TABLEHOPPING: Two new little cafés that will rock your world, a special Hanukkah dinner, and killer "Black Friday" pastrami
Fans of Brenda's French Soul Food will be happy to know the next time you're in line for your weekend beignets and Hangtown fry (sorry to be a buzz kill but you really need to watch your cholesterol, babe), you'll be able to score a delicious chicory coffee and more next door at the new Libby Jane Café (644 Polk, SF), courtesy of Brenda's wife and biz partner, Libby Truesdell. This tiny new joint is opening Nov. 29 and is mostly meant to be a takeout spot: You can get the famed biscuits (yes yes yes), coffee, sweet tea, and gumbo by the quart — perfect on chilly nights — plus items like Brenda's pickled okra and watermelon. Open daily.
Another new and petite spot where you can find some tasty treats is Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal (613 York, SF. www.marlabakery.com). I know, it's Thanksgiving this week and I'm telling you about buttery baked goods, but you gotta eat. While owners Amy Brown and Joe Wolf are finishing up their new bakery in the Outer Richmond, they figured out they can actually sell some goodies from their commissary kitchen in the Mission in the meantime. We all win. Swing on by for Danishes and turnovers, or a bagel with herbed farmer cheese, and there's also a "lunch box" of the day, with a savory pie and dessert. Mmmm, pie! You can also get some sweets from Wholesome Bakery (think ice-cream sandwiches, cookie sandwiches, and donuts) and A Spoonful of Sugar (offering brioche doughnuts and cupcakes), plus coffee and espresso from Wrecking Ball Coffee. Hours are Mon–Fri 9am–4pm.
BALLIN' ON A BUDGET
Okay, so a $55 dinner isn't exactly a budget item, but a four-course Hanukkah menu is too damn cool to not get fired up about it. Chef Charlie Kleinman of Wexler's (568 Sacramento, SF. www.wexlerssf.com) in the Financial District will be serving this special menu Nov. 29-30. It's inspired by the Kleinman family's own traditional Hanukkah dinner, so don't be surprised when the brisket is served family-style. The menu includes roasted duck matzo ball soup, latkes, brisket braised in mead, potato kugel, roasted carrots, and of course sufganiyot, aka jelly doughnuts, for dessert. There are also Hanukkah-inspired cocktails! L'chaim! Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 415-983-0102 or hopping on the Wexler's homepage. Jump on this quickly, seating is limited.
YOU GOTTA EAT THIS
Isn't it crazy that Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah are the same day, Nov. 28? (Hanukkah officially begins the 27th at sundown.) Downtown sandwich spot Shorty Goldstein's (126 Sutter, SF. www.shortygoldssteins.com) is getting in on the fun this week with some "Thanksgivukkah" specials like turkey matzo soup. Shorty's will be open on Black Friday, which is very useful info for all you shoppers who need something substantial to fuel up on.
Chef-owner Michael Siegel features a number of family recipes on the menu, from rustic knishes to chopped liver, and some excellent house-made pastrami. One thing Siegel has really dialed in of late is the rye bread — it turns out the restaurant is making its own bread now, so the sandwiches are registering extra-high on the tasty meter. Go for simpler picks like pastrami or corned beef on rye, or the Rachel (a Reuben made with pastrami). On the days when you need some home cooking, don't miss the prakas: beef-stuffed cabbage with a sweet and sour tomato sauce. Good stuff. Salted caramel egg cream. Whoa. It's a casual and popular lunchtime spot that also happens to be open for breakfast too: Bagel and egg with pastrami and cheddar? Oh, hell yes.