TABLEHOPPING: Three spots to visit before they self-destruct, $12 din-din, and a Mission café where you'll waffle on what to get.
One of San Francisco's classic icons, the Big 4 (1075 California, SF. www.big4restaurant.com) at The Huntington Hotel, is sadly going to be closing on Jan. 4 for a renovation by new owner Grace International of Singapore. What's frustrating is Grace isn't offering much in the way of info about the renovation: Are they massively changing the place? Will the piano remain? What about the beautiful bar and lounge? Hopefully they don't do something stupid, because a lot of people have sentimental feelings about the Big 4's classic, clubby room. (It's had 66 years to accumulate a lot of fans.) What this does mean is if you want to salute the Big 4 as you know it — and there's no better time to visit than during the holidays — then you may want to scoot over for a final cocktail or dinner now. Spring 2014 is when we're supposed to see what the $15 million remodel looks like — hopefully the money goes more toward sprucing up the hotel rooms.
Another place that's leaving us is Kronnerburger (2379 Mission, SF. www.kronnerburger.com), the damn delicious burger pop-up in the side room at Bruno's. Chef-burger honcho Chris Kronner is closing in on an Oakland location (off Piedmont Avenue) for his brick and mortar, so he'll be slinging his last burgers in the Mission on Nov. 22. If you haven't had a chance to sink your choppers into one of his burgers made with aged beef, you better get on it. Open Sun–Fri for dinner, 6pm–late.
One more pop-up that's closing shop (although you have a bit more time with this one) is the Kiwi-owned restaurant, Waiheke Island Yacht Club (Pier 29, 1256 The Embarcadero, www.waihekeislandyachtclub.com) on the Embarcadero. This chic temporary restaurant will be with us through the end of the year, so scoot on over while you can for some exciting and contemporary Kiwi cuisine: The team has added new seasonal menus from chef Hayden McMillan and a new wine list that includes selections from New Zealand. (The list is no longer limited to solely featuring wines from Napa Valley.)
BALLIN' ON A BUDGET
Downtown workers looking for an inexpensive dinner before punching out and heading home should check out the new brasserie plates at the casual Tender Greens (30 Fremont, SF. www.tendergreens.com). Chef Sean Canavan has launched a series of hearty plates that over-deliver for only $12 each; you'll find dishes like choucroute garni (smoked pork chop, juniper-scented sauerkraut, ribs, housemade bratwurst, and mashed potatoes) and cassoulet Toulousain (baked white beans, housemade Toulouse sausage, braised pork, and duck confit). Yup, perfect for chilly fall nights.
YOU GOTTA EAT THIS
Anyone who loves blini and caviar is gonna want to have a date with the buckwheat waffle with salmon roe, crème fraîche, dill, and slices of cucumber (with a shaking of nori powder) at the recently opened Lt. Waffle inside of the petite Linea Caffe (3417 18th St., SF. www.lineacaffe.com) in the Mission. First, order a superlative espresso at the counter, courtesy of roasting maestro Andrew Barnett. And then try to snag a table outside on the sunny alley while they prepare your Brussels-style waffle. There are some brilliant flavor combos, from savory picks like a potato waffle with pastrami and sauerkraut to sweet like "churro style" with chocolate and coconut crema. You can come back for the damn tasty salads from GreenSalads.org later. Score: Everything is $10 and under. Open 8am–3pm daily.