This week, SFist's food department reported that the Outer Sunset oasis Riptide was roaring back to life, that the owners of the mini-chain Burma Superstar were named in a class action lawsuit filed by kitchen workers, and that Doughnut Dolly was popping up at the Market on Market this morning. Here's what else foodies were chattering about:
The Melt, a chain of fast food restaurants changing the world through grilled cheese or whatever, has lost its founder, as the Chronicle reports. Where did he go, one wonders, and what will the company do without him, the inventor of the Flip camera? “We originally thought that technology would provide us with an exclusive that would prevent others from making grilled cheese as good or fast or as inexpensively,” he, an adult human with money, actually said to the paper. “The reality is that while it was great, it didn’t motivate people to have a grilled cheese.”
Those pining for Hamburger Mary’s, the drag queen-and-burger chain, that's been aiming to open in the Castro, have a bit more pining to do. The business can’t find qualified staff according to owner Les Natali (Badlands, Toad Hall), as Hoodline reports, and from the sound of it that means that Natali, who for the last year was seeking a qualified operator to run the business for him, may be trying to run it himself now after failing to strike such a deal. And now it's manager positions he claims he's having trouble filling, though given the ridiculous timeline of this piece of Castro real estate, which has been vacant more than a decade and a half, you can believe what you will.
Elite Cafe is set to reopen September 19, Tablehopper reveals: Schroeder's owner Andy Chun took over New Orleans-inspired operation on Fillmore in March, but he's keeping restaurant fixtures like those fine wooden booths.
The FiDi’s Chiaroscuro has closed to make way for a new concept, the similarly named Contrasto, headed to the Washington Street location according to Inside Scoop. "More good things to come,” says owner and Italian countryman Alessandro Campitelli of Rome.
Popular food truck Casey’s Pizza has snatched up a brick and mortar location: According to Inside Scoop, pizzaiolo Casey Crynes’ will take his craft to 1170 4th Street. Crynes is in final negotiations for a lease, and no opening date has yet been set.
There's new ownership for Cha Cha Cha/Original McCarthy’s: Irfan Yalcin, who runs Urban Fish (formerly Dante's Weird Fish) is taking the reins from Philip Bellber, the original owner behind the Mission and Upper Haight tapas bars. Mission Local reports that Bellber, who also owned Valencia Street brunch staple Boogaloos, is retiring.
Opening on Polk is Mezcalito in the former Verbena/Reverb space, which we heard a couple months ago was a new mezcal-driven venture from the people behind local chain Andalé Mexican Family Kitchen. Tablehopper reports that it debuts on September 14.
"If you want to try new things, then you open up your own restaurant” Rosa D'Alo once told her offspring, according to the Chronicle. Well. that's happening: Popular Berkeley Italian destination Trattoria Siciliana is getting a sister restaurant called Agrodolceto, which opens next week in Berkeley in the former Cafe Gratitude space. More accurately, maybe, to call it a "son" restaurant: Angelo D'Alo, the child of Trattoria Siciliana's founder, will operate the new spot.
Sofia Café... hmm, sound familiar? That's what's going in where Cafe Sophie once was, on 16th Street in the Castro, until that closed a year-and-a-half back. "Besides having a good cup of coffee, we created a seasonal menu with optional wine pairings," new owner Nelson Jameson tells Hoodline (the naming similarity is, apparently, a coincidence).
Finally, Bellota chef Ryan McIlwraith is rolling out lunch at his Spanish spot in the Airbnb building, and Eater has the menu, which includes of course some patatas bravas and even paellas.
This Week In Reviews
Anna Roth swung overr to Swan’s Market in Old Oakland under the auspices of the Chronicle, which she dubs a "buzzing" food hall where Cosecha's fried fish tacos are "worth a visit in themselves." Run by a community-building organization called the thee East Bay Asian Local Development Corp, Swan's Market is "life-affirming," says Roth, and the best time to go, she thinks is Friday during lunch.
The Weekly's Pete Kane took the new Tartine Manufactory for a spin. At the new venture from Liz Prueitt and Chad Robertson, "the new-opening chaos has died down, but the electricity has not," and the review here is mostly an explanation of the systems in place at the somewhat-confusing all-day spot.
Michael Bauer listed his top 12 Carmel restaurants this week. The number one spot is occupied by the newcomer Cultura Comida y Bebida, where highlights are "a squash-blossom quesadilla thick with gooey Mexican cheese; local halibut ceviche with habanero, coconut water and lime; and mushroom empanadas with green mole."
Safely back in Frisco, Bauer has newly given Bluestem three stars. After five years and churning through several cooks, Bauer realizes that, in this and other cases, "it takes a restaurant several years to find synergy with a chef. With its modern, glass-enclosed interior on Yerba Buena Lane overlooking Market Street, Bluestem is now one of my top recommendations near Westfield San Francisco Centre or Union Square, whether for lunch or dinner." Chef John Griffiths, formerly of the Advocate, will be pleased to hear all this.
And for his Sunday review, Mr. Bauer covers Corridor, the new fast-casual spot at 100 Van Ness from the Hi Neighbor Restaurant Group that's also responsible for Stones Throw in Russian Hill, and Trestle in North Beach. He finds the food so impressive from the savory cheddar and chive monkey bread to the "meatloaf Wellington" and the "intensely flavored French onion soup." He doesn't mind the fast-casual aspect, and says there's still a "fine-dining sensibility" to the table service once you've ordered at the counter. In the end, he calls the place "the real deal" and gives it a big three stars.