Foodie Updates: Chez Panisse Reopens; The Willows Debuts In SoMa; and More


This week's roundup of restaurant news includes the reopening of Chez Panisse following the fire they had in March, the opening of a spinoff of The Sycamore called The Willows, a new wine bar in Hayes Valley called Fig & Thistle, and the induction of a group of historic S.F. bars and restaurants into the San Francisco Architectural Heritage society's Legacy Bars & Restaurants Guide.

First up, the big news tonight is the reopening of Chez Panisse after a three and a half month closure following a devastating electrical fire on March 8. The reopening festivities kick off with a $2,500-a-plate dinner tonight benefiting the Edible Schoolyard, and reservations started being accepted last month for the general public starting Monday, June 24. Clearly it will be a busy summer there, but as Alice Waters tells Eater, there are many exciting changes that were made to update the lighting in the downstairs and upstairs restaurants, and to change the format of the cafe menu. Also, the building has a brand new wooden facade with a peaked roof at the top in the style of a Japanese pagoda. [Eater]

Next, there's a small new bar and restaurant that opened earlier this week in the former Mercury Lounge space called The Willows (1582 Folsom Street at 12th). It's a spinoff of The Sycamore, the popular Mission hangout, and owned by the same brother and sister team of Liz and Tim Ryan. There's a food menu, with comfort foods, snacks, and a nod to the space's history as Hamburger Mary's called the Mary's Burger, and there's a hefty beer selection. Also, there are video games and pinball. Big Buck Hunter HD, anyone? [Tablehopper]

Earlier this month Fig & Thistle quietly opened on Ivy, the alley that runs between Franklin and Octavia in Hayes Valley. It's a cute little wine and beer bar, around the corner from Gough, run by Angel Davis who DJs with her iPod, and the plan is to have some snacks available too. [Eater]

And lastly, the group known as SF Architectural Heritage, in response to the threatened closures of legendary places like the Tonga Room and Tosca Cafe, has been taking nominees for a Legacy Bars & Restaurants online guide. Criteria include being more than forty years old and having some distinct architectural or interior character. They just completed their second round, adding 25 more to the list, including places like Red's Java House, The Homestead, Aub Zam Zam, and Tommy’s Joynt. See the full map, as it stands, here.

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