With its punitive parking scheme in constant flux and a ringing emptiness to the streets after 6 p.m., downtown has had a tough time attracting, well, anyone. But the downtown area — from the Santa Rosa Plaza stretching east to Super Burger down Fourth Street — suddenly has interesting new places open and planned to open. Keep an eye out for the following spring openings:
- Gerard’s Paella and Tapas (701 Fourth St.): West County chef Gerard Nebesky is bringing the excellent paella that beat Iron Chef’s Bobby Flay, plus Spanish wines, small bites, and a convivial atmosphere.
- The Jade Room (643 Fourth St.): Sift bakery owners Andrea and Jeff Ballus will harken Rat Pack-era Santa Rosa with their enormously necessary downtown wine bar and oyster club.
- The Parish Cafe (703 Fourth St.): The southernmost outlet of this Nawlins kitchen is heading down from Healdsburg with beignets and bloody marys.