San Francisco foodies have plenty to mourn in the wake of COVID-19. But as warmer weather returns and with the promise of a widely available vaccine by mid-April, we all have plenty to look forward to as well. Even though many restaurants were forced to close over the past year, new eateries have popped up in their place.
The Outer Sunset recently welcomed a new wood-fired pizzeria, the renowned chef Michael Mina expanded his Tokyo Hot Chicken brand into the city, and a new eatery focused on tonkatsu opened in February at the International Food Court on Bush Street.
Like many San Franciscans, Laura Seymour recently taught herself how to make pizza from scratch. Unlike most of us, however, she was motivated by more than shelter-in-place boredom.
Seymour, who had worked in the coffee industry in San Francisco in the early 2000s before shifting to a career in interior design, took to kneading dough and firing pies with the intention of opening a wood-fired pizzeria in the Outer Sunset.
In early 2021, Seymour opened DamnFine Co. on Judah Street, serving inventive, delicious pizzas cooked in a 5,500-pound Italian oven — along with cocktails.
“In the neighborhood we’re in, there are not a lot of food choices,” Seymour says. “Wood-fired pizza was not there at all. It was kind of a lightbulb moment: Everyone loves pizza. We love pizza. And it goes well with all these other things we want to do, like cocktails and coffee.”
She snagged the space next door to Sunset Cantina, which her partner, Colin O’Malley, owns. They live four blocks away from their businesses.
Seymour tinkered with her pizza recipe for months, drawing from her experience baking sourdough bread. She settled on a naturally fermented dough that rests over three days in the refrigerator. The long fermentation process creates a delightfully chewy, flavorful dough that crisps around the edges in the wood-fired oven. She makes a classic Margherita, pepperoni, and cheese, as well as some more customized creations, like “the Sunset” (delicata squash, braised radicchio, jalapeño béchamel, mozzarella, pecorino, and hot honey) and the new “Slow n’ Low” (pieces of slow-braised pork shoulder on a chili-spiked tomato sauce with crispy kale, calabrian chiles, mozzarella, and pickled red onions).
Cocktails include several spritzes, an Old Fashioned, Negroni, and a shot of Fernet if you so please.
Seymour plans to soon open DamnFine during the day and serve housemade pastries, biscuits cakes, a focaccia sandwich, and espresso.
3410 Judah St.
Wed-Sun, 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
415-941-7503 | damnfineco.com
Tokyo Hot Chicken
Renowned chef Michael Mina has entered the fried chicken game with Tokyo Hot Chicken, a new delivery-only pop-up that melds Nashville hot chicken with Japanese karaage.
Tokyo Hot Chicken’s fried chicken, available in regular or “inferno style,” comes with sauces like yuzu kosho honey, gochujang, and “yum yum” sauce (Kewpie mayo with furikake). Sides include duck fat fries, furikake rice, wasabi mashed potatoes, soft Hawaiian rolls topped with togarashi, and matcha mochi waffles. You can also get the fried chicken in sandwich form with sriracha mayo, pickled carrots, and daikon, or karaage “snackers” with kimchi slaw.
For dessert, there’s a milk chocolate sesame custard with red bean mousse. Tokyo Hot Chicken also serves cocktails, sake, beer, and wine.
The Mina Group runs four locations of Tokyo Hot Chicken in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Del Mar, and Boise. They are essentially ghost kitchens that operate out of existing restaurants. The San Francisco Tokyo Hot Chicken, for example, is run out of Mina’s Pabu Izakaya in the Financial District and is open for delivery and takeout only.
Tokyo Hot Chicken
101 California St.
Sun-Sat, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4 p.m.-9 p.m. 415-535-0184 | michaelmina.net
Another new delivery-only eatery is Katsuya, which opened in late February at the International Food Court at 380 Bush St.
The Katsuya menu revolves around tonkatsu — pork, pork with oozing mozzarella, chicken, oyster, prawn or soft shell crab, all fried — which you can order in a bento box with sides, in a donburi (rice bowl) or on a sandwich between two pieces of fluffy milk bread. The menu also includes sides like pork curry and a cheese corn dog
Katsuya is available on Grubhub, UberEats, and DoorDash.
380 Bush St.
Mon-Fri, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 415-757-0404 | Instagram @katsuya_sf
Elena Kadvany is a contributing writer. Twitter @ekadvany