The 6 Best Underground Supper Clubs For S.F.'s In-The-Know Foodies

Small, secretive, and a little shady (in a good way), San Francisco's underground-dining scene is absolutely blowing up! Comprised of a web of exclusive supper clubs, the teams behind these dinners are more event-producers than chefs, oftentimes incorporating art, music, and performance into their meals, which are set in the most unlikely of locales. Of course, to attend any of these one-night pop-up "restaurants," you have to be very in-the-know. And that's where we come in with our complete list of the six hottest underground dinner troupes shaking things up right under your nose. Find out what makes each especially rad, plus how you can get on the inside track!
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Lazy Bear—Don’t be confused by the name. The root of Lazy Bear, chef David Barzelay’s underground dinner project, started in law school, when Barzelay taught himself how to craft edible foams, snows, and dirts, then turned them into the makings of elaborate dinner parties for his classmates. Lucky for San Francisco, Barzelay dropped the lawyer thing. Now his creative genius shows up in such cross-cultural creations as roasted banana with cured hamachi coriander and blossoming squash. Click here to reserve a spot at his next culinary throw-down.

Photo: Lazy Bear (left) and Carolina Ramirez (right)
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GraffEats—Chef Blair Warsham has made a name for himself (on the D.L., of course) pairing multi-course tasting menus with music. He recently teamed up with the folks from the NosiePop fest for a dinner at the Mission’s Secret Alley that ended with a playful coincidence of raspberry caramel-topped parmesan mousse and a Yo La Tengo cover. The reason being: “They’re both sweet, sour, and a little cheesy,” Warsham explains. Note that GraffEats likes to push the limits, and an entire meal served on a ferris wheel isn’t out of the question. Head over here for a list of past and upcoming events.

Photo: The Bold Italic
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Stag Dining Group—This seven-month-old club has hosted its monthly dinners in locales ranging from a historic Victorian home to the H.Q. of an underground radio station. And, like the name suggests, the club's owners have built a community where stag diners can feel equally as comfortable as those in large groups. Plus, their love for hunting is evident in most of the menus. Those who love the unpredictable should keep this one top of mind. Stag’s last dinner started with an elevator ride down to the dining room. At the bottom? A six-course BYOB feast and Aloe Blacc, live in concert. If you want to get on this train, click here to find out more.

Photo: Sari Goodfriend
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Canvas Underground—Chef Peter Jackson started Canvas Underground in a parking lot and now hosts all of his clandestine dinners in private homes. This club came on the scene with risqué stunts, like serving candy on naked women. But now things are tamer, with 30- to 40-person feasts ranging from Kombucha-pairing fiestas to a sustainable seafood dinner on the city docks. Join it all here.

Photo: Canvas Underground
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Radio Africa And Kitchen—This supper club represents the old-guard of underground dinners, where the movers and shakers of the San Francisco food world have been quietly meeting for years. Founder and Ethiopia native, Eskender Aseged, hosts four-course family-style meals in his beautiful home and private patio, serving dishes inspired by Egypt and the Mediterranean. Think roasted leg-of-lamb with chermoula set against a backdrop of music, dance, film, and sparkling conversation. Sign up for the mailing list by emailing radioafricak@yahoo.com.
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Phoenix Supper Club—At this hush-hush operation, founder and chef, Tommy Halvorsen, whisks club members off to hidden lofts in Champagne-stocked limos for elaborate nine-course tasting extravaganzas. Needless to say, this is one of the more high-end underground offerings out there. Menus spring whimsically from the seasons in compilations like princess potato purée with deep-fried squash blossoms, fromage blanc, and porcini mushrooms. Get in on the tastiness here.
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