The Tablehopper

It’s about time to eat outside: Picnics, parties, and new patios

Jian bing from Tai Chi Jianbing at Off the Grid: Fort Mason. Photo: ©TABLEHOPPER.COM


There’s a new taker for the former Bin 38/Scotland Yard space (3232 Scott Street). Barrel Room owner Sarah Trubnick has purchased the lease and is launching a concept with Barrel Room’s executive chef Manny Hewitt based on food and wine pairing — all dishes will have recommended pairings (one to complement and one to contrast). There will also be a reasonably priced themed tasting menu offered each night, plus a raw bar. Fifty wines will be available by the glass and half glass. The space is undergoing a full remodel, and construction is imminent. I’ll have more to share as this takes shape; they are looking to open mid-May or early June — just in time for patio season.

A sudden closure recently was Mamacita (2317 Chestnut Street), after 12 years of business. SF Gate reports partners Stryker Scales and chef Sam Josi will be coming up with another concept for the space, while partner Nate Valentine has moved on to his own new project, August Hall.


Springtime is here, which means the return of two of the city’s best food truck events. First up: I got to check out some of the new vendors at Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center. A few highlights: fans of Cuban cuisine — a rarity in San Francisco — will definitely want to swing by the Cuban Kitchen tent. Founder Lynna Martinez makes a really good Cubano, and I fell for her fritas: little pork burgers with a smoky, chorizo-like heat from the pimenton she uses, with house-made habanero pickles and crispy little French fries tucked in there. You want this.

You can also try the Chinese street treat jian bing from Tai Chi Jianbing — it’s like an eggy crêpe with fun fillings inside, and they care about using organic ingredients. El Porteño is back with their empanadas, and Pretzelina is serving authentic Bavarian-style pretzels with beer cheese. You can stay hydrated with a fresh coconut from CORE Kitchen, or bring it over to neighbor Rye on the Road and have it spiked with some booze. (Or you can go for one of Rye on the Road’s boozy hot toddies, which hits the spot on a chilly and windy San Francisco night.) And of course, a bunch of regulars will be returning, from Johnny Doughnuts to Curry Up Now, and don’t miss the wood-fired pizzas from A16 — check the schedule for the latest. Music will also continue to be a part of the event, with live bands from 8–10 p.m. Open every Friday 5–10 p.m. through October.

Presidio Picnic started back up last month, returning for its fifth season with the Presidio Trust. Food, drinks, music, lawn games, fun with the kiddies…the bases are covered. Plus, groups can preorder food this year (check for details).

New to Presidio Picnic this year are A’repa, Belgian Frites, Bi-Rite Creamery, Farm Stand Lemonade, Hookt Mini Doughnuts, Jackrabbit, Falcon, Marla Bakery, Ocean Oyster Company, Senor Sisig, and True Jerky.


Open for brunch is Contrada (2136 Union Street, 415-926-8916), where you can now enjoy one of chef Jason Tuley’s fantastic pizzas over the weekend with California Caviar Co. smoked trout roe, crème fraîche, soft scrambled eggs, and garden herbs on top. Other dishes include soft scrambled eggs with Josey Baker seeded toast and black truffles, and short rib hash, plus brunch cocktails (low-ABV ones, to be clear). Open Saturday–Sunday 11 a.m.–3 p.m. And guess what? Their spacious patio is now open!

Last December, I mentioned The Epicurean Trader was expanding to Cow Hollow with its second location, and it’s now open at 1909 Union Street. You can swing by for everything from craft spirits to gourmet cheese and charcuterie, plus fresh bread from Tartine Bakery, small-production wines, small-batch coffee, hand-blended teas and spices, craft chocolates, oils and vinegars, and other artisanal pantry items.


Ramen fans: there is a new ramen place that opened in Japantown, Marufuku Ramen (1581 Webster Street, Ste. 235, 415-872-9786). Their specialty is Hakata-style ramen (thin noodles, with varying levels of noodle hardness) and two kinds of chicken paitan ramen with a variety of toppings, spice levels, plus small rice bowls. Open Tuesday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5:30–9:30 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m.


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Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, tablehopper, about the San Francisco dining and imbibing scene; get all the latest news at Follow @tablehopper on Twitter and Instagram for more culinary finds!