Dining on the DL: The City's Underground Dining Clubs

Dining on the DL: The City's Underground Dining Clubs


The recession might have left a lot of the city's chefs without jobs, but in turn those chefs have created a dynamic "underground" dining scene. The next few weeks are full of action, so if you’re the type that likes a few surprises with your supper, be sure to nab your seat now.

Headed up by Iso Rabins (the man behind the SF Underground Market and forageSF), this monthly roving club serves 8-course dinners in a secret locale (usually a warehouse in the Mission), with an emphasis on the locally-foraged.

The vibe: Casual, communal, educational.

The food: Seasonal and hyper-local.Recent menus include local wild mussels and fish, plus foraged mushrooms, watercress, and mint.  

The details: Dinners cost $80-$100 per person, BYOB.  Sign up for the email list at forageSF. The next dinners are February 12 and 14.

The group, fronted by chefs Ted Fleury and Jordan Grosser (both from Alembic), serves up 6-course dinners in clandestine locations, like a Cole Valley home and Mission warehouse.

The vibe: Rustic yet elegant (but not stuffy).

The food: Contemporary and seasonal. Scallop crudo, Artic Char with quail egg, and pork belly were highlights of December’s menu.

The details: Dinners cost $80 per person and are BYOB. Get on the list here or get tickets (and see the menu) for next weekend's dinners here.

Chef Tommy Halvorson (formerly of Chez Panisse and Gary Danko) is behind this 9-course fine-dining experience called "Loretto" that emulates a four-star restaurants.

The vibe: Classy and upscale. A limo takes you to your destination.

The food: Sophisticated. Truffle-poached farm egg, pork medallions and root vegetable veloute are on the current menu.

The details: Dinners are $285 a person. You can make a reservation for the February 12 dinner here.

In an apartment in the Mission, brewer Eric Denman and chef Neil Davidson (formerly of Ad Hoc) create weekly themed meals paired with home-brewed beers. 

The vibe: Informal, intimate dinner party.

The food: Hearty and comforting. Recent themes include “Breakfast for Dinner” and “Dirty South.”

The details: Dinners are a $30–$40 donation. Sign up at Mission Gastroclub or follow @gastroclub for upcoming events.

A quirky, offbeat club with a charitable twist: ten percent of the proceeds from the dinners benefit Slow Food USA.

The vibe: Fun and unexpected. Past events have occured in a field, on a rooftop, in a museum, and a castle-like mansion in Pacific Heights.

The food: Surprising and adventurous. Chef Blair Warsham (ex-Campton Place and Tinder Box) serves everything from crispy cow belly to sparkling red wine in a can.

The details: GraffEats events are $65 per person. You can find out about upcoming events (including a Noise Pop-inspired "Covers" dinner) by signing up here.

Dinner with The Wild Kitchen: Photo by Andria Lo

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