Downtown Palo Alto is set to get a new destination for Iberico ham and grilled quail from a familiar local. Sekoya Lounge & Kitchen will open at 417 California Avenue in mid-August from Steve Ugur, one of the minds behind Pausa Bar & Cookery in San Mateo. Pausa has been recognized by Michelin as a Bib Gourmand five times since opening in 2018 and was named a top Italian restaurant by the Italian trade publication Gambero Rosso.
The new restaurant, Sekoya Lounge & Kitchen, will serve “California-inspired shareable plates with a global influence,” per a spokesperson. Expect dishes such as Spanish octopus skewers; double-fried tempura mushrooms; and a tremendous 24 ounces of aged, grass-fed ribeye steak.
And Ugur’s team at Sekoya is full of experience. Chef de cuisine Jason Johnson worked at Adele’s in Nashville, Wayfare Tavern and Quince in San Francisco, and Chez TJ in Mountain View. A full bar program — think high-elevation wines and seasonal cocktails, plus a suite of nonalcoholic drinks — comes from Erik Rivera, former bar manager of the Dry Creek Grill in San Jose. The incoming restaurant is furnished with Redwood inlaid throughout the space and ornate archways, plus hand-painted Venetian plaster walls meant to invoke a sense of timelessness. The furniture was installed in late July, but things are still under construction.
Ugur is already well known for his first restaurant Pausa, a South Bay essential. But the founder grew up in San Mateo working in his family’s businesses before diving into butchery with a stint at Harris Steakhouse in 2013. Once he co-opened Pausa, it became the third in the state licensed to cure its own meat, making it hugely popular among salami and charcuterie fanatics. Dough for pizzas at the San Mateo restaurant is shipped in from Italy and crafted in a “dough room” where guests can peek at the magic. Now, Sekoya will look to make a fanbase from its beef tongue skewers, roasted whole sea bream, and bread service of Parker House rolls pulled from the oven and topped with spiced togarashi and brown sugar.
Sekoya Lounge & Kitchen, 417 California Avenue, expects to celebrate its grand opening in mid-August 2023 with reservations bookable through OpenTable.