In the final weeks of what’s always been a limited, 18-month lease at 983 Valencia Street, Duna chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns are squeezing in a bit more experimentation, laying the groundwork for a new fast-casual spinoff of their restaurant called Smokebread. That will specialize in riffs on classic Hungarian potato flatbreads, langos, and its run will be limited to a few weeks, with a permanent, dedicated Smokebread location in mind for the future.
Duna fans, meanwhile (like Eater SF critic Rachel Levin) will have to sit tight while the main restaurant relocates to its own permanent new location. Balla won’t say where that is yet, but he has a space in mind, and it includes a commissary kitchen. For now, Duna is paused, with Smokebread service starting tonight at 5:30 p.m. Delivery through Caviar starts April 18.
Unllike the classic langos that Balla ate as a high-schooler living in Budapest, Smokebread’s flat breads won’t be fried. Instead, they’ll be made from sourdough with smoked potato, lightly charred on a cast iron pan, and topped with salads and mezzes.
“We’ve tried a bunch of different things at Duna,“ says Balla, who considers it “a long term brand we can see having a number of different lives.” Smokebread, with a similar regional cuisine, will be a part of that.
Experimentation during the limited lease was a definite theme. First Balla and Burns tested out a Japanese-inspired full service restaurant and changed courses to a quick service model before landing on Duna.
Now, “we’re ready for some more stability,” Balla says. “We look forward to more permanence.”
In its current form, Smokebread will be open from Wednesday to Sunday starting at 5:30 p.m. After that, stay tuned.