Bernal’s Coco Ramen Leads List of “15 Best Ramen Spots in the Bay Area”

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This is a tasty surprise: Coco’s Ramen, the cozy new ramen joint on Mission near 30th Street in Bernal’s NanoTokyo District, made the cut for SFist’s roundup of the 15 Best Ramen Spots in the Bay Area.

They say:

Coco’s Ramen
To get to Coco’s on the Mission strip in Bernal Heights, a spot indicated loosely with a paper sign for “Ramen,” duck inside the more clearly designated Crazy Sushi and hang a left. The two are separate but symbiotically related businesses. In a warm red room, made warmer with a little sake and some steaming broth, snag one of a few tables or a seat at the bar and ask for your old friend tonkotsu [sic] — though the shoyu and curry based options are reason to stray.

Cheaty Bonus Glory: SFist’s list is alphabetically sorted, so Coco’s Ramen appears in the lead position. Yesssssss!

Sounds like Coco’s is finding its groove. Since Bernalwood’s original Coco Ramen taste-test, the restaurant now enjoys four stars and even more gushing reviews on the Yelp.

PHOTO: Tonkatsu ramen from Coco’s Ramen, by Kaitlyn D. on Yelp

Coming Soonish: The San Francisco Cafe and Creamery on Cortland

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Among the many questions brought to us by Bernalwood readers, one of the most frequent we hear these days is: “What’s going on with the creamery that’s supposed to go in to the former Bernal Heights Market at 800 Cortland, on the corner of Ellsworth?”

Indeed. As previously reported, the creamery on Cortland is a new project from by the family that created the [transformative] Harvest Hills Market on the Folsom end of Precita Park. It will be called the San Francisco Organic Cafe & Creamery.

Bernalwood has learned about an additional component to the plan: In parallel with the  San Francisco Organic Cafe & Creamery, the team also plans to launch a fleet of vintage trucks that have been painstakingly restored and converted into mobile ice cream stands. The Creamery will be a restaurant, but it will also function as a supply depot for the ice cream trucks. Here’s what the first truck looks like:

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So when will the Creamery open? What’s the hold up? The wait for opening day has been long.  Your Bernalwood editor has been asking the Creamery team about this for quite some time. Yet whenever we ask, we’re greeted with a fatalistic shrug and a cryptic grin that we’ve also seen on the face of just about every would-be entrepreneur who has tried to open a new food business in Bernal Heights. Over time, Bernalwood has come to understand the meaning of this gesture. It signifies: “I’m basically ready, but I am powerless in the face of a vast and indifferent bureaucracy, so I have no idea when my business will open.”

In the case of the Creamery on Cortland, that challenge is magnified, because there are lots of special statewide regulations that apply to dairy-based businesses. As Michael from Harvest Hills sarcastically explained,  “We’ve learned that getting a milk plant license in California is almost as hard as opening a nuclear power plant.”

Despite all that, opening day is getting closer, hopefully, and there are new signs in the windows of the creamery that explain what’s to come:

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Bernalwood also received some additional detail from Hannah and Gina on the Creamery team:

We are expecting late February or March for partial opening of the cafe and creamery. They’ll put up the awning next week and then the big yellow truck will start to be up there more often for a little retail time in the afternoons. The yellow truck has won the bid to be in the city parks, along with five other trucks like her that will have organic items from the cafe. We are not sure how soon the final legal leases will be finished and of course El Nino has to run his course. None of our trucks are box trucks; all of them are open-platform diner trucks – you can see more at dinertrucks.com

Seating and some decoration will hold us up another few weeks from opening the cafe to the public. We still have to get the big 80 quart mixer in and its really heavy. The pizza oven and baking oven fired up this week along with other new ovens. We’ve been making ice cream there and hope to start the bread for the store soon, along with organic cookies, cupcakes and pies .. These items will also make it to our stores and others in the Bay area in 2016.

We’ve tried to focus on organic items that we don’t see made in San Francisco. So it’s simple San Francisco Organic… The retail side of the company is the Cafe and Creamery. We hope you get a chance to come up once we are fully operational.

So there you have it. Pretty soon, hopefully, the San Francisco Organic Cafe and Creamery will open for business, serving homemade ice cream and food in a diner-style atmosphere. And if for any reason that doesn’t happen, we can take comfort in the knowledge that 800 Cortland may prove to be a more promising site for a nuclear reactor instead.

PHOTOS: Storefont by Telstar Logistics. Truck courtesy of San Francisco Organic Cafe and Creamery

New Barebottle Brewery to Open on Cortland Early Next Year (Fingers Crossed)

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Here’s something to look forward to next year: Barebottle Brew Co. will open a brand-new brewery and brew pub in February or March in the empty warehouse building at 1525 Cortland, along the east end of the street near Peralta.

Inside Scoop reports:

Barebottle’s co-founders, Lester Koga, Michael Seitz and Ben Sterling, met as students at Cornell’s business school. While pursuing other careers — Seitz at Proctor & Gamble, Koga in counterterrorism strategy — the friends all became avid homebrewers, and got involved as judges in competitions through the Homebrewers Association. “As we started judging these homebrewing events, we began to think that the quality of beer made by homebrewers far surpasses what [some] production brewers are doing right now,” Koga says. “But it’s hard for homebrewers to get on the shelf.”

At Barebottle, they’ll host a monthly competition for homebrewers, each month based on a different beer style. A few winners, determined by a panel of judges, will have their recipes produced at Barebottle and poured in its taproom. Those deemed successful after some time in the taproom will become permanent Barebottle fixtures. Koga says they’re still working out how exactly the homebrewers will be rewarded for their winning recipes.

Cortlandt Toczylowski (Drake’s, E.J. Phair) has joined as head brewer, and is kicking off Barebottle’s proprietary portfolio with beers including a Russian imperial stout and a bourbon barrel-aged honey brown ale.

The 1,600-square-foot space, on Cortland Ave. near Peralta Ave., will incorporate the taproom within the production brewery. “Essentially, you drink around the brew house,” Koga explains. “We thought it would be cool to have that production process front and center.”

Super cool. To track Barebottle’s progress, check out all the construction photos at @barebottlebeer.

BONUS: Via EaterSF, here’s a photo of Barebottle’s new fermenters, installed in their new 17,000 square-foot facility. Sexy!

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PHOTO: Team Barebottle greets the arrival of their new fermenters, via @barebottlebeer

Healthy Spirits Now Open on Cortland, with a Grand Opening Sale on Saturday

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It’s finally open. After weeks of curiosity and voyeuristic speculation, the Healthy Spirits liquor store has opened at 249 Cortland, inside the former Chuck’s Grocery space.

The opening of a liquor store would not typically warrant much attention, but Healthy Spirits is not a typical boozemonger; The new Cortland branch is the third outpost in the Healthy Spirits family, which is regarded as one of the City’s more esteemed purveyors of whiskey and agave spirits.

Store manager Nate Breed brings Bernalwood the 411, and extends an invitation to a special grand opening sale on Saturday, Nov. 28:

We’ve now officially opened Healthy Spirits Cortland.

So we are absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Bernal Heights community, and we look forward to what we can add to the neighborhood. Our first shop was founded in 1998 in the Castro District, so we’ve had about 17 years to perfect and evolve who we are and what we do. Our main areas of expertise are beer, whiskey and agave (tequila and mezcal), but everything we carry is hand-selected and extremely quality-focused.

One of our most important goals is consumer education. We strive to have the most knowledgeable and dedicated staff that can make beer and spirits consumption into an immersive, informative and exciting experience. This notion over the years has helped us provide great customer service, but it also breeds an environment that’s accessible for both the novice and connoisseur alike.

Another chance for education lies in our Beer, Bourbon and Agave Clubs, that feature advanced monthly selections with detailed write-ups and interviews with the distillers and brewers themselves. The clubs come with an awful lot of perks, including discounts, first shot at limited releases and occasional free tickets to beer and spirit events. We also strongly believe in supporting local breweries and distilleries while seeking out the esoteric and saving a special place for the classics. It’s important for us to not only understand how something is made and what it tastes like, but also where it’s made and by who.

Anyway that’s Healthy Spirits in a nut shell. And we’d like to extend a special invitation to all your Bernalwood readers to attend our Grand Opening Celebration on Small Business Saturday November 28th at 11am.

We will be giving away free swag all day and having some unbelievable sales: 10 to 40% off everything in the shop. We’ll also be raffling off the right to buy extremely rare bottles of whiskey like Pappy Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace Antique, Four Rose Limited 2015 and St George Single Malt the first 5 hours, and putting other rare and vintage beer and whiskies on the shelf when the doors open. Come early, as the best deals and rarest selections tend to go fast.

Store hours are:

Monday-Thursday: 11am to 10pm
Friday-Saturday: 11am to 11pm
Sunday: 11am to 9pm

See you at the shop!

Nate

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Neighbor Gillian Wants to Make Thanksgiving Pie for You

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Attention, lovers of pie! We have a friend in the pie business. Neighbor Gillian of Black Jet Baking Company would like to put a pie on your table during Thanksgiving. She says:

I’m Gillian Shaw, and I used to be the baker at The Liberty, where I made Thankgiving pies for many loyal and wonderful Bernal residents for many years.

I now own my own lil’ baking company, but I still live in the hood on Ellsworth. This year, I’ll be slinging pies at the Epicurean Trader on Cortland, offering pumpkin, apple crumb, and chocolate pecan piece for $24.99 per pie.

Epicurean Trader is now taking orders our pies, for pick up next Tuesday and Wednesday, November 24 and 25.

Just talk to Mat at Epicurean to place your pre-order.

PHOTOS: Pie and Neighbor Gillian, courtesy of Black Jet Baking

Neighbor Eliza’s Red Apron Pizzeria Is Coming Soon to Precita Park

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For the last few months, the windows of the former Park Bench Cafe at 3214 Folsom (on the corner with Bessie at the west end of Precita Park) have been papered-over to hide the construction taking place inside. The bold, handmade graphics on the paper say “It Will Happen”  — a message that serves as both a tease for Bernal neighbors and a mantra for the woman who is spearheading the project.

That woman is Neighbor Eliza Laffin of Alabama Street, and when work is complete the storefront will become home to Red Apron Pizza. Neighbor Eliza tells us more about what to expect:

My tag line is: Every neighborhood deserves great pizza.

I’ve always wanted a pizza restaurant in the ‘hood. I’ve spent 20 years dreaming about it. And now I’m going to make it happen!

I want customers to walk in the door and see a kitchen at home. Red Apron Pizzeria is a place where our neighborhood will enjoy great pizza, made with great ingredients, and a place kids will enjoy. It will be warm, welcoming, and family-friendly; approachable, unfussy, and absolutely first-rate.

I want to make Red Apron the best pizzeria in the neighborhood. (Adjacent territories also welcome, of course!)

As a preview of coming attractions, Neighbor Eliza also shared some photos of her food. Here’s a slice of her pizza, with toasted pignoli-basil pesto, sliced yukon gold potato, chèvre, and a little drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top:

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And for dessert, here are some of her zeppoles:

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Yum! A preview of what’ll be on the rest of the menu is right here.

The Gods of Construction and The Myriad Permits are notoriously fickle and angry, but with a little luck Neighbor Eliza hopes to open Red Apron Pizza sometime in January. Please root for her, and join with her to recite the mantra: “It. Will. Happen!

PHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics. Food, courtesy of Red Apron Pizza

Sandwich-Making Robot in Andi’s Market Looks Like Terminator, Tastes Like Proust

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Last week, a new worker joined the staff at Andi’s Market on Cortland Avenue: a fully automated, sandwich-making robot. Created by Bistrobot, the newfangled machine makes peanut butter sandwiches on fancy white bread with your choice of honey, blackberry jam, sweet chili, or chocolate sauce.

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Bistrobot CTO Hamid Sani tells Bernalwood:

The machine at the Andi’s market is our first deployed automated sandwich maker. The machine is placed inside the store and the customer can place an order through a tablet kiosk, pay $2 (cash or credit), and watch our robot make them a custom sandwich. Simple as that.

Bistrobot is a startup that recently graduated from Y Combinator. We have a small but dedicated team with the goal of making robotic platforms that can make food, starting with sandwiches.

Neighbor Flo adds that some Bernal Heights DNA flows deep within the Bistrobot’s mechanized heart:

I live on Ellsworth St. My nephew, Steve Littell, is a chef and machinist from Chicago who came to SF with five engineer start-up buddies for the purpose of making this machine and others like it with more sophistication. My nephew now lives on Ellsworth St. too!

Locavore robots! Perhaps this was inevitable.

Neighbor Darcy filmed a video of the sandwichbot in action:

Yesterday, your Bernalwood editor visited Andi’s to conduct my own taste test of our robotic sandwich future. I ordered a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and when it emerged from the Bistrobot’s mechanical maw, it looked like this:

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And the taste? Well, it tasted just like a sandwich mom would have made — if mom was a faceless automaton who looked like a mutant Lionel train set encased in a transparent plastic box. As a culinary experience, it was certainly worthy of any school lunchbox. As an entertainment experience, it was far more tasty than anything you’d get at the Musée Méchanique — and much closer to home too.

But don’t take my word for it. Stop by Andi’s Market, 820 Cortland (between Ellsworth and Gates) and command the Bistrobot to make you a sandwich.  Do it while you still can, because today, the sandwich robot works for you. Someday, however, you may work for it.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics. Video courtesy of Darcy Lee