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March 2017’s Top Openings, Shutters, and News in the Bay Area

A review of this month’s top restaurant world stories

Media Noche
Patricia Chang

March 2017

March cooled off a little after the big openings rush in the first couple months of the year. Now everyone’s prepping for early summer openings, as well as awards season (James Beard, World’s 50 Best Restaurants), so stay tuned for all the news on how many accolades are racked up by Bay Area restaurants.

Read on for a summary of the Bay Area restaurant world in March 2017, including the most-read news stories and maps, the openings, the closings, and what to get excited about in the months to come.

Big Openings

Old Kan Brewery: Old Kan Beer & Co., the restaurant and brewery from chef James Syhabout and former Linden Street brewer Adam Lamoreaux, is now open, harkening back to simpler times with a menu of seriously chill comfort food and limited selection of brews. The beers are simple and drinkable, what the duo hopes will make it Oakland’s beer of choice.

Cubano
Media Noche’s Cubano
Patricia Chang

Media Noche: From owners Jessie Barker (Nopa, Tres) and Madelyn Markoe (Tacolicious, Tres, Boxing Room), Media Noche sets itself apart with a focus on the food of Cuba, filtered through the lens of Miami. Those tropical vibes are immediately apparent in the space, which makes you feel sunny just looking at it.

Anina: The Brass Tacks team has changed course, opening a new bar that is as bright as Brass Tacks is dark. Anina, a chill neighborhood drinking place, is now open at 482 Hayes St. with funky decor, approachable prices, and a killer patio. Bowls of punch, tropical cocktails, and more delights are to be found on the drink menu, ideal for sipping and watching the traffic on Hayes pass by.

Big Coming Attractions

Theorita: It’s a pie-focused counter spot located on the ground floor of what will be Che Fico, both of which will be operated by chefs David Nayfeld and Angela Pinkerton. In addition to sweet and savory pies, there’ll be Nayfeld’s popular DNA burger, plus more retro classics, beer, and wine. It opens next fall.

City Counter: Another totally different luncheonette concept is opening in May in the Financial District, offering an upgraded version of classic dishes. Sandwiches, salads, beer, and wine are all available, with most of the menu designed for dining-on-the-go.

Noon All Day: And another all-day concept, this time from the team behind Piccino. Also in Dogpatch, it will feature small menu from Piccino’s opening chef Carlo Espina with up to eight items influenced by a variety of cultures, like a curry clay pot dish, or fried rice. And, thankfully, they’re working on some kind of meatball sandwich using Piccino’s very excellent meatballs. Beer and wine will be available, with potential for retail sales (if the permit goes through). It’s opening this summer.

Knife: Top Chef contestant and Dallas chef John Tesar is bringing his popular steakhouse, Knife, to San Francisco. It’s going in the Metreon Center; no current timeline is available, as the deals are still being worked out (though the property has confirmed that Knife will open there).

Big Shutters

Two Sisters Bar and Books: The owners of San Francisco’s Two Sisters Bar & Books announced that they would open Les Arceaux in Berkeley’s former Bistro Liaison, followed by news that they would shutter their Hayes Valley bar in the process. It’s sad news for fans of the intimate cocktail spot.

Doughnut Dolly: The popular filled doughnut chain has shuttered all three of its locations. It was an abrupt move, as owner Hannah Hoffman made the decision after taking a hard look at the finances and choosing to cut her losses than continue them. “I took out loans, I put in every penny of my savings, I cut costs wherever I could, and it just didn’t work. It got worse,” Hoffman told Eater SF.

Most-Read Stories

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  2. Restaurants From ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘It’s Always Sunny,’ and ‘South Park’ Will Come to Life in SF
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  4. Doughnut Dolly Shuts Down All Three Shops
  5. Announcing SF’s James Beard Awards Finalists 2017

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February 2017

January got 2017 off to a busy start (scroll down for all of that month’s top news), and February continued to deliver on the restaurant front. There weren’t as many openings as January, but there were a couple especially exciting ones — namely a massive Chinatown food hall and an ambitious Indian import — to pick up the slack. Beyond openings, several restaurants revealed themselves as ones to look forward to (a Foreign Cinema wine bar!). Of course there were a few sad (and unexpected closures), as well.

Read on for a summary of the Bay Area restaurant world in February 2017, including the most-read news stories and maps, the openings, the closings, and what to get excited about in the months to come.

Big Openings

China Live: China Live is one of the biggest openings to hit San Francisco in quite some time — it’s an incredibly ambitious, multi-faceted, massive project that can most easily be described as a Chinese version of Eataly, Mario Batali’s paean to Italian food in NYC. The 30,000-square-foot Chinatown space houses a retail section with educational components, tea and pastry cafe, flower mart, full bar, and restaurant, with more to come on upper floors— all filtered through the lens of China and Taiwan. There’s so much going on that we put together this handy guide.

Rooh: San Francisco has been the lucky recipient of a slew of new Indian restaurants, but none are more ambitious than Rooh. It’s the first U.S. restaurant for the India-based Good Times Restaurant Group and offers progressive versions of Indian dishes using Northern California ingredients and modern techniques. Plus — the SoMa space is colorful and gorgeous.

Sunday Bird: The new Boba Guys on Fillmore opened with a semi-secret Korean fried chicken joint hidden behind a narrow garage-style door toward the back. It’s from acclaimed NYC chef Deuki Hong, who also has plans for a KBBQ spot soon.

Glena’s Tacos and Margaritas: Seasoned SF chef Mike Gaines (Kin Khao, Manresa, Central Kitchen) has dedicated himself to the world of tacos and margaritas with the opening of Glena’s in the Dogpatch.

Verve Coffee: The excitement over Verve Coffee’s first shop in San Francisco is only eclipsed by the fact that it also comes with items from Manresa Bread, making it the singular place in the city to score pastries from the Los Gatos bakery from three-Michelin-starred chef David Kinch and head baker Avery Ruzicka. There are special SF-only treats, like a “party size” kouign amann, in this bright, airy Castro space.

Dad’s Luncheonette: The Saison chef de cuisine decamping to open a roadside stand in Half Moon Bay has everyone excited. Scott Clark, who helped blast Saison to number 27 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, has gone a more casual route with elevated, whimsical road trip fare under $15.

Exciting Coming Attractions

Rice Paper Scissors: Six-year-old Vietnamese pop-up Rice Paper Scissors has found its forever home in the Mission. Expect owners Katie Kwan and Valerie Luu to be serving up their flavorful plates of shaking beef, mushroom pho rolls, grilled pork, and more in about a year.

The Sequoia: Celebrity chef Tyler Florence is adding an exclusive cocktail bar to the top floor of his Financial District hot spot Wayfare Tavern. Called The Sequoia, it debuts in just a few short weeks in a space from designer extraordinaire Ken Fulk.

Foreign Cinema Wine Bar: San Francisco essential Foreign Cinema is expanding its Mission footprint with the opening of a wine bar right next door. There’s no name attached to the project yet, but owners Gayle Pirie and John Clark have big plans for a space they’ve been leasing for the last three years as storage.

Major Shutters

Rose Pistola: North Beach has lost a classic, after Rose Pistola quietly closed its doors. The neighborhood staple had been serving up lauded Italian fare for nearly 21 years, until owner Laurie Thomas made the hard decision to shutter based on current economic difficulties.

La Nebbia: After three years in Noe Valley, casual Italian restaurant La Nebbia closed so that owners Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan could wind down a bit and focus solely on the very essential La Ciccia, their beloved, ten-year-old Sardinian spot also in the neighborhood.

Lefty O’Doul’s: After lots of drama and with its fate still up in the air, baseball bar Lefty O’Doul’s officially shuttered this month. It’s unclear in what form it will return, though building owners say they will reopen it in the same spot, while the business owner maintains he will reopen it elsewhere. It’s up to the courts now.

Encuentro: This well-loved vegetarian restaurant in Oakland shut its doors after three years due to “the rising costs of doing business.” It’s a familiar phrase these days as minimum wage rises (now $12.86 in Oakland as of January 1, 2017), and rents follow suit.

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January 2017

After the lull in news over the holidays, January brought major excitement in the Bay Area’s restaurant world. There were a ton of openings, with seven in particular that got us really jazzed (mainly a chic champagne bar and SF’s first Portuguese restaurant), as well as a few really big restaurant announcements. But just as high as the highs were, the lows were there, too, with the abrupt closure of AQ and Hawker Fare Oakland just around the corner.

Beyond debuts and shutters, the news this month got people fired up (The NY Times focus on Locol), nostalgic (Uncle Joe’s grilled cheese stop), and silly (Chron critic Michael Bauer’s love letter to Taco Bell).

Read on for a summary of the Bay Area restaurant world in January 2017, including the most-read news stories and maps, the openings, the closings, and what to get excited about in the months to come.

Big Openings

The Riddler: This chic and tiny Hayes Valley champagne bar has been mobbed from the minute it opened, and with great reason: It’s a sexy space with lots of bubbly, caviar, and good-looking people.

Uma Casa
Uma Casa
Patricia Chang

Uma Casa: It’s hard to believe that before Uma Casa, San Francisco didn’t have a full-fledged Portuguese restaurant. Chef/owner Telmo Faria (Tacolicious) took care of that this month with the opening of his modern, but still traditional space in Noe Valley.

Over Proof: ABV in the Mission turned its upstairs loft into a quarterly-changing, reservation-only tasting menu cocktail bar with food that focuses on a different spirit each time. First up is a rum-focused, tiki-infused bar with creative cocktails and paired bites, and it’s a whole lot of fun.

Alba Ray’s: It’s a raging Cajun party over in the Mission at this New Orleans-themed restaurant from the guys behind Causwells and Popsons. Head here for hurricanes, sazeracs, and jambalaya.

Kinjo: The Ijji owners have teamed up with Takatoshi Toshi, Sushi Ran’s Michelin-starred former head sushi chef, to open this edomae-style omakase spot ($120 per person) in Russian Hill.

Halal Guys: It’s finally here. This famed chicken-and-rice restaurant that started as a NYC street meat stand has made its SF brick-and-mortar debut in the Tenderloin, to much ado.

1951 Coffee Company: There may be no better time than this month for a coffee shop that exclusively employs refugees to open. It’s in Berkeley — go and visit.

Exciting Coming Attractions

A rendering of Dad’s Luncheonette
A rendering of Dad’s Luncheonette
Alexis Liu

Dad’s Luncheonette: After spending the last three years at the three-Michelin-starred Saison (one year as chef de cuisine), helping blast it to number 27 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, Scott Clark is opening a roadside stand in Half Moon Bay. Called Dad’s Luncheonette, it will be a casual, counter service stand with fun dishes under $15 like a chicken fried hen of the woods mushroom sandwich with instant ramen slaw.

The French Laundry Hotel: Thomas Keller, owner of The French Laundry and the man who can do no wrong in the eyes of dude chefs, dropped a hint that he’s looking into opening a small inn on the French Laundry property.

Hazel: Since Cadence’s heartbreaking closure six months after its debut, the Mid-Market shutters have just kept rolling in, with Bon Marche, Oro, Volta, and more quickly following suit. Can this Southern comfort food restaurant, moving into the old Cadence space, make it work in the struggling neighborhood?

Major Shutters

Hawker Fare
Hawker Fare Oakland
Eater Archives

Hawker Fare Oakland: Chef/owner James Syhabout is closing his much-loved (so beloved, in fact, that writer John Birdsall penned it a moving elegy) Isaan Thai spot due to the building becoming condos. The upside is that the SF location will remain open.

AQ: This one’s a so-San Francisco story. Despite opening with tons of accolades, the seasonally-focused Californian AQ could not keep its profits up, due to a complicated set of factors that boils down to rising costs and a lower number of customers.

Les Clos: Saison co-founder Mark Bright’s wine bar closed so he can focus on other projects, but the good news is that it’s becoming Petit Marlowe, a Paris-influenced Marlowe wine bar spin-off.

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  4. Joe Biden Makes Essential Grilled Cheese Pit Stop on SF Visit
  5. Michael Bauer’s Breathless Review of Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa

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