The Tablehopper

Traci Des Jardins opens Arguello; Melissa Perello potentially opening new Pacific Heights project


Local talent Traci Des Jardins has been busy with the opening of her new restaurant — with the Presidio Trust and with support from Bon Appétit Management Company — in the Presidio, The Commissary, and now there’s her second project, Arguello (50 Moraga Avenue, 415-561-3650). While The Commissary is more Cal-Spanish, Arguello is all about home-style and authentic Mexican cooking, featuring many recipes from Des Jardins’s grandmother (it is different than Mijita’s menu). They even make tortillas on an outdoor comal.

Robbie Lewis, The Commissary’s culinary director, joins her at Arguello. There’s also a full bar with craft cocktails from Enrique Sanchez (La Mar, Tres Agaves) and 50 tequilas. It’s in the landmark Presidio Officers’ Club, with 118 seats, plus a heated patio with a fire pit and sheltering wall, so don’t let a windy day intimidate you. You can stop by for a sunny lunch (the menu is casual and easy) and things ramp up a bit more for dinner.

Interior designer Laura Cook designed a space that feels modern, but still has many original fixtures, and Studio Terpeluk milled the 125-year-old Douglas fir used for the bar that was salvaged from a historic Presidio building. And in case you want to brush up on your San Francisco history, the restaurant is named after Luis Antonio Arguello, who served as commander in the Presidio from 1806 until 1822, when he became the first Mexican governor of Alta California.

We were very sad to learn that 24-hour mainstay All Star Donuts (2095 Chestnut Street) in the Marina closed on Sept. 22 after 28 years of business. A note in the window states that they’ve lost their lease, though reportedly they may reopen in a new location. As for what will be moving into the corner space, Glaze Teriyaki will be opening their second San Francisco location there in 2015. From glazed doughnuts to Glaze.


Exciting (potential) news here: if the ABC license transfer and escrow gods cooperate, it looks like Melissa Perello of Frances will take over the recently closed Baker & Banker (1701 Octavia Street) space. Perello was not able to confirm or deny that she is in contract to purchase the space, but based on what I was able to dig up online, it looks like that’s the plan. Perello has been looking for a second space for some time. In an interview with Haighteration more than a year ago, she said, “I’m thinking about starting to think about Frances number two” and “I’m looking to replicate [Frances] on a larger scale. I’m just contemplating it.” Once Perello can talk about the location, we’ll have to see what her plans entail for her second project. And all of San Francisco (and beyond) will be eagerly listening.

Some news about the upcoming The Progress (1525 Fillmore Street), the second project from State Bird Provisions’ Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinsky, which is opening next door: They have hired Jason Alexander as the general manager and wine director. He was most recently the general manager for Meteor Vineyard and was the wine director for both Gary Danko and Cyrus (yeah, he’s no slouch in the wine department). In a conversation with Brioza, he says they have known each other for a long time, working on events together, and they were happy to herald Alexander’s return to the restaurant world.

One more tidbit: The Progress will open this year. While details aren’t ready for release, The Progress will live up to its name (it’s in homage to The Progress Theatre that was on the site from 1911–25). Brioza says the name stands for a firm foundation and can be used in reference to what they will be doing: progressing their dining style (without being pretentious). He says they aren’t reinventing the wheel, they already did that with State Bird — this will be a tribute to the past as they pave their way and look to the future. The food, wine and service style will reflect progress; Brioza added that they are very excited about their kitchen and front-of-house team. One big motif is the artisan role in what they do and create, so look for a continuation of many handmade elements in this next space. I’ll keep you posted!


East Bay gelato company Lush Gelato (1817 Polk Street, 415-444-9750) has opened a location on Polk. Owner Federico Murtagh makes his gelato completely from scratch, in house (meaning he doesn’t use a Straus base, like many other producers). This gives him more flexibility in creating his flavors and gives customers a chance to watch the process from start to finish. The spot is now open, so you can go scope some of the possible flavor choices.

The stylish Union Larder (1945 Hyde Street, 415-272-7567) is now open in Russian Hill from the team behind Little Vine in North Beach, and it is busy and popular. You can enjoy their house charcuterie, oysters, glasses of wine, sandwiches, and many cheeses (and fondue!). The retail side is also open, offering pantry items, Straus dairy products, and Marin Sun Farms meat.


Quince (470 Pacific Avenue, 415-775-8500) reopened after closing for renovations for a few months, and here are some updates on its looks (yes, it’s swanky!). Local designer Douglas Durkin designed the new space, which includes a private entryway, a new bar and lounge area, two new private dining rooms, a refreshed kitchen with a chef’s counter, and some new art and furniture. The focus of the renovation was on making the dining room feel more comfortable and inviting, with an eye toward both the restaurant’s former home on Octavia and the current space’s architectural past (it was built in 1907). Metalworker Michael Bondi created the new entrance, a glass and metal structure that carries guests from the street to the dining area.

One of the most exciting additions, if you are a lover of bubbles, is the Champagne bar and lounge at the entrance. Wine director Jai Wilson is offering a selection of wines from small producers in Champagne, including many farmer-owner wineries and others that are being imported to the United States for the first time. In addition to the bottles, you can also order à la carte from the tasting menu while seated in the lounge, and an hors d’oeuvres menu will be available, along with caviar service.

They’ve added two more private dining rooms, each with seating for as many as 12. There are also two seats at a chef’s counter, for those looking to experience the kitchen firsthand. The renovation has allowed for a private dining room at next-door’s Cotogna, called the Octavia Room. It is situated in the kitchen, if you’re really into seeing the action up close. Quince and the new lounge are open Monday–Saturday 5:30–10 p.m.

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Marcia Gagliardi is the founder of the weekly Tablehopper e-column; subscribe and get more food news and gossip at Follow her on Twitter: @tablehopper.