clock menu more-arrow no yes
San Ho Won’s spring bibimbap with ramps, fern, cordyceps, and pea leaves San Ho Won

Filed under:

The Bay Area’s 12 Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2021

Coming soon: Malaysian-Chinese coffee shop fare, saucy tortas ahogadas, and Michelin-pedigreed Korean

Even in the best of years, restaurant openings are a tricky thing to prognosticate. Of course, the ongoing coronavirus crisis — and, for restaurants, this past year’s litany of shutdowns, reopenings, and endless pivots — has made any kind of long-term planning an exercise in frustration. And yet: local chefs and restaurateurs have continued to dream up new restaurants and bring them to fruition. In fact, a look at what’s ahead in 2021 reveals one of the most exciting and varied lineups of new openings in recent memory, running the gamut from homey Puerto Rican arroz con gandules to upscale, Michelin-pedigreed Korean.

Several of the most exciting newcomers are longtime pop-ups or food trucks now graduating to a permanent storefront. There are a handful of ambitious food halls that are, knock on wood, poised to finally come to fruition — after getting pushed back more than a year, in some cases. And, this being 2021, the list boasts an unusually high number of spots that have takeout and outdoor dining baked right into their basic concept.

Here, then, are 12 openings we’re eagerly anticipating this year, arranged in approximate order of the expected opening date.


La Perla Puerto Rican Cuisine

Location: 3409 Fruitvale Avenue, Oakland

Key Players: Cheo Ortiz, Gabe Ortiz

Projected Opening: February 14

Oakland’s first full-fledged Puerto Rican restaurant comes courtesy of Cheo Ortiz and family, who previously ran their business out of a tiny kitchen set inside a Dimond District convenience store. With a much larger space at the Ortizes’ disposal, expect a more expansive menu anchored by homey classics like pernil and arroz con gandules. Eventually, the space will open up indoors for live music and dancing.

Maduros and chicharron de pollo at La Perla Shawn Walker

Californios

Location: 355 11th Street, SoMa

Key Players: Val M. Cantu, Charlotte Randolph, Carolyn Cantu

Projected Opening: Early 2021

Val Cantu’s brilliant, esoteric, two-Michelin-starred take on Mexican fine dining has been on hiatus since the start of the pandemic, but guests will soon be able to once again enjoy the chef’s modern, seasonal tasting menus in a new outdoor space — the former Bar Agricole space, with its 1,700-square-foot patio, to be precise. Once open, the restaurant should be an immediate contender for the most striking outdoor tasting menu experience in the city.


La Santa Torta

Location: 95 Linden Street, Oakland

Key Players: Victor Guzman, Leo Oblea

Projected Opening: Early 2021

In the three years they’ve operated the La Santa Torta food truck, Victor Guzman and Leo Oblea have built up a huge following for their Jalisco-style beef birria tacos and tortas — indeed, they were one of the early Bay Area quesabirria movement. Their first standalone restaurant — in the West Oakland space formerly occupied by Old Kan Beer & Co (whose brewery and tap room are still next door) — will serve an even deeper catalogue of Jalisco-style dishes, including brunch specials and a dripping-wet torta ahogada.

Three birria tacos on a paper plate, with a wedge of lime Noah Cho

La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

Location: 101 Hyde Street, Tenderloin

Key Players: Tiffany Carter, Wafa and Mounir Bahloul, Jay Foster

Projected Opening: Early spring

One of the most eagerly anticipated projects to get stymied by the pandemic in 2020, La Cocina’s new food hall is a showcase for the kitchen incubator’s roster of mostly immigrant, POC, and female food entrepreneurs. Individual kiosks will feature Algerian couscous from Kayma and gumbo from Boug Cali, with former Farmerbrown chef Jay Foster managing the marketplace’s day-to-day operations. While the food hall won’t be open indoors until at least the fall, it’s aiming to start serving takeout by early spring.


Fiorella Inner Sunset

Location: 1240 9th Avenue, Inner Sunset

Key Players: Boris Nemchenok

Projected Opening: Early spring

Another opening that was waylaid by the pandemic, Fiorella’s new Inner Sunset spot — part of a growing cadre of buzzy restaurants on and around 9th Avenue — will bring big wood-fire pizzas, fresh pasta, and low-ABV cocktails to the former Park Chow location.

Fiorella

Uncle Sok Hee

Location: 499 Ellis Street, Tenderloin

Key Players: Azalina Eusope

Projected Opening: Spring

Named after a beloved family friend back home in Malaysia, Azalina Eusope’s (Mahila) newest restaurant project is the chef’s love letter to the kopitam, or Malaysian-Chinese coffee shops, that can be found all over the island of Penang. Menu highlights include laksa, char kway teow, charcoal-grilled kaya toast, and butter coffee.


Dela Curo and Sundo

Location: 901 Washington Street, Oakland

Key Players: Chikara Ono

Projected Opening: Spring

Chef Chikara Ono will reboot his longstanding Swan’s Market izakaya B-Dama, drawing inspiration from Japan’s depachika, or department store food halls:. Which is to say, he’s replacing B-Dama with two exceedingly takeout-friendly restaurant concepts that will live side by side in a single storefront: Dela Curo, which will specialize in Japanese black curry, and Sundo, which will serve both sandwiches made with a special high-end milk bread that Ono is sourcing from Japan.

A takeout container with thick slices of tonkatsu (fried breaded pork); below that, one with Japanese black curry and rice Luke Tsai

Calabash

Location: 2302 Valdez Street, Oakland

Key Players: Nigel Jones, Azalina Eusope, Hanif Sadr

Projected Opening: August

This hybrid market, restaurant, and bar was a forward-thinking concept that co-owner Nigel Jones (Kingston 11) believed in prior to the pandemic — now, Jones says, “it’s a necessity.” Both the design and menu of the new restaurant will be geared toward takeout, prepared foods, and outdoor dining. And the food itself will be thrillingly global — a mix of Jamaican, Malaysian, and Persian influences (the latter two courtesy of fellow chef-owners Azalina Eusope (Mahila) and Hanif Sadr (Komaaj).


San Ho Won

Location: 2170 Bryant Street, Mission

Key Players: Corey Lee, JeongIn Hwang

Projected Opening: Summer or fall

What does Korean food from a three-Michelin-starred chef look like and taste like? That’s the question that customers at Benu chef Corey Lee’s first ever Korean restaurant will be eager to find out — though many have already gotten a taste from the San Ho Won test kitchen that Lee has been running out of Benu during the pandemic. The short answer: a seamless mix of precise, modern fine-dining techniques with homey, traditional Korean flavors.

Chilled beef tendon and vegetable salad with acorn jelly San Ho Won

Popoca

Location: 411 26th Street, Oakland

Key Players: Anthony Salguero, Brandi Brown

Projected Opening: Late summer or early fall

Chef Anthony Salguero’s long-running wood-fire focused Salvadoran pop-up is taking the next step: It’s taking over the entire Classic Cars West indoor-outdoor space where it had been embedded — more room for Salguero’s handmade pupusas and tamales to shine. Along with his partner Brandi Brown, Salguero also intends to transform the space into a retail incubator of sorts.

Handmade tortillas, refried beans, avocado, and house-made sour cream at Popoca Andria Lo

Eataly Silicon Valley

Location: Westfield Valley Fair, Santa Clara

Projected Opening: Sometime in 2021, tentatively

Details remain slim about the nationally famous Italian food emporium’s first entree into the Bay Area, but a spokesperson for the Westfield Valley Fair mall confirmed that the current plan is for the new Eataly to open sometime this year.


Oakland Assembly

Location: 55 Harrison Street, Oakland

Projected Opening: Late 2021

Stymied by delays related to the pandemic, this buzzy, ambitious new Jack London food hall is still tentatively slated to open toward the end of 2021, according to developer John McEnery IV. When it was first announced, the project had several superstars of the local food scene attached to it, including Preeti Mistry (Juhu Beach Club) and Reem Assil (Reem’s) — though, given the long delay, it’s unclear if all of those will stay on board.

La Santa Torta Restaurant

95 Linden Street, Oakland, CA 94607 Visit Website

Californios

355 11th Street, , CA 94103 (415) 757-0994 Visit Website

Calabash

2302 Valdez St, Oakland, CA 94612

Popoca Oakland

411 26th Street, , CA 94612 (510) 457-1724 Visit Website

Oakland Assembly

55 Harrison Street, Oakland , CA 94607

Uncle Sok Hee

499 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

La Perla Puerto Rican Cuisine

3409 Fruitvale Avenue, , CA 94602 (510) 479-3336 Visit Website

SAN HO WON

2170 Bryant Street, , CA 94110 (415) 868-4479 Visit Website

La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

101 Hyde Street, , CA 94102 (415) 570-2595 Visit Website
San Francisco Restaurant Openings

Stock Up on Creamy Tofu and Fresh Banchan at Oakland Korean Deli Joodooboo

Is the Hottest Date Night Destination in San Francisco … the Mall?

A.M. Intel

Burma Love Is Rationing Its Signature Tea Leaf Salad Due to Supply Chain Issues

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater San Francisco newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world