SFist's food briefings this week included news on Food Hall, a somewhat risible corner grocery store now open 16th and Valencia, word that Jeremy Fox's Oro had gotten the shutter after just 9 months in the biz, and intel that Corridor, from the Stones Throw and Trestle team, had opened for "fast fine dining" in the base of the 100 Van Ness tower. We also highlighted a new beer garden event series in the Presidio and had a special report on how food providers serve homeless people in San Francisco. Here are some other openings, closings, and developments of note:
Robots are at last coming for your burger-flipping jobs. The news that a restaurant from a local startup, Momentum Machines, which in 2012 unveiled a prototype of a hamburger robot, came in January via Hoodline. Now Eater follows up with a craigslist job ad (ironic, but apparently these robots can't run the whole show themselves), indicating that the burger biz is indeed heading towards us. Tech Insider writes that the machine is "fully autonomous, meaning the robot can slice toppings, grill a patty, and assemble and bag the burger without any help from humans." What a time to be a human!
Speaking of technologically advanced dining experiences that might remind you of existing quinoa automat Eatsa, the Chronicle has this report on Starbird, a chicken joint in Sunnyvale. The idea is better fast food with good ingredients ordered via app, and whether or not it disrupts the drive-thru, the Chronicle liked the taste.
Nellie’s Soul Food has closed after 50 years in Oakland, leaving die-hard fans of namesake Nellie Ozen's smothered-oxtails and dynamite jukebox in mourning. Ozen, now in her 80s, and her daughter and restaurant partner have decided to retire, the East Bay Express reports. However, Inside Scoop hears that Ozen will keep going in some capacity, perhaps at a smaller restaurant.
Ike’s Place, the ever-expanding sandwich empire, has moved its Castro location, previously a temporary locale at Sanchez and Church, to Market Street where they'll share space with Sweet inspiration. Hoodline had the report, and observes that while Ike's is busy opening offshoots in Newport Beach and Davis, the chain also taking over the Powell Blondie’s space (we won't discuss past events there for the sake of your appetite) as well as setting up shop on Polk Street in a former Quiznos, which has no metaphorical meaning whatsoever it's just a fact.
A new menu is heading to Upper Haight mainstay Magnolia, which Eater has here, and that's thanks to David Bazirgan of Dirty Habit and Freedom Rains of Belga. Last December, Magnolia declared bankruptcy, probably because of or at least exacerbated by their expansion to the Dogpatch with Smokestack. They promised business as usual at the time, and it appears that it's been that way.
Marina del Rey-based seafood chain Killer Shrimp in Russian Hill has closed but is looking for another SF location closer to the waterfront (cough tourists cough). They took over the Taps spot on Broadway and Polk last summer.
Next week will see the opening of Don Pisto’s Tequila Bar in the old Mas Sake space in the Marina. Tablehopper reported the opening, writing that the bar will offer smaller sizes of Pisto's favorites with almost everything under $15 and some "street food" items like fish tacos and tamales just $3-$7.
200-year-old Japanese brewery Hitachino Nest Beer is putting down roots in the US with Hitachino Beer & Wagyu, an Izakaya restaurant on Post between Jones and Taylor aiming to open next month. Eater writes that the chef is Noriyuki Sugie, formerly of the now-shuttered Nombe.
Dabba, a food truck for "global flavors," will be opening brick and mortar in July as well according to Hoodline. Burrito-style wraps and more await according to their website. Dabba is hindi for "lunchbox."
Russian River Brewing Co., the cult favorite brewers behind Pliny the Elder and Younger, are moving forward with a new Windsor brewery expansion just seven miles from their current Santa Rosa home. The Chronicle reports that they've secured the financing and will ramp up production so that more people can enjoy their, as of now, extremely limited offerings.
Burma Bear, a concept from Burma-Born and SF-raised chef Hubert Lim, has opened in Oakland. The mashup, Inside Scoop writes, is between American BBQ and burmese classic dishes and was a hit on underground dinner and festival scenes.
Umami, a staple for ten years inCow Hollow, has closed. They gave this ominous statement to Inside Scoop: “The city needs to be very careful not to erode away what made it so great to start with...Call us another casualty of a changing San Francisco."
Dive Bar Butter is expanding into the sports bar game with Buzzworks, which will open in SoMa next month according to Eater. Of course, you might remember this tidbit of news from, I shit you not, the inaugural This Week In SF Food column from 2014. Yes, that's when the opening was originally announced, so it's been a little while in the making.
Smitten, the flash-frozen ice cream aficionados, will open their 7th store, an outpost in the Marina, just in time for 4th of July festivities. Eater says to expect the usual, plus late night hours, and, for the first time, ice cream sandwiches.
Pal's takeaway may have parted ways with Oakland bakery Firebrand, but a new menu for the latter has been revealed to Inside Scoop, including everything from breakfast sandwiches to lobster rolls.
They may not being throwing their typical street food festival this year, but the La Cocina food incubator folks do have something fun for us: La Lucha de La Cocina, a taco party and wrestling extravaganza that gives new meaning to the idea of a food fight (please clap). Inside Scoop is hyping the event, scheduled for August 13 at Pier 70. Also: Mezcal tastings and and live music.
This Week In Reviews
From the ashes of the restaurant known as TBD (there was a literal fire, no one was hurt) comes Fenix, which bills itself as Mexican although it's also Colombian and Californian. Anyway, the Chronicle's Michael Bauer was on the case for his new review this week: At the latest venture from chef Mark Liberman and his business partner Matt Semmelhack (AQ, Bon Marche), "what sets the menu apart are the five large plates," like pork shank that "looks like it could feed a crowd." The critic does have a few seasoning tips: For example, "Sweet and hot preserved pumpkin was neither." Still, he's a fan, especially of Liberman's distaste for obeisance to the idea of authenticity: "Is it Mexican, Colombian, Californian? Authenticity can be debated but in the end, good is good." How good is Fenix? Two-and-a-half stars.
Fried Chicken burritos (Wesburger), sisig burritos (Senor Sisig), Chinese burritos (Mission Chinese), oh my! Anna Roth chimes in for the Chronicle on what is a trend apparently all of a sudden, and she's onboard mostly because "we should be reserving our judgment for the real scourge: bad burritos." Amen.
The Weekly's Pete Kane calls the "cryptic" menu at SoMa's Bellota "a grab bag of Spanish cuisine." In fact, there's so much to it that it could be an issue with a small group, but "if you don't get flustered by the feeling that you're ordering wrong," writes Kane, it's "a wonderland of rich, salty goodness." The Fabada was his favorite, "a stew of Asturian white beans, chorizo, morcilla, pork belly, grilled octopus, and charred and fermented cabbage," although "the paella is also irresistible." Zooming out, Kane addresses the question of recent high-profile, high-end restaurants in town that are starting, it seems, to struggle. Will Bellota's fate resemble Oro's? He doesn't think so, in part because of the success and good standing of its corporate parent, the Absinthe Group, and in part because it sounds delicious.