Kagawa-Ya Udon Noodle Company, from chef Sean Lim (Kyo-Ya, Palace Hotel), is now open in the mid-Market neighborhood Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The eatery showcases udon in either hot or cold broth, as well as curry, musubi, onigiri and tempura. Beverages include Hawaiian sodas, coffee and tea drinks. The restaurant aims for quick service and competitive pricing. Kagawa-Ya Udon Noodle Company, 1455 Market St., Ste. 3A, San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-703-0995.
Fast-casual chain Burger Lounge, with many locations in southern California, has landed in the Bay Area, with a branch open in Walnut Creek and one soon to come in Campbell. Lunch and dinner options include grass-fed burgers as well as high-quality vegetarian selections, salads, and lighter fare for carnivores such as fish, turkey and chicken. Food is meant to be fresh, environmentally conscious and served in a friendly space marked by chic, modern design. Lunch & Dinner daily. Burger Lounge, 2920 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek, CA 94598, 925-433-8958.
Smitten Ice Cream has a new location at 904 Valencia at 20th in the Mission, joining locations in the Marina, Hayes Valley and Pacific Heights neighborhoods. The churned-to-order ice cream chain from local founder Robyn Sue Fisher --- who began operations from a Red Flyer Wagon on a Mission District sidewalk --- boasts eight Bay Area shops and has a Los Angeles storefront coming soon. Open daily. Smitten Ice Cream, 904 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-590-3144.
Lazy Bear chef David Barzelay and bar manager Nicolas Torres will open Flowershop, a more casual bar with à la carte drinks and bar food in summer 2017. The extensive cocktail menu will showcase the same innovation and top-tier seasonal ingredients and spirits as at hot-ticket, prix-fixe Lazy Bear. Bar food will draw inspiration from local classic flavors: broiled oysters; sourdough biscuits with bay laurel butter, ham and honey; uni nachos with avocado and popcorn cotija; Dungeness crab and cheddar fondue with crudités and toast. An intricate tasting menu experience will feature a range of upscale cocktails with paired bites. Flowershop, 753 Alabama St., San Francisco, CA 94110, no phone.
Dumpling Time, a new dumpling and brew house from the Omakase Restaurant Group (Omakase, Okane), will open in spring 2017 in SoMa. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, with a daily selection of fresh dumplings made by hand --- prepared on site in view of diners --- featuring fillings such as heritage pork, seafood, Wagyu beef and seasonal vegetables. Dumpling skins might have colorful hues from beet, spinach or other reductions, or from various flours. Expect a range of sizes. Japanese-style gyoza will also be a specialty. Look for a good selection of craft beers and other beverages for casual, fun dining. Dumpling Time, 11 Division St., San Francisco, CA 94103, no phone.
Pronounced "slahn-cha" and meaning "cheers!," Slainte is a new Irish pub debuting in Oakland's Jack London Square in early April 2017. The pub will feature traditional Irish cooking from County Donegal-born executive chef Jackie Gallanagh --- think fish and chips, shepherd's pie and soda bread plates with Irish cheeses and butter. Beers (including imported Irish) and drinks will be helmed by Jenny Schwarz, who also owns and oversees the beverage program at Hopscotch. The spacious pub interior is anchored by a cozy fireplace; musicians will be welcome to bring instruments for traditional sessions. Slainte, 131 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607, no phone.
Debuting at 644 Broadway in Chinatown is China Live, a 30,000-square-foot space from executive chef George Chen that is layered with drinking, dining and retail options --- with more to open in spring 2017. Now open, the Oolong Café is a 25-seat tea room with custom-designed teapots and glassware (coffee and Chinese café bites are available). Also open, Market Restaurant and Bar Central is a full-service Chinese restaurant with 120 seats and food prepared at various stations, each highlighting a different specialty: dumplings and dim sum; Chinese meats and barbecue; cold salads and starters; noodles and rice bowls; fresh seafood; soups; wok stir fry and desserts. Menus change daily, with some signature dishes on repeat such as Peking duck, pork dumplings and three-cup Taiwanese chicken. Duggan McDonnell is in charge of beverages, including cocktails, Malaysian-style cold brew coffee and custom kombucha. On the first floor as well is a retail market that features a large array of imported condiments, spices, teas, cookware and gifts. Soon-to-come second-floor offerings include the formal restaurant Eight Tables by George Chen, a romantic bar and a small private events space called Gold Mountain Lounge. The third floor will be reserved exclusively for private events for up to 200 guests. Cafe 7 a.m., Restaurant 11 a.m. daily. China Live, 644 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, no phone.
The Riddler has been turning heads in Hayes Valley since its opening January 15, 2017, and for good reason. Led by well-known local PR maven Jen Pelka and an all-female team, The Riddler is a Champagne bar funded entirely by women, and has charms galore in its design and offerings. The Champagne list features more than 100 selections from grower-producers and traditional houses. Sparkling wines, some still wines and one beer --- Miller High Life --- are also available, as well as a menu of bar bites. The café and bar features a French-inspired, modern-vintage vibe in a color scheme of black, white and gold, with room for 40 indoors and out. The Riddler, 528 Laguna St., San Francisco, CA 94102, No phone.
International chain JINYA Ramen Bar has opened its first northern California outpost in San Jose's Westfield Oakridge shopping center. The modern ramen restaurant with Japanese-style counter seating is from Japanese restaurateur Tomonori Takahashi, who has founded seven restaurants in Tokyo and more than 20 JINYA locations in Canada and the United States, including Robata JINYA in Los Angeles. Look for signature ramen bowls, Japanese-inspired small plates and a children's menu, as well as two patios and an outdoor fireplace. Lunch & Dinner daily. JINYA Ramen Bar, Westfield Oakridge, 925 Blossom Hill Rd., Ste. 1637, San Jose, CA 95123, 408-281-9888.
San Francisco has seen a welcome influx of new Indian restaurants in the last few months. In the Mission, New York City expat Babu Ji has struck a trendy, flavorful note with diners. August 1 Five, in the Civic Center, offers modern, upscale Indian dining that draws from many influences, including street and home cooking from northern and central India. And at a new South of Market complex at 333 Brannan is Rooh, a modern lounge and kitchen featuring "progressive Indian cuisine."
Kured Pop-Up at Duende
Duende has a weekday pop-up lunchtime event, Kured, happening inside the restaurant's bodega, featuring house-made cured meats from chef Paul Canales. The menu of mostly sandwiches includes crispy, cured pork shoulder and belly with fennel salad; lamb merguez with bread-and-butter pickle relish; and boudin blanc with apple compote and carrot slaw. Please note: the restaurant itself is not open for lunch (and no longer features Sunday brunch). Pop-up hours are Wed.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., inside the bodega at Duende. For more information and the menu visit here. Duende, 468 19th St., Oakland, CA 94612, 510-893-0174.
Atelier Crenn Begins Ticketed Reservations
Dominique Crenn's destination restaurant Atelier Crenn has begun ticketed reservations, with a multi-course, prix-fixe tasting menu costing $325 per person, and wine pairings beginning at an additional $175 per person, inclusive of service. To book a ticketed reservation, visit the restaurant's website. Atelier Crenn, 3127 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94123, 415-440-0460.
New Hours for 1300 Fillmore
Starting May 1, 2017, 1300 Fillmore will be open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. The restaurant's famous Sunday gospel brunch service will offer two seatings every Sunday, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. 1300 Fillmore will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 1300 on Fillmore, Fillmore Heritage Center, 1300 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-771-7100.
New SF Soup Company Sister Chain: Ladle & Leaf
Longtime fans of the San Francisco Soup Company chain, with locations throughout downtown San Francisco and across the Bay Area, might be surprised to discover a change to some outposts. The company has launched a new enterprise, Ladle & Leaf, and many of the properties --- including inside Crocker Galleria and near U.C. Berkeley --- have been rebranded. (There is also a new Ladle & Leaf stand at AT&T Park, in time for Giants baseball season.) Along with San Francisco Soup Company signature and seasonal soups, Ladle & Leaf properties have an added focus on custom-built salads, sandwiches and healthy, organic fare.
Food Service Robots Hit SF
San Francisco has even more new residents lately, but these busy service professionals aren't muscling in on the prime rental market --- they're robots, and they're making salads, serving and even delivering food to hungry locals. Expect Sally the Salad Robot, from Chowbotics, to start making appearances around town to show off her custom salads using fresh, chef-inspired ingredients. Follow Sally on Twitter at #whenSFmetSally. And autonomous driving robot delivery services from Yelp Eat24, DoorDash and PostMates are starting to seem commonplace in areas like the Financial District. Meanwhile, Eatsa's popularity as a human-free restaurant experience continues to thrive, with locations in San Francisco and Berkeley.
New Look, Tenants for Emeryville Public Market
Public Market, an urban, indoor food court open since the 1980s near Emeryville's Bay Street, has experienced a renaissance over the past year, with many old tenants receiving bittersweet farewells to make way for newer, hipper food purveyors. Beginning with the much-touted opening of affordable ramen joint Shiba Ramen in early 2016, the food hall is now newly peppered with stalls featuring Cambodian food (Nyum Bai), French macarons (Oui! Oui! Macaron), sushi (We Sushi) and Korean fare (Koja Kitchen), among many others. Carlos Altamirano's Paradita Eatery, highlighting Peruvian street food, opens April 27. Open daily.
Cafe Flore Now Flore
One of the Castro's liveliest cafes since 1973, Cafe Flore has been sold and renamed simply Flore --- but the new owners intend to keep things very much the same for the popular space. Daily options include brunch, lunch and dinner, and the charming outdoor patio remains as it was. Flore is also open late nightly. Flore, 2298 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94114, 415-621-8579.
Okane Begins Japanese, Prix-Fixe Brunch Service
Joining the scores of hot, new brunch locales in San Francisco is Okane, already popular for its izakaya-style menu of casual Japanese eats and drinks. Now, the restaurant offers a prix-fixe brunch that features dishes inspired by two Japanese traditions: kaiseki, or small, specially curated plates served with Japanese tea service; and onsen, or dishes to accompany a soak at a Japanese spa. Selections skew lighter than American brunches, with flavors that run from classic to adventurous, and comprise salad, miso soup, pickles and rice with different options to choose from, including meat, vegetarian and grilled fish. Prix-fixe prices are $18, $20 or $22 per person, depending on the dishes chosen. Okane, 669 Townsend St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-865-9788.
Brunch at Flores
Flores has started serving weekend brunch, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. Look for Mexican-inspired dishes such as corn pancakes with maple crema; chilaquiles; huevos poblanos (and a special huevos ranchero); and carne asada with refried beans. Flores, 2030 Union St., San Francisco, CA 94123, 415-796-2926.
Burma Superstar Launches Cookbook
The lines for Burma Superstar --- with locations in San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda --- never seem to shorten, and now fans can try the Burmese restaurant's famously flavorful recipes at home. Look for a March 2017 launch of "Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia," by restaurant owner Desmond Tan and food writer Kate Leahy (author of A16 Food + Wine). Burma Superstar, 309 Clement St., San Francisco, CA 94118, 415-387-2147.
"Meatball Mondays" at barbacco eno trattoria
Perbacco Ristorante + Bar's casual sister restaurant, barbacco eno trattoria, located right next door to the Financial District favorite, has launched "Meatball Mondays" featuring a diner's choice of three large polpette, or meatballs, to pair with a side of spaghetti marinara for $16. Meatballs include Sicilian-style pork with pine nuts, beef polpette Bolognese simmered with béchamel or chicken meatballs blended with ricotta and lemon. barbacco eno trattoria, 220 California St., San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-955-1919.
Master Sommelier Larry Stone Debuts Lingua Franca Wines
One of the country's greatest sommeliers, Larry Stone (Charlie Trotter's, Red Cabbage), whose Bay Area history includes 15 years at now-closed Rubicon, has announced the release of the first wines from his own vineyard, Lingua Franca. Stone purchased the Lingua Franca property, located in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon's Willamette Valley, when it was farmland. The wines coming on the market now are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offerings from the property's inaugural 2015 vintage. Winemaker is Thomas Savre; Stone's daughter Sirita is also a member of the Lingua Franca team.
Speakeasy Brewing Ceases Operations
Local craft beermakers Speakeasy Ales & Lagers have ceased all operations for financial reasons. As of March 10, 2017, the popular brewery and San Francisco tap room are closed. Remaining inventory of bottled and canned favorites such as Big Daddy IPA, Prohibition Ale and beers from Speakeasy's Session series will remain in distribution until supplies run out. A San Francisco mainstay since 1997 (and destination tap room since 2011), the organization and its libations will be sorely missed. Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, 1195 Evans Ave., San Francisco, CA 94124, no phone.
Coi Features Seafood Menu, New Staff
Coi saw the departure of founding chef Daniel Patterson at the start of 2016, and over the past year it has experienced a reinvention under new chef Matthew Kirkley (L20). The restaurant now features a modern seafood tasting menu for $250 per person, wine pairings for an additional $180 or tea pairings for an additional $75. Joining the staff in 2017 are wine director Courtney Olson (Quince), general manager Dan Page (L20), chef de cuisine Justin Mauz (Joël Robuchon, Le Bec-Fin, L20) and pastry chef Riley Redfern (Jardinière, Quince). Coi, 373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, 415-393-9000.
State Bird Celebrates Five Years
State Bird Provisions, with its dim-sum-style carts filled with New American bites from chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, won over San Francisco (and foodies everywhere) the minute it opened on New Year's Eve 2011. Five years later, the restaurant has an adjacent, family-style restaurant (The Progress), private events space called The Workshop and a cookbook on the way. State Bird Provisions, 1529 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-795-1272.
Eve's Waterfront has a new executive chef in Brandon Peacock, who has worked all over the Bay Area at restaurants such as San Francisco's Venticello, Home and Chapeau!, Oakland's Lungomare and Larkspur's Left Bank Brasserie. Chef Peacock has also made a name for himself on TV from appearances on Food Network's “Chopped,” where he was a champion, “Guy's Grocery Games” and NBC's “America's Next Great Restaurant.” Peacock will keep the restaurant's seafood focus. Eve's Waterfront, 15 Embarcadero West, Oakland , CA 94607, 510-817-4477.
State Bird Provisions has a new chef de cuisine. Gaby Maeda is from Kaimuki, Hawaii, and graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 2009. She worked the line at Gary Danko for four years, and has been a sous chef at State Bird since 2014. State Bird Provisions, 1529 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-795-1272.
Old Bus Tavern has gone through several changes in the past year, and has emerged a far more casual brewpub than when it began. At opening in July 2015, chef Max Snyder (Saison, Coi) crafted inviting, creative California cuisine, but he departed within the year. Chef David Zboray (Mourad) soon took over to implement more seasonal California dishes, but left in February 2017, when Old Bus Tavern management decided to implement a menu of bar bites and fare such as chili. The owners also chose a weekend lunch program over brunch. Old Bus Tavern, 3193 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-843-1938.
Chef-owner Amy Murray has passed the reins of Berkeley's Venus restaurant to the owners of Tigerlily, also located on Shattuck Avenue. Murray opened Venus in 2000, and will now focus solely on her second Berkeley venture, Revival Bar + Kitchen, which she launched in 2010. Venus, 2327 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704, 510-540-5950.
After nearly a year of what was a sweet experiment in combined venues, Ron Siegel has departed Rancho Nicasio in the tiny Marin County village of Nicasio. The chef left the bustle and commute of working in San Francisco to spend more time with his family, and took over a portion --- Western Room --- of the otherwise home-style Rancho Nicasio for his own high level of cuisine. The project gave the venue a split personality, with a shared kitchen and two separate staffs, and after a year of this "leap of faith" both Siegel and Rancho Nicasio owner Bob Brown have decided it's time to part amicably and for Siegel to find his own Marin County restaurant. Western Room, 1 Old Rancheria Rd., Nicasio, CA 94946, 415-662-2219.
Ristobar is temporarily closed for renovations and a retrofit. Check the website for potential reopening details. Ristobar, 2300 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123, 415-923-6464.
Ristorante Umbria, a vivid, Italian mainstay on the corner of 2nd and Howard, will close on May 1, 2017, after 21 years. Like many recent old-timers, the restaurant lost its lease, but according to the spot's Facebook page, owner Giulio Tempesta hopes to open a future restaurant in wine country. Ristorante Umbria, 198 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105, 415-546-6985.
Open near the Embarcadero since 1978, and known as much for its white-tablecloth corporate lunches as its romantic dinners, French restaurant L'Olivier has closed. L'Olivier, 465 Davis Ct., San Francisco, CA 94111, no phone.
Aziza is temporarily closed for renovations, though fans are hoping to hear good news soon --- the Geary Street haven has been shuttered since May of 2016, and shows no signs of reopening. Meanwhile, chef Mourad Lahlou's newer big-ticket restaurant Mourad remains open. Aziza, 5800 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94121, 415-752-2222.
Despite enduring popularity and steady clientele, Mamacita shuttered abruptly in March 2017. The Marina District Mexican restaurant had a vibe that was equal parts trendy and romantic, and was a sister restaurant to The Tipsy Pig, also in the Marina, and Padrecito in Cole Valley, both of which remain open. Mamacita, 2317 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123, no phone.
The Restaurant at Ventana in Big Sur is temporarily closed to the public. The Restaurant at Ventana, Ventana Big Sur, 48123 Hwy. 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, 831-667-2331.
Shorty Goldstein's in the Financial District closed March 9, 2017, after four years, taking with it some of the best (and only) Jewish deli cuisine in the city, including potato knishes and good pastrami on rye. Mourners can look to Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen or Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen for consolation. Shorty Goldstein's, 126 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94104, no phone.
Range in the Mission District closed after dinner service (and a farewell party) December 31, 2016. The Valencia Street restaurant opened in 2005 and immediately gained a chic following for its upscale-yet-inviting interior, flavorful cocktails and seasonal American cuisine. Range, 842 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110, no phone.
Berkeley's Cafe Rouge closed on December 30, 2016. The Fourth Street restaurant and butcher shop's in-house meat program set the standard when it opened 20 years ago for whole butchery, charcuterie and local, heritage meats. Locals will also miss its fine raw bar. Cafe Rouge, 1782 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94710, no phone.
Another Bay Area old-timer has shuttered. Rose Pistola closed one month shy of its 21st year as a North Beach gathering spot for locals and tourists. Rose Pistola, 532 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133, no phone.
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Find out which restaurants and chefs top the list of GAYOT's 2016 Annual Restaurant Awards.