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, with more on their way. 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 coming to a new South of Market complex at 333 Brannan is Rooh, a modern lounge and kitchen featuring "progressive Indian cuisine."
Fast-casual mini-chain Asian Box is about to open several more locations in northern California, beginning with Burlingame Avenue in Burlingame. The quick, fresh, street-food-inspired eatery will join outposts in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Mountain View, with a second San Francisco and new San Jose eateries also coming soon. The chain is located in Los Angeles and Irvine, too. Asian Box, 1401 Burlingame Ave., Burlingame, CA 94010, no phone.
A Bay Area Cinderella story, Curry Up Now started as a food truck in 2009, and in 2017, husband-and-wife owners Akash and Rana Kapoor are about to open their fifth brick and mortar location. The new 1,800-square-foot venue in Oakland's Uptown will join sister restaurants in San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo and Palo Alto. Curry Up Now serves Indian street food with a mix of international and Bay Area twists: tikka masala burritos, deconstructed samosas and hip, tasty, spicy items such as "naughty naan" and "sexy fries." Self-serve drinks include rose mango lassis and ginger mint lemonade, and there will be a sangría bar as well as beer and wine offered. Weekend brunch will also be a feature of the Oakland outpost. Curry Up Now, 1745 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA 94612, no phone.
Adding to an already robust list of gourmet creameries in San Francisco, Portland-based Salt & Straw will open at Fillmore and Sacramento in early 2017, followed by a second location in Hayes Valley later in the year. The boutique ice cream outfit with rich, seasonal and sometimes eccentrically indulgent flavors (foie gras oatmeal raisin cream pie; Oregon black truffle) already boasts a successful lineup of shops in Portland and Los Angeles. Salt & Straw, 2201 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, no phone.
SingleThread Farm - Restaurant - Inn in Healdsburg showcases the prodigious cooking and farming talents of Kyle and Katina Connaughton, respectively. SingleThread Farm - Restaurant - Inn, 131 North St., Healdsburg, CA 95448, no phone.
Covering two stories and 10,000 square feet in San Francisco's modern South of Market district, Coin-Op is a new "design-driven arcade bar" and restaurant from the Sporting Fraternity, Inc. hospitality group based in San Diego (The Lion's Share, Coin-Op San Diego and Sacramento), coming in December. The nostalgic space was designed by local team sfHeimat, founded by Alicia Lichtenstein and Eva Bradley. Food from executive chef Mark Bolton includes comfort favorites such as burgers, wood-fired pizzas and chicken and waffles, as well as seasonal bar bites to share. The venue features several distinct bar areas, including a Tron-themed speakeasy, and a huge selection of vintage arcade games to go with its menu of craft cocktails and beers. Coin-Op, 508 4th St., San Francisco, CA 94107, no phone.
Los Angeles-based fast-casual chain Lemonade has opened in San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood, adding to a growing empire that includes 27 California locations, including six new outposts in the Bay Area in 2016. The West Portal venue features abundant wood and natural light. The restaurant's signature, cafeteria-style counter service provides guests with flavorful, "vegetable-centric" mains and sides as well as desserts and beverages that are fresh, seasonal and California-inspired. Lunch & Dinner daily. Lemonade, 16 W. Portal Ave., San Francisco, CA 94127, 415-329-5111.
Chef Ryan Scott of Top Chef fame has opened a new restaurant on Market Street in the Castro. Called Finn Town, the venue is modeled on the classic American tavern, with a nod to San Francisco’s history during the Gold Rush. Finn Town, 2251 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94114, 415-626-3466.
Chef Dominique Crenn is working on a new project in the Marina District: Bar Crenn. The adventurous chef made a name for herself in San Francisco with Atelier Crenn, one of GAYOT's 2016 Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. She also owns Petit Crenn, a more casual restaurant featuring cuisine reminiscent of her native Brittany. Bar Crenn, 3131 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94123, no phone.
Bacchus Management Group (Spruce, The Village Pub) has opened The Saratoga at 1000 Larkin in the Tenderloin. The restaurant and bar showcases the group's signature touch of vintage glamour, with library shelves and mohair walls offset by brick and steel accents and period art. Food evokes an early-1900s rustic sophistication, including dishes such as dry-aged Flannery New York steak au poivre and chicken paillard, and more playful fare like a high-end burger and hot dog plates from chef de cuisine Jason Wittek. Brandon Clements oversees the bar and cocktail program, which is heavy on Chartreuse, Pimm's, Fernet and Benedictine, as well as bourbon, Scotch and rye. Look for the Boothby Bowl cocktails for groups. The Saratoga, 1000 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94109, 415-932-6464.
The Morris is located in the former Slow Club space on Mariposa Street, near Potrero Hill. The bistro is an interesting one for industry and other folks in the know --- it's the debut restaurant of Paul Einbund, a favorite local sommelier, current beverage director at Frances and former sommelier and partner at Daniel Patterson's Coi. Chef is Gavin Schmidt, previously chef de cuisine of Coi, as well as executive chef of Campton Place, San Diego's Blanca and Walnut Creek's Corners Tavern. Despite its lofty leadership, the dinner-only spot, named for Einbund's late father, aims to be a "warm neighborhood restaurant" focused on community. The Morris, 2501 Mariposa St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-612-8480.
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.
New Hours for Bar Agricole
Bar Agricole has made some significant changes to its hours. The open, modern space now serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 a.m., and has also moved to a nightly dinner format (it was formerly closed Sundays). Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Check the website for bar hours, which usually begin a little earlier than dinner service. Bar Agricole, 355 11th St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-355-9400.
Ijji Serves Only Omakase
Joining a growing number of omakase-only Japanese sushi restaurants, 15-seat Ijji on Divisadero Street, opened in early 2016, has changed its menu to feature an exclusive, 19-course menu per night ($135 per person, exclusive of beverage, tax and gratuity). Chefs and co-owners Billy Kong (Saru Sushi) and Kua Chuang (Seiya) source ninety percent of Ijji's fish from Japan. Seven of the restaurant's seats are along the sushi bar, eight are at tables. Beverages include saké, wine and beer. Dinner Wed.-Sun.. Ijji, 252 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA 94117, 415-658-7388.
Manresa Bread Now Available For Nationwide Delivery
Manresa Bread, the Los Gatos bakery conceived by Manresa baker Avery Ruzicka, has begun shipping artisan breads, granola, Verve coffee and other products nationwide. Two-day (or less) deliveries include four loaves chosen from a menu that includes the levain, pumpernickel buckwheat rye and pullman loaf, and instructions on storing and rewarming the bread. Visit here for pricing and to place an order. Manresa Bread, 276 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95030, 408-402-5372.
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.
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.
A rash of restaurant closures hit the Bay Area as 2017 arrived, with surprises among both the old and new guard. In the Mission, standouts Range and Bar Tartine have both shuttered, to the distress of longtime fans. Kuleto's in Union Square closed its doors after 30 years on January 2, and SoMa's Restaurant LuLu shuttered abruptly in the new year after roughly 24 years. Relative newcomer, five-year-old AQ Restaurant & Bar, known for its changing seasonal décor and notable modern American cuisine, closed after dinner service on January 14, joining already-closed neighbor Show Dogs. And on the Embarcadero, Butterfly's chef-owner Rob Lam announced the restaurant's impending closure after service on January 7, saying goodbye to 15 years of Asian fusion in the event-friendly bayfront space.
First Crush restaurant and wine bar near Union Square has closed. The two-tiered restaurant on Cyril Magnin was first opened by Frank Klein in 1998, and was a consistent, wine-focused go-to for locals and travelers for the duration of its run. First Crush, 101 Cyril Magnin St., San Francisco, CA 94102, no phone.
Petit, Parisian-style bistro Le Zinc has closed after 15 years in Noe Valley. From their website, "We hope everyone in the neighborhood finds another place to cherish and create great memories...Merci." Le Zinc, 4063 24th St., San Francisco, CA 94114, no phone.
After nine years of brisk business, Ozumo sushi restaurant in Oakland closed with a "kampai" goodbye dinner party November 19, 2016. The San Francisco location of Ozumo remains open. Ozumo, 2251 Broadway Ave., Oakland, CA 94612, no phone.
Stylish Mexican enclave La Urbana closed abruptly on November 16, 2016. The restaurant opened in September 2013. No word yet on what will fill the available space. La Urbana, 661 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA 94117, no phone.
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Find out which restaurants and chefs top the list of GAYOT's 2016 Annual Restaurant Awards.