In August 2015, Bon Appetit food editor Andrew Knowlton named San Francisco the best food city in the country and Al’s Place the best new restaurant in America. But it's a brand new year, and promising restaurants are popping up all over the Bay Area. Here are six upcoming restaurants that may clinch our region's culinary dominance.
From husband-wife duo Anthony Myint (Mission Chinese Food, Commonwealth) and Karen Leibowitz (co-author, Atelier Crenn) comes this impossibly ambitious experiment in restaurant ultra-sustainability. When it opens in SoMa later this month, The Perennial—a naturalistic space with a living wall of vegetables—will serve food that they say is "part of a positive food system."
What's that mean? Well, for starters, the team has built a 2,000-square-foot aquaponic greenhouse in Oakland, where they're raising plants and fish together in a water-saving environment; they are teaming with Tartine's Chad Roberston on a bread that uses Kernza, a type of wheatgrass believed to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil, restoring its ecosystem; and, they're sourcing meat and dairy only from ranches that engage in carbon farming. (There's lots more info on the restaurant's website for anyone who's interested.)
It all sounds wonderfully geeky, but is it yummy? Bringing the deliciousness is Chris Kiyuna, a Noma-trained chef who became a sorcerer of vegetables during his stint at Coi. Get a sneak peek on Instagram. // The Perennial opens Jan. 20; 59 Ninth St. (SoMa), theperennialsf.com
When it opens, hopefully by mid-February, the currently raw space of Itani Ramen will serve five rotating styles of ramen. (via Instagram)
Kyle Itani is already a darling among Oakland foodies who became fast fans of Hopscotch (and its totally insane buttermilk fried chicken). Now, Itani is putting his spin on everybody's favorite bowl of soup with the opening of his eponymous ramen shop in Uptown Oakland.
Drawing inspiration from his travels in Japan, Itani plans to offer five different options at the 49-seat noodle bar, ranging from a lighter, Tokyo-style broth to rotating seasonal bowls that spotlight the styles of various Japanese prefectures. Beer, sake, and shochu will be available for pairing. // Itani Ramen is scheduled to open mid-February; 1736 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), itaniramen.com
Brandon Jew has earned a few pleats on his proverbial toque with meaningful stints at Zuni, under the late Judy Rodgers, and as the opening chef at Thad Vogler's Bar Agricole. For the past couple years, we've been hearing tell of Jew's newest venture, a contemporary Chinese restaurant to be located, somewhat surprisingly, in Chinatown. And now, finally, the old Four Seas space on Grant Avenue is just about set to reopen its doors.
While there will, of course, be locally sourced and seasonal organic produce, Jew's plan for tackling the problem of bad Chinese food in Chinatown is rather simple: He's going to do it using his mad chef-y skills. Jew intends to brew his own soy sauce, ferment his own chili paste, and generally do things the harder, more rewarding way. No shortcuts. // Mister Jiu's is aiming for a late February opening; 731 Grant Ave. (Chinatown), misterjius.com
Berkeley's recently revamped Claremont Club and Spa will soon be home to Dominique Crenn's first East Bay restaurant, a French brasserie named Antoinette. (Courtesy of the Claremont)
Berkeley gourmands and visitors to the newly renovated Claremont Club and Spa rejoice: Dominique Crenn—oui, the same Michelin two-starred chef/owner of Atelier and Petit Crenn—is making her first entrepreneurial foray across the Bay Bridge.
This February, the Claremont will pull back the curtain on Antoinette, Crenn's typically luxe take on the classic brasserie. An homage to the strong women (and a certain indulgent queen) of France, the restaurant's menu and team will curated by Crenn, even though it will technically be operated by the hotel.
With a mission to make hotel dining elegant again, a la the grand old hotels of Europe, Antoinette promises guests a chic space for sipping Champagne with oysters and an unbeatable view of SF across the bay. It's brasserie fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with dishes including cote du boeuf and whole roasted fish designed to share. // Antoinette is scheduled to open in February; Claremont Club and Spa, 51 Tunnel Rd. (Berkeley), fairmont.com/claremont-berkeley
Fans of Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson who've been following LocoL's R&D process on Instagram may already be drooling over this beta test of a healthy chicken burger. (via Instagram)
Anyone who's ever been to Coi may have a difficult time imagining tweezer-food chef Daniel Patterson slinging burgers in the fast food game. But so it is. Patterson has teamed with L.A. Korean taco truck legend Roy Choi on a fast-casual concept with a philosophy that any foodie can get behind: the idea "that wholesomeness, deliciousness and affordability don't have to be mutually exclusive concepts."
Scheduled to open its first location on January 18th in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, LocoL will attempt to bring real food at cheap prices to underserved communities—the SF location is set to open in the Tenderloin, at Turk and Taylor, later this year; and Patterson has also announced plans to open in Oakland.
The menu will bring fast food staples with a healthy, chef-driven twist: salads, beef-and-bean burgers, and buns made by breadgod Chad Robertson. The foldie, an intriguing taco-quesadilla hybrid, seems destined to become a LocoL signature. // LocoL is slated for an April opening in SF; 67 Taylor St. (Tenderloin), welocol.com
Nami Gaji's popular claypot is likely a good indication of what's to come at Namu Stonepot, opening soon on Divis. (via Liv A./Yelp)
Move over, Jay’s Cheesesteak. The Lee brothers are moving in. Headed by chef Dennis Lee, the team behind Namu Gaji is bringing a new concept, called Namu Stonepot, to NoPa. The food will presumably center around the Korean stonepot, which is traditionally used for cooking classic Korean dishes like bibimbap. Of course, you can expect the Lees to put their spin on things, with vegetables grown in their very own garden in Sunol, California and, of course, their amazing housemade kimchi. // Namu Stonepot is expected to open later this year; 553 Divisadero (NoPa), namusf.com