Though 2016 is barely out of the gates, we've already got some marquee restaurant openings to look forward to in San Francisco. Many of the city's well-known chefs will expand their reach with spin-off concepts (or third or fourth restaurants...), and San Francisco's iconic bakery is almost ready to open its new and much larger second venue (spoiler alert: pizza and soft-serve ice cream are in the plans). Sure, the Bay Area will host Super Bowl 50 in February and continue to be home to the country's relentless tech industry (and real estate) growth, but let's be honest, all anyone really wants to know about is the next hottest San Francisco restaurant. Behold our list.
After a New Year’s Eve closing dinner, the venerable 87-year-old FiDi steakhouse changed hands to Daniel Patterson (Coi) and his rapidly growing DPG restaurant group. Plans for Alfred’s are to upgrade everything that already exists, from the atmosphere to menu items, rather than a complete overhaul. Rest assured, it will still be a steakhouse. Charlie Parker left his post at fellow DPG restaurant Haven in Oakland to helm Alfred’s kitchen, and he will likely bring more of a modern-day California-vegetables and fresh-produce emphasis to the menu.
ETA: Late winter
659 Merchant St.
Manresa Bread and Bywater
It took Manresa’s David Kinch a decade to branch out from his original restaurant, a slower path than many of the country’s most celebrated chefs take. Then, last year, a Manresa Bread shop sprouted up steps from the restaurant, selling lead baker Avery Ruzicka’s impressive breads and pastries (oh, the kouign-amann!). This year a second Manresa Bread is planned for the Peninsula town of Los Altos, marking the first trip outside of Los Gatos for Manresa (not counting farmer's market stands). Unlike in Los Gatos, the new cafe will have a full espresso and coffee service with beans from Verve, and according to the Palo Alto Weekly's Elena Kadvany, there are hopes for chocolates and macarons too. Meanwhile back in Los Gatos, New Orleans native Kinch is set to open Bywater, his small bar and restaurant ode to the Crescent City. Reservations will not be accepted for the 60-seat bar, dining room and patio, where plenty of jazz will be playing in the background to help the good times roll. Dishes include NOLA standards like oyster po’ boys, shrimp and grits, gumbo and beignets. Cocktails anchor the drinks side with Sazeracs, milk punch and, yes, a Hurricane. On a related note, Mardi Gras is in a month. Los Gatos will know where to celebrate.
Roy Choi (of Kogi Korean taco-truck fame in LA) and Daniel Patterson's cost-conscious fast-food chain for urban "food deserts" is almost ready to debut in the Tenderloin. Buns for the burgers are from Tartine and the chicken nuggets will incorporate bulgur — an example of how the chefs want the cuisine to be healthy and high quality but also to keep costs down to make the food cheaper for diners. Grain bowls, riffs on gyros ("herows"), a version of quesadillas ("foldies") and breakfast sandwiches are all anticipated. Plans for LocoL are to start here and in Watts (Los Angeles), and then grow nationally.
ETA: Late January
67 Taylor St.
Matching the excitement for SF MOMA's reopening in May is the restaurant coming with it, In Situ. It's Corey Lee’s (Benu, Monsieur Benjamin) third establishment and Eater SF reports that the museum restaurant will follow the art museum theme as a rotating "food exhibition." The menu will focus on the signature dishes from chefs around the world, rather than original compositions. In addition to In Situ, a third Sightglass Coffee cafe will be a part of SF MOMA 2.0.
CONCEPTS WITH A CONSCIENCE
Last year’s version of this list estimated a February 2015 opening for Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz (Mission Chinese Food and Commonwealth) and chef Chris Kiyuna's (stints at Mission Chinese Food, Coi, Noma in Copenhagen) sustainability- and progressive-farming-focused restaurant in Mid-Market. A year later, it’s right on the verge of opening. The restaurant’s aquaponic greenhouse in Oakland will provide produce and fish for Kiyuna’s menu, and the theme is reflected in the decor with a “living pantry” growing on walls. Dishes from preview dinners last fall include potato confit and clam bagna cauda with homegrown radishes, kogi and red-wine-braised lamb neck cassoulet, and seared trout in a marrow and mussels broth, accompanied by ice lettuce, trout mousse and parsnip.
59 Ninth St.
In just six years, Joe and Andi Conte’s local fish delivery service Water2Table has become the trusted source for hundreds of the Bay Area’s leading chefs. Now, some of the local sand dabs, Dungeness crab, day boat albacore and lots of seasonally determined fish and seafood from the company will be served at a North Beach restaurant and fish market run by Water2Table itself. The restaurant side is somewhat small, with plans for about 50 seats. Restaurants aren’t foreign territory, however, for Joe Conte. Prior to launching the fish-delivery business, he worked 26 years in business and front-of-house roles for San Francisco restaurants.
515 Columbus Ave.
IMPORTANT CHEF DEBUTS
Chef Kyle Connaughton has spent time in several big-name Los Angeles kitchens, had a stint in Japan cooking for celebrated French chef Michel Bras and a period in England running The Fat Duck’s innovation program. He and his wife and farmer Katina Connaughton are putting all that experience to good use with Single Thread, a tasting-menu-focused restaurant, which will focus on seasonal California cuisine with Japanese influences. Single Thread’s own research and development lab and off-site farm add to what seems like the next major Wine Country destination dining experience. After designing last year's Napa hit Ninebark, the firm AvroKo will switch wine regions and be the architects for Single Thread.
ETA: Late winter
131 North St., Healdsburg
The much anticipated contemporary Chinese concept in the heart of Chinatown from chef Brandon Jew looks set to be unveiled this spring. Jew was the original chef for Bar Agricole and earned much acclaim during his three-year run at the SoMa cocktail-focused restaurant. While planning Mister Jiu’s for the past two years, he’s been spending time on TV cooking shows and teaching a Chinese cooking class at San Francisco Cooking School. Diners in the 125-seat room can expect traditional Chinese classics reinterpreted with 2016 cooking concepts and California’s seasonal produce (for example, sweet-soy-braised beef with tomatoes, Chinese noodles and spicy long beans), along with a bar featuring classic and new cocktails. Jew also plans to have an extensive in-house larder for making his own tofu, fermenting beans for rice vinegar and even brewing his own soy sauce.
731 Grant Ave.
Hayes Valley was the neighborhood of 2015 for restaurant openings, and it might be tops again in 2016. Among the newcomers, Kim Alter (Coi, Plum) strikes out on her own for the first time with the backing of mentor Daniel Patterson and the DPG. The chef plans to offer diners a four- to five-course tasting menu themed by "what is available at the market and classic technique," with offerings changing weekly per seasonal whims. Preview pop-ups for Nightbird featured dishes such as spot prawns with squash and duck paired with smoky greens. An additional tiny seven-seat bar called The Linden Room will be the other component of the project.
ETA: Late winter
330 Gough St.
Former Delfina chef Joseph Magidow explores the flavors of the eastern Mediterranean in his upcoming restaurant. Vegetable, fish, seafood and an extensive bread program (not street food like kebabs and falafel) will be at the heart of Tawla's experience, complemented by low-ABV cocktails designed by the Bon Vivants firm featuring regional ingredients like za'atar and orange blossom water. Plans include a living wall inside and a patio outside. And the name, you ask? It's "backgammon" in Arabic and also refers simply to "table." On cue, diners will be able to play backgammon prior to their meal.
THE BAR & RESTAURANT LINE CONTINUES TO BLUR
Hot on the heels of opening next-door sibling Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio last month, Maven owner Jay Bordeleau is at it again with this Mid-Market restaurant and bar that's all about craft cocktails. Cadence will have a set of eight "culinary cocktails" from bar director Chase Williamson (Zero Zero, Nopa). To eat, there are snacks from chef Joey Elenterio (Wayfare Tavern, a Zagat 30 Under 30 at Chez TJ) like binchotan-charcoal-roasted olives and more substantial offerings such as miso-braised beef cheeks. A four-course, $49 prix fixe menu is also available. A 13-seat white tile bar and "teacups" (lounge-style tables enclosed in a boothlike wrap) enliven the space, destined to be yet another food and drink hit in this hard-to-keep-up-with, exciting neighborhood.
ETA: Jan. 13
1446 Market St.
All-star trio Arnold Eric Wong (Eos, Bacar, E&O), Phil West (Range, Third Rail) and Carlos Yturria (Lure + Till, Claude Lane, Absinthe) are slated to open a spacious FiDi Gilded Age New York–style bar this month. On tap will be local beers and seasonally driven cocktails, and bar fare to eat, all of which should be pretty special knowing the history of this team.
ETA: Jan. 27
115 Sansome St.
The Wine Country eagerly awaits this Japanese izakaya coming soon from former Oenotri chef/co-owner Curtis Di Fede. As opposed to the pastas and pizzas Oenotri is known for, yakitori and ramen will be the centerpiece of the menu, accented by vegetable dishes and classic Japanese drinking snacks. To drink, of course, there will be Napa wines but also plenty of sake, Japanese whiskey and shochu.
ETA: Late winter
821 Coombs St., Napa
California’s neighbor to the north is the inspiration for the Oregon-themed restaurant from the owners of Little Star Pizza and Boss Burgers (the restaurant takes over a former Little Star location). Amanda Joost Gehring (Lalime’s, Cafe Rouge) handles the kitchen duties, serving brunch items daily like a mochi date muffin with caramel sauce and nightly dinner dishes include clam chowder pot pie. There will also be some fun customizable options with a build-your-own toast section and several creative Bloody Mary styles (perhaps the “Crudo” with mezcal, orange, lime, pomegranate, cucumber and pasilla and Serrano peppers?).
ETA: January 12
1175 Solano Ave., Albany
Corridor and Corridor Cafe
Following the runaway prix fixe–dinners hit Trestle in North Beach in 2015, Hi Neighbor Restaurant Group (Stones Throw, Fat Angel) shifts its attention to a new apartment building in the rapidly growing Mid-Market area. The two different concepts are split between a quick-service cafe featuring LAMILL coffee, sandwiches and nonalcoholic tea "cocktails" and the fine-dining restaurant to be open for lunch and dinner. An open kitchen with a bar overlooking the chefs and outdoor seating are intriguing parts of Corridor's design.
ETA: Late January
100 Van Ness St.
Tartine’s expansion east on 18th Street to the Heath Ceramics factory is finally almost ready to begin baking its breads and pastries. Unlike at the intimate original Tartine location, there will be lots of space both for the all-day cafe and baking operation. Besides the bread, there will be a wood-burning pizza oven, a larder section with housemade pickles and preserves, and for dessert, Tartine Cookies & Cream. Yes, that last part is a soft-serve ice cream shop. New Year's diet resolutions might not make it past the spring.
2900 18th St.