Second chances don’t come around all that often, but there was at least one good thing that came from the pandemic-induced disruption in the restaurant and bar industry: the opportunity for some to regroup and reinvent.
Over the last nine months, both beloved favorites and promising newer operations have been brought back to life, many with refreshed menus, renovated interiors, and a new outlook on equity and sustainability. From the historic 117-year-old North Beach bar Savoy Tivoli to the Hawaiian-inspired force of nature Liholiho Yacht Club, these bars and restaurants are back and better than ever.
Sourdough and Dutch crunch bread at Atelier Crenn.
This month, iconic chef Dominique Crenn’s original restaurant reopens with an entirely new look and menu. Ethan Tobman, whom Crenn worked with on the recent satirical horror movie The Menu, is at the helm of the dining room’s renovation, while Crenn herself has built a deeply personal selection of novel dishes highlighting the culture and geography of California. The pescatarian concept will include plenty of local fish and seafood, as well as produce from Crenn’s Bleu Belle Farm.
// 3127 Fillmore St. (Cow Hollow), ateliercrenn.com
Liholiho Yacht Club
One of the most adored newer restaurants in the city is back in business after a lengthy hiatus. Chef Ravi Kapur’s Hawaiian-inspired Liholiho Yacht Club reopened in its original TenderNob location with a new interior design by Boor Projects in late November. On the menu you’ll still find some of the restaurant’s original dishes along with new eats and cocktails with Chinese, Indian, and Pacific Island influences (think swordfish katsu, poppyseed steam buns with homemade spam, and a toasted coconut-washed whiskey soda). Like Kapur’s popular Good Good Culture Club, the new and improved Liholiho is also guided by equity, diversity, inclusion, and empowerment, an approach that eschews tipping in favor of a 20 percent fee that benefits the entire restaurant staff, not just its servers.
// 871 Sutter St. (Nob Hill), lycsf.com
Pacific Cocktail Haven
(Courtesy of @pch_sf)
Not long after its original location was destroyed in a 2021 fire, the award-winning Pacific Cocktail Haven found a new spot not across town but on the exact same block it previously occupied. The bar is now a little larger and has the added bonus of an enclosed outdoor patio but the cocktail recipes, which frequently highlight Asian ingredients, are still of the sort that got P.C.H. noticed in the first place. Look for creations like the Sunnyside (tequila, Strega, strawberry, lychee, li-hing mui, citrus, makrut, lime, and soda), or stop by before 7pm daily to celebrate hi-ball hour with drinks like the Alameda (absinthe, root beer, and lemon).
// 550 Sutter St. (Union Square), pacificcocktailsf.com
Thee Stork Club
(Courtesy of @izzythegent)
For decades, Thee Stork Club was a mainstay in the Oakland live music scene. So when it was closed down in early 2021, former patrons and performers Marc Ribak and Billy Joe Agan set out to rescue it from obscurity. They’ve revitalized the space, mixing a bit of '70s camp inspired by SLO’s Madonna Inn with a DIY garage rock aesthetic. Live music is back too, along with occasional dance and karaoke nights. This month, look out for Owl (Feb. 17), Brontez Purnell (Feb. 24), and Hot Laundry (Feb. 25).
// 2330 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), theestorkclub.com
(Courtesy of Marlena)
Inside a Victorian on the edge of Bernal’s Precita Park, husband-and-wife team David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher are back to crafting the imaginative four-course menus that earned Marlena its first Michelin star in 2021. The hyper-seasonal restaurant reopened in the fall with a spiffed up new interior from design studio AMLGM. On their current prix-fixe ($75/person), dig in to dishes like seaweed risotto with phytoplankton yogurt and black truffle mushrooms; seared chicken breast with boudin blanc, stone ground grits, and koji cauliflower; and chocolate sesame ginger chocolate cake.
// 300 Precita Ave. (Bernal Heights), marlenarestaurant.com
(Courtesy of @maison_nico)
Maison Nico, itself a lower-key reboot of the Michelin-starred Nico, returned to the Financial District over the summer along with its enchanting French pastries and terrines. Nico’s seasonal menus include dishes rarely found outside of France like aspic de homard en bouillabaisse (with lobster, mussels, snapper, potato, red peppers, and fennel) and duck pithivier (duck breast and liver, pork and duck sausage, garlic, Grand Marnier, Port, Swiss chard, and herbs) alongside more familiar favorites like Niçoise salad, and a variety of croissants. Check them out during the holidays, when they always have something that’s as beautiful as it is delicious on deck.
// 710 Montgomery St. (Financial District), maisonnico.com
(Courtesy of @savoytivolisf)
At 117 years old, North Beach bar Savoy Tivoli proves you’re never too old for a second chance. The watering hole reopened in November with a subtle, history-highlighting redesign by Craige Walters and a slew of new cocktails. The bar’s stage, which has hosted everyone from Beat poets to the Ramones, is also back in business with a new lineup that’s expected to include comedy shows, eclectic musical artists, and more.
// 1434 Grant Ave. (North Beach), instagram.com/savoytivolisf
(Courtesy of @maybeckssf)
Marina favorite Maybeck’s roared back to life over the summer with a brand new menu geared towards local and seasonally driven California fare with a Japanese touch. A refreshed interior with a new chef’s bar and accents crafted by local artisans complement the new eats, which include dishes like black cod collar with miso, sunomono, and sesame; and duck with duck fat fried rice, baby bok choy, puffed duck eggs, and preserved black bean chili sauce. If you can’t decide, let them surprise you with a tasting menu for the whole table ($98/person). Word on the street is that there’s more to come, too. Any day now Maybeck’s plans to open an adjacent wine shop that will also serve as a private dining space.
// 3213 Scott St. (Marina), maybecks.com
After a long, pandemic slumber capped by a 10-month, down-to-the-studs renovation and re-design by the architect Sarah Fucinaro and design firm Roy Hospitality, 22-year-old Delfina re-emerged with a larger footprint, a glowing interior, a few new menu items to complement many of its beloved classic dishes. Among the gifts of the renovation is a handsome, tamboured bar and a gilded arch above a linear dining room. The deep patina on some of the original, zinc-topped tables attests to their years of service.
// Delfina, 3621 18th St., San Francisco, delfinasf.com
Bar Agricole reopened last fall with new ways to share its ethos of sustainably sourced single-origin spirits. The rebooted menu not only has ethical cocktails and family-farmed and organic eats, but a line of collaborative spirits sold in store and through their website. Happy hour (5pm to 6pm Tuesday through Saturday), when a selection of their best mixed drinks are just $8 a pop, is the ideal time to visit the minimalist, Japanese-influenced space.
// 1540 Mission St. (SoMa), baragricole.com
Pitt’s Pub (formerly Pittsburgh’s)
(Courtesy of @pittspub_sf)
A couple of surfers stepped up to save their favorite Outer Sunset dive when the previous owner retired at the beginning of the pandemic. They cleaned up the somewhat derelict Pittsburgh’s, fixing the holes in the walls and adding a chimney to the fireplace, but stayed true to the bar’s heart and soul. Now more neighborhood joint than flea trap, Pitt’s still has the pool table, pinball machines, and eclectic clientele of yesteryear, along with draft cocktails and a Hurricane so strong there’s a two per person limit.
// 4207 Judah St. (Outer Sunset), instagram.com/pittspub_sf