The year 2017 is shaping up to be another big one for restaurants in the Bay Area after a record number of openings in 2016. The contemporary Indian and sushi omakase trends aren't going away anytime soon, while several marquee chefs and restaurants like Rich Table, Chris Cosentino and Camino have new projects to unveil. Lazy Bear and ABV both have cocktail-centric concepts debuting in the new year and San Francisco gets its first grocery store by day, tasting menu at night. We're hungry just thinking about San Francisco's most anticipated newcomers of 2017.
New projects from big-name chefs
ETA: Late winter
San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino (Cockscomb) is heading to the Napa Valley for the first time. He’s in charge of the kitchen for this restaurant at Las Alcobas, a 68-room luxury resort next to the Beringer Vineyards property near Downtown St. Helena. Cosentino’s menus will be seasonally driven and include breakfast, lunch, dinner and poolside dining for the hotel. Don’t expect as much offal as at Cockscomb or Cosentino’s prior home, Incanto, but do expect a Napa-heavy wine list given the location.
1915 Main St., St. Helena; 707-963-7000
Charlie Palmer Steak
Since the 2014 earthquake, downtown Napa has been building hotels and restaurants at a fast pace. One of the most notable upscale hotels coming to town will also have an important new restaurant — from the same owner, Charlie Palmer. Like its siblings in Washington DC, New York, Reno and Las Vegas, the contemporary steakhouse in the still-under-construction Archer Hotel will present high-quality steak (notably Wagyu, Kobe and Snake River Farms cuts) with intriguing small plates and vegetable sides, and non-steak main courses that defy the steakhouse definition (bring your fish-loving friend here). Diners can also look forward to sidewalk patio dining and a rooftop bar with valley views.
1260 First St., Napa; 855-437-9100
Joyous news to the passionate local sushi fan population: Nobu Matsuhisa is coming to the Bay Area at long last. His first Northern California restaurant will be in Palo Alto's Epiphany Hotel, replacing Lure + Till, which has been the dining room since the hotel's opening. Rumors had been swirling about this happening since tech CEO Larry Ellison bought the Epiphany in 2016 (Ellison and Matsuhisa co-own Nobu Malibu together). Bay Area diners can expect the same Nobu duo of Japanese-Peruvian cooked and raw fish compositions, combined with a chic, minimal atmosphere that have made his restaurants from the Bahamas to London celebrity magnets. This is Palo Alto's first big-name chef since Wolfgang Puck's Spago closed in 2007.
180 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto
City of cocktails
Unnamed Lazy Bear project
ETA: Late spring
A few blocks away from Lazy Bear, chef-owner David Barzelay and bar manager Nicolas Torres's upscale communal dining heavyweight, comes this new cocktail-focused project. The atmosphere, food and price point will be more accessible than the Lazy Bear experience and will follow the same playful contemporary American food mindset. In one part of the bar, guests will have to buy tickets for more elaborate drinks paired with creative snacks, while the other half will be a more typical craft cocktail–elevated bar food à la carte option. The bar will take over the now closed restaurant, The Tradesman, adding to the already incredible roster of restaurants and bars in this corner of the Mission (Trick Dog, Central Kitchen, Flour + Water to name a few).
753 Alabama St.
Cocktail options in the Mission just keep getting better and better. Proprietor Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand has a third project in the works heading to 24th Street (close to the BART station), which will focus on rum and its historical background in Africa and the Caribbean. Food, drinks and atmosphere will lean on those influences but will be much simpler than at Vogler’s other spots (think bar first, food second). Obispo is also much more intimate in size than its two sister spots.
3266 24th St.
ETA: Late January
ABV has its most anticipated concept yet almost ready for prime time. A 25-seat mezzanine within the bar is set to focus on a different spirit each quarter. The drinks, food and design will change per the spirit’s theme. It is an all-encompassing $80 experience for diners with six to eight drinks (smaller in size than normal, don’t worry) and about the same number of dishes. The first quarter will be the rum-focused Flip-Flop concept that includes tropical beach “views," reinterpreted classic rum cocktails (look for the Pink Flamingo, a fun play on the Campari and pineapple jungle bird drink) and dishes including jerk chicken, smoked lamb curry with plantains and Trini chow mein (Trinidad’s sweet peppers and cabbage heavy national dish). Next quarter is whiskey. Overproof has communal tables and will require reservations for its two nightly seatings. After four quarters, a new project will take over the mezzanine in 2018.
3174 16th St.; 415-400-4748
Fast-casual from headliner restaurants
ETA: Late winter
Camino’s first expansion project was inspired by a popular Kebab Mondays series that the wood-oven rustic California restaurant featured. It’s replacing the North Oakland space that previously was home to the much-missed Salsipuedes. Diners will order at the counter and choose between falafel and meat kebabs as wraps in homemade flatbread or as plates, rounded out by sides such as grilled artichokes and red lentil hummus full of Middle East flavors and spices (we've got our eyes on the different lamb preparations seen at the Camino dinners).
4201 Market St., Oakland
ETA: Late winter
Move over sardine chips. Roasted chicken is the specialty of Rich Table’s second project, to be located just a block away from the flagship in a 1,200-square-foot space. The inspiration comes from what husband-and-wife chef-owners Evan and Sarah Rich cook up to refuel after a ski trip. That means hearty and nourishing dishes like roasted meats as plates or sandwiches, salads and soups. Bites include individually baked plancha bread, creamed kale and sorrel, and umami fries. While at the original restaurant, Douglas fir is the primary flavoring component of the house levain bread, at RT-Rotisserie, it flavors yogurt to go with the meats. Each rotisserie comes with two sauces like that yogurt or chimichurri, RT ranch dressing or aji amarillo salsa. Also unlike Rich Table, RT-Rotisserie will be open all day, 11 AM–9 PM.
101 Gough St.
ETA: January 16
It’s fitting that the hottest fast-casual concept in the city will soon open its third cafe along the city’s hottest dining strip. With its original outpost in Hayes Valley and having opened a NoPa branch in 2015, Souvla has Valencia Street in the Mission next on the agenda. Expect a similar roster of spit-roasted meats available in pita wraps or salads, complemented by Greek fries, frozen Greek yogurt with fun toppings and its private label Greek wines. This location has more sidewalk patio dining space than the other two. It will be the newest addition to a spectacular block of dining including Brasserie Saint James, Craftsman and Wolves, Dandelion Chocolate and Mission Cheese.
758 Valencia St.
The Japanese trend continues
ETA: Mid January
Get ready for more ramen in 2017. The first West Coast location of this ramen shop, a worldwide heavyweight in the ramen world, is coming soon to Berkeley. Amidst a rustic wood-heavy decor, diners can expect the chain’s beloved rich tonkotsu bowls and smaller izakaya plates like pork steamed buns. It’s part of a shared work office complex that will also house a new Blue Bottle Coffee shop. A San Francisco shop will open later in 2017 on SoMa’s Yerba Buena Lane.
2011 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
When Saison held a sushi pop-up series with chef Jiro Lin in 2015, it was one of the hottest (and secretive) tickets in town. Diners can now find Lin in Noe Valley at a sushi restaurant where he previously worked. He became Hamano’s owner a few weeks ago and will be making substantial changes to elevate the decor and make shifts in the food. Plans call for an omakase menu that is ambitious but doesn’t reach the eye-popping prices many of the city’s new sushi establishments charge. Hamano will stay open as the renovations, which should be complete by spring, take place.
1332 Castro St.; 415-826-0825
ETA: Late winter
Hayes Valley will get an omakase menu restaurant courtesy of Adam Tortosa, the original chef at 1760. His menu there was globe-spanning small plates but since spending time as a chef at Union Square’s excellent sushi spot, Akiko’s, a sushi-heavy omakase concept became the chef’s calling. With just 30 seats, it will be an intimate experience like most omakase spots, but it will also have a lively, more stylish ambiance than the usual serene sushi bar. Note: It will be in the same complex as Johnny Doughnuts (see slide No. 8).
388 Fulton St.
Local favorites expand
The Charter Oak
The Restaurant at Meadowood’s chef Christopher Kostow and front-of-the-house director Nathaniel Dorn are branching out with a more casual concept in St. Helena’s old Tra Vigne venue. The elaborate tasting menus of the high-end resort dining room will be swapped out for a family-style experience with seasonal, approachable flavors, with lots of produce from the shared garden with Meadowood and dishes cooked in the hearth. Diners might start with grilled oysters and ham cured in spicebush, then on to salads, fun vegetable compositions like onions with a chorizo Bolognese and lighter meat dishes like chicken confit, followed by the larger plates such as short ribs smoked over local Cabernet barrels. Renovations by Kostow, Dorn and Napa's star architect Howard Backen call for an outdoor patio, bar, communal table and an airy brick-exposed dining room with custom oak tables and a massive overhead chandelier. Meadowood’s chef de cuisine Katianna Hong will run the kitchen nightly.
1050 Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena; 707-963-4444
ETA: Late spring
After a busy 2016 that ended their triumphant run at Bar Tartine and saw the opening of their contemporary Japanese-global “temporary restaurant” Motze, Nick Balla and Cortney Burns will look to the Middle East from a global point of view for their next project, also in the Mission. The same focus on fermentation, pickling and preservation techniques that made Bar Tartine such a game-changing restaurant under their leadership will carry over to Crescent.
ETA: Late winter
Switching from burgers to the Bayou, restaurateur Alvin Garcia and chef Adam Rosenblum (the duo behind Causwells and Popson's Burgers) are heading to the Mission’s former Hapa Ramen address via Louisiana for their third project together. The good times will roll with Sazeracs, boozy slushies, gumbo, crawfish boils, and shrimp and grits amongst the culinary staples of NOLA and Cajun cooking. Rosenblum has experience with the cuisine from his days cooking for the highly regarded chef Donald Link in New Orleans. The festive 60-seat space won’t be over-the-top NOLA theme-wise, but renderings call for a mossy green ceiling, Garden District shutters, ferns and a zinc bar.
2293 Mission St.
ETA: Late winter
After 40 years, Oakland’s legendary Bay Wolf restaurant in the Piedmont neighborhood closed this past summer. The address is coming back with a big howl under the ownership of another important Oakland restaurateur, Rich Wood (Wood Tavern). Designs call for a 12-seat dining counter overlooking the open kitchen to be added to the two dining areas, while maintaining the prime outdoor patio. The menu will be seasonally driven Californian cooking, and a test dinner even showcased a duck breast with polenta and wild mushrooms — a sign that duck might be a signature like it was at Bay Wolf.
3853 Piedmont Ave., Oakland
Shifting gears from his time cooking at Manresa and as the opening chef at Thai favorite Kin Khao, Michael Gaines and his wife Stephanie will soon open a small, 30-seat Dogpatch casual Mexican restaurant. Diners will find a concise menu of a dozen or so dishes, plus a full bar. Gaines has held several pop-up and test dinners the past two years, so we’ve seen hints of what might be offered at Glena’s, items like al pastor tacos, pozole and plenty of margaritas.
632 20th St.
ETA: Late winter
NoPa will soon get a hip Italian taverna by chef David Nayfeld (a Bay Area native) and James Beard–winning pastry chef Angela Pinkerton, along with partner Matt Brewer who comes to the project from Chicago. Their San Francisco debut restaurant and bar will take over the second floor of a former auto body shop. Over the course of 2016, Nayfeld and Pinkerton have been running a pop-up series in the Mission called Mission D&A featuring a rotating series of themes (Eastern European–Jewish and Parisian bistronomy for example) that showcase their creative imagination but aren’t meant to be a preview of Che Fico’s menu. Still, we’re expecting the same excitement to be generated by the restaurant as the pop-ups. Plans call for charcuterie and pastas made in-house, Neapolitan pizza and other rustic Italian specialties mingling with California influences.
834 Divisadero St.
Two major trends will join together in SoMa when this massive 3,600-square-foot restaurant opens, combining a progressive interpretation of Indian cuisine with a location on the ground floor of a tech company’s headquarters (Dropbox). The restaurant is the first American outpost for India’s Good Times Restaurant Group. They’ll bring in Mumbai-based chef Sujan Sarkar to execute the à la carte plates and tasting menu. Celebrated Australian mixologist Matthew Ridali is responsible for the cocktails.
333 Brannan St.; 425-681-1491
ETA: Late January
Telmo Faria, a partner and co-founder of Tacolicious and native of Portugal’s Faial Island (one of the Azores Islands), is about to give San Francisco its much-awaited first contemporary Portuguese restaurant. Faria wants the 85-seat restaurant (the former Incanto in Noe Valley) to feel like a home away from home, hence the name reference. Everything from the kitchen will be meant for sharing and be a mix of contemporary and traditional Portuguese cuisines, adapted to California’s ingredients. Small plates will include salt cod fritters (beloved in Portugal) and prawns Mozambique. Larger dishes are set to include piri piri chicken and pork and clam stew. And the seasons will dictate several new dishes, of course. On the beverage side, the wine list will be 90% Portuguese along with low-proof cocktails, and of course, several port wines and Madeiras.
1555 Church St.
Not your average all-day eatery or grocery store
ETA: Mid to late winter
Switching gears from their prior restaurant, Reverb in Russian Hill, chef/partners Ryan Shelton and Madison Fraser have a unique project in the Fillmore that changes from day to night. In the evening, Merchant Roots will have two dinner services at an eight-seat chef’s counter three times a week. The tasting menus will take advantage of Shelton’s Italian background and formal French chef training. In the daytime, the merchant component emerges with housemade pastas and charcuterie, along with wine, beer and takeaway home meal kits sold in the craft grocery market.
1365 Fillmore St.
The Drawing Board
ETA: Late January
Seed + Salt’s founding chef Ariel Nadelberg has already proven to San Francisco how rewarding vegan cooking can be. Now she’s tackling the all-day eatery genre in Sonoma County as the chef, helping lead the vision of first-time restaurateur Rosie Wiggins. Wiggins suffered from a chronic illness and her health improved significantly after she switched to a cleaner, wholesome diet — she hopes The Drawing Room can be a window into that kind of diet. The day starts as a coffee bar with smoothies and juices, toasts and morning dishes like Moroccan porridge with citrus-coconut chutney. Lunch will find fresh salads and a lamb burger served on a bun or, in a nod to Seed + Salt, in a collard green wrap. Dinner plans call for a full bar, biodynamic wines and more elaborate dishes like duck confit cassoulet. The space will be made of recycled and reclaimed materials with an airy, "modern Bohemian" vibe fitting the all-day hours, aspiring to bring the outdoors in with living plant walls.
190 Kentucky St., Petaluma; 707-774-6689
Sweet tooth alert
ETA: Mid March
Good news for San Francisco donut lovers: You no longer have to venture to San Rafael or plan your schedule around Off the Grid food vendor gatherings to enjoy a Crodough or Orange You Glad raised donut from Johnny Doughnuts. The homemade donuts that are often considered the best (and most unique) in the Bay Area are coming to a ground-floor shop in a new Hayes Valley condo building. Over 25 flavors, some constants and some seasonal, will be served. They've also got wheat-free “frittah things” and vegan roasted sweet potato–based ones for special diets. Equator coffee will be offered from the full barista bar. Johnny Doughnuts will also open an outpost in Larkspur's Marin County Mart later in the spring.
388 Fulton St.
ETA: Late January
Outstanding ice cream is hard to find in SoMa, homemade gelato even more so. Thankfully, the neighborhood will soon have a gelato parlor thanks to a duo, Swiss-native Henri Waltenspühl and Veneuzelan-born Antonio Massimini who met in Milan during food and beverage business school and ended up graduating from a gelato university in Bologna. With their own “clean room,” the duo can pasteurize their own gelato base for flavors like chai fior di latte and pistachio, complemented by fruit sorbettos. Scoops will be served along with creminos (individual-sized layered gelato stacks). Later this year the duo will unveil a gelato bike cruiser to travel around the area.
685 Harrison St.; 415-795-3170
Salt & Straw
San Francisco’s already top-tier ice cream scene is about to get even sweeter with a duo of ice cream shops by this Portland-based purveyor. Having already made a splash with shops in Los Angeles, Salt & Straw will continue its West Coast reach in both the Fillmore and Hayes Valley. Everything is made in-house from the pecan pie used in the Apple Brandy and Pecan Pie flavor to the toppings and waffle cones. Some of the more bizarre flavors seen in Portland and Los Angeles include Fennel Five-Spiced Egg Nog and the signature Pear and Bleu Cheese, but other flavors are more traditional like Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons.
2201 Fillmore St.
Wine and beer are coming back
Dominique Crenn recently took over the Cellar Door wine bar, next door to her flagship Cow Hollow restaurant, Atelier Crenn. Later this year it will be unveiled as the chef’s vision of a casual wine bar that can be a destination or a prequel to dinner at Atelier Crenn. The two spaces share a rear walkway and courtyard. To drink, there will be low ABV cocktails along with biodynamic and natural wines. Food will be more than just cheese and charcuterie with small plates and possibly a few more substantial dishes to share, all channeling classic French specialties and Crenn’s creativity.
3131 Fillmore St.
Petit Marlowe Wine Bar & Oysterette
The SoMa wine bar Les Clos will close later this month to become a wine bar and raw bar under the ownership of the continually growing Big Night Group (Leo’s Luxury Oyster Bar, The Cavalier, Park Tavern, Marlowe). Les Clos co-owner Mark Bright (Saison) will stay on as a wine advisor with his specialty, Burgundy, as a prominent part of the bar’s wine roster. The space will get a sharp refresh by star designer Ken Fulk with lots of Parisian accents like a marble bar, plush banquettes and various items brought back from the Paris flea markets. Besides the raw bar, Jennifer Puccio’s food will be simple small plates like cheese, charcuterie, salads and steak tartare. It’s full circle for the group since the original Marlowe location was just two blocks away also on Townsend Street.
234 Townsend St.
Hitachino Beer & Wagyu
ETA: Early January
San Francisco’s craft-beer scene keeps getting stronger and stronger — and more international. For instance, Denmark’s Mikkeller opened its first American brewpub in the Tenderloin a few years ago, and now Japan’s Kiuchi Brewery is following suit with this venue near Union Square. The brewery’s line of Hitachino beers and rice ales are already beloved in the city and served at many of the better beer bars and izakayas around town. Soon you can get them from the brewery itself at its own 45-seat izakaya. Ten beers will be on tap and brewed exclusively for this location, along with Kiuchi’s sakes. Soak up the drinks with raw Wagyu beef dishes, cold snacks and pickled bar bites. The chef-partner is former Nombe chef Noriyuki Sugie, who is originally from the Ibaraki prefecture of Japan (where the brewery is located).
639 Polk St.; 415-792-6160