There’s a new restaurant opening in a long-vacant space on Valencia, one that might give a shot of nostalgia to the brunch and happy hour hoppers of the early aughts: Luna is a new bar and tavern moving into the old Luna Park space. Mission residents may recall that Luna Park was almost sold to Governor Gavin Newsom’s PlumpJack Group in 2014, actually sold to the owner of Mission Beach Cafe, and finally closed in 2015, ending 15 years of bottomless mimosas and benedicts, and cheese fondue and s’mores. The neighborhood favorite has been gathering dust for six long years.
But now, the new Luna is breathing the roast chicken and cocktails back into that storied neighborhood space. To be clear, the new Luna is really no relation to the old Luna Park — it has totally new owners, underwent a complete renovation, and is offering a fresh new menu. But they’re giving a nod to the name and keeping the original sign, which still glows like a good omen over this hip spot on Valencia and 18th. “We’re embracing the past. It was a very successful restaurant,” says partner Tony Marcell. “People loved it. It was easy. It was comfortable. People still talk about it to this day.”
The new team includes partner Tony Marcell, coming from Wayfare Tavern and Aqua, chef Scott Quinn, cooking through Wayfare Tavern and Bouchon Bistro, and general manager Nick de Luca, most recently at Alexander’s Steakhouse. That’s some meaty tavern and bistro experience, and they are aptly describing the new Luna as an American brasserie. “It’s a second generation of this modern comfort food with California ingredients,” Marcell says. “We want to be in that easy-going state, and just give it a new twist with our design and our food.”
They are starting with dinner and drinks, although fans will surely demand brunch soon. The menu hits the classics, with a play on oysters Rockefeller filled with creamed kale and sweet corn, bone marrow with grilled peaches and salsa verde, a roast chicken stuffed cordon bleu style, and of course a steak and a chop. Burger obsessives take note: This one is eight ounces of ground chuck and short rib on fluffy brioche, dressed with aioli and arugula. And yes, there is a side of mac and cheese topped with cornbread crumbs. The cocktails also riff on a “new” fashioned with bourbon and apricot liqueur, and a vesper spritz that’s almost a lighter martini. Check out the full menu, below.
As for the design, it’s definitely not a Luna Park replica. And after six years of vacancy, Marcell says they took the space down to the studs, putting in new plumbing, electrical, and a seismic retrofit. ROY design group redid the interiors, led by designer Hannah Collins, who used to wait tables at Beretta, another cool cocktail spot of the era. “She speaks Mission,” Marcell says. Walking in, there’s a front window with a counter, to hang out with drinks and snacks. To the right, the bar is topped with white carrera marble and backed with a deep red wall, with burnt orange and black stools pulling up. On the left, a front banquette in houndstooth makes a low cocktail area, and a red leather banquette runs the length of the room with sit-down tables. In the back, there are two booths in forest green and a communal table in black marble. The bathroom is also wild, jungle green with leaping tigers and neon light. It’s an array of rich colors, and altogether about 60 seats, including the bar and the sidewalk.
“We really wanted to be a piece of the Mission,” Marcell says. “And being in the restaurant business for as long as I have, when you have good bones, there’s good karma to that.”
Luna opens today, June 24, starting with sit-down dinner and drinks, but with plans to add lunch and brunch, and takeout and delivery options. Opening hours are Tuesday to Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m., and Sunday 5 to 9 p.m.