TABLEHOPPING: Brunch is trying to win the meal popularity contest in SF — and hey, we finally got a souvlaki joint!
Our city is showing no signs of slowing down with new late-morning options. What can I say, we're obviously a city that likes to stumble out to brunch! Last week, I clued you in to the brand new brunch service at the stylish and very delicious Verbena (2323 Polk St., SF. www.verbenasf.com ) in Russian Hill. Now, the full menu has been released, and it's a doozy. On the eggy tip, there's a fried egg sandwich; a spin on the restaurant's broccoli and cheddar dish with soft-cooked eggs; a pork trotter terrine with fried quail eggs and chile oil, and poached eggs with duck ragout and peas. Or you can get sourdough pancakes and French toast. Hope for an outdoor table, while a brunch cocktail (made with good, real booze!) is a sure thing. 11am–2:30pm.
If you're in the Marina, Café Claude Marina (2120 Greenwich St., SF. www.cafeclaude.com ) is a cute option for weekend brunch, with a bistro-style menu offering classic French croque madames and croque monsieurs. And just to mix things up, there's a savoyard with bacon, béchamel, tomato, and greens. More classics like pain perdu and omelets fill the bill, although sometimes all you need is a burger — get a fried egg on it, bien sur.
Newly open this week in Hayes Valley is Souvla (517 Hayes, SF. www.souvlasf.com ), whose owner is nobly trying to bring some awesome souvlaki to our city. Greasy late-night street meat, this is not. Of course there's a California spin on the ingredients: The lamb shoulder is local — and wait until you taste it all covered in a harissa-spiked yogurt, nestled into a soft and pillowy pita — and the chicken, also off the spit, is Rocky Jr. and super juicy, topped with "Granch" dressing with fennel and citrus salad, pickled red onion, pea shoots, and mizithra cheese tucked inside.
Pork shoulder souvlaki with feta and cherry tomatoes will please any carnivore. And vegetarians, you can get a roasted white sweet potato version. No matter what, everyone has to get the Greek fries, lemony and oh so savory. Dessert is all about frozen yogurt with baklava crumbles and syrup, along with four other toppings too. There are also a variety of Greek wines and beers, cheers. The space was previously intimate Japanese restaurant Sebo, but now it's all sunny and light, with lots of tile, and white and grey metal stools. Grab a seat at the communal table, the high-top tables, or bar in the back, or perch at the indoor-outdoor bar at the front, perfect for our warmer days. Hours are Tue–Sun 11am–10pm.
Okay, so not only is Off the Grid back at Fort Mason (Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd., SF. www.offthegridsf.com ) on Fridays, but its events at the Presidio have also returned. If you're a daytime picnic fan, you'll want to experience Picnic at the Presidio (11am–4pm). Food trucks and food stands representing local eateries — Wise Sons, Sugarfoot Grits, Cholita Linda — have everything you need for a tasty lunch. Order adult beverages like Bloody Marys and Kentucky Mules that you can enjoy "blanket-side." And after you start getting your swerve on, maybe it's time to play some bocce or horseshoes. There are also cornhole tournaments, a DJ, and you can even purchase a sweater if Karl the Fog shows up at the party.
On Thursday evenings, don't miss Twilight at the Presidio (Main Parade Ground, Lincoln Blvd. at Montgomery, the Presidio), 5pm–9pm, with lantern-lit cabanas, fire pits and Adirondack chairs, live music, a gorgeous sunset view, and cocktails. Yeah, if you're looking for a spot for a perfect date, this is pretty damn choice. There are 10 trucks rotating biweekly, including El Sur, Red Sauce Meatballs, and The Chairman — and you can even have waited service at your cabana or fire pit.