TABLEHOPPING Pastrami waffles, Exile on Main Street, and some darn good chicken flippers
The next time you're catching a show at The Chapel in the Mission, you'll be able to grab a bite before — or after, it's open until 1am! — at a new restaurant that just opened in the compound, The Vestry (777 Valencia, SF. www.thechapelsf.com ). The menu is Cal-Med (not to be confused with Club Med, which would be so dated), with pretty straight-ahead dishes like fried squash blossoms with carrot and ricotta purée, flatbreads, meatballs, and a burger. Cocktails are crafty, and dessert includes a spin on the iconic It's-It, the It IS It. In case you're wondering what's up with the stained glass and churchy feel, the building was once used as a mortuary, with a chapel attached. Praise the Lord, there's also a patio with room for 50.
Part bar, part lounge, SoMa's new Bergerac (316 11th St, SF. www.bergeracsf.com ) has a bit of a louche vibe: its style was modeled after Villa Nellcôte, the French villa where the Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street and things assuredly got a little cray. There's a walnut bar with room for 25 and some high tables. For a loungier vibe, snag one of the velvet or leather tufted couches (there's also a fireplace in the back). Chef Randy Lewis has cocktail-friendly food like a spin on a Scotch egg, crispy boneless chicken wings, and trout crudo — try it with a gin cocktail. Russell Davis's drink menu is getting a lot of buzz for the Fireball Inside Her, a shot of Fireball dropped into a glass of cider: say it out loud. Goodness. I guess Keith Richards would approve. There's also the Unforgiven, with mezcal, Ransom Old Tom gin, Carpano Antica, maraschino, spring water, a Duke's orange, and "shined" tobacco tincture. Party on.
If you're looking for an izakaya vibe before catching a movie at the Sundance Kabuki or a show at the Boom Boom Room, Izakaya Hashibiro Kou (1560 Fillmore, SF. www.izakayakou.com ) is now open. The menu of Korean and Japanese dishes (it's a sister restaurant to the Korean barbecue restaurants Yakini Q in San Francisco and San Jose) features bacon and enoki mushrooms, raw octopus marinated in wasabi, dengaku miso grilled eggplant, and yamakake yam with bigeye tuna.
SF should be fired up to have its very own Champa Garden (613 Faxon, SF.), although it's a bit of a schlep for some to its location out by City College. The menu — which is just like the original Oakland location, be tee dub — is full of Laotian dishes like fried rice ball salad and noodle soups. Lunch and dinner, woo hoo. Chompa-chompa.
If you spent some time in SoCal (or Walnut Creek), you may know about the popular chain Tender Greens (30 Fremont, SF. www.tendergreensfood.com ), which now has its first SF location. As you can tell by the name, salads are the name of the game, but there are also soups and sandwiches to keep downtown workers well-fed and productive.
If you're an espresso aficionado (or in need of a replacement for your "I just need a little pick-me-up" cocaine habit), be sure to visit the new Linea Caffe (3417 18th St, SF. www.lineacaffe.com ), an espresso bar from Andrew Barnett, the founder of Ecco Caffe, who partnered up with Anthony Myint of Mission Chinese, Commonwealth, and Mission Bowling Club. Not only will you find some of the city's best shots — Barnett is roasting his own coffee — but you'll also find tasty salads and waffles, both sweet and savory. Hello pastrami waffle, for reals. The space is the picture of petite (it's in the back of Duc Loi Supermarket), so all food items are served in to-go containers, or you enjoy 'em while squeezed in at the espresso counter. Open 8am–3pm daily.
Okay people: if you love wings, I really hope you have tried the version at the quirky-charming Fusebox (3417 18th St, Oakland. www.fuseboxoakland.com ). These KFC (Korean fried chicken) wings of your dreams are worthy enough to cross the bridge for, trust. Crisp (they're fried in rice flour), juicy, and saucy, they feature the trifecta of wing nirvana. Your $5.50 will be very well spent. And the rest of the menu also rocks, so bon appétit.