Beer and Chili: Old Bus Tavern, Opening in June, Also Raising Funds for a Fun Bonus Project

OBT Window of Wisdom

The emergence of our very own NanoTokyo District is an exciting development in Bernal’s culinary landscape, but that’s not the only food news to share from our stretch of Mission Street. A few hundred yards north of NanoTokyo, near the intersection with Valencia, the Old Bus Tavern is gearing up to open soon at 3193 Mission, in the former El Patio space:


Neighbor Bennett (Ben) Buchanan lives on Precita Avenue, and he’s one of the co-founders of the Old Bus Tavern. He says the focus will be on craft beer and haute chili, and he passes this along this preview:

Slated to open in Bernal Heights in early June, Old Bus Tavern is a destination for upscale pub fare, house-brewed beer, and comfortable craft cocktails. Partners Ben Buchanan, Jimmy Simpson, John Zirinsky, and Tim Symes are collaborating to create a neighborhood gathering place where guests can put away a pint of Lemon Basil Saison, enjoy cocktails with a Southwestern spirit, and dig into next-level bar food with a contemporary culinary sensibility.

The food and beverage menu is a team effort: Buchanan and Zirinsky are co-brewmasters (they’ve been home brewing together for nearly a decade), and Simpson and Symes oversee all food and beverage operations. Bar consultant Christina Cabrera (Novela, 15 Romolo, Range, Michael Mina) is on board to create the cocktail program, which will reflect the tavern’s forward-thinking approach.

Designed with the support of architect Thomas Pippin of Lifebox Studios (ICHI), and Sarah Greenwood Design (who is Zirinsky’s mom), Old Bus Tavern’s aesthetic embodies the feel of a casual restaurant, brewery, and bar that offers unique drinks and creative, craveable takes on pub food. The brewery equipment will be on full display so patrons can watch the process, and a variety of dedicated dining and drinking areas encourage patrons to settle into whichever of the Tavern’s 47 seats best suits them.

While the primary funding for the restaurant build-out is all lined-up, the Old Bus Tavern crew also has a crowdfunding campaign underway to raise some extra money to convert an old VW bus into a mobile food truck. The video they created for the effort also provides a nice introduction to what the Old Bus Tavern will be all about:

If you’d like, you can contribute to the effort — and learn more about the proposal — at the crowdfunding site.

Of course, there’s one detail that cannot pass without mention.  If you watch the Old Bus Tavern video above, you may notice something odd. Something very curious. Something very bizarre. At the beginning of the video, it says:

“Welcome to the future home of Old Bus Tavern, Mission-Bernal’s new brew pub.”

Hmmmm.  Confusing. And then, it happens again, just 15 seconds later:

“We want to bring back that tradition of fresh, local beer to the residents of Mission-Bernal”

Those latter words are spoken by none other than Neighbor Bennet of Precitaville, which is particularly baffling because Neighbor Bennet is a longtime Citizen of Bernalwood. You will notice that in the video, Neighbor Bennet’s lips move, and sounds emerge from his throat, and he says:


Mission-Bernal? Mission-Bernal!? Where is that? What is that? Does that even exist? And if it must be a hybrid, shouldn’t it be Bernal-Mission?

Your Bernalwood editor brought this matter up with Neighbor Bennet of Precitaville, and he assured us that it was just a big misunderstanding. Neighbor Bennet said something about establishing a brand and **cough cough** a national marketing plan and… to be honest, I couldn’t even pay attention to what he was saying after a while because I was to busy feeling queasy and hyperventilating. I mean… Mission-Bernal?  What?

Suffice to say, after some constructive dialog, Neighbor Bennet now understands with perfect clarity that the Old Bus Tavern will be opening soon in a place called Bernal Heights, and that the Citizens of Bernal Heights are very excited to welcome their new establishment to our lands. We’ve received tacit assurances that geo-nomenclature matters will be handled with greater sensitivity in the future.

But just in case there’s any lingering ambiguity, Bernalwood also sent the Old Bus Tavern team this helpful best-practices guide:


PHOTOS: Courtesy of Old Bus Tavern

Japanese Curry House and Japanese-Style Oyster Bar Coming Soon to Mission Street


All of a sudden, a single block of Mission Street in Bernal Heights is poised become a Japanese food hotspot. Indeed, in a few months, Bernal Heights will be home to such a dense cluster of Japanese cuisine that the La Lengua Tourism Promotion Bureau should begin calling it Nano Tokyo.

We’re talking about the area of Mission near 29th Street. As we all know, this is where you’ll find Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, the hyperacclaimed sushi bar and izakaya created by Bernal neighbors Tim and Erin Archuleta. And then, of course, Coco Ramen recently opened up across the street, right next door to the unfortunately named (but actually quite solid) Crazy Sushi. So: Sushi, sushi, izakaya, and ramen.

Now Bernalwood has learned that even more Japanese cuisine is coming to this area:


Yes, construction is now underway inside the former location of the much-lamented Eagle Donuts. Bernalwood has learned that the space will soon become the Fumi Curry House, a restaurant that will specialize in Japanese-style curry. What’s Japanese-style curry? Well, it’s hearty and delicious — if somewhat esoteric on these shores. In Japan, people love it as a comfort food (sort of like the way Americans feel about mac and cheese). Here’s a photo of some Japanese curry your Bernalwood editor ate in Japan a few years ago:


Here’s how SeriousEats describes Japanese curry:

People might be surprised to find curry in Japanese restaurants, but the fact is karē raisu (カレーライス), or Japanese curry rice, is so ubiquitous in Japanese home-cooking that it might well be considered one of the country’s national dishes.

Curry was introduced to Japan via the British in the second half of the nineteenth century, when Meiji-era Japan opened its doors to foreigners and their goods. As a result, Japanese curry inherits most of its characteristics from Anglo curry—which means that the Japanese used and continue to use curry powder. Curry powder, a ready-made mix of spices, began to be standardized and mass-produced in Britain at the height of Queen Victoria’s colonial stronghold of India. Curry powders are not only standardized masalas—they are also adapted to Western palates, and often result in curry dishes that are slightly sweet.

In Japan, British curry developed into karē raisu, a curried, thick stew of potatoes, carrots, onions, and your meat of choice, served over a bed of short-grain, white rice, and topped with pickles.

If you’ve never had Japanese curry, you’ll be able to try it soon enough. The build-out for Fumi Curry House is already underway inside the former Eagle Donuts, and construction should be complete in about a month. Then its just a question of how long it takes to sort out all the permits.

Meanwhile, just up the street, the Team Ichi is gearing up to open their new Japanese-style oyster bar inside Ichi Sushi’s cozy original space just down the road at 3369 Mission, on the corner of Godeus. So what is a Japanese-style oyster bar?

Frankly, we have no idea! Kaki is the Japanese word for oyster; the -ya at the end means “shop.” So kakiya means “oyster shop,” which isn’t very helpful because  we already knew it was an oyster shop. Neighbor Tim and Neighbor Erin are being coy about their diabolical plans, but we’re told opening day is approaching. This weekend, however, the @ICHIKakiya Twitter account came to life for the very first time, whereupon we were treated to this photo of Chef Tim doing something unseemly with a large, red machine:

Now, it must be noted that none of the restaurants are Japanese-owned. (The owners of Fumi Curry House are Chinese.) Yet when you pull it all together, and look at what’s there now, and what’s coming soon, there is definitely a serious Japanese food cluster happening. It’s not big enough to be called a Little Tokyo. But it sure is starting to taste a little like Shibuya. (All that’s missing is a yakitori joint.)

So let us now dub this zone Nano Tokyo. Here is your guide map:

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Tonight: Donkey Rides and Special Cocktails at Rock Bar’s Third Anniversary Bash


Did you know that people have been throwing back drinks at the corner of 29th and Tiffany in La Lengua for 100+ years? It’s true (and you can learn more about that below).

Today the lovely crew at the gritty-glamorous Rock Bar carries on that sordid tradition in fine form, and they invite you to their kid-friendly Third Anniversary Party TONIGHT:


What: Rock Bar’s Third Anniversary Donkey Party
Where: Rock Bar 80 29th Street
When: Thursday March 19th 5pm-2am

Join Rock Bar in celebrating three years at 80 29th Street. A neighborhood watering hole for over one hundred years, we are proud to take part in a rich History at the base of Bernal Hill. The Spring Equinox marks our anniversary and we invite you to dress as your favorite Astrological Sign. Or come dressed as YOU ARE (you do you) – ENJOY batched cocktails, punch, and edibles from The Front Porch.

As a bar we cater to adults, at nite while much of the neighborhood sleeps. We have two parents on our team and we know many who cannot take part in the nightlife we host. Each anniversary we offer an opportunity for friends, family, the young and old to take part in celebrating… We invite our young neighbors to enjoy a Donkey Ride down Tiffany as the sun sets behind Diamond Heights. It gives us great pleasure to see families engaged with our bar program!

FREE Donkey Rides down Tiffany from 5pm-9pm

We are sure to entertain as well…
INTERNET FAMOUS returns, with Jimmy Franks & Johnny Bagels

SPECIAL BONUS! Check out this fun little history of the bar space compiled by Team Rock Bar:

History of 80 29th Street:
2011 – Rock Bar – bar
2001-2011 – International Club – lounge
1996-2000 – Esperanza’s – lounge
1981-1991 – Nello’s Place – lounge
1975-1980 – Tiffany’s Lodge – tavern
1968-1974 – Joe & Gill – tavern
1955-1965 – Walt’s Place – lounge
1953-1954 – Geo & Walt’s Place – lounge
1951-1953 – Wesch’s Place – parlor
1942-1950 – Tiffany Club – parlor
1937 – Cornelius Sweeney – liquors
1934-1936 – Tiffany Inn – bar
1931 – Martin Burke (during Prohibition)
1922 – M. J. Reynolds (during Prohibition)
1915-1917 – Timothy J Costello – saloon
1911-1915 – Michael Coody – Saloon
1910 – Mary Caulfield – liquors
1902-1909 – Frank P. Caulfield – liquors

Epicurean Trader Opening This Morning on Cortland



This morning, The Epicurean Trader will open for business at 401 Cortland, on the corner of Bennington, for the very first time. Grand Opening! Woo hoo!

That said, when your Bernalwood editor first heard that the business would be called The Epicurean Trader, I was gravely concerned. Sure, the fetishism of San Francisco food aficionados can be a bit obnoxious at times. But a business dedicated entirely to the buying and selling of epicureans? As if they were human chattel? Well, let’s just say that seemed a bit extreme.

Fortunately, co-proprietor Holly McDell helped clear things up. Rest assured, she says, the Epicurean Trader will not engage in the buying and selling of epicureans. Instead, it will facilitate the the buying and selling of artisanal food products to epicureans. Whew! Bernalwood is very relieved.

Here’s what else Neighbor Holly has to say about The Epicurean Trader:

My husband Mat and I moved to Bernal (on Putnam) a few years ago, after having our first child. We fell in love with the neighborhood and the sense of community.

The store is called The Epicurean Trader. Inside the store you’ll find hand-selected small batch artisan products from across America, chosen for their incredible flavors and fusions, natural ingredients, and beautiful packaging.

As you are probably aware, there are many amazing products out there that struggle to get into large wholesale accounts for a number of reasons (reliance on distributors, lack of capital or brand awareness etc). Our goal is to be a brand ambassador for these smaller brands, sharing their unique stories, and bringing many of them to San Francisco for the first time.


We aim to provide a space for Bernal residents to discover and taste the best artisanal foods from across the country. In addition, we will have a curated selection of wines, craft beers, and small batch distilled spirits. On the wine side we are working with Bernal local Jason Moore of Alluvial Wines, as well as Alex Finberg (former sommelier of Farina, and trusted consultant for some of San Francisco’s top restaurants and markets). They have kindly shared their experience and palates to develop a wine program specifically for the Bernal demographic. We aim to have a selection of amazing wines at every price point, to enjoy both mid week, as well as on special occasions.

By working directly with brands and avoiding distributors wherever possible, we aim to offer these products at affordable prices. We see our product selection as being complementary that of The Good Life and Avedano’s.

We’re also going to have in-store tastings where the artisans and wine makers etc can come and share their stories.

Neighbor Holly says The Epicurean Trader will be open at 11 am today. We say: Welcome!

PHOTOS: Courtesy of The Epicurean Trader

A Neighborhood Egg Sandwich Worthy of the Precita Name


Precita Avenue is a relatively old street, by Bernal Heights standards. It was established in the early 1850s, around the time of the Gold Rush, and to this day Precita Avenue’s zigs and zags mirror the meandering banks of the former Precita Creek, even though the creek was buried under Army/Cesar Chavez more than a century ago.

The Precita Egg Sandwich at the Precita Park Cafe is a relatively new creation, by Bernal Heights standards. You’ll find it near the top of the breakfast menu on the Precita Park Cafe wall, and it consists of an egg cooked with cheddar cheese, pancetta, arugula, tomato, black pepper, and a hint of aioli, served on an english muffin or pain de mai. A bottle of El Tapatio hot sauce is also provided for those who seek an enhanced experience.


All that, made with love, for just under seven bucks.

I mention this because last weekend Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter and I took a pair of Precita Egg Sandwiches for a late-morning test drive, and we appreciated the fact that our sandwiches were both delicious and eponymous (and vice-versa).

In essence, the Precita Egg Sandwich is a wholesome, homegrown interpretation of the classic McBreakfast staple. It delivers a comforting dose of savory proteins, lively greens, fresh bread, and deep flavors. Not too fancy. Not too fussy. Plus, compared to that McBreakfast thing, the Precita Egg Sandwich is 93.2% more yummy and 100% certified guilt-free. In Bernalwood’s long-term neighborhood tests, the Precita Egg Sandwich has consistently been a happiness-inducing way to start the day.

Most importantly, the Precita Egg is a breakfast sandwich worthy of the Precita name. It’s a Bernal breakfast that was worth waiting 160+ years for.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Neighbor Darcy Shares Her Gluten-Free “Shiksa Hamantashen” Recipe


Neighbor Darcy Lee, the domestic doyenne of the fabulous Heartfelt on Cortland, has been making trouble in the kitchen again. Just in time for the festive Jewish Purim holiday, she passes along this fun new recipe. Neighbor Darcy calls it “Shiksa Hamantashen,” and it’s a new take on an Old Country classic:

I lived in New York City for many years and I loved trying different foods.  The Indian food on 6th Street, Italian semolina bread and cannoli in Little Italy, spicy Szechuan dishes in Chinatown, and New York style pizza, greasy and so cheap by the slice.  I remember in February, filled-triangular-cookies would start showing up next to the black & whites.  “What are they filled with?” I would ask.  Poppy seed, prune or apricot usually. I had no idea why they appeared only at this time of year but I grew very fond of them.

Here is what Jewish Food expert Gora Shimoni has to say, ” The tradition to eat hamantashen on Purim began in Europe. The word hamantashen derived from two German words: mohn (poppy seed) and taschen (pockets). Mohntaschen is German for ‘poppy seed pockets’ and was a popular German pastry. Hamantaschen means ‘Haman’s pockets’ and became a popular Purim pastry. It was rumored that the evil Haman’s pockets were filled with bribe money. The most popular explantion of why Jews eat this three cornered pastry on Purim is that Haman wore a three-cornered hat. Eating an image of Haman’s hat is a way to symbolically destroy his memory.”

A few years ago I came across a recipe in Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook for hamantaschen. Her picture of them brought back sweet memories. Gluten-free! I gave them a whirl and played with the recipe and this what I settled upon.

I like to experiment with the filling. This year I had a couple of big bags of Costco dried figs and apricots, so I threw them in a pot and covered them with hot water and let them simmer with ½ cup of coconut sugar. Let them cook down for an hour. Then pour the cooled cooked fruit mixture in the food processor and process until you have a thick filling. Raw apple, currants or raisins can be added to the mixture before cooking. She recommends cooking it down with a vanilla bean.

Here is my gluten-free “shiksa hamantaschen” dough recipe:

3 cups blanched almond flour (I also sometimes use the ground almonds from Trader Joe’s, it gives the cookie a grainer, heartier, hippy feel)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup butter (Shiksa confession: Dunno –is dairy ok at Purim? Ms. Amsterdam uses grapeseed oil)
1 egg
2 tbsp. agave nectar or honey (often I boil coconut sugar with water to make a yummy syrup that I use for everything)
I tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour and salt.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together melted butter, honey or agave or my coconut sugar syrup and vanilla.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry.
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls; place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, then press flat into small circles
  5. Scoop one teaspoon of filling into each circle of dough
  6. Fold the dough in from three sides and pinch the corners to form a triangle shaped cookie
  7. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes until dough is golden brown
  8. Serve!

Enjoy your small three cornered hats!

PHOTO: Neighbor Darcy

Fishy Love: Neighbors Tim and Erin Archuleta from Ichi Sushi Recall How It All Began


If you were paying attention to all the local “Best of 2014” restaurant lists floating around the Interwebs over the Xmas/New Years holiday, you may have noticed that Bernal’s own Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar appeared on just about all of them.

Seriously. It got so intense that your Bernalwood editor joked that I needed to create a Best Of list to keep track of all the Best Of lists that included Ichi Sushi. It was funny because it was true.

I never did create that list, but the accolades are well deserved. Ichi really is the schizz. And it’s a great story about local kids who made good, because, Ichi got its start in Bernal Heights, and the tag-team duo of Chef Tim Archuleta and his wife Erin Archuleta are still Bernal neighbors, to this day.

Last week, in an interview with OpenTable, Neighbor Tim and Neighbor Erin recalled how it all began… in the days before the restaurant, and all the Best of Lists, and all the Best of Best of Lists:

How did you two meet?

Tim: We met at a friend’s birthday at a karaoke bar. It was my karaoke and dance skills that blew her away.

Well before you opened ICHI you worked together in a couple of different food businesses. Tell me about that and how you got started.

Erin: Tim really started as a caterer in 2006, but we met in 2005. We were already living together (racy!) when he started catering, which meant that I would pitch in from time to time as he built the brand.

Tim: In the beginning it was just me. Erin gave me a lot of support. But that’s how we came up with the name, because ICHI means one and it was just me.

Erin: The catering really took off. I had consistently worked for a literacy nonprofit locally at 826 Valencia and 826 National, and I stepped away from my work full-time and just worked as a consultant for them so that I could help Tim get the catering business off the ground. We built out a catering kitchen and went to town in that direction, and then the stock market crashed. We began social catering and doing pop-ups in bars that had kitchens. That’s how a lot of people encountered us — we catered all sorts of things.

One day I was walking down Cortland and saw a food incubator space that was looking for tenants, and Tim had the idea of doing a Japanese deli. So we did that in the incubator space, and we loved it. During that time, right next to where we live Yo’s Sushi Club was leaving and he offered us the opportunity to take over the restaurant. Tim opened ICHI Sushi in 2010.

And the rest, as they say, is Best of History…

PHOTO: Tim and Erin Archuleta of Ichi Sushi