot” chicken wings; mains include pork belly confit, salmon filet in a summer broth, and your table should tuck into the Causwells mac and cheese, featuring four cheeses and savory pasta from Bayview Pasta. Of course, the Americana burger sits tight on the menu, but now you have numerous other dishes to choose from, whether you want snacky bites or more of a proper meal (hello, date night).

The cocktail program is extensive and ambitious—you’re going to need to return numerous times to make your way through it. A great place to start is the Deconstructed Pimm’s Cup (as beautiful as it is tasty) and the Open Sesame, with Milagro tequila, bianco vermouth, cold-pressed poblano, lime, agave, and toasted sesame offered layers of savory, kicky flavors. A favorite at our table was the Cantélope Cruz, made with Reyka vodka, Lillet Blanc, cantaloupe juice, honey, ricotta, and lemon juice, topped with fresh-ground black pepper—it’s like cacio e pepe when you get a whiff of the pepper with the cheesy notes, so good. Fig News (Mommenpop, kumquat, green walnut, fig leaf cordial, sparkling wine) was a beguiling highball, and the Causwells Grasshopper is a hopper-approved liquid dessert. Have fun! (Check their website for the new menus soon.)

The interior has a luxe Deco flair, with a new, curving bar, bright yellow barstools, and richly toned wallpaper. Love the update, and the parklet is still there, with heat lamps. A new martini and oyster happy hour will run Tue-Fri 4:30pm-6pm, and late night Fri-Sat from 11pm to midnight. 2346 Chestnut St. at Scott.

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The Old Skool Cafe during a Behind the Cart event. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Some great news coming out of Bayview: my longtime chef pal Eddie Blyden is now Director of Culinary Education at ~OLD SKOOL CAFE~, the youth-run, 1920s-style, jazz-themed supper club. He started in July, and has been getting situated and handling staffing (they have a new GM as well). He met founder/CEO Teresa Goines when he used to volunteer with kids in Bayview back in 2005, so this feels full circle for him.

All I can say is the youth who work at the supper club (who come out of the system of incarceration, foster care, and other challenging situations) are going to learn so much from this talented chef who has cooked all over the world (he’s originally from Sierra Leone)—they will become farmers’ market insiders, and chef Blyden also loves to grow his own food.

We met back when he was the opening chef at The Alembic, where he became known for his jerk-lacquered chicken wings and oxtails served as a two-cheese Welsh rarebit (unforgettable!). He has been private cheffing of late (“A lonely existence!,” he exclaimed to me), so it’s great to know he’s back in the mix. I’m seeing his touch on the international soul food menu, which includes his famous clam chowder from his days at Miss Pearl’s Jam House. You’ll see many names on the menu, which highlight recipes from students working at Old Skool, like Jordan’s fried chicken and Daniel’s gumbo; chef Blyden tells me some mothers come in to teach their family recipes, so amazing.

Each cohort includes 20-30 students (ranging from age 16-22) who learn cooking skills (some have cooked at home, but many are new to the kitchen), front-of-house duties, and they also learn life skills, like banking. Chef Blyden mentions they go on field trips to places like a horse ranch, and will be learning how to harvest walnuts in Colusa soon.

Old Skool Cafe serves dinner Thu-Sat 5pm-9pm (happy hour runs 5pm-7pm) and live entertainment is from 5:30pm-8:30pm. Saturday brunch has returned, with sweet potato waffles with fried chicken and honey pecan butter and live jazz, 10am-2pm. Plus, they added outdoor seating during the pandemic, and there’s also takeout and delivery. Please keep Old Skool Cafe in mind for holiday events, buyouts, and catering—your support makes a big difference. This impactful organization is also holding their 10-year gala on October 22nd, I will share more info on that very soon! 1429 Mendell St. at Oakdale.

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Sweet heat pineapple pizza from JoyRide Pizza. Yelp photo by Jarred M..

Fans of the Detroit-style pies at ~JOYRIDE PIZZA~ will find them at two new locations: 685 Market Street (at 3rd St.) and inside craft beer bar Woods Lowside at 530 Haight Street in the Lower Haight. (Click the links for hours and menus.) You can get a whole pie or slice, and vegans, you should check out their pizza (they also make a gluten-free crust).

If you’re in Bayview, you’ll be waking up and smelling the coffee, because there’s another coffee shop that just opened: this time, it’s ~BUTCHERTOWN COFFEE~. It’s a Mexican-American, family-owned business from married couples Octavio and Yessenia Gomez, and Eric and Irma Ramirez—Octavio and Irma are siblings. They partnered with a local master roaster here in town, and came up with their recipe of arabica beans “as unique as our neighborhood: sweet, smooth, robust.” Can’t wait to taste it. This new shop is serving coffee, espresso drinks, pastries, breakfast bagels, and breakfast sandwiches, and it’s open early: Mon-Sat 5:30am-12:30pm. 5191 3rd St. at Thomas Ave.

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Malaysian laksa lemak by Tracy Goh of the upcoming Damansara.. Instagram photo via @eatwithtracy.

Just wanted to get a few upcoming openings on your radar. First, I’ve been looking at ~XICA~, coming to Levi’s Plaza this fall. This “Mexican kitchen, Chicana style” is an offshoot from Maria Esquivel’s Chica in Oakland, which opened six years ago—Nosh just reported the Oakland location closed on September 18th, in preparation for this new project. There will be homestyle cooking (her chilaquiles and pozole are delicious), indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar, private dining, and more. Stand by for updates. 1265 Battery St. at Greenwich.

Been seeing posts of test dinners and more for Tracy Goh’s Malaysian restaurant ~DAMANSARA~, opening in the former Ardiana in Noe Valley, it’s looking like it’s almost open! Read more here, stand by for the opening date. 1781 Church St. at 30th St.

A recent newsletter from ~JOHNNY DOUGHNUTS~ mentions they are looking at an opening in early October at their new Pacific Heights shop (in the former Smitten) at 2404 California St. at Fillmore.

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The iconic Roosevelt Tamale Parlor sign; Yelp photo by Marina N.

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The interior at Outerlands. Photo via Facebook.

Just in case you didn’t see these updates on social media (I post breaking news in my Instagram Stories all the time), after over 100 years in the Mission, ~ROOSEVELT TAMALE PARLOR~ has sadly closed. Owners Aaron Presbrey and Barry Moore (since 2012) cited pandemic-related challenges and uncertainty about renewal of their lease for the closure. Mission Local originally reported: “Pablo Wong, a commercial real estate consultant for MEDA, told Mission Local that the restaurant space is expected to host a new Mexican eatery that has already signed a 10-year lease: La Carreta Rotisserie is listed in city records as the new business on the block.” How sad to lose this iconic Mission business—for the past year, they tried to find someone to take it over. Best wishes to Presbrey and Moore, thanks for everything they did to keep it going during such exhausting, challenging times. 2817 24th St. at York.

Last week, Dave Muller and Lana Porcello of ~OUTERLANDS~ posted on their Instagram account that “After 14 incredible years, we will be stepping away from ownership of Outerlands at the end of this month.” Their last day was September 26th, and the post mentions: “After that, the restaurant will be temporarily closed, with plans to reopen, with all your brunch favorites, very soon.” According to SFGate, they are passing the keys and business on to new owners, who will be keeping things status quo, and possibly bringing dinner back, too. More on that soon.

Outerlands had many talented chefs come through their kitchen (including Brett Cooper, Yoni Levy, and Greg Kuzia-Carmel), contributed a great deal to San Francisco’s bread culture, and highlighted so many local makers. It was a pleasure to watch them grow over the years, adding and renovating the space next door, getting a full liquor license, expanding their pastry program, and more. Thanks for creating such a quintessentially San Franciscan experience and space. 4001 Judah St. at 45th Ave.

According to this Instagram post, Sarah Kirnon of ~HOLDER’S HOUSE~ (previously Miss Ollie’s) has announced their last day as a pop-up in the Forage Kitchen space in Oakland is October 7th. The post mentions: “Keep your eye on this IG for dates and times opening over the next 11 days. I’ll have 50 mason jars of pepper sauce on Wednesday made with local scotch bonnets, it’s a first come first served situation. I’ll be also announcing pop up tours of the bay over the next week.” Swing on by while you can, and I’ll signal boost any future pop-ups I see. I imagine Kirnon would appreciate any tips on pop-up venues/calendar openings/invites. 478 25th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

September 13, 2022
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A rendering of the upcoming La Connessa from Bacchus Management Group.

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Breakfast sandwiches and burgers at Bandit. Yelp photo via Alba B.

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The colorful exterior of Namu Stonepot on Dolores. Photo courtesy of Namu.

Big announcement from Bacchus Management Group (The Village Pub, Spruce, Selby’s, Pizza Antica)—they’re launching a trio of restaurants in Potrero Hill in early 2023: a modern donut shop (Magic Donuts & Coffee), an old-fashioned burger and shake shop (Louie’s Original), and an Italian restaurant (La Connessa). They’re opening on the ground level of Mason on Mariposa, a luxury residential development.

Left Coast Design Studio and S.B. Brady Design will be handling the interior design. ~LA CONNESSA~ (1695 Mariposa St.) will feature an 86-seat dining room and a 16-seat bar, designed as a modern take on the classic trattoria. ~LOUIE’S ORIGINAL~ (1685 Mariposa St.) will feature two burgers: The Park (named after nearby Jackson Park) and the Big Sister Burger, aka the Spruce Burger. There will also be a fried chicken sandwich and vegetarian sandwich, two types of fries, and onion rings, plus classic milkshakes and soft-serve custard cones. There will be 12 counter seats and 17 table seats, with takeout and delivery. ~MAGIC DONUTS & COFFEE~ (1675 Mariposa St.) will specialize in brioche and cake doughnuts, plus doughnut holes and coffee drinks made with Bacchus’ own Roast Co. beans. Stand by for updates in coming months.

I’ve been seeing some ads for the soon-to-open ~AFICI~ from the Alexander’s Steakhouse team, opening in the former ALX Gastropub. Chef Eric Upper’s menu is a four-course prix-fixe for $125 (plus supplements, of course), spanning Italian and French influences, with housemade charcuterie, pastas (like casoncelli with pistachio purée, cherry, and confit wagyu), and whole-animal practices—you can take a look at some dishes on their Instagram account. It’s due to open on September 24th. 680 Folsom St. at Hawthorne.

I’ve had a couple folks ask me what’s going into the former Namu Stonepot that’s kitty corner to Dolores Park, and What Now SF reports it’s going to be another location of ~BANDIT~, known for their siiick breakfast sandwiches (and burgers). I reached out about timing and if they were still going to open in Dogpatch (in the former Glena’s) but I haven’t heard back. 499 Dolores St. at 18th St.

Coming to the former Castro Republic space (it will always be the old Bagdad Café to me, what fun memories) is ~LOS AMIGOS~, a second location of the Mission Salvadoran restaurant (located at 530 Valencia). Look for an early October opening. [Via Hoodline.] 2295 Market St. at Noe.

I was happy to read in SFGate that the longtime ~COLOMBO’S DELICATESSEN~ in Pacifica (since 1986!) is opening in South Park’s The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, with plans to start takeout and delivery this fall. I love that they have family ties to the great Woodside Deli (I grew up on Dan Gallinetti’s godfather sandwiches, and am pleased to see Colombo offers one that looks about the same!). 1 South Park Ave., Suite 103A, at 2nd St.

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The exterior of the new Cauliflower in the Mission. Instagram photo via @caulisf.

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Birdbox’s Claude the Claw sandwich from Birdsong. Photo: Annamae Bafia.

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You can’t miss the cheerful exterior of Tallio’s Coffee & Tea in Bayview. Instagram photo via @tallioscoffeesf.

Earlier this spring, a pending ABC license revealed Tom Silargorn and business partner Rattakorn Potharam behind the three locations of Lers Ros were opening a project called ~CAULIFLOWER~ in the former (and longtime) Katz Bagels location on 16th Street in the Mission (Hoodline noticed the license back in May).

It ends up the concept is a homestyle, American breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner spot with French flair. The breakfast and lunch menu includes scrambles, omelets (with a tasty-sounding shrimp omelet), Benedicts, pancakes, French toast, salads, burgers (and a fried chicken sandwich), two kinds of cheesesteaks (made with grass-fed ribeye or prime New York), and a kids’ menu (you can peep the daytime board here).

Dinner includes apps like tuna tartare, steamed mussels, and four kinds of salads, while main dishes include prime New York steak with brandied mushrooms, thyme, and fried fingerling potatoes (looks good); pork osso buco (getting me ready for fall!); sea bass crusted with prosciutto and beurre blanc; rabbit Niçoise; and rack of lamb with asparagus, mashed potatoes, and rosemary jus. And there’s a namesake cauliflower steak. For those who remember, it’s not a big spot, so it will have a cozy vibe. Soft-opening hours are daily 10am-3pm and 5pm-9pm (closed Monday). 3147 16th St. at Valencia.

Back in July, I mentioned ~BIRDBOX~, the casual, fried chicken spinoff from the Birdsong team was opening in South Park, and it’s now open for takeout only with a limited menu for now (Birdboxes, fried chicken breast and Claude the Claw sandwiches, “Bird Part” sets, and select sides including fries with schmaltz, coleslaw and cornbread); look for an expanded menu and indoor dining soon. It’s right by Oracle Park, so you can check it out on the next game day. Hours are currently Wed-Sun 11am-8pm. 680 2nd St. at Townsend.

Another follow-up: Sandy Zheng and Julia Zhu of ~UNITED DUMPLINGS~ in Bernal have opened their new Marina location (they took over the short-lived Cancha location on Chestnut). You’ll find their menu of both creative and traditional dumplings (including a jumbo soup XLB), small plates, noodles, fried rice, and more. Open daily (except Tue) 11am-2:30pm and 4:30pm-9pm (until 10pm Fri-Sat). There’s both indoor and outdoor/sidewalk seating, and they also offer takeout and delivery. 2015 Chestnut St. at Fillmore.

Over in the Castro, Hoodline reports ~DUMPLING KITCHEN~ has opened in the former Papi Rico space. I’m ready to hit that patio and enjoy some Shanghaiese dumplings made at the restaurant (bring on the pan-fried dumplings and XLB) and noodles and soups, plus lunch specials from 11am-3pm. This is owner Michael Shao’s second location. Open Mon and Wed-Fri 10am-3pm and 5pm-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-9:30pm. 544 Castro St. at 18th St.

Over in Bayview, after countless delays and permit snags, Olton Rensch has finally been able to open ~TALLIO’S COFFEE & TEA~, a specialty coffee roaster retail shop and café; check out his variety of roasts here—be sure to try the popular Bayview dark roast. He also offers a refreshing ginger brew that is made from a family recipe (from Suriname). ⁠I look forward to swinging by, welcome to the neighborhood. Here’s to persistence and perseverance. Soft-opening hours this week: Tue-Fri 9am-3pm, grand opening on Saturday at 1pm. 4732 3rd St. at Oakdale.

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The lovely bar at Heirloom Café. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The return of Cyrus, now open in Geyserville. Instagram photo via @cyrus_geyserville.

Big news from the 12-year-old ~HEIRLOOM CAFÉ~: a few weeks ago, owner Matt Straus passed the reins to new co-owners and managing partners Amy Siemers and Stephen Hallenbeck, who have been longtime associates at the restaurant. In his farewell/announcement letter, Straus says, “There have been a few projects simmering on my stove, and when they become official (fingers crossed, in the next few weeks), I will send flares to tell you about them, before I sign off. I have also been working on an Heirloom Café cookbook, which has been great fun. It’s a collection of chapters built around favorite dishes from my ten years of food and wine at Heirloom. (If anyone knows an agent or publisher who might be interested?)”    He adds: “There is also some likelihood that I’ll host a dinner on Folsom Street here and there, perhaps even once or twice a year. Just thinking about it makes the gears turn and the palate start to water.” Thanks for creating such a personal and true neighborhood restaurant, am happy to hear it will continue with folks “in the family.”

I haven’t had time or bandwidth to report on East Bay openings, so I wanted to point you to this handy recap in Nosh, with news on Cafe Colucci, Cafe Ohlone/’ottoy, the new Humphry Slocombe, and so much more.

Up in Healdsburg, I was sorry to see a friend’s Facebook post about the closing of ~CAMPO FINA~, a true local’s joint—here’s their farewell letter.

How about a great comeback story? ~CYRUS RESTAURANT~ from Douglas Keane and Nick Peyton has reopened in new, modern digs in Geyserville, here’s the dining format: “The Cyrus Dining Journey invites an intimate group of just 12 guests per seating to move through different spaces during the course of the evening. Our menu features locally sourced peak produce from family farms as well as the freshest seafood and ethically raised beef, pork and fowl. The cuisine is highly seasonal with Asian influences. Reservations for the full Dining Journey are ticketed and released in monthly blocks two months in advance. Tickets: $295.” Book here. Also worth noting: they will open their lounge on October 6th for casual cocktails, Champagne, and a curated menu for walk-in guests, 5pm-9pm.

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The sign for Arinell Pizza on Valencia is a beacon in the night. Yelp photo by Andrew D.

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St. Francis Fountain. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week, I tried to swing by ~ARINELL PIZZA~ for a slice around 8:45pm, and was frustrated to find it closed. (I was off to my other slice standby: Marcello’s in the Castro.) The next day, a tablehopper reader wrote in to tell me there was a sign posted at Arinell stating that they were closing due to staffing issues on 9/10. Big. Sigh. We learned back in April that owner Ron Demirdjian was having issues keeping the business going with less people out drinking and partying in the Mission, and sadly, he decided to permanently close the 33-year-old, New York-style slice shop that has fed thousands of us over the years. Really sorry to see this one go. Thanks for saving our drunk asses fat too many times to count. Fortunately, the Berkeley shop is still up and running in case you’re craving their trademark slice. 509 Valencia St. at 16th St.

Broke-Ass Stuart shares the unfortunate news that ~THE BROKEN RECORD~ is closing after 15-plus years in the Excelsior. I have been to some great pop-ups and had some strong drinks there over the years. Owner Jason King posted on Facebook: “We can no longer keep up with increasing expenses after 2 1/2 years of covid related slow downs, rising costs (goods and services), loans and, finally, a new lease that we unfortunately can not afford. This is not a plea for help nor is it a crowd funding cash grab. Just a reality. We will be closed to the public after Saturday the 15th of October and will entertain a couple private events as we clean out the property. As of now, there is no tenant lined up to take over but I know the landlord is attempting to rent out the space. For the sake of the Excelsior, I hope he finds someone with the capabilities to provide something amazing because the neighborhood deserves vibrancy. Whomever moves in, remember they did not shut us down and they will need ALL your help to stay open in the years to come.” Swing by for a final-final while you can. And as BAS notes, King’s other bar, Church Key, is still trucking.

After 20 years of owning the classic (and legacy business) ~ST. FRANCIS FOUNTAIN~, owners Peter Hood and Levon Kazarian are looking for a new owner (they will keep the soda fountain open and running until that transition happens). Read more in this SFGate piece. I really hope SF’s oldest ice cream parlor and diner ends up in the right hands—I’m still not over the tragic gutting and dismantling of It’s Tops. 2801 24th St. at York.

August 30, 2022
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The slices are coming! Outta Sight Pizza’s slice shop is about to open. Instagram photo via @thatsouttasight.

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A sneak peek of Outta Sight Pizza’s slice shop. Photo via Google/Outta Sight Pizza.

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A selection of the new seafood dishes (and more) at Fort Point’s Valencia Beer Hall and Ferry Building Beer Garden. Photo: Sasha Netchaev.

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New dishes and cocktails and a great view await at the new Señor Sisig location at the Ferry Building. Photo: Patrick Beaudouin.

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La Société’s onion soup gratinée with aged Comté and roasted bone marrow with oxtail ragout. Photo: Galdones Photography.

Fellow pizza fanatics, start your engines: owner Eric Ehler (Fort Point, Mister Jiu’s, Lazy Susan) and his biz partner Peter Dorrance and team are soft-opening the ~OUTTA SIGHT PIZZA~ slice shop on Larkin Street in Civic Center/Tenderloin any day now! Follow their Instagram account for the latest updates (I’ll repost anything I see)—sounds like they’ll be soft-opening on some random days until they open for good in mid-September (“Roll by on a weekday, who knows?! We might be selling slices.”)

The shop looks great—all white and shiny and they have some cool local artwork up (“When we first got the space we knew it would be a perfect spot to show off our homies art. Think of it as pizzeria x skateshop x gallery.”) and you know the music will be fly, just like the slices. (I love this pizza so much—it’s thin and New York-style, with such great flavor, and that chef’s kiss SF quality flair.) There are a few diner-style white tables with bentwood chairs and a ledge where you can perch with your slice.

In another post, they say, “The slice pies at the new shop will be a tad simpler then [sic] our current pies at the Fig, but simplicity is in the details. We are particularly stoked on our mushroom pie. It’s garlicky, salty, tangy, cheesey, and of course will have the best shrooms in the biz from Black Diamond Mushroom Co.” I managed to sneak a peek at their slice menu (they’ve been running preview Stories), and it looks like there will be cheese, pep, mushroom, a bianca, and their Madonna (mozzarella, marinara, basil, evoo), The Bear, Lunch Lady, Lisa, and Roy, nine in all. You can order a whole pie too, and a garden salad

And if you like to sit down to a whole pie with a bottle of wine at Fig & Thistle (at 429 Gough St.), fear not, they’re going to keep the pop-up going Tue-Sat as well. As they put it in a post, “Think about it like this — fancy pies in the evening at the Fig, and then big ol slices on Larkin! Pizza all day and pizza your way!” I like it. 422 Larkin St. at Golden Gate.

Fort Point Beer Company just launched their new food concept—a spin on SF-style seafood—at both their Valencia Beer Hall and Ferry Building Beer Garden. Cecile Macasero, former chef de cuisine at Kin Khao and Sea Creatures, developed a menu with dishes like a Dungeness crab roll, Louie salad, Big Cup-a-Cioppino (fully shucked seafood in tomato broth served in an enamel mug), and Rice-a-Roni arancini—all their seafood is wild-caught, sustainable, and local, through partnering with TwoxSea, Aloha Seafood, and Water2Table. Locals know it’s not Dungeness season, but they tracked down some year-round fresh Dungies through Fathom Seafood’s small boats that trap seasonally from California up to Alaska. Can’t wait to try their cioppino-inspired Michelada, featuring my fave summer sipper: their Yuzu KSA Radler. Also: Fort Point’s Ferry Building Beer Garden has doubled its seating area, expanding into the sunny sidewalk.

Evan Kidera and Gil Payumo just opened a location of ~SEÑOR SISIG~ in the Ferry Building Marketplace (in what was previously Brown Sugar Kitchen’s spot)—this is their third brick-and-mortar location. New additions on their tasty Filipino-Mexican menu include a vegan chicken sisig option, a sisig torta, bite-sized churros with purple ube-macapuno sauce, and cocktails highlighting Filipino and Mexican flavors. You can sit on the outdoor patio out back, too. Open Mon-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 9am-6pm. 

(Get ready for ~REEM’S CALIFORNIA~ moving into the Ferry Building Marketplace next—they’ll be opening in the former Cowgirl Creamery location.)

Opening next Tuesday September 6th is ~LA SOCIÉTÉ~ in the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA. It’s the first project from TableOne Hospitality (a spinoff of MINA Group and a partnership between restaurateur Patric Yumul, chef Michael Mina, and Highgate). The chef, Alexandre Viriot, is turning out some pretty gorgeous-looking modern brasserie dishes (he has worked with some French greats, including Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, and Alain Ducasse). The bar opened already, where they’re serving dinner and cocktails (developed by Phil Collins and Carlo Splendorini) until the dining room opens on the 6th—peep the dinner menu here. I’m ready for the hearth-baked tarte flambée with bacon lardons, sweet onions, fromage blanc, and caraway; and onion soup gratinée with aged Comté and roasted bone marrow with oxtail ragout on the side. Oui! 50 3rd St.

Over in Union Square, ~BIG ALMA~ (named in honor of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, known as the “Great Grandmother of San Francisco”) just opened in the historic Villa Florence Hotel as a pop-up. The kitchen team has reportedly spent time at Daniel in New York, as well as SingleThread, The French Laundry, and Lazy Bear—you can look at their Cali cuisine menu on the site. They’re launching a new happy hour on September 1st (4pm-6pm daily), with some unheard-of prices in 2022: $7 Manhattans, margaritas, and martinis, $7 draft beers, and $7 house wine. Cheers! Open 4pm-10pm daily. 225 Powell St.

Take a look at Marco Senghor’s colorful and spacious ~BIG BAOBAB~ in the former Lupulandia in the Mission, now open for morning coffee, West African dishes for dinner, and weekend brunch. And: music! (Of course.) He has been through a LOT these past years, time to show up and say hi to a neighborhood OG. [Via Eater] 2243 Mission St. at 18th St.

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Khao soi. Photo courtesy of Pim Techamuanvivit.

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Manresa interior photo by Michael David Rose.

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The airy dining room at AL’s Place. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

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The three-alarm fire on August 23rd at McAllister and Divisadero. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I have posted some of these breaking news bits in my Instagram Stories the past couple weeks (do you follow @tablehopper?), here are some big headlines:

Great News
Was happy to see a post on Instagram from Pim Techamuanvivit that ~KIN KHAO~ is reopening in September in its original downtown location (in the Parc 55 Hotel). Fly back to us, pretty hot wings; hug us tightly, kua kling ribs!

Thanks to the support of supervisor Dean Preston, SF Heritage, and the Legacy Business Program, our precious ~CLUB DELUXE~ was able to negotiate a “fair and reasonable lease” after things were at an impasse with their landlord. Big exhale. (You can read all the details of how it went down in this SFGATE article.) The Deluxe is going to take a little break through September 30th to get their paint touched up and “dancing shoes resoled.” We’ll be ready for ya!

Good for Them News
The international culinary world was rocked with the news that chef David Kinch is departing his inspiring three-Michelin-starred restaurant, ~MANRESA~, on December 31st. In his post on Instagram, he says: “Starting January 1, I’m looking forward to helping usher in the next exciting new chapter of fine dining at Manresa, to dedicating my time and efforts to The Bywater, Mentone, and Manresa Bread and having the time and freedom to explore some exciting new pursuits, and revisit long-neglected passions.” 20 years, multiple fires, a pandemic…and three Michelin stars. What a run. Enjoy having more time to surf, chef.

Reservations are now available through the end of November on Tock, with December being added soon. The team would love to see you, they’ll be offering some special menus. As for the future of the business and property: “Interested parties may contact John Machado at Colliers International regarding the sale of the real estate and/or the business at 320 Village Lane in Los Gatos.”

Also on Instagram, chef-owner Aaron London of ~AL’S PLACE~ suddenly announced he’s closing the restaurant, after almost eight years of serving some of the City’s most creative and playful (yet serious) cuisine. The last day of service was August 28th. Thanks to the always-wonderful team there for so many memorable meals.

~CASSAVA~ has announced their North Beach restaurant opening is on track and they’re targeting early October, so they’ll be wrapping up operations in Cassava Balboa the third week of September—make your reservation to say goodbye, since Yuka and Chris have made the difficult decision to sell the Balboa location instead of keeping it.

Fire Damaged
Horrific is hardly strong enough to describe the destructive fire that tore through a large building on the corner of McAllister and Divisadero last week (on August 23rd). It was just a block away from me, and heart-wrenching (and terrifying) to watch. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, but 13 tenants have been displaced, and it looks like they may not be able to return to the building for a few years (you can read an update about one couple’s harrowing experience and ways to help in their GoFundMe).

Neighborhood hangouts ~OASIS CAFE~ and ~KAVA LOUNGE~ both sustained extensive water and smoke damage—you can contribute to Oasis Cafe’s GoFundMe here to help them weather this challenging period; Kava Lounge mentions to watch their site for updates. I have also heard there will be a fundraiser for everyone affected by the fire in mid-September with the folks at Mini Bar, stand by for details.

I also saw a post from ~BAIA~ in Hayes Valley that they are temporarily closed due to a fire caused by an arsonist (or arsonists) starting other fires in the neighborhood. Ugh. They will reportedly be closed for the next 30-60 days; read more in this SFGATE piece.

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Wanted to get a couple events on your radar. On September 9th-10th, Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) and MoAD’s chef-in-residence Bryant Terry are presenting the Black Food Summit. This will be a unique and expansive gathering of leading Black chefs, writers, scholars, activists, artists, and other creatives for a two-day, public summit that brings to life the themes and ideas of Terry’s critically acclaimed and genre-redefining 2021 book, Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora.

The Summit, taking place Sept. 9th at MoAD and Sept. 10th at TomKat Ranch in Pescadero, CA from 9am-7pm each day, offers a wide-ranging program of panels on writing, publishing, and design; beverages, bites, and sounds with DJs; sessions on contemplative writing, gardening, breathwork, whole hog cooking, and more; and a concluding community supper made by some of the Bay Area’s most talented Black chefs. Check the lineup and get your tickets here.

Also on September 10th, is Korean Center, Inc.’s 4th Annual Bay Area Chuseok (Korean Harvest) Festival, which will be held in-person this year at the Presidio after a two-year absence. The festival will include traditional Korean performances, family-friendly activities, food, music, a silent auction, raffles, and more. A variety of Korean and other food vendors from around the Bay Area will participate in the festival, including Kiss My Seoul, Mama Cho’s BBQ, Kingbob, Noodle Belly, Bobcha, Korner Kitchen, Korner Store, Fermentation Lab, Seoul Bird & Soju, Rice & Cake, Hometown Creamery, Sugarmama Sugarcane, Voltaire Coffee Roaster, Kona Ice, Kinja Sushi, HapaZa, Sams American Eatery, KPop Chicken, and Crazy Block Cheesecakes. The Festival is expecting up to 6,000 attendees this year—those interested in attending can RSVP here (it’s free). 11am-5pm, at the Presidio Main Parade Lawn.

August 16, 2022
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Vegan flatbreads, bowls, salads, burgers, and more at Rad Radish. Photo courtesy of Back of the House.

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The cool and colorful interior at Rad Radish. Photo courtesy of Back of the House.

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The curving bar at Hazie’s. Photo: Hardy Wilson.

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A selection of chef Joey Altman’s shareable dishes at Hazie’s. Photo: Hardy Wilson.

Newly opened in the former The Grove Hayes Valley is ~RAD RADISH~ from the Back of the House team (a Mano, Beretta, Super Duper Burger, The Tailor’s Son, Wildseed). This vegan, fast-casual, global concept features hearty salads, bowls, flatbreads, and sandwiches, and is designed to be affordable, flavorful, fresh AF, and filling.

You’ll see a beet poke salad (marinated beets, baby greens, seaweed, chives, crispy forbidden rice, avocado, macadamia nuts), with the option to add on their “neatballs” or falafel. There are also five bowls, like the neatball masala with supergrains, kale, pickled carrots, tzatziki, coconut masala, sesame, and lemon; or an al pastor bowl with super grains, marinated tofu, black beans, grilled corn pico de gallo, lettuce, avocado, pepitas, and chipotle dressing. There’s the Wildseed burger (with a mushroom, spinach, and brown rice patty) or an Impossible burger, a couple flatbreads, and some sides. For dessert, you can try their oat milk vanilla soft-serve.

Open for lunch and dinner, the space was designed by Nathan Reed to be bright and casual, whether you’re having a working lunch or dinner with a friend. There are also local beers, organic wine, and low-ABV and non-alcoholic beverages, like probiotic tonics and sodas with adaptogens. Open daily Sun-Thu 11am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. 301 Hayes St. at Franklin.

Just up the street, ~HAZIE’S~ has opened in the former Stacks from Hat Trick Hospitality (The Brixton) and chef Joey Altman (of shows “Bay Cafe,” “Appetite for Adventure,” and “Tasting Napa”)—I reported on upcoming plans for this space a year ago). I’ve been watching Altman develop the menu over past months, and let me tell you, his braised brisket sandwich with Sicilian pepperoncini and mustard aioli looks like it will help scratch any Italian beef itch (LOL) you got from watching “The Bear.”

The menu is approachable and eclectic, with shareable dishes, like housemade pretzel knots with truffle cheese sauce, a local halibut crudo with avocado and grapefruit, BLT lettuce cups, mezcal-cured salmon latkes, and spring vegetable ravioli with housemade ricotta and roasted tomato butter. (And there’s a burger, of course.)

Beverage director Victor Pichardo has whipped up 15 cocktails, with an emphasis on tequila and mezcal. Since we like hanging out together again, there are two large-format cocktails and a flight designed for sharing, including a pineapple spritz for two, and a tequila cocktail served in a large crystal dispenser delivered to your table, featuring strawberry, orgeat, and agave (to split with four or five friends, it depends upon how lushy they are). There are also non-alcoholic options, 15 wines by the glass, and 9 Bay Area craft drafts and 16 bottled beers.

ROY hospitality design group designed the space to have a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired vintage vibe with a comfortable, lived-in feel. You’ll note vintage lighting and speakers, thick embossed wallpaper (very SF Victorian), upholstered bar stools, oxblood leather banquettes, and large, burl wood communal tables with custom-designed, dark walnut checkerboard tops. 501 Hayes St. at Octavia.

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The airy interior of the new Souvla Dogpatch. Photo: Jordan Wise.

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Dishes from the new menu of hot and cold mezes. Photo: Jordan Wise.

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Souvla’s feta-brined rotisserie chicken is now officially on the menu (it was previously off-menu). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

On Sunday evening, I attended a preview dinner of the new ~SOUVLA DOGPATCH~, an expanded Souvla concept in the former Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing. The previously open kitchen has been enclosed, all the walls in the high-ceilinged room are now painted white (with white subway tiles), and you’ll note Greek touches of olive branches and amphoræ. It has an airy and classic feeling, with a curving bar, wood floors, and high-top tables and stools similar to their other locations. The format is still “modern fast-fine,” which means you order at the counter and your food will be brought to your table.

You can order the usual suspects here (their trademark gyros, salads, Greek fries, and frozen Greek yogurt), but the big addition here is a menu of hot and cold mezes (small plates), developed by Tony Cervone, Souvla’s chef and partner. It includes warm dolmades stuffed with rice and chicken skin (opa!) resting in an avgolemono sauce (this was my favorite), a trio of Greek spreads (the melitzanosalata/eggplant was really tasty), and warm saganaki (a golden and molten kefalograviera cheese—get an order of their house pita to go with it).

You should try the Cretan dakos (it’s the perfect season for this summery salad of Early Girl tomatoes, rusks, onions, and feta), and there’s also flaky spanakopita, cold octopus salad, and more. You can order their feta-brined rotisserie chicken—I would get a side of the juicy potatoes and the Souvla green salad with this. And for dessert, there are loukoumades (fried Greek doughnut balls with cinnamon, walnuts, and honey).

Founder/CEO Charles Bililies has assembled an extended by-the-glass menu of Greek wines that go beyond their Souvla private label wines and beer—it’s a chance to try some likely new-to-you varieties, and they’re listed with some descriptors so you can find one you like (will it be a “crisp and vibrant” assyrtiko or “funky and interesting” roditis?). Wines by the glass start at $14, and go up to $24. There are also some Greek beers from Paros and Santorini you can try.

Open daily 11am-10pm, with delivery and takeout available. Proceeds from opening day (Tuesday, August 16th) will benefit the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, which is based in the neighborhood. 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.

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Nigiri and maki at the new Au Sushi. Yelp photo by Cherylynn N.

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Get excited for a slice or whole pie of Empire Pizza’s New York-style pizza. Instagram photo via @empirepizzasf.

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The vegetarian sandwich at the new Fiddle Fig Cafe. Photo courtesy of Fiddle Fig Cafe.

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Fried fish taco and the fiery fried chicken taco at Sacred Taco. Yelp photo by Lee S.

There’s a new sushi spot in the Diamond Heights Shopping Center, ~AU SUSHI~, and according to Cherylynn N. on Yelp, the owner and sushi chef is a woman (not something you see every day, sadly—let’s change that!). You can opt for the omakase selection of eight pieces of nigiri and a small bite ($68.89), a variety of chef’s rolls, nigiri, plus there’s a sashimi boat, udon and ramen (including soft-shell crab), fried chicken skin yakitori and wings. It’s reportedly busy, so make a reservation if you can. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm and 4:30pm-9:30pm. 5214 Diamond Heights Blvd.

I have been eagerly tracking the opening of ~EMPIRE PIZZA~, a New York-style slice shop from the owners of The Grove in the former Pizzeria Delfina on Mission in SoMa. It’s open, hell yes, and they’re slinging slices of pepperoni, sausage (with bell peppers), white pie (aged and fresh mozzarella, ricotta, aged provolone, sesame seeds), broccoli rabe, and they have a couple square slices, too. You can also order a whole 18-inch pie, and they have a classic pizza shop salad with romaine, salami, aged provolone, red cabbage, carrot, pepperoncini, and Italian dressing (the best).

Pizzaiolo Brandon Wells, previously of Pizzeria Delfina, developed the pies! There’s beer, wine, Nancy’s Fancy gelato, and outdoor seating, too. You know where I’ll be this week! Open Wed-Sun 11am-3pm (to start). 688 Mission St. at 3rd St.

Over in North Beach, there’s a new deli and café called ~FIDDLE FIG CAFE~, serving some pretty bomb-looking sandwiches—including a Reuben, a Cubano, a vegetarian sandwich (with grilled eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers, Swiss cheese, and a pesto spread with sun-dried tomatoes), and a breakfast biscuit sandwich—plus pastries, açai bowls, coffee drinks, and a strawberry-coconut smoothie and iced matcha latte. There are plenty of round café tables for dining inside. Open Wed-Fri 7:30am-3:30pm and Sat-Sun 8:30am-4:30pm. 790 Lombard St. at Taylor.

I was driving by the former Elda’s in the Mission and noticed the neon lights were on for ~AREPAS~, serving 12 kinds of Venezuelan arepas (available deep-fried or grilled), and bites like mandocas (cheesy corn cakes), tequeños (cheese sticks), tostones (fried green plantains with different toppings), and patacones (plantains with fillings like braised pork or shredded beef), as well as plates like pabellón, with rice, black beans, fried plantains, shredded beef, and cheese. You also have five desserts to choose from. This is an offshoot of their original San Jose location. Open Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 2pm-10pm. 3198 16th St. at Guerrero.

A tablehopper reader let me know Cow Hollow has a new taco place that just opened, ~SACRED TACO~, in the former Hollow Cow from Kristian Cosentino (Rusted Mule, Dirty Water, Press Club). The menu has an array of creative taco fillings, including an avocado taco, braised antelope, and a fiery fried chicken taco, as well as a fried fish taco, pork belly taco, and chicken tinga taco, plus sikil pak (a pumpkin seed and tomato dip/salsa). Micheladas, mezcal Margaritas, and there’s a sunny back patio, do the math. Open for lunch and dinner daily, until midnight on the weekend. 1875 Union St. at Laguna.

The former Venue Cafe downtown is now ~ZEVI CAFE AND BISTRO~, serving a Mediterranean menu with mezze, salads, gyros, kebabs and plates, manti (Turkish dumplings), as well as breakfast plates, omelets, scrambles, menemen, breakfast burritos (check out the Zevi burrito, a mix of lamb and beef, potatoes, avocado, feta, eggs, smoked tomato sauce), French toast, and more. It has a sunny and bright interior, with white walls, tile, plants, and colorful chairs. Open daily 7am-9pm. 67 5th St. at Mission.

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Maison Nico’s duck pithivier. Photo: Maison Nico.

Great news, my fellow pâté en croûte lovers: ~MAISON NICO~ is reopening tomorrow, Wednesday August 17th! They have been closed for four months to transition the former restaurant into an épicerie, with some new equipment and an expanded kitchen and pastry production space. Michelin-starred chef-owner Nicolas Delaroque and Andrea Delaroque will reopen with seasonal varieties of pâté en croûte, sliced to order by the pound or the whole loaf, terrines, and their fabulous aspics, plus a rotating selection of seasonal quiche and pithivier, savory pastries, expanded viennoiserie, and Parisian-style pastries, wines, and other imported artisanal items.

They are also offering a salade Niçoise, and plan to expand the lunch menu this fall (as well as launch an Apéro Hour). Guests can enjoy Maison Nico’s menu to-go, dine inside the dining room, or outside at one of the six alfresco café tables. Open Wed-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm. In September, look for the Maison Nico stand at Foodwise’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays, 8am-2pm. 710 Montgomery St. at Columbus.

Over in SoMa, ~25 LUSK~ has reopened their indoor dining room. Expect some new dishes and a small plate format from chef Matthew Dolan, like braised beef short ribs with crescenza mashed potatoes. (The outdoor heated rooftop remains open as well.) You can also enjoy new cocktails from Elmer Mejicanos, who has rejoined the team, while Peter Palmer has been hard at work on the global wine list, with a focus on biodynamic and organic producers. Cheers! Indoor hours are Tue-Thu 5pm-9:30pm (bar to 10pm), Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm (bar to 11pm). 25 Lusk St. at Townsend.

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The new shrimp and scallion scramble at brunch at Barrio Chino. Photo courtesy of Barrio Chino.

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Keita Tominaga is the new chef-partner of PABU Izakaya. Photo courtesy of PABU.

Pete Mrabe of Chubby Noodle and Don Pistos launched brunch at ~BARRIO CHINO~, his Chino-Latino spot known for classic Asian dishes influenced by the flavors of Mexico. (It was previously Don Pistos Tequila Bar.) The new brunch menu is creative and right up my alley—it includes a shrimp and scallion scramble (oyster sauce, eggs, salsa macha); bacon egg jook (sunny side egg, scallions, fried shallots); and a birria Benedict (English muffin, hollandaise, green onions). Whut. There’s also a breakfast burrito with hot sausage fried rice, avocado, and green sriracha, sounds good! Brunch cocktails include a tequila sunrise, bloody Mary, and the option to have bottomless mimosas (made with sparkling wine and seasonal fruit for $25 at the table for 90 minutes). Available Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 2030 Lombard St. at Webster.

After the tragic passing earlier this year of beloved chef Ken Tominaga of Hana (since 1990!) and PABU, here’s some uplifting news: his son, Keita Tominaga, is the new chef-partner of ~PABU IZAKAYA~, which Ken founded in partnership with chef Michael Mina. Keita earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone after working at Farmhouse Restaurant and Inn (Forestville) and Diavola Pizzeria and Salumeria (Geyserville). He also spent more than two years working at Tokyo’s Tenoshima—which earned its first Michelin star during his time there—before returning to Northern California, where he worked alongside his father from March 2021 until his passing.

“My father was more than a chef—he was an educator and friend to many,” Keita says. “He took the time to teach people—everyone from his staff to his guests. Since English was not his native language, he spoke to them through food and took great joy in introducing people to his culture. With every project he has touched on, from opening Hana to PABU Izakaya with Michael Mina, he has always led by giving guests an authentic, Japanese experience. I look forward to carrying on his legacy and adding my own take on Japanese cuisine to PABU.”

The ~LA COCINA MUNICIPAL MARKETPLACE~ is getting a parklet, starting August 25th on Golden Gate Avenue. The parklet is in partnership with neighbor UC Hastings Law and will serve as an accessible and inclusive space for public seating, outdoor dining, and community programming. The parklet was designed, developed, and constructed with the generous pro bono support of Perkins&Will, Greystar, and Build Group. The exterior walls of the parklet will also serve as a canvas for local artist and La Cocina entrepreneur, Paola Lagunas, who will paint the story of migration through food. Swing by for lunch soon! 101 Hyde St. at Golden Gate.