When pop-up restaurant Gipsy Darling opened in the Marina in February, there was already an end in sight as its building is set to be razed in April. That wasn’t its only hurdle though, and after the chef left the project in June, the impermanent restaurant closed. Now, another pop-up restaurant is giving the space a go.
Called Elena Una, it’s a Filipino concept from a Filipino couple. The chef, Janice Lazaga, recently moved to SF from the Philippines, where she was the senior sous chef at Malacañan Palace, the Presidential residence and offices. Her wife, Kaye Otbo, has lived in SF for a while, and saw the need for more Filipino food in SF proper. “Being here for a long time, I tell her there’s not a lot of Filipino food in the city, and it’s always the hole-in-the-wall kind of place mostly in Daly City,” Otbo told Eater. “We want to break that barrier and introduce the cuisine in a different light. It works for us to start it as a pop-up so we can find out how people accept it and what they like and don’t like.”
Lazaga has been eating at Michelin-starred restaurants around town to “get a feel for the market,” and her menu will reflect that with traditional Filipino dishes of lumpia and champorado, but with a twist. Lumpia, which normally is a spring roll filled with meat and veggies, will have cheese added in and a lemon aioli dipping sauce, and champorado, which is a chocolate porridge, will use white chocolate instead with seasonal Bay Area produce on top.
Elena Una (named for Lazaga’s grandmother Elena , and the word for “first” in Tagalog) will be a casual spot, with appetizers starting at $5, and the most expensive entree maxing out at $24. Lazaga and Otbo are currently remodeling the dining room for a rustic, minimalistic feel. When Elena Una opens on October 27, hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.