Long ago, before the phrase “eat the rich” was either a trending hashtag or a perplexing Aerosmith song, problematic style icon Diana Vreeland made a habit of asking Harper’s Bazaar readers the question “why don’t you,” followed by fanciful and frivolous suggestions intended to get readers out of their regular routines.
As we enter the sixth week of the Bay Area’s shelter in place, fancy and frivolity feel like a memory, and if there’s a rut, we’re all in it together. But this is also a time of remarkable creativity from chefs, restaurants, and food businesses that are hustling to stay afloat, do some good, or just keep smiling. Every week, at least until life returns to a semblance of normal, this column will highlight some of that creativity. Are any of these recommendations for must-have items like burritos, pantry staples, or coffee? Nope! These are just “why don’t yous.” So...
Why don’t you...
...honk your horn outside a restaurant? Uptown Oakland Cajun-Asian spot alaMar Kitchen & Bar is celebrating its 6th anniversary on Friday May 1, but instead of the hootenanny they might have ordinarily planned, the restaurant is asking fans to “‘parade’ in their cars and drive around alaMar while honking” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, a request that their neighbors will probably love! For those who prefer to go hornless, the event can be celebrated with throwback specials like $6 cheese empanadas and a $60 seafood boil family meal complete with crab, shrimp, potatoes, and garlic noodles. Orders can be placed on alaMar’s website or via the usual apps.
...drop a Jefferson on a marg? Tendernob taco bar Matador is offering $2 single margaritas and $7 pitchers; all you need to do is buy an entree. As the list price for those libations is $10/$30, this seems like quite the delivery or takeout deal, as long as you don’t have much planned for the next day. Delivery is via Caviar and is available here, pickup can be called in at 415-923-8146.
...kick around in a local bar or restaurant’s Vans? Oakland dive bar Eli’s Mile High Club and SoMa meat-centric spot Cockscomb are the only Bay Area restaurants (so far) to have joined Vans “Foot The Bill” small business support effort, in which the sales of custom shoes go to support local shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants. The Eli’s lace-ups are $90 unless you want additional customizations, as is Cockscombs’ extremely spiffy slip-on.
...get your company to start hooking you up with in-office coffee, again? San Francisco’s Ritual Coffee Roasters has launched a program called “Perks from Home,” an effort to offset the losses they’ve suffered due to a drop in bean sales after local companies stopped buying coffee for their workers and sent everyone home. “The average work-from-home employee drinks two cups of coffee per day,” Ritual founder Eileen Rinaldi writes “so one 12 oz. bag lasts about a week. Your company will spend $145 ($24/week) to send a bag of coffee each week for 6 weeks to a work-from-home employee through Ritual’s online subscription program,” with a second bag going to “someone who is struggling on the other side.” To sign up, email Rinaldi directly at email@example.com.
...treat yourself to some Sonoma-made aperitifs? Haus, an apéritif brand that touts the hand-made and natural features of their low ABV line of spirits, has launched an initiative called the Restaurant Project with a host of restaurants including Rich Table and Mister Jiu’s. Sonoma-based Haus says that it co-creates aperitifs with the restaurants it’s intended to support, sending 100 percent of the profits from orders to the partner spots each week. Orders will be shipped mid-May, and more partners are joining the project all the time, with nominations available here. The drinks are sold in 2-packs for $80, or you can order the full collection for a cool $360.
...listen to music brought to you by a beer company? Anchor Brewing, San Francisco’s 123-year-old beer brand, is launching a virtual concert series called Steam Sessions. The first show is Wednesday, April 22, at 6 p.m. PT and features SF-based synth pop act Geographer. It’s all going down on Anchor’s Instagram account.
...have a taco house party with your roommates? Prior to the coronavirus crisis, Panhandle restaurant Manitas Cafe served one of the city’s best weekday breakfasts. Now the Salvadoran spot is offering a meal kit that serves four people for $40 and includes protein, cheese, and chips — just enough for an apartment filled with roommates who have been trapped with each other for the last month. Orders can be placed by calling 415-213-5566 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
...bring an all-biscuit restaurant to life? For 7.5 years, baker Van Dao — a former contestant on cooking competition show Chopped — has been serving biscuits from his Ferry Building kiosk. Dao tells Eater SF that he’s recently left the Ferry Building (as so many spots have as of late), and is now offering his biscuits every weekend from his Dogpatch production kitchen, a spot that is also “the future site of my cafe, offering an all-biscuit menu once the pandemic passes.” The sweet and savory biscuit menu is here, and orders can be placed 24 hours in advance here.
...have a non-alcoholic beer taste test? Campbell, California-based Surreal Brewing Company launched online ordering to stay in business during the pandemic, but their beers are a little different: They’re all non-alcoholic and aren’t made with any added sugar. Order online here, and if you’re feeling wild, have some boozy beer delivered, too, flip your face mask up over your eyes, and see if you can tell the difference without looking.
...revisit a long gone deli? Folks were super bummed when FiDi deli Shorty Goldstein’s closed in 2017, as the spot was legit enough to get the Jewish News of Northern California’s stamp of approval for its latkes, house-cured pastrami, and homemade bagels (the best in the Bay Area, the weekly paper said in 2015). Shorty’s owner Michael Siegel has moved on to the kitchen at Mill Valley gastropub Floodwater, and in recent weeks has launched a Shorty’s “pop-up” inside the restaurant, with a lunch menu that includes the late deli’s vaunted Reuben, its chopped liver, and a pint of pickles. Order takeout by calling 415-843-4545, or delivery via Dine-In Marin, DoorDash, or Uber Eats.