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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Ro Cafe brings Turkish coffee, baklava and other Kurdish delights to 5th & Calif.

Owner Havin Gavgasi stands outside Ro Cafe on 5th & California

Tucked on the southwest corner of 5th and California is the new Ro Cafe, a Kurdish cafe that has been open for just over a month.

Owner Havin Gavgasi, who came to the U.S. four years ago from Kurdistan, took over the lease from the previous cafe. She worked in cafes previously in her career and said she’s always wanted to open her own place.

Ro Cafe serves Graffeo Coffee from North Beach, and offers a Turkish version for those who like a good punch in their cup. The menu features many traditional Kurdish dishes including Kurdish Baklava and Kurdish flatbread, which Gavgasi says is a favorite.

She prepares the flatbread fresh when you order, rolling out the dough and preparing it on a hot flat grill, similar to a crepe cooker. But the final result is a thicker bread, like a thin pizza crust.

The Kurdish Flatbread Panini ($7.25) on the menu is a mix of feta cheese, chopped Italian parsley, and cooked onion placed between two thin layers of fresh dough and baked on the hot grill. It’s served with a side of sliced tomatoes and homemade sauce. You can add chicken to it for an additional $2.

The Kurdish style couscous is another item that Gavgasi says usually surprises people because it’s a little different than other couscous they’ve had before. Her recipe combines couscous with mixed tomato paste, parsley, green onion with Kurdish spices, served with fresh tomatoes and lemon on the side. She says several customers have been happily surprised with her version, and have come back into the cafe to order it again.

The menu also includes a few other sandwiches including a Veggie Sandwich ($5.25), a Chicken Breast Wrap served on Middle Eastern Pita Pita Bread ($6.95), and a Feta Beef Roll, which is oven baked.

If you’re stopping by in the morning, order a Corek (pronounced Chorek), a traditional Kurdish breakfast pastry. One variety has pesto and cheese inside. The cafe also offers a Kurdish Veggie Omelet with a side of ciabatta bread toast.

We tried the baklava while we were there and it was delicious – light, very flaky and sweet. You get two small slices (egg roll size) for $3.25. The other dessert on the menu is Kurdish pudding, served cold.

Gavgasi called her new business Ro Cafe because Ro means “river” in her language, and her native Kurdistan is criss-crossed with them. Cafes in her home country make tea and coffee with water from the rivers, and believe its clean properties make the beverages taste better.

“And Ro is easy to say,” Gavgasi said, laughing. “I also really like the neighbors – they are friendly and come shop here to support my business.”

While we were there, local resident Patricia was enjoying the free Wifi, and eagerly awaiting her flatbread. She lives on Geary and 2nd, and said she escapes to Ro Cafe for good food, as well as some peace and quiet.

Ro Cafe is located at 195 5th Avenue on the corner of California, and is open from 7am until 7pm every day. Stop in to try some Kurdish delights and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Sarah B.

The baklava pastry was very tasty!

5:25 am | Posted under Business, Food | 5 comments

Bizness: Poppy coats, Foggy online, Murasaki closing, My Thai opens & more

Poppy von Frohlich owner Trudy (R) poses with Seedstore owner Cynthia Huie
in her “Lumber Jane” coat

Just like a hyperlocal Wall Street ticker, here are some updates on a few neighborhood businesses. Have a good Tuesday! – Sarah B.

  • We got word on a new cottage business here in the neighborhood called Poppy von Frohlich, specializing in outerwear for women. Owner Trudy tells us, “I design and pattern and sample sew everything in my outer richmond home and then all of my manufacturing is done in down town SF.” She comes out with a new design every 6 weeks and produces a limited amount of each design, offering free fittings and alterations to her local customers at her in-house studio. Check out her designs online at PoppyvonFrohlich.com or stop in Seedstore (212 Clement) to check out some of her designs.
  • Foggy Notion Boutique on 6th Avenue was selected as one of the first businesses to be in Square’s new marketplace, Square Market. So when you can’t make it into the store, or want to show off a cool neighborhood store to your out of town friends and fam, point them here.
  • Some sad news from inner Clement: The owner of Murasaki Sushi (211 Clement), Toshi Sasaki, passed away earlier this month. The restaurant had been closed for a few weeks with a sign saying that the owner was sick. Cynthis Huie of Seedstore wrote to us and said, “He was an amazing sushi chef, who kept my family and I well fed and a really nice man.” Sasaki was born in Hokknido, Japan, and was in the restaurant business for 28 years.
  • A drive down Geary on Monday night reminded us that we never posted about a new doggy boutique and grooming business, Top Dog Boutique Grooming, open at 5050 Geary and 15th Avenue (looks like it used to be Hollywood Dog Grooming in Laurel Heights?). Bring Fido by for a Bath & Brush ($45), and extra $10 gets his teeth brushed too (lots of other services too). The shop also sells premium natural dog food and natural shampoos.
  • We’re a little late with this news but a new restaurant, My Thai has opened up at 908 Clement. Previously it was Zaab Thai Cuisine so we’re not sure if this is a re-branding or new ownership altogether. Their awning promises “Authentic Thai Food & American Breakfast”.

My Thai restaurant at 908 Clement

5:13 am | Posted under Business, Food | 2 comments

Balboa Food News: Shanghai Dumpling re-opens, Hockey Haven does BBQ, Cassava almost ready to re-open, new Marla Bakery in 2014

Artists HsiaoChi Chang and Alex Lee stand in front of their chalkboard mural of Balboa Street inside Cassava Bakery

Lots of food tidbits to report on for outer Balboa this week!

Shanghai Dumpling (3319 Balboa) closed a few months ago for renovations, but reader Steve tells us it is finally back open for business. So if you’ve been jonesing for their dumplings, General Tso chicken or sugar egg puffs, get out there.

I am carnivore, hear me roar… We got a note from Erin at Hockey Haven (3625 Balboa) who tells us that they’ve teamed up with The Boneyard Truck (BBQ), who will be serving from the HH kitchen on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm until 10pm, and serving Sunday brunch from 11am until 3pm. “Our meats are smoked and roasted to succulent perfection every day. Paired with fresh homemade breads and seasonal side dishes, we create exciting flavor combinations that are sure to awaken your inner carnivore.” Brisket chili nachos, anyone? Erin says Boneyard will also take over the Monday Night Football steak dinners starting in August.

The much beloved Cassava Bakery (3519 Balboa) closed a couple of months ago so they could expand into the space next door. We stopped by last Saturday for a sneak peek and it’s nearly done. They hoped to open this week but next week is more likely. In addition to having a beer and wine license, the “new & improved” Cassava will have seating for roughly 25 inside and 20 outside, an expanded menu, and plans to serve their popular Japanese breakfast every day of the week. They will also continue to offer pop-up dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. Follow them on Facebook for the latest updates.

Speaking of pop-ups – one has decided to commit and settle down on Balboa Street. Tablehopper reports that Marla Bakery plans to open in the former Crown Lock space (3619-21 Balboa). “They will be open for breakfast and lunch daily, plus Sunday suppers, and eventually dinner too (the space will initially be used for pop-up dinners and cooking classes in the evenings). You can also come by to just pick up bread and pastries.” Targeting a Spring 2014 opening.

Bon Appétit Balboa!

Sarah B.

5:01 am | Posted under Business, Food | 2 comments

Heartbaker brings pastries, savory bites to outer Clement Street

Heartbaker owner Sybil Johnson with her father, Mark

This past weekend marked the opening for Heartbaker, a new cafe / bakery located at 1408 Clement near 15th Avenue. The cafe received some early buzz on local food blogs last Friday, and when we stopped in on Sunday afternoon, the place was already hopping with new customers.

Heartbaker is the lovechild of pastry chef Sybil Johnson, who is returning to the retail food business after taking some years off to be a Mom. Johnson had past stints as a pastry chef at some high-end San Francisco eateries, including Aqua, the Fairmont Hotel and Kokkari. But after not finding work right away, she ultimately decided she’d rather open her own place and work for herself.

She says she went back and forth between wanting to open a full-scale restaurant or just a bakery. Heartbaker is a nice blend of both – an assortment of pastries, small sandwiches, quiches, cupcakes and cookies – that will satisfy a wide range of palettes and appetites. And it’s a comfortable space where you’ll want to spend some time and have a nice meal.

Heartbaker is still awaiting their beer and wine license, but Johnson expects it to be approved within the next couple of weeks. Once it is, she’ll add more savory items to the menu, and stay open into the evenings for dinner fare.

The space at 1408 Clement has been empty since Chapeau! vacated it in mid-2009 and moved to the second block of Clement. In February, we saw the first Heartbaker sign on the door that promised “Coming Soon!”.

Fast forward a few months and Johnson was still tied up in city red tape trying to open. They kept neighbors updated with letters on the door that promised they were still working on things. Johnson’s father, Mike Johnson, who is a partner in Heartbaker, said it was a challenging journey to get to opening day.

But they made it and the neighborhood is happy to have them. The space looks great inside. Cool grey walls and a white, marble top counter make it feel warm, cozy and fresh. There is table seating for about twenty, and a few chairs at the counter.

Heartbaker definitely wins for some of the most unusual photos we’ve ever seen at a cafe or bakery. Large portraits of the Heartbaker staff hang on the walls, each of them wearing baked goods “masks”. One has a a faceful of chocolate chip cookies, another covered in puff pastries.

The cafe is on the north side of the street and gets great mid-day and afternoon sun. They’ll be adding outdoor seating soon, but in the meantime patrons can sit on two stone benches out front that are holdovers from the Chapeau! days. There is also a large back patio on the property, but they’re unsure if they will open that up for seating.

One of the best parts of Heartbaker opening for Johnson? Her short commute to work. She lives just a few blocks away with her husband and two sons, all of whom were in the cafe when we stopped by. The boys were reading on bean bag chairs back near the kitchen (“They’ve already found their space,” Johnson said), and her husband was working behind the counter.

Heartbaker is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7am until 5pm (closed Mondays). In a few weeks, they’ll add additional evening hours, staying open until 9pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sundays, and until 11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Stop in and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Sarah B.

5:06 am | Posted under Business, Food | 11 comments

Free workshop on sourdough bread making at Anza Library, June 19

We are a city known for our sourdough bread, but most of us buy it at the market, or even better, fresh from the ovens at the Boudin Bakery on 10th Avenue.

But if you’re more of a DIY’er when it comes to breads, you might want to check out the Sourdough Starter Workshop at the Anza Branch Library on Wednesday June 19 at 6pm.

Cat Shimizu, the “breaducator” from Sour Flour, will talk about the art and science of making bread using a sourdough starter.

This includes how to feed and take care of your own starter, and how different factors such as time, temperature, and starter hydration affect the fermentation process. They will also provide samples and suggested reading that will help get you started on a new adventure in sourdough bread baking.

The workshop is free, and takes place at the Anza Branch Libary located at 550 37th Avenue, between Anza and Geary.

Sarah B.

5:21 am | Posted under Classes, Food | 1 comment

“Cooking with Kids & Grandparents” workshop at GGPSC, Tuesday

On Tuesday, June 4, the Golden Gate Park Senior Center is hosting their “Cooking with Kids & Grandparents” event from 9:30am until 12noon.

The event is a great chance for grandparents and their grandchildren to enjoy a day together of cooking, culinary exploration and eating. The event is hosted by the students of the Nutrition Assistant Program of City College SF, under the supervision of registered dietician Lisa Yamashiro.

The workshop takes place at the Senior Center, located at 6101 Fulton Street. Cost is $5 per participant, and children must be accompanied by an adult.

Please reserve your spot in advance by emailing lisa.yamashiro@mail.ccsf.edu.

Sarah B.

10:15 am | Posted under Classes, Food, Golden Gate Park, Kids | 1 comment

Richmond District winners in SFWeekly’s “Best of San Francisco 2013″ poll

The view at Lands End

We’re cross-eyed after reviewing the dozens of awards that SFWeekly handed out this week in their annual “Best of San Francisco” poll. Below are the local winners in the roundup – yay for the Richmond District!

Best Aquarium Turned Dance Floor: California Academy of Sciences
Every Thursday evening the museum converts into a makeshift discotheque, using its various rooms to host DJs pulled from the city’s best parties. Venture downstairs to Steinhart Aquarium, and, on select nights, you can dance next to a stunning variety of tropical fish. More

Best Funhouse: Buckshot (3848 Geary)
This bar and game room out in the Inner Richmond puts a whole new twist on the term “drinking games.” Forget the college classics like flip cup, beer pong or kings when you’re putting back the booze. Instead, travel back further into your childhood and play a slew of arcade games, including hipster favorite Big Buck Hunter. More

Skee ball at the Buckshot. Photo by Joey the Cat

Best Feat of Culinary Strength: The Challenge at Pho Garden (2109 Clement)
we’re probably not the best candidates to take The Challenge at Pho Garden, wherein contestants must eat 2 pounds of rice noodles, 2 pounds of combination beef and tripe, and 4 quarts of broth in less than an hour. More

Blogger Madison tries her luck with the Pho Challenge

Best Place to Get Lost: Mile Rock Beach
…with a little more effort on the Lands End hike – over 100 stairs, to be precise – it’s possible to find a place where on a foggy day not even Marin County across the water can be seen from a stretch of sand tucked in between cliffs west of the Golden Gate. More

Best Housing Metaphor: Golden Gate Park’s Tiny Door-in-a-Tree
Whether art project or public statement or another sad escapee from UCSF’s Super-Intelligent Squirrel Development Lab, the door attracted national attention before it got filled with trash, at which point the city intervened, citing (as always) some permitting thing. More

The mini door at the base of a tree in Golden Gate Park. Photos by Erica Reh

Best Amateur Historian: Woody LaBounty
The self-described “Big History Guy” — he is 6-foot-5 — is the executive director of the Western Neighborhoods Project and the keeper of the mesmerizing OutsideLands.org. If ever there were a more surefire way for a history-minded San Franciscan to blow an afternoon perusing amazing old photos and reading insightful essays than visiting this site, we haven’t found it yet.

Best Place for a Mani/Pedi: Aqua Spa (14 Clement)
Before your toes hit the water, the friendly staff offers you tea, puts a warm wrap around your shoulders, and turns on the massage chair. There’s an endless supply of tabloid magazines, but there’s a good chance you’ll never get to that Brangelina story, because they do foot and hand massages that are so relaxing it’s hard to concentrate on celebrity gossip. More

Best Place to Take Small Kids on a Bike Ride:
Ocean Beach Promenade

…there’s no better place, day-in and day-out to pedal along with the wee ones than the flat, forgiving terrain of the Ocean Beach promenade. More

Best Hike to Ruins of an Astronomical Observatory: Summit of Strawberry Hill, Golden Gate Park
You won’t find strawberries atop Strawberry Hill anymore. Nor will you find the Sweeny Observatory, a grand, castle-like structure erected in 1891. Sepia-toned photos reveal a wondrous, circular structure sprouting atop the hill and reflected in Stow Lake. More

The Sweeny Observatory atop Strawberry Hill lay in ruins after the quake of 1906. Photo courtesy of calisphere

Best Marathon Sporting Development Battle: Beach Chalet Soccer Fields
After five years of wrangling and approval by four city agencies, the state’s Coastal Commission finally approved proposed Astroturf fields under 60-foot light towers on the far west of Golden Gate Park. It was a long and odd road; a city document actually argued that the turf-and-lights plan was best because the area had fallen prey to “undesirable uses such as camping and sexual activity.” Turf opponents claimed that artificial grass conflicted with the natural state of a park created atop rolling sand dunes. Barring legal redress, the turf and lights are coming. Whether the camping and sex go away remains to be seen.

Reader’s Poll Winners
Best Museum: De Young
Best Music Festival: Hardy Strictly Bluegrass
Best Hike: Land’s End
Best Park: Golden Gate Park

A conceptual, overhead rendering of the four renovated fields at Beach Chalet

5:08 am | Posted under Business, Food, Golden Gate Park, Museums, Ocean Beach, Parks, Recreation | 7 comments

New Mexican eatery “La Ciudad de Mexico” opens on 6th Avenue near California

Bienvenidos a La Ciudad de Mexico, a new Mexican food cafe that opened this past Saturday in the old Jersey’s Sandwiches location at 200 6th Avenue near California.

Ciudad’s menu is pretty expansive considering the tiny space they are operating out of. Stop in for tortas, tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and alambres (a mix of bell pepper, onion, and bacon with your choice of meat).

They also offer more traditional fare like sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches and salads. You can view their full menu online.

No word yet on how the food is, but there were plenty of curious people who stopped by to check them out over the weekend.

“I passed by today and the place was crowded (even though it doesn’t take much to crowd this place up!),” reader Mark T told us.

La Ciudad de Mexico is open Monday through Friday from 7am until 5pm, and Sunday from 8am to 4pm. They are closed on Saturdays.

Have you tried it out? If so, leave a comment to let us know how it was.

Thanks to readers Mark T. and Amanda for the tips.

Sarah B.

5:07 am | Posted under Business, Food | 22 comments