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The Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings in the SF Bay Area, Summer 2021

Mexican and Japanese tasting menus, Korean-grilled comforts, cult-favorite wet tortas from a truck, and more

In 2020 and most of 2021, tracking new and upcoming restaurants was tricky business, but now that the city of San Francisco and state of California are wide open, it’s finally an exciting time to celebrate openings. A slew of new restaurants, delayed by the pandemic, is ready to bust open this summer, featuring everything from Mexican and Japanese tasting menus to Korean-grilled comforts and cult-favorite wet tortas from a truck. And road-trippers, get ready: those looking to sip the summer away in a beautiful setting might be eager to visit a three-story wining and dining destination up in wine country.

Here are 13 highly anticipated restaurant openings coming in hot this summer, roughly arranged in chronological order.

SSP Beer Hall

Location: 59 9th Street, SoMa (former Perennial)
Key Players: Dennis Lee
Projected Opening: June 2021

Chef Dennis Lee has helmed a number of cool restaurants in the past few years, from the late Namu Gaji to the pandemic-born Sunset Squares Pizza. Now, he’s putting the finishing touches on what might be his most ambitious project to date: SSP Beer Hall is moving into the former Perennial space, and it’s going to be featuring food from Sunset Squares, Namu Stonepot, and Uncle Tito’s, as well as a beer list with plenty of dank IPA.

Le Fantastique

Location: 22 Franklin Street, Hayes Valley
Key Players: Robbie Wilson, Emily Wilson
Projected Opening: June 2021

The husband-and-wife team behind the high-end bistro Bird Dog in Palo Alto is opening a French seafood spot and wine bar in Hayes Valley. Robbie and Emily Wilson say they’ll be serving raw fish, caviar eclairs, milk bread, and rare white wines, ranging from small plates to full entrees, with jazz and other genres playing on vinyl.

Melissa de Mata

Abacá

Location: Kimpton Alton Hotel, Fisherman’s Wharf
Key Players: Francis Ang, Dian Ang
Projected Opening: Mid-July

After years of running his acclaimed Filipino pop-up, Pinoy Heritage, chef Francis Ang and his wife and partner Dian are putting down roots with Abacá, a full-service restaurant within the Kimpton Alton Hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf. The restaurant will offer a menu of Ang’s takes on classic Filipino dishes like sisig fried rice and lumpia, alongside cocktails incorporating Filipino flavors like calamansi and ube. A panaderia will also offer coffee and pastries in the morning, in addition to the restaurant’s indoor and patio dining at lunch and dinner.

Buddy

Location: 3115 22nd Street, Mission (former Californios)
Key Players: Alvaro Rojas, Nicolas Torres, Nora Furst, Claire Sprouse
Projected Opening: July or August 2021

An all-star team of bartenders is taking over the former Californios location in the Mission, with plans for an all-day bar. Alvaro Rojas (Elda), Nicolas Torres (True Laurel), Nora Furst (Uma Casa), and Claire Sprouse (Hunky Dory in Brooklyn) are behind the project, and will be pouring low-ABV cocktails with lots of wine and spritzes, as well as a food menu that runs all day — the chef is still to be announced.

Nisei

Location: 2316 Polk Street (former La Folie)
Key Players: David Yoshimura
Projected Opening: August 2021

The debut project from former Californios chef de cuisine David Yoshimura is moving right along in the former home of La Folie. Yoshimura will keep the elegant vibe of the space’s former occupant while introducing his own style of modern Japanese-American fine dining. Dishes that walk the line between classic Japanese cuisine and the Japanese diaspora will appear on the 10- to 12-course menu, including takes on Japanese curry, katsudon, and more. An adjoining cocktail bar, Bar Iris, will open first in July, with cocktails and smaller bites.

Californios

Location: 355 11th Street, SoMa (former Bar Agricole)
Key Players: Val M Cantu, Carolyn Cantu
Projected Opening: July or August 2021

Michelin-starred Californios has already moved into its new home in the former Bar Agricole space in SoMa, and chef Val M. Cantu is now serving his Mexican fine-dining tasting menu in the spacious patio. But the dining room is still under construction, overseen by designer Carolyn Cantu, wife and partner, who previously worked at acclaimed design firm Ken Fulk. Altogether, the new Californios is seven times the size of its snug Mission location, and it promises to be a big transformation; stay tuned for the big reveal of the indoor space.

San Ho Won’s spring bibimbap with ramps, fern, cordyceps, and pea leaves San Ho Won

San Ho Won

Location: 2170 Bryant Street, Mission (former Blowfish Sushi)
Key Players: Corey Lee, JeongIn Hwang
Projected Opening: Late summer 2021

Corey Lee, the celebrated chef of the three-Michelin-star Benu, is finally due to open his highly anticipated and first full-on Korean restaurant. San Ho Won did dabble in takeout during the pandemic, so fans already got a teaser. But the team wound down takeout in preparation for the full opening, and will finally be bringing braised and grilled short ribs and cabbage kimchi to the Mission late summer or early fall.

Kowbird

Kowbird and Matty’s Old-Fashioned

Location: Kowbird at 1733 Peralta Street, Matty’s Old-Fashioned at 464 8th Street, Oakland
Key Players: Matt Horn
Projected Opening: Kowbird summer 2021, Matty’s Old-Fashioned July 2021

Acclaimed pitmaster Matt Horn can’t seem to stop drumming up new restaurant concepts. Coming in hot this summer, Kowbird fried chicken spot is slated to finally open in West Oakland, just down the street from his original barbecue restaurant, while Matty’s Old-Fashioned burger joint is set to open in Old Oakland. And the chef also might be rolling out a taco trailer, too, so stay tuned for meaty updates.

Calabash

Location: 2302 Valdez Street, Oakland
Key Players: Nigel Jones, Azalina Eusope, Hanif Sadr
Projected Opening: August 2021

The restaurant, marketplace, and cocktail destination spearheaded by chef Nigel Jones (Kingston 11) will bring three distinctive cuisines to one menu when it opens this summer. Malaysian food from chef Azalina Eusope (Azalina’s) and Northern Iranian fare from chef Hanif Sadr (Komaaj) will appear alongside Jamaican dishes from Jones, in a mixture of counter and table service, with both indoor and outdoor dining. At the marketplace, pantry staples, some fresh items, and bottles of wine will be available to take home.

Tribune

Location: 401 13th Street, Oakland (Tribune Tower)
Key Players: Omri Aflalo, John Cahill, Darrin Ballon
Projected Opening: August 2021

Oakland’s Tribune building will soon be restored to its former glory, evoking a time when journalism had caché and newspaper lobbies were swanky. Chef Omri Aflalo (Wayfare Tavern) has teamed up with John Cahill and Darrin Ballon — also partners in upcoming restaurant Town Revival, slated to open in 2022 — to create a menu of American brasserie-style food with French influences, Oaklandside reported first. Think steak frites, an excellent burger, and chopped salads, with cocktails, and wines by the glass or bottle. Jon de la Cruz is designing the interior with lots of brass accents and wood and leather banquettes to set the mood.

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

La Santa Torta

Location: 95 Linden Street, Oakland (former Old Kan)
Key Players: Victor Guzman, Leo Oblea
Projected Opening: Summer 2021

Careening in from the wildly popular birria truck, La Santa Torta is due to finally park it permanently in the former Old Kan restaurant space in West Oakland. Victor Guzman and Leo Oblea will still be slinging those meaty tacos and tortas, as well as an even deeper menu of Jalisco-style dishes, including a sauce-drenched torta ahogada.

Matheson

Location: 106 Matheson Street, Healdsburg (former Snowflake Bakery)
Key Players: Dustin Valette
Projected Opening: July 2021

Three stories of drinking and dining will debut on Sonoma Square, from hometown chef Dustin Valette (Valette, Valette Wine). The former location of Snowflake Bakery (operated by Valette’s great grandfather back in the day) will undergo a redesign and preservation by Cass Calder Smith. It will contain multitudes, including a rooftop bar and lounge, sushi bar from Ken Tominaga (PABU, Hana Sonoma), a ground floor garden lounge overlooking Sonoma’s square, and a “wine wall” featuring 88 wines from local producers.

State Street Market

Location: 160 and 170 State Street, Los Altos
Key Players: Meichih and Michael Kim, Anne Wojcicki
Projected Opening: Summer 2021

Los Altos is getting a massive new food hall, to the tune of some 20,000 square feet. Anne Wojcick, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe, is behind the ambitious project. The fine-dining chefs behind the Michelin-starred Maum in Palo Alto will be opening a fast-casual spot, as first spotted by the SF Chronicle, and more chefs will be joining the star lineup, to be announced shortly.

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