Northside SF
The Tablehopper
North Beach news: Original Joe's rises from the ashes; new chefs and openings in Pacific Heights

P lenty of folks in the City have been wondering when and where they were going to be able to get their next Joe’s Special, and here’s the answer: North Beach in October. Rumors I heard a while back proved to be true: Original Joe’s (601 Union Street) will move into the Joe DiMaggio’s space on Washington Square Park, which was previously the location for Fior d’Italia for 50 years. (Wow, that makes three new businesses coming to the Square: Park Tavern in the former Moose’s space and Bottle Cap in the old Washbag.)

While it’s a shame the fire-ravaged Joe’s location at 144 Taylor Street won’t reopen (it featured the City’s longest-running mesquite broiler, mind you), the new location will certainly draw more diners. The fire was on Oct. 12, 2007, and the Duggan family hopes to reopen on the anniversary this year. And yes, the beloved booths reportedly will be reupholstered and brought over, and the new location will feature an exhibition kitchen line, just like the original. Congrats to the Duggan family for finding a new home for O.J.’s.

Also in North Beach, chef-owner Pete Mrabe of Don Pisto’s plans to launch a second business, a noodle/raw bar. He tells me he wants to focus on Southeast Asian dishes, but look for some Mexican ingredients to make their way in there, too (the guy loves his chilies). The menu will consist of three to four noodle dishes, like pho, ramen and wok-tossed noodles and five to six raw selections (look for combinations of fish, chile, lime, and salt). Mrabe, who previously worked at Betelnut, said he’s looking forward to working with flavors beyond what he’s doing at Don Pisto’s. The format will be counter service (no servers), and they should be open for dinner in about three months. Mrabe asked me to hold on the project’s name and exact location for a few weeks, so I’ll reveal those when I get the go-ahead.

A couple new chefs in the mix: in Japantown, Bushi-Tei (1638 Post Street, 415-440-4959) has a new executive chef, Michael Hung, most recently the chef de cuisine at Jardinière. And over in Laurel Heights at Spruce (3640 Sacramento Street, 415-931-5100), chef de cuisine Walter Abrams has started; he was most recently a sous chef at The French Laundry.

There’s a new sandwich shop in the Fillmore: Bun Mee (2015 Fillmore Street, 415-800-7696), offering Vietnamese banh-mi-inspired sandwiches, as well as salads, rice bowls, crispy rolls, and other sides. Bun Mee’s kitchen, led by Leo Pearl (Betelnut, Cafe Giovanni in New Orleans), is doing a variety of sandwiches, including the show-stopping sloppy bun (red curry ground pork, house garlic aioli, shaved onion, Thai basil, jalapeños) served with a sunny-side up egg (add an organic, free-range egg to anything on the menu for $1.50 – it’s an option you’ll want to use with several items). Other sandwiches to note are the smoky eggplant with cauliflower relish and red curry aioli ($6.25) and the more traditional Bun Mee combo ($5.95) with house-roasted pork, pâté de campagne, Molinari mortadella, and garlic aioli. All sandwiches come with shaved onion, pickled carrot and daikon, jalapeños, and cilantro. Because authentic bread was really important to owner Denise Tran, the bread is made daily by a bakeshop in San Jose. Looks like this is going to be a good spot for a meal that’s as tasty as your favorite hole-in-the-wall banh mi shop, but better looking (check the zinc counters and vintage-mod look) and with fresh and modern twists at wallet-friendly prices. Open daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

Just up the street, Long Bar (2298 Fillmore Street, 415-440-1700) has temporarily closed for a light renovation. Reza Esmaili and chef Erik Hopfinger will reopen the place later this month with a new name and menu.

Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular weekly e-column about dining ( and has a book about dining and drinking in San Francisco. Her new site,, highlights the City’s best dishes. E-mail hot tips to

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