Saturday: Taste Guacamole Glory at the 6th Annual Guac-Off Competition!

2015 Guac-Off Champion Elle “Monster Guac” Garcia clutches the Guacamole Glory Trophy

Attention all ye Acolytes of the Avocado: The 6th Annual Guac-Off Guacamole Competition is coming this weekend, and once again it’s happening right here in Bernal Heights.

Yes, that’s right: Guac-Off 2017 happens this Saturday, September 9 beginning a 1 pm at Dr. Rick’s glamorous Farmhouse Mansion, at 3340 Folsom near the top of the hill at Ripley.  That means if you you want to compete, you’d best get on the phone to beg your abuela for her secret recipe. The event is free, but  check out the website for complete details.

Here’s the guac-and-roll pep rally, courtesy of Guacstar Luke:

As this weather has surely reminded you, Indian Summer is here. So that means that it’s time again for the Annual Indian Summer Guac-off!

We’d love for you to join us this Saturday, September 9th, as we’ll once again be at Dr. Rick’s house for our 6th annual celebration of the almighty avocado.

This year promises to be even more fun, as we’ll have 10 different prize categories, a restaurant showcase with guacamoles from some of our favorite restaurants, chips provided by Tacolicious, and of course, an even bigger Guacamole Glory Trophy.

The rules this year are simple: Your our guacamole must use at least 8 avocados, and it must arrive by 2pm. Other than that, let your creativity run wild!

We love having lots of Bernal neighbors show up. As always, the event is completely free, although guests are obviously encouraged to bring guacamole!

Spicy Bites Gets New Owner and New Raves from Bernal Neighbors

This article was written and reported by Nathan Falstreau from Hoodline.

Spicy Bite—the popular Bernal Heights Indian eatery at 3501 Mission (at Cortland) —has a new new owner and a slight name change. Now called Spicy Bites, former Dropbox Tuck Shop chef Tilak Gurung has taken over the helm.

The menu is extensive, with an array of options like paneer bhuna (cheese cubes with cashews, bell peppers, herbs and spices), channa saag (spinach with garbanzo beans in curry sauce), and lamb korma (boneless lamb in a creamy sauce topped with cashews).

Neighbor Laura, who lives down the street from the restaurant, alerted us to the change earlier this month. She said that while Gurung hasn’t made any changes to the menu, he’s revamped the interior.

But how’s the food? She tells Bernalwood:

It’s good!! The samosas have improved dramatically (the dough is better), and he suggested butter chicken for me. My friend is vegetarian so she had chana masala. We both had garlic naan. Everything was delicious!

Others have noticed the change as well.

“Change in ownership and therefore chef. Chef Tilak is on premises, and the food has gone up a few notches in taste for sure!” Todd M. wrote on Yelp.

Gurung also recommends items for guests to try that aren’t on the menu.

“Best Indian food in SF, don’t forget to ask for chaat which is not on the menu and try the butter chicken and biryani!” Ruchi Sanghvi wrote on Facebook.

PHOTO: Dinner at Spicy Bites, by Neighbor Laura

Proposed Pinball Center Finds New Home on Misson Street in Bernal Heights

sfpinball

After all the fuss and cranky backlash, Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth have finally found another location for their proposed pinball spot in Bernal Heights.

As you may recall, Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth are proud denizens of Bocana, and they’d originally planned to open their pinball center at 1000 Cortland,  in the site of a former hair salon on the corner of Folsom. That plan, alas, foundered in the face of opposition from a few nearby residents, leaving the proposed pinball palace in search of a new location.

Happily, they’ve found one: Under the new name Outer Orbit, Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth now plan to set up shop on Mission Street in Bernal Heights, near the intersection of Valencia, in the storefront that’s currently home to Bel, the Belgian restaurant.

Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth tell us:

For all of you who’ve been following the trials and tribulations of us trying to get our little pinball spot off the ground, we are delighted to announce that we’ve found a location and signed a lease! We tried mightily to open a place on Cortland Ave, but we fished through all the prospects and instead found our oasis on Mission Street (where it meets Valencia), so we will still be able to serve the families of Bernal Heights.

We expect to open in early spring after doing some light renovation. Our plan is to have nine machines ranging from vintage (EM, for those in the know) all the way to brand new games, while providing a fun and inviting atmosphere to match the pins.

In the evenings when the kids have settled off to La La Land, we’ll have plenty of beers and wines to keep the evening exciting. And the big reveal: Hawaiian-inspired eats! I grew up in Hawaii and have been dreaming of bringing well-executed novel touches of Hawaiiana to accessible dining.

So thanks again for all the interest and support you kind folks on Bernal have shown us. It’s been the fire that’s kept us going.

So that means family-friendly pinball, drinks, and Hawaiian food, all just a convenient bumper-bounce away all the other fabulous restaurants and bars in the delightfully vibrant, delightfully low-key Nano-Tokyo District and La Lengua Nightlife Zone. Game on!

Of course, Bel has a lot of fans in the neighborhood too, so it’s sad to see them go.  According to MissionLocal, Richard Rosen, the chef and co-woner of Bel had a motorcycle accident recently, after which it became more difficult to operate the business.  Rosen and his partner and co-owner, Jennifer Garris, also own the excellent Pi Bar on Valencia near 25th. We wish them all the best.

PHOTO: San Francisco pinball game, photographed at the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda by Telstar Logistics.

Former Neighbor Lists Where to Eat and Drink in Bernal Heights

Until recently, writer Caleb Pershan was known to us as Neighbor Caleb, a resident of these Bernalese lands. Alas, Caleb recently decamped to another part of the City, but he still knows Bernal Heights well, and that shows in his list of “Where to Eat and Drink in Bernal Heights” that was just published on EaterSF.

Caleb writes:

Bernal Heights is sometimes described as an urban village rather than a neighborhood, which is to say it’s a little isolated and very family-friendly. The name Maternal Heights has been bandied about, but kids or not, it’s a great place to explore, eat, and drink.

To be sure, there’s certainly room to quibble about some glaring omissions. Nevertheless, this is an undeniably credible greatest-hits summary of Bernal’s fooding and drinking scene as it stands in the summer of 2017.

So dig in to see the list, and let the argumentation begin.

GRAPHIC: Eater SF

 

Warning: Carbo-Crazed Tater Tot Fans May Invade Cortland This Evening

Warning: The eastern end of Cortland Avenue may be packed with people this evening, as an exceptionally large number of foodies are expected to descend upon Barebottle Brewing, where a food truck will be on had to sell some ostensibly special tater tots.

Fanned by several local media outlets, the news that Jackrabbit Kitchen will be on hand at Barebottle this evening, Friday, July 14 starting at  4 pm has ripped through the Interwebs like a grease fire, such that that 10,000 people have said they’re interested in attending.

SFGate writes:

Jackrabbit Kitchen, which operates food trucks and a catering business, will be hosting Tater Tot Fest, a Facebook event at Barebottle Brewing Co.

Jackrabbit is known for its crispy cheddar-scallion tot — served with Sriracha ketchup — but it reportedly will be offering some new tot creations, including sweet-potato with ancho aioli and a fresh corn with a jalapeño vinaigrette.

So far, more than 10,000 people have expressed interest in attending. If even a portion of them do, Jackrabbit better have lots of tots.

Indeed. Even if we assume an exceptionally high Facebook event flake-rate, such that only 0.5% of those people will actually attend, that still means there may be 500 carbohydrate-crazed souls wandering the streets of Cortlandia this evening.

Likewise, if we also assume a bunch of those people may be jacked-up on ancho aioli and jalapeño vinaigrette, well, Bernal residents living in and around the impacted area are hereby advised to shelter in place until Tater Tot Fest subsides.

PHOTO: Very special tater tots by Jackrabbit Kitchen

Two New Japanese Restaurants Planned for Bernal Heights

Teaser sign in the window at 433 Precita

Sugoi! Bernalwood has learned that two new Japanese restaurants are (hopefully) coming to Bernal Heights; one is planned for Mission Street and the other will bring sushi and sashimi to Precita Park.

Let’s start in La Lengua, where the burgeoning Nano Tokyo District around the intersection of Mission and 29th Street is set to grow a little bigger with the addition of RakiRaki at 3282 Mission Street, in the space formerly occupied by Neighbor Tim and Erin’s Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar.

RakiRaki Ramen is a Japanese restaurant with two locations in San Diego. A power-call to RakiRaki’s power-lawyer yesterday confirmed their intention to open a branch here in Bernal.  Their website says:

Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen opened its doors in October of 2012 to it’s first location in the heart of Kearny Mesa in San Diego, California. Now with a second location in San Diego’s Little Italy, Rakiraki specializes in serving authentic Japanese cuisine including curry, tsukemen, or dipping noodles, and specialty sushi rolls, but is best known for its great-tasting ramen.

Interesting! The original RakiRaki outlet in San Diego has a four-star rating on the Yelps, where people speak highly of the “tonkotsu black edition” ramen made with fermented garlic oil.

Of course, this means RakiRaki will be located right across the street from the satisfyingly authentic Fumi Curry and the surprisingly impressive Coco’s Ramen, so we may soon have an even more robust Japanese street-food cluster happening on the west side of our Bernal territories. Ganbatte and lucky us.

Meanwhile, at the east end of Precita Park, a “modern Japanese” restaurant hopes to open at 433 Precita, in the space formerly occupied by the organic pet food shop.  A quick call to the proprietor revealed an effort is now underway to convert the retail space for restaurant use, although the restaurant does not plan to have an exhaust hood or grill. Bernalwood is told sushi and sashimi with anchor the menu. A name for the restaurant has not yet been selected.

(Sidebar: Don’t be misled by the fact that the little red lantern shown in the photo at the top of this post says “yakitori.” Absent an exhaust system, the restaurant’s proprietor confirmed they don’t plan to serve Japanese grilled chicken skewers, which is a bot of a shame, because proper, low-key yakitori is very hard to find in San Francisco and Precita Park would be a lovely place for it. Oh well.)

Anyway, sushi would be a great addition to the Precita Park food mix, and even more so because the proposed Red Apron Pizza at the east end of the park is stalled because of an ongoing dispute with the property owner.

Neither the sushi place in Precita Park nor RakiRaki has planned opening dates yet; both establishments were reluctant to set a target given the fickle nature of San Francisco’s labyrinthine bureaucracy and permitting process.

Itadakimasu!

 

Special thanks for Jessica Park at Hoodline for reporting assistance on this article.

PHOTO: Teaser sign posted in the window of 433 Precita, courtesy of Neighbor Brandon.

Black Jet Bakery Now Open for Business on Cortland

Gillian Shaw at her new Black Jet Bakery

There’s been a lot of excitement and anticipation about Gillian Shaw’s plan to open her celebrated Black Jet Baking Co. in the former Sandbox/Pinkie’s space at 833 Cortland, at the corner of Gates. Now the wait is over, because Black Jet is officially open for business.

As you may recall, Gillian Shaw is a former Bernal Heights resident who was also the baker the former Liberty Cafe. She tells Bernalwood:

We are in love with our space, our goodies and so delighted to be open!

We are so excited to be in the space and seeing all the friendly faces! As a wholesaler, we’re not used to seeing our customers in the flesh, and it has been such a treat! I love seeing all the Liberty faces and longtime Black Jet fans who remind us of pastries we have done in the past. Bernal is such a special place and I feel so lucky to have learned to bake on Cortland and have a bakery on this street!

I am planning for a GRAND OPENING PARTY on Saturday APRIL 29th, which also happens to be my birthday! We were thinking of having a happy hour party with cupcakes and snacks to celebrate! Would love to welcome people to stop by! I am thinking festivities to begin at 5 and go til 7.

For your info, we carry the following Liberty Items:

  • Blueberry Corn Muffins
  • Raspberry Bran Muffins
  • Banana Cream Pie
  • (Chicken Pot Pie to come sooooon)
  • Liberty Scones

MY FAVORITE ITEMS that are exclusive to the shop:

  • Danish!
  • Boston Cream Croissant is a croissant filled with pastry cream and topped with ganache. This beauty is named after my sister Jen, who is the mastermind.
  • Croissants! We are using the SANDBOX recipe under the kind guidance of Mutsumi who is the best landlord ever. We adore her and are so proud to be using the Sandbox recipe.
  • Mascot/Somerville: our signature beverage is the SOMERVILLE which is a shot of espresso, steamed milk and dollop of housemade toasted FLUFF. Fluff, my obsession was created in SOMERVILLE, MA where I used to live. We developed the’ MASCOT’ after Audrey Duane, our amazing mascot who doesn’t care for espresso… and has a hot chocolate with fluff instead.

Other Points:

We have the best staff ever and I am so proud of each and every one of them! It is a stressful and crazy time opening a bakery, but everyone has been so determined and excited and hardworking to create our little shop.

I am also over the moon to let people know that Max B. Newman, who worked with me at the Liberty, is BACK in the Black Jet fold after working at Zuni & Marla. We are so lucky to have him back in Bernal.

I am a happy happy tired baker and are so grateful to everyone!

Hope to see everyone in the shop soon, especially you!

The Bernalwood Culinary Expedition Team had the opportunity to visit Black Jet last weekend.  We ate many things during our foray, including a meyer lemon and havarti danish, a ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, and a morning bun. We  can confirm that everything we tried was insanely delicious. Yum!

PHOTOS: All photos by Telstar Logistics