Cougar Dens, Hooky Hangs: Tablehopper Reveals

Marcia Gagliardi's gossipy email newsletter, tablehopper, has been the must-read for food lovers and restaurant nerds in San Francisco practically from the day it launched. Always on top of the latest openings, closings, best places to get duck-fat frites, and more, Gagliardi's just published a guidebook to San Francisco with even more great recommendations and insider tips. Her trademark tell-it-like-it-is-sistah voice, and categories you won't find in Zagat make it a very fun read. We asked Gagliardi for some dish.

What are some of your favorite dive bars in SF?

The kooky atmosphere at Li-Po in Chinatown is a fave, and the abrasive and bawdy charm of Carl at the Ha-Ra will never cease to entertain me—it reminds me of the dive bars in LA I used to love so much (the vintage boxing pictures are kind of hot, too).

Cougar hang-outs?

Anywhere there is good wine and cocktails, there are cougars. The Balboa Café is of course a classic cougar den, but hotel bars like the Lobby Lounge at the St. Regis and the Clock Bar are other locations where I’ve noticed prowling.

Where's a good place to go on an internet date?

Café du Soleil in the Lower Haight is the ideal location because you can often find a table, and it works for any time of day: a lunch meet-up, a coffee, a glass of wine... And the atmosphere is just cute enough. The option for outdoor seating is a bonus.

Next time I call in "sick" to work, where should I go?

A mid-week brunch at Brenda’s French Soul Food is great hooky material, but I will take any reason I can get to scoot to Outerlands Café in the Sunset for its delicious levain bread (and a coffee next door at Trouble Coffee). Then: to the beach!

For more tablehopper magic, check out Gagliardi on CHOW.com as she gives her take on the perfect pesto.