Former Lazy Bear sous chef Matt Kirk’s much-anticipated Automat all-day cafe swung open its doors on the down low today, welcoming diners for a “neighborhood sneak preview.” The restaurant, which is located on the southwest corner of McAllister and Baker streets in NoPa, will be serving a limited menu now through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or until sold out. The restaurant will officially open Wednesday, December 8 — and reservations for dinner are open now on Resy, though a handful of tables will also be held for walk-ins, in an effort to make sure the neighborhood doesn’t get boxed out.
The abbreviated menu that’s on offer this week features several varieties of inventively flavored and fresh-baked breads, which have become something of Kirk’s calling card and are backed by both a stunning new oven and the prowess of Automat head baker Casey Wentworth (Tartine, Ad Astra Bread Co). Bread heads can break from SF’s storied sourdough tradition with a sandwich-shaped Wondermat loaf ($10), inspired by the pillowy mass-produced creation from which it borrows its name. But rest assured, Kirk still honors local bread tradition with crusty loves of Baker Street Sourdough ($12); Everything Bagel Sourdough ($12), Honey-Tahini Whole-Wheat Sourdough ($14) — plus knobby disks of Garlicky Pretzel Focaccia ($12).
And even if you’re in the mood for something more substantial, you’re likely still going to end up consuming a high amount of carbs; about a half dozen pastries and several sandwiches round out the rest of options. Pastries lean mostly sweet: There’s a breakfast cookie scattered with cinnamon berry crunch, white chocolate blondies infused with miso, and plump doughnuts crowned with icing and pieces of crumbled cookie. Dialing back on the sucrose, look for a spicy pork hand pie and a quartet of sandwiches, including two egg-topped options for breakfast and a hot chicken sandwich served on an airy milk bun. There’s drip coffee or espresso drinks to wash it all down, plus beer and wine if you’re in the mood.
Before striking out to bring Automat to the former Green Chile Space, Kirk was the sous chef at Lazy Bear, the irreverent Michelin-starred dinner-party-turned-restaurant in the Mission, and David Barzelay of Lazy Bear is a partner in Automat, as well. Kirk launched Automat as a pop-up in 2016 and landed the NoPa space to give it a permanent home before the pandemic hit. Now he’s gearing up the make it a neighborhood destination; the father of two told Eater in September that he hopes it’ll be a family-friendly restaurant — that also serves ambitious food and a smart beverage menu. “I think in the city there’s a hole, or not a lot of places you can go to get good food that you’re able to bring your kids to, so that’s where we’re hoping to be,” Kirk said earlier this year.
Automat is open Tuesday, November 30 through Friday, December 3 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or until sold out. The grand opening is anticipated Wednesday, December 8, when hours will expand to include dinner from 5:30 to 9 p.m.