This year’s restaurant openings may feel like they’re slowing down, especially now that we’ve all been lulled into an Indian Summer calm. S.F. saw a spate of new openings in the first half of this year, especially around the Mission, and though we’re in a quiet spell now there are still over a dozen places on the docket that you can expect your plugged-in friends to be buzzing about as the weather cools down. Allow us to give you a jump on them — plus, we’ve thrown in a few fall-appropriate things from old favorite places and newly open spots as well.
Pastry chef Belinda Leong’s first solo business, after leaving the employ of high-end kitchens like Manresa, Gary Danko, and Aqua, is hopefully going to make it open by December at the former Crepe ‘N’ Coffee at 2821 California Street (at Divisadero). But no matter what she will be slinging her excellent wares at various pop-up events and by phone order as she has over the last year.
Oktoberfest is still going strong, and we can’t think of any better way to enjoy a crisp and windy fall evening than huddled under a blanket with someone you like/love, eating warm pretzels, and drinking a gallon of good beer.
When the weather turns actually crisp (i.e. in a couple of weeks), this men’s clubby restaurant in the Huntington Hotel atop Nob Hill is a perfect spot for meeting a friend for a cocktail, or a bite, or a Cognac by the fire. Not that we’re looking forward to the cold, but places like this lend the latter part of the year its charms.
The new Mexican project from the Mamacita/Tipsy Pig team is still in the works in the former Eos spot in Cole Valley, and we’re looking forward to its arrival in the ‘hood. As reported earlier (when they were working with the name Papazote), you can expect a “more refined” version of what they’re already doing at Mamacita, as well as an eventual cocktail bar component as well. They’re aiming for year’s end, but we’ll see.
As we learned in August, the former Circolo space at 500 Florida Street got snapped up by Oakland’s Caña Cuban restaurant for a second, cityside location. Chef Diego Salinas has already won a lot of East Bay fans for his fried chicken and Cubano sandwiches, but he has more ambitious stuff up his sleeve as well. Also, the new location boasts a wood oven, which should allow him to expand his menu further. The opening date is still TBA.
Former Le Garage and Coi chef, Nicolas Delaroque and his wife Andrea are hoping to open this promising new California-French spot in at Sacramento and Lyon in Laurel Heights in the coming months, however there’s still a retail store occupying the space and remodeling has yet to begin. Thus it may be optimistic to add this to our fall preview, but, we’ll err on the positive side.
Former Oliveto chef Paul Canales has had this project called Duende in the works for over a year now, in the former Floral Depot building in Oakland’s Uptown (next door to Flora). He’s taking a big space and putting in a mezzanine, a music venue, as well as a full-service restaurant and art gallery. The food will be Spanish but reflecting that country’s melting pot of French, Italian, and African influences. And as Canales tells us, the name connots “a heightened spirit of emotion,” and derives from a term referring to a fairy or goblin. We’re looking forward to its debut, hopefully by late November. (Pictured: Smoked local albacore tuna with cherry tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, and spicy honey vinaigrette.)
This upscale Chinese chain, which comes to us from New York and London (where it has a Michelin star) is set for a November debut on the second floor at One Kearny. It’s a huge, high-budget build-out with elaborate, carved-wood screens over the windows facing Market Street, and it should become the It place to be downtown this fall.
Hog & Rocks/Maverick chef-partner Scott Youkilis is aiming to open this delayed, BBQ-focused restaurant by year’s end, last we heard. The story is barbecue by the pound, a la Fette Sau in Brooklyn, with whiskey drinks by the pitcher and lots of beer. Sounds like a good fall menu to us.
November is the latest opening timeframe for Hi Tops, which will be SF’s first explicitly dedicated sports bar for gay men, in the former Lime. You can expect a menu of whimsical takes on ballpark fare, pitchers of beer, sports on the TV screens, and probably some bartenders wearing nothing but basketball shorts. And hopefully Chelsea Handler will drop by.
Up until the openings of Frances and Starbelly, the entire Castro neighborhood had been lacking in decent eats, and with the exception of Bisou and Poesia, the area is still a little starved for options beyond the cheap or mediocre. Here’s hoping that Kitchen Story, coming in November to the former Tangerine space, can join the upward trend.
The food at the newly opened Lolinda, in the former Medjool, is really good. We were pleasantly surprised and will definitely be back for more as the weather cools. In particular we liked the rustic servings of steak and sausage on cutting boards, with just some grilled bread, a knife, and tub of bright chimmichurri for dipping. Pictured here is the New York Steak, which is delicious, smoky, and buttery coming off the wood-fired asador.
Former Hibiscus chef Sarah Kirnon is opening her Jamaican-style “one-stop shop” any week now in the former Jesso’s spot (901 Washington Street) in Old Oakland. It’s called Miss Ollie’s, after her grandmother, and among the nightly specials she’ll be offering will be her famous, delicious, much blogged about fried chicken, which was of course her grandmother’s recipe.
Longtime TV chef Martin Yan is finally opening his S.F. restaurant, M.Y. China, in November, on the fourth floor of Westfield Centre right next to the new La Boulange. It promises to be a bustling place serving modern Chinese fare, and pretty much all the press thus far has focused on the fact that there will be constant theater involved by way of noodle dancing. Yes, a chef will be behind the counter hand pulling noodles and swinging them about like this throughout the evening. Unless, we suppose, no one orders noodles.
Among the fall dishes we know we’ll be back for more than once is this delicious ode to pork chops and applesauce at Rich Table. It’s layers of tender pasta interspersed with tender braised pork and a light cream sauce with shallots, all atop fresh Granny Smith apples.
As we heard a couple weeks ago, the dudes behind the Texas Toast and crawfish grits at Broken Record are coming to the former Rotee space at Haight and Webster. Over the last year or so, co-chefs James Moisey and Shane LaValley have been drawing fans to the Excelsior bar for their whimsical and hearty fare, and they’ll be doing the exact same stuff at their own solo venture, which they hope to name Ricky Bobby, so long as Will Farrell and his people don’t object.
Roku is opening next week in the former Hunan Garden spot, smack between the ever-popular Sushi Zone and Pisco Latin Lounge on Market Street. It’s the first brick-and-mortar operation from Japacurry operator Jay Hamada, and it promises to be izakaya-ish in nature, with curries, ramen, yakitori, and a trendy dish in Tokyo right now called chicken nanban, a fried-chicken specialty of Hamada’s hometown of Kyushu.
Mexican in S.F. tends to be downscale and cheap, and thus we’re short on the tableside guacamole preparations you might find in San Diego, Texas, or elsewhere at higher price-point spots. Enter national chain Rosa Mexicano, which was born in New York, and which hopes to win some California fans when they open later this month in the One Market building (on the Mission side).
Former Chez Panisse guy Sam White, along with partners Jerry Jaksich and Rayneil De Guzman, are opening Ramen Shop at 5812 College Avenue in Oakland. They hope to bring some fresh California produce into traditional ramen styles, and they’re bringing in a chef from Japan to consult. December is the current ETA, though it could slip. And let’s not forget that Hapa Ramen may also be open by year’s end here in the city at 1527 Fillmore, next door to State Bird Provisions.
Hopefully by the time the cold sets in we should have our own outpost of SoCal-based Schulzies Bread Pudding. They’ve run into various delays with their historic building at 364 Hayes Street, but it’s coming along, and you can look forward to whole host of warm and cold bread pudding options you never thought possible, including root beer bread pudding, spumoni bread pudding, and Biggie’s Figgie Pudding.
Earlier this year, La Barca ended its 49-year run at this spot at 2036 Lombard. Shortly thereafter, Vance Bernard, owner of longtime owner Jimmy Bernard, announced that he and his partners (Tod Alsman and Chris Fogarty of R Bar and Cass Fegan of Sloane) were going to open an “old-school” tavern in the space called Stock in Trade. They’ve got former Wood Tavern chef Max diMare working as consulting chef, and last we heard they were aiming to be open by fall.
The long-awaited, somewhat delayed bar project from the Bon Vivants is set to go in next door to Salumeria and Central Kitchen probably by next month, but don’t hold us to that. They’re simply saying “soon,” and partners Josh Harris and Scott Baird are still hard at work with the crew on building out the former industrial space. In any event, the drinks are gonna be good.
This masterfully designed SoMa spot, halfway below ground on that alley called Lusk, has been hugely popular with the after-work crowd in that neighborhood, to the point that happy hours can get a little unhappy with thick crowds. Still, though, on the right chilly night, on the early side, nothing beats that fireplace lounge.