One thing remains the same at the restaurant at The Chapel: A sunny patio primed for day drinking. (Photography by Sarah Chorey)

First Taste: At the Chapel's new Curio, it's mortuary-chic inside + life-giving frosé on the patio

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San Francisco music lovers may already have the jump on this new spot: Serving concertgoers at The Chapel, as well as Missionites looking for a drink on a patio, Curio has quietly slipped into the spot that was once home to The Vestry.

And the change is welcome: The new concept from Chapel owner Jack Knowles is intended to spark the imagination.


Look for the restaurant's daily special, such as this fresh heap of tuna tartare.

(Sarah Chorey)

With a design refresh care of Michael Brennan (Jardinière, Trademark & Copyright, Harry's), the interior is intended to be playful and mysterious, with a rather quirky nod to the location's past life as a mortuary. Vintage Italian chandeliers, neon signs tucked away in dark corners, golden skulls, grandfather clocks, and wood from the old mortuary come together for a quasi-edgy, morose vibe that conjures thoughts on life and time.

While you're pondering your mortality, you'll want a drink, and the seasonal cocktails here—designed by mixologist Darren Crawford (Bourbon & Branch)—pick up on the theme, named after such mythical creatures as the Phoenix and Chupacabra.

Chef Mario Tolentino (from the Food Network's 2010 season of Chopped) leads the kitchen in a menu of share plates and mains that blend American flavor with a Californian farm-to-table ethos. Dig into a shellfish tower of oysters, shrimp, lobster, and clams, or play it safe with the Holy Grail burger topped with cremini mushrooms, tomato jam, fried onions, and raclette cheese. Southern-inspired classics—think buttermilk biscuit Benedict and shrimp and grits—rule at brunch.

If dark-and-creepy's not your jam, take a seat on the spacious, sunny patio and order up a frosty glass of frosé.

// Curio,775 Valencia Street, curiobarsf.com

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