HEADER
  • Little Saigon

    Little Saigon and Tendernob

    Little Saigon and the Tendernob are two Tenderloin neighborhoods that are home to large immigrant populations and some of the best food in the city. Join us as we take you on the only food tour of this district and explore the flavors of Asia, the Middle East, and beyond!
  • The Mission

    The Mission District

    San Francisco's 1st neighborhood, The Mission District is still the heart & soul of this vibrant city. This area is so rich in culture, that we have 4 Mission food tours & 2 neighborhood walks.
  • North Beach

    North Beach

    North Beach is that rare thing -- a neighborhood that manages to be a perennial hit with tourists, and also to remain beloved by San Franciscans. It's San Francisco's Little Italy and the home of the beatniks.
  • Scenic Running

    Scenic Running

    Just a short run from the urban landscape of San Francisco's busy city streets you will find numerous trails and parks offering phenomenal views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the City Skyline and other gems.
  • Chinatown

    Chinatown

    Established in the 1840s, San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Our food and walking tours are 2nd to none.
  • Parrots!

    Parrots!

    Wild Parrots in San Francisco? Yes there are officially at least two flocks of wild Parrots here. These Parrots have evolved into a brand new species of parrot indigenous to San Francisco.

Entertainment Blogs

San Francisco Supper Clubs

CHECKING OUT SAN FRANCISCO’S SECRETIVE SUPPER CLUB SCENE

SAN FRANCISCO POP-UPS from Thrillist

LAZY BEAR
LAZY BEAR | STARCHEFS/COURTESY OF LAZY BEAR

By PATRICK WONG

The term “supper club” evokes secretive, exclusive, and (sometimes literally) underground dining experiences that require you to know a password to get in. However, in a city like San Francisco, where good food and tech are abundant, some supper clubs are easier to find, thanks to tech ingenuity. In our roundup, you’ll mostly find supper clubs that are relatively easy to get into — just buy a ticket online. After all, eating good food shouldn’t be that hard… although there is some thrill in the chase.

 

LAZY BEAR

LAZY BEAR

Naked Kitchen
Mission

Just look for that unmistakable, purple Victorian house in the Mission — it’s hard to miss the Naked Kitchen. This spot hosts up-and-coming chefs, giving guests a preview into their skills before they open up brick-and-mortars of their own. Prices vary per event, as do the chefs in question (Top Chef’s Elizabeth Binder has been here), and can range in size from just 10 people seated around a bar to one with 40 others in the dining area. Most recently, they hosted a dinner by Per Se alum and Michael Mina sous chef Anthony Yang, which included items like polenta cakes with lamb bacon, so you know you want in on this. The best way to attend is to sign up on their mailing list, which will get you on the invite list.

Ma’s

LAZY BEAR
Mission (& Potrero)
Feastly offers pop-up supper club spaces around the city for rogue chefs to show off their craft, and among the most popular is Chef Ma’s. Ma is a bus driver by day and a chef by night. Having grown up in Myanmar, Ma moved to San Francisco nearly three decades ago and actually cooked in the famed Burma Superstar kitchen before she decided to make it on her own.

Ma’s meals regularly change, highlighting different Burmese dishes and ingredients. Currently, bone broth noodle soup and paratha (flaky flat bread) are on the menu.

Ma’s dinners usually sell out (possibly because Ma, like her name, treats you like a mom and has been known to give you second and third serving, then send you home with leftovers). Visit the Feastly site to book a ticket.

Lazy Bear

LAZY BEAR

LAZY BEAR

LAZY BEAR

Mission
The Mission-based Lazy Bear is probably one of the most well-known San Francisco supper clubs. Originating about five years ago in self-taught Chef David Barzelay’s apartment in Duboce Triangle, Lazy Bear now has its own permanent space, where food is served on a long, large slab of American elm wood. Barzelay cultivates a conversational, laid-back, mingling atmosphere; the evening starts off with punch and snacks, followed by a communal dinner. Guests can expect 14 or more courses, including dishes like firefly squid yakitori and rabbit with snails, green garlic, and stinging nettles. Tickets range in price from $150-185, with an additional wine pairing for $85. Tickets are sold a month in advance, so plan ahead if you want to join in on the dinner fun.

LAZY BEAR

LAZY BEAR

 

Wild Kitchen Supper Club

WILD KITCHEN
SHARE ON FACEBOOK
PIN IT
WILD KITCHEN

WILD KITCHEN

WILD KITCHEN

WILD KITCHEN

WILD KITCHEN

Wild Kitchen

Multiple locations
A relatively new venture, Wild Kitchen is a project out of ForageSF, which champions supporting local foragers and the San Francisco food community as a whole. A traveling supper club, each eight-course dinner includes locally foraged ingredients, like freshly picked porcini and seaweed. Their last dinner, held a few weeks ago at the Ferry Building, included Okonomiyaki with smoked wild caught California salmon with white horseradish, lobster reduction, and a sunny-side-up duck egg. A communal dining experience, the Wild Kitchen dinners can host up to 100 guests. Sign up on their email list to be apprised of upcoming dates, so you can be among them.

STAG

STAG DINING

THE CLANDESTINE DINNER SERIES | STAG DINING

STAG DINING

STAG

The Clandestine Dinner Series/ Stag Dining

Underground Supper Clubs

Multiple locations
The Stag Dining Group has since grown from its supper club roots to high-profile events, partnering with the likes of Aloe Blacc, Reggie Watts, and Jacques Pépin. The location is often secret until the day before (hence, uh, the name), and can take place practically anywhere, from antique streetcars to World War Two battleships. Focused on sustainability and seasonality, the menu is always transforming, but you can sign up to their mailing list for an invite to their once- to twice-monthly events.

Eats by E

Eats by E

Eats by E

 

EATS BY E

Mission (& Potrero)
It was just too hard to choose only one supper club meal from the Feastly platform, and Eats by E is so delicious and established — Chef Eric has garnered nearly 1,000 perfect reviews from diners. Born in the Bay Area, Chef Eric spent a lot of time in Hawaii with his grandparents, and his regularly changing menu consequently involves influences from both Hawaii and his family’s native Philippines… although he’s been known to throw some curveballs in there with a few Peruvian dishes to boot. With every one of Eric’s meals, you’re always going to be treated to a lumpia course, so you have that treat to definitely look forward to, but otherwise, the menu can be derived by any number of influences; right now, Eric’s menu is inspired by his mother, as well as produce preservation — or using produce that is “too ugly” for general consumption. Outside of his job as a real estate agent, Eric is also a co-founder of Oakland’s The Lumpia Company — and you’ll get to taste test custom flavors at his dinners.

S&M Vegan

SM Vegan

SM VEGAN

SM VEGAN

SM VEGAN

SM VEGAN

SM VEGAN

Multiple locations
A collaboration between Shane Stanbridge and Marie Chia, S&M Vegan serves flavorful vegan food, and while their supper club rotates themes, the dishes are typically centered around the co-founding chefs’ heritages, with Asian and European flavors taking center stage. You can expect dishes like Png Kueh dumplings, grilled romaine in pea brodo, and (nut) cheese and salad plates. The team hosts recurring weekly and monthly pop-ups at venues in Oakland and San Francisco but visit the event calendar on their site to check their upcoming schedule.

NOMMERY SUPPER CLUB

Nommery
Multiple locations
Nommery straddles the supper club line  because it takes place at restaurants that you could get into normally… if you’re willing to wait hours or make reservations months in advance. Originally a dining club intended to help folks meet each other and share meals, Nommery remains a community experience (one married couple even met through the service) but it’s also a platform that allows folks to host dinners at a variety of restaurants, and enables guests to reserve a seat at difficult-to-book venues, including the line-around-the-block Mensho Ramen, and the always sought-after State Bird. With Nommery, you pay a flat fee to eat family style with a group of anywhere from four to 50. The nice supper club twist: the restaurants will usually develop a custom meal, with some excellent off-menu items. Recently, members enjoyed a secret happy hour event at Modernist, where they snacked on dishes like truffle macarons with foie gras ganache and strawberry mousse.

Phoenix Supper Club

Phoenix Supper Club

Phoenix Supper Club

Multiple locations
Phoenix Supper Club’s diners are actually whisked off to their secret destination via limo — a Champagne-filled limo at that — to enjoy their nine-course wine pairing tasting menu for the night. Jazz performances usually accompany the dining experience. If you’re looking for a more immersive visual and audible experience outside of the food, requests for the “Mephisto” are also doable, which offers entertainment like “fluid sounds and visual enchantment” (yeah, we’re not sure on that one, either), as the main entree, along with a seven-course wine pairing.

Sign up here for our daily San Francisco email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun SF has to offer.

Patrick Wong recently started writing for Thrillist. That’s not a secret  because he doesn’t like secrets; they can stop him from eating really good food sometimes. @peewong

Read Comments(No Comments) | Add Comment

Explore SF Guide Dan Chew on American Canvas Premier

On March 11th at 10:00PM on the Ovation Network, watch the premier of American Canvas.

Our very own Dan Chew, will be taking the host around Chinatown introducing him to a few of his favorites spots from Dan’s Chinatown food tour.

 

Read Comments(No Comments) | Add Comment

The Story of Oofty-Goofty & Big Bertha

Big Bertha and Oofty-Goofty, San Francisco, CA

Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, California. ...
Looking towards Washington Street from early Portsmouth Square, Kearney would be to the right.
Still not landscaped, Portsmouth Plaza in the foreground and Telegraph Hill in the background.
Doesn’t appear to be any rock quarrying yet on Telegraph Hill, or Signal Hill as it was likely to
be called then. There was probably still a beach in North Beach. The main area of the Barbary Coast
would be situated to the right and up a couple blocks from here. This square was not part of Chinatown
but instead was the main town square. The water line of the bay was still just a couple blocks east of here.
Photo from 1851.

 

Big Bertha arrived in San Francisco in the middle eighteen-eighties, posing as a wealthy Jewish widow searching for a good man to take care of her money, which she described as being far more than she could count. She required each suitor to transfer to her a sum of money, to be added to an equal sum of her own, the whole to be risked on an investment of which she alone knew the nature.

In this extraordinary manner she collected she collected several thousand dollars from a score of lovelorn males, not a penny of which was ever seen again by it’s rightful owner. She was at length arrested, but none of her victims felt inclined to brave the torrent of publicity that would result from prosecution, she was released on nominal bail, and the cases against her dropped.

 As Big Bertha gained fame, the manager of the Bella Union hired her and put her on display in an empty storefront on Market Street as “Big Bertha, the Queen of the Confidence Women, Admission Ten Cents.” Bertha’s act consisted of a long “confession” of awful crimes she may have committed, followed by an off-key rendition of “A Flower from My Angel Mother’s Grave.” This went over so well that she took her act to the Bella Union and turned it into a comedic song-and-dance revue, which soon became the toast of the town. She had made herself into a local celebrity, through guts and determination. Other than her stage presence and sense of humor, she had virtually no talent for singing or dancing, but people loved her anyway.

 

 

The Bella Union served for almost 60 years from 1849 to the great fire of 1906, to provide a venue for some
of the finest variety, minstrel and burlesque shows in the country, and was built on the site of the old
Colonnade Hotel. It was originally used as a gambling saloon as well as for entertainment, in 1856 becoming
a melodeon , but from 1893 was a waxworks and penny arcade. It was on the North side of Washington Street,
near Kearny.Also in this photo are the Verandah and the El Dorado with Portsmouth Plaza in the
foreground and Telegraph Hill in the background. Photo from 1856.

 

 

Meanwhile, another star, named Oofty Goofty, plastered with tar and horsehair, was wowing them with his Wild Man of Borneo Act, during which he repeatedly snarled out his name while shredding hunks of raw meat with his teeth. 

Big Bertha, the Queen of the Confidence Women, played a brief engagement at Bottle Koenig’s and then went to the Bella Union, where she achieved considerable renown as a singer who couldn’t sing, a dancer who couldn’t dance, and an actress who couldn’t act. Built as a gambling palace in 1849, the Bella Union quickly began hosting burlesque sideshows, which eventually supplanted gambling as the main attraction. Its biggest star was a 19th-century performance artist named Big Bertha.(2) Her work in the drama, indeed, was so remarkably bad that she attracted audiences from all over San Francisco and brought to the Bella Union and the Barbary Coast hundreds of citizens who had never vsited the quarter before and never did again. 

Her greatest triumph was achieved in “Romeo and Juliet”, in which she co-starred
with OoftyGoofty. The management at the Bella Union, seeing the natural chemistry
between San Francisco’s biggest female and male stars, decided to cast Oofty and Bertha as the leads in Shakespeare’sRomeo and Juliet. Their move was a decade ahead of its time, for it wasn’t until 1896 that Alfred Jarry destroyed Macbeth with his outrageous parody Ubu Roi. Though the Bella Union version of Romeo and Juliet pretty much stuck to the original script, a few minor revisions in stage directions were necessary. Big Bertha was so heavy she couldn’t possibly be hoisted to the balcony, which wouldn’t have supported her in any case. So Oofty Goofy howled out Romeo’s lines from the balcony, while Bertha played Juliet from the ground. Oofty Goofy, unable to shed his typecast persona, played Romeo as the wild man of Borneo;
Bertha emerged from each performance covered with bruises from head to toe.

This was probably the most popular production that Ned Foster had ever staged, but within a week he was compelled to take it off the boards, for Big Bertha complained that as a lover Oofty Goofty was entirely too rough. She flatly refused to act with him any longer.

Soon thereafter Foster presented here in a condensed version of Mazeppa, in which she made her entrance strapped to the back of a donkey. This was also greeted with great acclaim, until one night the donkey fell over the footlights, carrying Big Bertha with him, and well nigh exterminated the orchestra. During the excitement Big Bertha, scratched and angry, crawled from beneath the braying donkey and, in language which she had doubtless learned during her career as an adventuress, indicated that she would never again play the role of Mazeppa. Thereafter she confined her stage work to singing, with an occassional dance, and appeared at various melodeons until 1895, when she obtained control of the Bella Union.

 

 

Big Bertha

 

 

In 1895 Big Bertha takes control of the Bella Union on Kearny Street, or was it Pacific Street, where the Holiday Inn is now located. When she can’t sell liquor, she shuts the establishment down for good and leaves the Barbary Coast(1)

 

 

 

BELLA UNION

 

 

Oofty-Goofty was the stage name of a sideshow performer who lived in
San Francisco in the late 19th century. Leonard Borchardt’s first glimpse
of America was brief. The fourteen year old stowaway from Berlin was discovered en route to the new world by the Captain of the 
SS Fresia. He was forced to stay on the ship, join the crew to earn his passage, return to Germany and back again to the United States, before being allowed to disembark in New York. From there Borchardt drifted from state to state before signing up for the U.S. Cavalry in Detroit. After learning he would be fighting Native American Indians who might scalp him – Borchardt deserted, sold his horse and gun to a farmer,
and headed for San Francisco. He arrived in 1884 at the age of 22.

English: San Francisco harbor (Yerba Buena Cov...
San Francisco harbor (Yerba Buena Cove), 1850 or 1851, with Yerba Buena Island in the background. Hundreds of ships poured into San Francisco only to have their crews
dessert ship to head to the foothills to search for gold. Consequently, the ships were
abandoned in the harbor, where the locals would put them to good use. 

 

Borchardt would try any crazy scheme for money, starting with his impersonation of a “Wild Man of Borneo”, the scam that was to give him his infamous moniker. He was painted with glue, stuck with hair, and laid out on a roof to dry for five hours. Then he was shackled in a cage and fed raw meat whilst scaring visitors with grunts and wails of “Oof, Oof”. He performed this act in the Dime Museum Show and was a huge success; but his manager skipped town with the proceeds, leaving Borchardt close to death on account of his pores being blocked by whatever it was that had been fused to his skin. Borchardt made the news and was visited by curious medical students as he lay in a Turkish bath for five weeks waiting for the glue to dissolve. This cost the City $300 before he was well again. From then on Borchardt was known throughout California simply as Oofty Goofty.

 

Instead of shying away from the limelight as some might after such a to-do, Borchardt (now a celebrity of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast), embraced his new persona and no dare was considered too much of a challenge. From one day to the next you would not know if you might find Oofty Goofty acting as a human skittle in Woodward’s Garden where patrons would win a cigar if they hit him with a baseball, or hear of him heading to New York pushing a shiny red wheelbarrow for a bet, (a challenge that failed after 40 miles when he was knocked over in the darkness, landing head first in a creek).

For $20 he even allowed himself to be shipped in a box to Sacramento as a joke gift for a young lady. That they carted him there with the box updside-down, and left the package unopened in a warehouse over the weekend, did nothing to lessen his bravado, although he later admitted he was “pretty near played out that time”.

But Oofty Goofty was made from tough mettle. Not only did he survive a court martial for his earlier desertion, escaping three years of hard labor by throwing himself off a cliff to achieve early dismissal on grounds of disability.

Oofty, after a long and illustrious career, met a different, sadder fate. His big career move came when an irate clubowner, embarrassed at having booked such a loser, had the bouncers pick up Oofty and throw him through the air and into the street. Oofty slammed into the pavement with enough force to crush the spine of an ordinary mortal.

Staggering to his feet and brushing himself off, he made a remarkable discovery: He felt no pain! Just to make sure, he entered the nearest saloon and offered to let its nastiest-looking denizen punch him for a nickel. Still, he felt no pain. Soon Oofty was earning a good living with his expanded repertoire: for a nickel you could slug him, for a dime you could kick his rear
end with all your might, and for a quarter you could slam him in the butt with a baseball bat.

Practically every male in San Francisco, from the movers and shakers to the lowest denizens of the Barbary Coast, could brag of having banged on Oofty at least once. But finally, after decades of suffering the painless blows of fate, Oofty suffered the inevitable fatal blow. Heavyweight champ John L. Sullivan busted his spine with a pool cue, and Oofty died broke a couple of years later.

While San Francisco would undoubtedly have liked to claim this colorful character forever as its own, Oofty Goofty actually moved to Texas where his antics continued. Sullivan’s legendary belting did not stop him from traveling from one oil field to the next, where he would invite drunken workers to thrash him with a baseball bat for cash. Neither did his fertile imagination subside when it came to entertaining the masses with his fanciful schemes for making money. The last we hear of him, Oofty Goofty favored racing to drink beer with a bar spoon and quail-eating contests that became all the rage at the time.

 

 

Oofty Goofty’s companion, Philomena Faulkner

 

 

 

 

OOFTY GOOFTY

 

 


He was later parodied in popular culture, notably in a 1941 eponymous film and in a 1937 
Our Gang short film called “The Kid From Borneo.”
He is referred to in a story by Bill Pronzini, “The Bughouse Caper.” [Kurland, Michael (editor) “Sherlock Holmes – The Hidden Years” New York, St. Martin’s Minotaur 2004]

 

 

 

 

Read Comments(1 Comment) | Add Comment

EXPLORE San Francisco: The Folsom District

Folsom District Walking Tour- Free Event… Public Event · By Explore San Francisco Sunday July 1st 2012 1:15pm until 3:00pm Meet on Mission Street at 4th Adults only Sign up on Facebook We’ll start in the heart of the old SOMA District, “South Of the Slot”. See this blue collar neighborhood as it used to be, before re-development. Then we Read the full article…


The Weeknighter: Churchill

The Weeknighter: Churchill   Churchill, Church Street at Market Photo from Churchill’s website Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Stuart Schuffman will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, giving you the lowdown on how and where to do your weeknight right.  From the most creative cocktails to the best happy Read the full article…


No More Pot Truffles In Dolores Park?!?: SFist

No More Pot Truffles In Dolores Park? “The Yuppies are destroying everything sacred in this city”, said a Hipster on the scene. Dolores Park, on a nice day. Credit: Greg/dannebrog The idea that the SFPD might try to remove one of the most charming aspects of Dolores Park — namely the rampant sale of mushroom Read the full article…


Great San Franciscan Characters #9: “Sunny Jim” Rolph

  « Great San Franciscan Characters #8: Rev. Cecil Williams Great San Franciscan Characters #10: Val Diamond » Mayor, successful business man, future governor, whorehouse owner “Sunny Jim” Rolph March 3, 2011 by A Golden Gate State of Mind  Official portrait of: California Governor James Rolph      Charming, beloved, charismatic, successful businessman and whorehouse owner, ”Sunny Jim” Rolph was the longest serving Read the full article…


“Explore Pride Tours 2012”

  Gay owned and operated,Explore San Francisco is pleased to announce Pride Tours 2012. Want to see the city above and beyond the parade, festival and the clubs? We offer the GLBT community tours and sightseeing within our community but outside of the box. Food tours, walking tours, running tours, 1970s Folsom District walk, or Read the full article…