The Art of Getting There Before Everyone Else
Clear your plans for Friday night.
To keep tabs on every San Francisco restaurant and bar opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a monthly rundown of the five (or so) must-know spots that have swung wide their doors in the past 30 (or so). Bon appétit.
Plan on showing up early this weekend (read: 5:45 p.m.) for a seat at this brand-spanking-new Temescal yakitori, where chef Tommy Cleary will perform his magic on only 15 chickens, meaning that latecomers will find themselves distressingly out of luck/food. The menu’s a la carte for now; expect a bird-centric presentation with chicken liver pate, chicken sausage and frites, grilled duck breast and sweet egg omelette — and we trust Cleary, given his bona fides at Ippuku and B-Dama. No reservations; we suggest heading over early to pick up some goodies at Book/shop and lining up to get in early.
Looking for a fun place to burn off some energy after work with an expansive selection of drinks featuring pineapple, rum and mini umbrellas? Not sure you really need another $18 artisanal cocktail with pearl onions cultivated at that one farm in Humboldt County? Pagan Idol checks all the boxes and more: there are two rooms and plenty of space for parties, plus an ambitious design scheme that aims to pay tribute to not just the city’s rich tiki bar tradition, but the entire history of tiki, beginning with the Captain’s Quarters — Captain Cook, that is — and including an intermittently erupting volcano from artist Ivan Mora. It’s from the same team as Bourbon and Branch, with an impressive duo of managers: Justin D’Olier (a Hawaii native and Tupper & Reed alum) and Daniel Parks (ex-Trader Vic’s in Emeryville).
Hot Sauce + Panko
Clement Street just wasn’t big enough for go-to to-go spot Hot Sauce & Panko; plus, there was the small matter of the shop’s building being demolished to make way for condos. (Of course.) Owner Terrence Luk and team have wasted no time setting up anew on the corner of Hyde and Jackson in Nob Hill. We don’t envy the hassle but we’re delighted to have a cheap destination joint in this particular neighborhood. If you’re already familiar with the goods, nothing here will shock you; if you’re not, get ready for an extravaganza of hot wings (go for Chris’s, the “honey salty crispy black pepper”) plus a chicken and waffle open sandwich with the gravy of the day. Given the lack of eat-in facilities, you won’t want to stick around, but you may very likely be back for more. And if you don’t want to make the trip, Postmates delivers.
We’ve got the plan for your next date night. Not a first date, not a third, but a keeper: take her to Archimedes Banya — sign her up for a 90-minute aromatherapy massage — and then Uber over a few blocks to the just-opened Laughing Monk tasting room. If there’s a better one-two-three situation than a freezing-cold plunge pool followed by a steam room followed by beers, we don’t know what it is. That sense of expansive well-being will only be amplified by the history of the craft brewery, which is basically a fairy tale for home brewers: Caltech buddies Andrew Casteel and Aaron Hicks joined forces to brew and expanded and honed their repertoire over the years to the four beers currently on tap: a pale ale, an IPA, a golden ale with chamomile and an American stout with coffee. Expect that selection to grow; at the moment, they’re not offering food, but nearby Azalina’s will deliver tasty Malaysian.
If Berkeley native Jonathan Waxman hasn’t literally done it all, he’s gotten awfully close: the rocker cum chef who won a college scholarship for his trombone skills and toured with a band called Lynx later made his name in the culinary world at Chez Panisse. Now he’s best known for exporting California cuisine to the East Coast. He’s basically done it all but open a restaurant in S.F. — a situation he’s addressed with the new Waxman’s in Ghirardelli Square. Expect an upscale take on the chef’s trademark mix of Mediterranean and Italian influences with Northern California notes: kale salad with pecorino cheese, gnocchi with spring garlic salsa and spaghetti carbonara with a farm egg, to name a few.
Hina photo by alicia_1219