Field Notes: Restaurant, Hotel and Food News

San Francisco


an overview of the food trucks at Fort Mason's Off The Grid
Food trucks at Fort Mason’s Off The Grid

The OG Off the Grid, a.k.a. the food truck extravaganza at San Francisco’s Fort Mason is back as of September 1, this time with a VIP village called Gather and a kick-off theme that celebrates all the things locals love about San Francisco. Scoma’s and Señor Sisig, Boudin Bakery and Bini’s Kitchen – the panoply that is the SF food scene will be on full display. Should you choose the Gather experience, be prepared to shell out $100 per person for the joy of a guaranteed seat and a server who will scurry around placing and picking up your food and drink orders. That’s correct, Gather has its privileges, namely: no waiting in lines!  The season runs through October 27 and is a dinnertime affair.

Gather VIP seating at Off the Grid
Gather VIP seating at Off the Grid

Rouge Returns, Sort Of

Tacos at Taco Rouge in Polk Gulch, San Francisco
Tacos at Taco Rouge in Polk Gulch

Chef Daniel Tellez is a busy guy. The chef, formerly of Sausalito’s Copita, recently launched Taco Rouge in San Francisco’s Polk Gulch where Nick’s Crispy Tacos and Rouge (one of my favorite former hangouts) once held sway. The idea is tacos by day and tequila and live music at night so maybe the play on the name is intentional? By the looks of the lounge, the answer is “yes.”

Taco Rouge interior bar
Taco Rouge interior bar

Tellez All the Way (to Napa)

Entrance to Napa Yard
Entrance to Napa Yard

Señor Tellez is also executive cheffing at Napa Yard-Oxbow Garden, a farm-to-table restaurant and agricultural outdoor oasis in Napa, near Copia and Oxbow Public Market. The kitchen and bar feature repurposed shipping containers, originally sourced from the Yard at Mission Rock in the parking lot of Oracle Park. The onsite gardens, some of which were part of the original project of Copia, are the source of some of the ingredients on the Garden Kitchen (open through October) and Beer Garden (open year-round) menus. Tellez’s more expansive vision of California Cuisine – shrimp cocktail, miso dip & spring crudités, beef birria tacos, smash burger – is complemented by a garden-influenced cocktail program developed by onsite, grape-based, craft distiller, Concordia Spirits.

Kolaborasyon at Abacá

Chef Jordy Navarra of Manila's Toyo Eatery
Chef Jordy Navarra of Manila’s Toyo Eatery

It took a hot minute for my linear brain to understand the non-linear word-y joke behind Abacá’s upcoming Chef Kolaborasyon Dinners. (Get it? Give it a minute…)  First up, Chef Jordy Navarra of Manila’s Toyo Eatery. Navarra, who trained at The Fat Duck in London, uses modern gastronomic techniques and tons of creativity to riff on traditional Filipino dishes like lugaw (rice porridge), relyenong pusit (stuffed squid), and pork bbq. His restaurant earned a ranking of 42 on the World’s 50 Best list for Asia in 2019.

Wine Country

Late Night Bites at the CIA at Copia

Speaking of Copia, The Haven late night bar at Copia opened in late July. The first cocktail-focused bar at any of the CIA’s campuses is like a balcony for the onsite restaurant, The Grove. Small bites (marinated anchovy on grilled toast with smoked tomato and basil oil, duck pintxo with harissa and sumac, kampachi crudo with citrus and fennel) and a beverage program – a collaboration between consultant Josh Harris (Bon Vivants Hospitality, Trick Dog) and the CIA at Copia team led by beverage educator Traci Dutton – are available from 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday only.


2017 Gold Medal Win for Chef Mathew Peters and Commis Harrison (center) in Lyon, France

It’s really a Copia-heavy news week because the Team USA National Selection Event for the 2025 Bocuse d’Or is happening at the CIA at Copia on September 3.  Three US-based candidate teams–

  • Chef Stefani De Palma, Commis Bradley Waddle & Coach Devin Knell
  • Chef Vincenzo Loseto, Commis Kaleb Gruin & Coach Philip Tessier
  • Chef Angus McIntosh, Commis Alex Armer & Coach Corey Siegel

–will compete for the chance to be Team USA at the world’s most prestigious cooking competition, the 2025 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France. For the Napa round, each team is tasked with creating a “theme on a platter” with Snake River Farms American Kurobuta Bone-In Pork Rack, including a “starter” and two accompaniments. Additionally, they must present a “theme on a plate” supplied with a choice of summer squash from The Chef’s Garden and zucchini or sweet corn from Cooks Company Produce. They must plate ten portions on serving ware courtesy of Steelite. Judging is at 5 p.m. For more information about the competition and for tickets, head to the Ment’or website.

My money’s on Tessier’s team. Chef Tessier, who currently helms Press in Saint Helena, won silver for Team USA in 2015 (and was also the first American to mount the Bocuse d’Or podium) and gold as a coach in 2017. For the second year in 2023, Tessier and his team at Press earned a Michelin star. Not too shabby.

To Kalon to Taste the ‘60’s

Views of the Napa River at Arch & Tower
Views of the Napa River at Arch & Tower

Just across the Napa River from downtown, in the cool sandstone building that used to house a brewery, Robert Mondavi Winery has opened Arch & Tower, a showcase for the house’s wines and culinary pairings. Consulting Chef Chris Shepard designed a la carte bites to enjoy with Mondavi’s Estate Collection. Try them at  The Legend Lunch, which pairs Mondavi wines with a three-course menu that is inspired by dishes popular when the winery first opened in 1966. A Taste of To Kalon focuses on wines from the legendary To Kalon Vineyard, served alongside a choice of shrimp Louie lettuce wrap, Monte Cristo sandwich, or spinach and ricotta malfatti. Or skip the food entirely and enjoy a glass of wine on the River Terrace during Golden Hour, that time of day when the sun is low on the horizon and Napa is at its most stunning.