We are in crisis and our beloved dining and drink community was, essentially, devastated overnight.
For now, my column morphs into a takeout-and-delivery model. This guide from at Serious Eats helps us navigate safety, alongside this handy “cheat sheet”, while sites from CNN and WSJ to The Atlantic echo low-risk factors of delivery/takeout.
As we stay-in, our beloved independent restaurants and bars — which make our city the food/drink capital it has been for decades — are in dire need. Ways to support continue springing up, from gift certificates to GoFundMe pages. Dig deeper into support via sites like Save Our Faves and Craft Table, call Congress [details via James Beard Foundation and Save Local Restaurants] or aid workers at www.restaurantworkerscf.org and https://ofwemergencyfund.org.)
Ordering takeout directly from a said restaurant ensures that eatery gets 100 percent of your hard-earned dollars. But the need to stay has led many to place orders via delivery apps, those services typically take roughly 30 percent cuts. On Friday, April 10, after pressure from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), Mayor London Breed announced that third-party delivery providers cannot charge restaurants more than 15% commission for food delivery for the duration of the local emergency.
Besides contactless deliveries, what delivery apps are doing now:
Uber Eats: added an in-app restaurant donation function with an Uber match up to $5 million; waiving delivery fees for independently-owned restaurants; providing COVID-19 cleanliness training; employment and financial aid for regular drivers who get sick; restaurants now receive daily, not weekly, payments; serving over 300,000 free (and growing) meals to healthcare workers and first responders in US and Canada.
Caviar/DoorDash: waiving sign-up fees for independently-owned restaurants plus zero commission fees for 30 days only; working with community organizations to deliver roughly one million pounds of groceries to seniors, low-income and mobility-impaired.
GrubHub/Seamless: temporarily suspending collection of commissions, which they will collect so not of great help (restaurants have to commit a year to sign-on); there have been call-outs on the fine print of their “aid.”
Postmates: waiving commission fees for new vendors in SF only (nothing for existing accounts); their Fleet Relief Fund covers co-pays and COVID-19-related medical expenses.
A highlight of my day is ordering from one of our hundreds of world-class spots. Thanks to all our restaurants for nurturing us with heartfelt cooking in brutal times.
SHOP GOING OUTSIDE ESSENTIALS
Fresh Feasts for Pick Up or Delivery
With CEO/co-founder Anya Fernald’s focus on humanely-raised, butchered, organic, hyper-sustainable grass-fed meats from animals raised on her Mt. Shasta farm, Belcampo Meat Co., one of the country’s revered meat sources. With nine restaurants, her newest in San Mateo opened in March as we started to shelter-in. Thankfully, this protein-rich goodness is available across the Bay Area.
Order this to-go: Parmesan-crusted chicken; any burger; tom kha gai chicken soup.
// Download their Belcampo app for delivery across the Bay Area; they also deliver through most major apps; multiple locations
Opened in January, the casual, fun Viridian has been one of this year’s freshest standouts. Highlights were chef Amanda Hoang’s gourmet Asian bites and dim sum, fine dining-worthy desserts (like Thai tea tiramisu or “leaky sand buns”) with cocktails from bar director William Tsui (who previously killed it at two Michelin Lazy Bear). Thankfully, they launched to-go menus, although there are few snacks — here’s hoping their dreamy chili garlic milk bread and boozy rum egg custard tarts are on the menu soon.
Order this to-go: Hojicha shortbread; Tomato Beef bottled cocktail (blanco tequila, basil eau de vie, tomato water, lime); wine list ranges from orange wines to sparkling red Lambrusco.
Since Hayes Valley’s Boxing Room closed, there’s little “real deal” Cajun or Creole food in California… besides Brenda’s network of wonderful restaurants and po boy shops like Queen’s. A nearly 25-year-old San Carlos institution, CreoLa, opened its first SF restaurant in Cole Valley in February. They’re doing takeout now from their cozy space, serving beignets and gumbo.
Order this to-go: Boudin balls with remoulade sauce; catfish po boy or cornmeal-crusted catfish with black-eyed peas and collard greens.
// Call 415-260-3143 to order pre-pick-up; Tuesday-Sunday 12-8pm; 900 Stanyan Street, www.creolabistro.com
Old-School Alternatives for Pick Up and Delivery
The great True Laurel — among the most innovative-yet-approachable cocktail menus in the world — is currently doing to-go cocktails and top-notch bar food from their parent restaurant — two Michelin-starred Lazy Bear — is also serving takeout all day; check out their Instagram for daily menus) launched takeout with delivery in the works.
Order this to-go: Any bottled cocktail; a decadent patty melt; fried hen of the woods mushrooms; lamb carnitas tacos.
// Hours 3-8pm, Wednesday-Sunday. Order in-house or call ahead at 415-341-0020; menu here; 53 Alabama Street, www.truelaurelsf.com
Always-special Che Fico, helmed by chef David Nayfeld, goes above and beyond with a nightly family meal. Order home meals that feed between two and three people, or give a donation to families in need. Che Fico is feeding up to 250 in-need, nightly. Expect their superb house bread, salad, protein or veggie-entree and dessert of the day.
// Check the daily menu, released at 3pm, on Instagram; 834 Divisadero Street, https://cheficofamilymeal.com
La Cocina Community Food Box
The celebrated La Cocina has been funding and launching primarily female, minority-run food and restaurant businesses since 2005. Here they list all restaurants with takeout/delivery in cuisines from Nepalese to Japanese (plus links to their GoFundMe pages, etc.) La Cocina’s Emergency Relief Fund offers financial support to its entrepreneurs most in need.
La Cocina Community Food Box is a smart idea: changing boxes (pre-order, pick-up only, 2x a week) of prepared foods from 10 La Cocina restaurants with 100% sales going directly to businesses.
// Check here for menus and pick-up dates; 2948 Folsom Street, lacocinasf.org
The Castro treasure Canela is run by chef/owner Mat Schuster. Canela nails authentic Spanish cuisine, blessedly serving their tapas, Spanish wine flights and paella for pickup and delivery. They also hit on a smart idea: “Brunch Every Day.” These brunch kits include a cornucopia of goodies — fruit, a dozen eggs with scramble toppings, buttermilk pancake batter, thick-cut bacon, Mr. Espresso Coffee or Art of Tea, loaf of bread with butter and house jam, plus recipes.
Order this to-go: An array of boxes in addition to brunch include DIY paella kits for two or four eaters, fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and flower boxes.
You’ll find dishes from both of restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit’s Michelin-starred, modern Thai destinations, Kin Khao and Nari, on Nari’s takeout menu. Located next to Japantown’s Hotel Kabuki, you can conveniently pull into the circular hotel driveway to pick up your order.
Order this to-go: Hot wings, pandan toast, vegetable Mumbai curry. Curries can be chill-packed to be reheated later.
// Order online, then pick up in Hotel Kabuki’s circular driveway. Hours: 12-6pm.; 1625 Post Street, www.narisf.com
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana & Capo’s
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and Capo’s are not just local bests, but among the best pizza in the world, according to Forbes this January. For a decade, Tony Gemignani’s pizzas — and neighborhood grocery, Giovanni’s — have existed as neighborhood treasures. Order everything from New York to Neapolitan pizzas at Tony’s, or Chicago styles (cracker-thin to deep dish) at Capo’s. Here’s hoping we can eventually get his St. Louis, Detroit, Sicilian, etc. pizzas delivered to our doors in San Francisco.
Order this to-go: NJ-style Trenton tomato pie at Tony’s; Italian Stallion pizza at Capo’s; killer mostaccioli pasta in meat or vodka sauce.
// Pick-up at Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza shop next to Tony’s Pizza or in-house delivery (a.k.a. “Pizza Valet”), employing their own staff; Both restaurants, plus Haight Street Slice House and Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza, all delivered via UberEats, Caviar, DoorDash. Tony’s, 1556 Stockton Street, https://tonyspizzanapoletana.com; Capo’s, 641 Vallejo Street, sfcapos.com
Those craving Tokyo-worthy sushi, head to Sushi Nagai. Chef Tomonori Nagai’s changing menus are normally over $200 per person in-house, but he has created curbside pick-up bento boxes, chirashi sushi bowls, maki/rolls, and a la carte dishes, including fab onigiri rice balls and taiyaki (fish-shaped waffles stuffed with adzuki beans).