Chef Michael Mina continues his increasing domination of the downtown dining scene, with the announcement of the concept at his long-anticipated restaurant in the Salesforce East building at 350 Mission. Called Trailblazer Tavern, it’s led by Hawaiian chefs Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka of Honolulu’s MW Restaurant, also partners in Mina’s Honolulu restaurant the Street.
It’s a natural choice for a building housing a company that describes itself as based on the “aloha culture,” stemming from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s soul-searching there in the early days of his career. And, a natural choice for Mina, whose downtown empire includes International Smoke (his collaboration with Ayesha Curry) across Mission Street, and Pabu, the Ramen Bar, and his flagship Michael Mina on nearby California Street.
Trailblazer Tavern, whose name Karr-Ueoka says was chosen in part by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff as a tribute to the trailblazer persona taken on by his employees, is a massive restaurant designed to serve a neighborhood teaming with lunch-hungry Salesforce employees. It will occupy 7,000-square-feet of real estate with 215 seats total, including seating for 47 guests in the main dining room, 72 seats on the mezzanine looking into the building’s lobby, an 18-seat private dining room, 24 seats at the bar and an outdoor patio with room for 54 more diners to gather under heat lamps. The building’s architecture allows for the accordion-style doors to the building to open on days when Karl the Fog is feeling lazy, which could hint at Hawaii’s penchant for open-air dining when the weather is nice.
“We just really want to share our story, and the culture of Hawaii with San Francisco diners,” Karr-Ueoka told Eater. “Our whole concept is to showcase Hawaii and share that food with our own nostalgia.”
The restaurant will offer lunch, dinner, and happy hour menus, with a selection of sandwiches, salads, pupus (appetizers), dim sum, and rice and noodle dishes, with a section of larger dishes to share. A Hawaiian plate lunch sandwich will feature kalbi, Korean fried chicken, and spicy pork with a side of kimchi macaroni salad and watercress, a complex sandwich which Karr-Ueoka says she wasn’t prepared to like when her husband first suggested it.
“It hits home and has a nostalgic feel,” says Karr-Ueoka. “That’s what we want to bring to SF, iconic dishes that are unique.” That includes the chef’s mochi Portuguese sweet bread used for burger buns and sandwiches, all of which will be baked daily in-house.
Naturally there will be Hawaiian-inspired cocktails, plus Hawaiian beer from Maui Brewing Co., plus a large selection of wine, bourbon, and Japanese whiskey — a common element among Mina restaurants.