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Foodie Updates: Palm House, Arguello, and More of SF's Biggest Openings

Bites at Palm House. Photo by Michelle Min

May continues to be the busiest month of the year so far for openings, not to mention all the tidbits coming out about openings slated for later in the year. This week marked the debuts of Palm House, Uno Dos Tacos, Bartlett Hall, Kusakabe, The Commissary, and Ume, and there's only more to come in the next couple of weeks. We also have word of a new neighborhood spot with an upscale pedigree coming to the Tenderloin, the debate over Hamburger Mary's heating up in the Castro, and yet another restaurant that Traci Des Jardins is opening in the Presidio.

First off, the new, island-themed replacement for Nettie's Crab Shack made its debut Tuesday night, and it's called Palm House (2032 Union Street). The place is a collaboration between the partners behind Bergerac and Audio in SoMa, and Foreign Cinema chef Gayle Pirie, along with one of her former sous chefs, Lea Walker. The menu, which you can see here, is a mashup of flavors and dish inspirations from tropical locales, including Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad, Hawai'i, Asia, and Latin America. You've got your coconut shrimp, your jerk spiced Mahi, Thai-style chicken wings, and even an island-spiced burger. All the food is pretty cocktail friendly, and there is a heavy focus on the bar, with tropical classics like the Mai Tai and Pina Colada, as well as a slushy machine that will be dispensing a rotating array of frozen beverages. [SFist, Eater]

Next we have Traci Des Jardins' The Commissary, which opened with limited operating hours this week in what was once a military barracks on Montgomery Street in the Presidio. I had not been aware that the focus of the new spot would be Spanish, but you can see the full menu here and it is, indeed, heavy on the Spanish influence. There are sardines with escabeche; octopus with potatoes, olives, and pimenton; and a New York steak topped with mojo verde. The executive chef is an alum of Jardins' Tahoe restaurant Manzanita, Reylon Agustin. Food and drink will be available all day starting at 8:00 a.m. as of June 1, and in addition to the restaurant, there's a small retail component as well, with fresh bread, local cheese, homemade jam, and bottles of wine to go, perfect for Presidio (or beach) picnicking. [Eater]

But that's not all that Des Jardins is up to in the Presidio. Last year she won a contract to head the food-service operation for the Presidio Trust, and word arrived this week, via Inside Scoop, that she'll be opening a second restaurant this fall in the Officers' Club building, and this one will be Mexican. The name is Arguello, and it's named for Mariano Arguello, the first Mexican governor of California who took over the Presidio when Mexico won its independence from Spain. The food will be a more upscale, full-service affair, compared to Des Jardins' first Mexican effort, Mijita, and she says that she wants to introduce more seasonality to the menu, and to "juxtapose the modern with the old" when it comes to Mexican cuisine. Look for Arguello to come alive by September or so. [Inside Scoop]

As for other openings this week, former Maverick chef Emmanuel Eng just opened Bartlett Hall in the former Santorini space at 242 O'Farrell Street. The concept is a beer hall with some upscaled comfort food, including Eng's beloved fried chicken. See the menu here. [Eater]

Ume just replaced Plum in Oakland, lickety split, with no interior design change. As discussed last week, the opening chef is Brett Cooper, formerly and somewhat famously of Outerlands, and the menu is more Japanese-inspired and casual than at the former Plum, making for more pre-Fox-Theater-friendly dining. [Eater]

Another new Japanese spot, Kusakabe, just opened in the former Machka space in the FiDi (584 Washington Street), offering both a la carte sushi and an omakase menu from a former Sushi Ran chef. [Eater]

And after a pop-up run on Polk Street in the former Pesce space, the new taqueria spinoff from the Super Duper folks, Uno Dos Tacos (595 Market Street), has just opened in a big new space downtown. The place is massive, with 160 total seats, inside and out, and for now it's only lunch only. See the menu here. [Eater]

Coming up in late summer, a new, unnamed restaurant is taking shape at 846 Geary Street, adjacent to the upcoming wine bar called The Tender. It's a small, 25-seat, neighborhood-y affair from former Saison guy Kris Esqueda, who also worked the front of the house at Sons & Daughters. And after chef Brett Cooper's done launching things over at Ume, he'll be consulting on this project as well. More details to come, I'm sure. [Inside Scoop]

And lastly, over in the Castro, the debate rages on among the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association over whether to support local bar owner Les Natali's effort to bring the Hamburger Mary's chain back to San Francisco, where it was founded – specifically to the long dormant space that was The Patio Cafe at 531 Market Street. Natali gives his pro position here, but there are plenty of cons, including the fact that Hamburger Mary's is now formula retail, with 12 locations and counting, there's already a glut of hamburger spots in the neighborhood, and Natali could have brought any number of businesses into the space over the past decade and a half, but has refused. The EVNA will be taking this to a vote starting June 1, after which it will be in Planning's hands. [Castro/EVNA]