Open/Shut Report: Hello True Laurel, Goodbye Babu Ji (and Lots More)

Botellón opens in the Castro, while Crepevine and Una Pizza Napoletana shutter.

Typically, things calm down around the holidays, but there’s been a lot of churn in the food-and-beverage world lately.


Babu Ji 
Eater reports that the arch-hipster, contemporary North Indian/Punjabi restaurant at 280 Valencia Street has closed for regular service, although it will remain open for catering and special events. (Buh-bye, self-service beer fridge.) Fairly or unfairly, patrons consistently dinged it over its high price point, and it’s certainly a cursed space, having been — in backward order — Babu Ji, Nostra Spaghetteria, Plin, Another Monkey, and Conduit, all in under eight years. Babu Ji’s New York location closed after settling a substantial wage-related lawsuit, and later reopened, and co-owner Jessi Singh tells Eater he’s considering a move to SoCal. 

Una Pizza Napoletana
The end is nigh for Anthony Mangieri’s spartan and much-loved Western SoMa pizzeria. Rumors of its relocation to NYC’s Lower East Side were true, and the last night of service is this Saturday, Dec. 23. (I biked by it at 6 p.m. last evening and the line was out the door.) It’s especially inauspicious because a restaurateur whose surname seems like a cognate with the Italian word for “to eat” is going to the city with which S.F.’s plucky pizza scene is always unfavorably compared.

Man, the Greater Castro can’t catch a break. Much sadder than the news of Pottery Barn losing its lease — where will we get our beige, loganberry-scented throw-pillow candles now? — is that Hoodline confirmed that the 18-year-old Church Street location of Crepevine is done-zo. You can still get your crepe fix in the Inner Sunset, though, as the one at 624 Irving St. lives now.


True Laurel
On Friday, Dec. 22, we finally get to see the Lazy Bear spinoff project in the former Tradesman space at 753 Alabama St. in the Mission. True Laurel — so named because its bar is partly made out of a laurel tree trunk whose wood chips found a use in the kitchen. While more cocktail bar than restaurant, Lazy Bear’s David Barzelay has some serious bites, including a cheddar fondue with crudité, a loaded baked potato with bonito shavings, and a laurel ice cream that’s a nod to a Negroni. Because Barzelay is nothing if not thematically thorough, checks are presented in copies of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, that metaphor for Baby Boomer voracity that’s also a treatise on the vices of pre-claimed wood.

In the former Hecho/Hecho Cantina space at 2200 Market St. in the Castro, Botellón has soft-opened with upscale bar food and large and small plates. (You’ll soon be able to order it via delivery window from the adjacent Brewcade, according to Hoodline.) Look for a winter harvest pizza, Dungeness crab ravioli, truffle fries, and a “potato bomba” with mushroom, pepper-and-onion medley, mozzarella, honey mustard sauce, and cilantro ginger sauce.


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