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San Francisco Could Lose the Tenderloin Oupost of This Legendary Vietnamese Restaurant

Turtle Tower’s building is for sale. The family says they’re not sure what comes next.

Pho ga from Turtle Tower.
The fate of Turtle Tower’s legendary pho is up in the air.
Turtle Tower
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

If there’s a culinary ambassador for San Francisco’s Little Saigon, it might be longstanding Vietnamese restaurant Turtle Tower. Yet the fate of the 23-year-old institution, which is well-loved for doling out bowl after bowl of Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, is up in the air after the restaurant’s building at 645 Larkin Street was listed for sale. Tablehopper reports owner Thao Pham and the family behind the business are “seeing their options” in regard to what will become of the restaurant going forward.

A longtime favorite in the Tenderloin, Turtle Tower is best known for that phở ga made with free-range chicken broth and house-made rice noodles — the smart move is to get it with giblets. But it hasn’t been an easy few years for the restaurant. The family already closed their 5716 Geary Boulevard location during the pandemic, and the restaurant was robbed in May 2020 in broad daylight while police spent two hours making their way to the scene of the crime.

New Black-owned beer garden takes over legendary Bayview space

Now we know what’s going into the former Sam Jordan’s location, San Francisco’s oldest Black-owned bar. The San Francisco Standard reports chef Binta Ayofemi — who graduated from the La Cocina incubator program — will open a barbecue restaurant and beer garden in the expansive space. The project, dubbed Yard, will debut in August. “I want to bring the history of the area into the present,” Ayofemi says.

San Francisco’s kink cafe closes after 14 years

Wicked Grounds, the city’s only kink-positive education space and cafe, closed in late June. The San Francisco Standard reports owner Mir Bilodeau said there was more demand for events — teaching about BDSM to organizations, for example— than there was for coffee. The cafe will transition to an online, Patreon-supported education company.

Craft tortilleria opens first permanent space in Oakland

Michael de la Torre makes Sonoran-style flour tortillas with a West Coast sensibility, meaning he incorporates ingredients such as duck fat from Liberty Ducks and butter from Straus Creamery into the mix. Now he’s bringing his Xulo tortillas into a partnership with Thomas Schnetz at La Esquinita. The restaurant opened on June 28 at 5400 College Avenue serving al pastor tacos with avocado salsa and more.

Tony Gemignani ranks in 50 Top Pizza USA list for third year in a row

San Francisco pizza sorcerer Tony Gemignani, known for his eponymous pizza shop Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, ranked 4th in the 50 Top Pizza list while his Las Vegas outfit Pizza Rock ranked 18th. This year’s awards makes Gemignani the first pizzaolo to rank two pizzerias on the list, the fact of which earned him another award: Performance of the Year.