If the walls of 2170 Mission Street could talk, they might tell a tale of culinary whiplash. The Mission District spot was most recently a Southern-style barbecue spot, one that shuttered last June. For its next act it’ll be home to a vegan brewpub from a team well known to plant-based diners as the duo behind groundbreaking San Francisco restaurant Millennium, Hoodline reports.
Veg heads and longtime San Franciscans might remember that Millennium was once known as the city’s only fine-dining restaurant to only serve plant-based dishes. The restaurant opened in 1994 at 580 Geary Street, in the ground floor of the Tendernob’s Hotel California. The non-meat game was way different back then, with only Greens (which serves dairy and eggs, and is therefore not vegan) as competition for upscale diners who prefer not to eat animals. Otherwise, the city’s vegan options were far more casual in nature and price point — think mock-meat Asian venues like Golden Era or politically divisive spots like Cafe Gratitude. (A couple years ago, then-SF food writer Jonathan Kauffman penned a thoughtful piece on Millennium’s importance to the city’s food scene, and though it’s oddly formatted it can still be read here.)
After over 20 years in business, Millennium closed in 2015, with owners owners Larry and Ann Wheat riding off into the sunset of retirement (they’re doing great and recently appeared on a health-focused podcast to sing the praises of veganism). Chef Eric Tucker and general manager Alison Bagby took over the brand, successfully Kickstarting a new Millennium in Rockridge. Millennium 2.0 did well enough to score a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016.
View this post on Instagram
There will still be all the reasons to travel across the bridge to @bareknucklepizza (YUM!) but we felt like San Francisco needed a delicious plant based pizza option! We will have equally tasty Mediterranean inspired small plates, cravable sandwiches, bar snacks, cheesy gratins & bar / (house brewed!) beer friendly chow that is farm produce driven like @millenniumrestaurant (we can get behind fake meats for sure but it’s not our jam!)... STAY TUNED!
And now Tucker and Bagby are plotting a return to San Francisco, this time — per Hoodline — with a restaurant and brewery called Above Ground, in the space most recently occupied by Southpaw BBQ and Brewery. That decidedly meat-based restaurant closed in June, and by mid-November, Above Ground was posting from the location, promising “a delicious plant based pizza option” as well as “equally tasty Mediterranean inspired small plates, cravable sandwiches, bar snacks, [and] cheesy gratins.” All items will be “beer friendly chow” (they will be brewing their own beer, they say) and “farm produce driven” in the same way Millennium’s menu is.
One thing diners shouldn’t expect from Above Ground, they say, is food made with Impossible or Beyond products. “We can get behind fake meats for sure,” they say, “but it’s not our jam.”
When contacted by Hoodline, Bagby confirmed their involvement but declined to share any details, and a message from Eater SF has not received a response as of publication time. According to a post from Above Ground’s Instagram account, however, the spot (which sports a logo by SF Gate real meat burger critic Jeremy Fish) is slated to open in February of 2020.