8 Fall Openings in San Francisco to Get Excited About
An aperitivo-inspired bar, Greek fish house, new hotel in Union Square, and more.
So apparently we’re… more than halfway through 2021?! It’s been a year of ups and downs here in San Francisco, to say the least. But we’re feeling optimistic as vaccine numbers continue to tick up, and the people of this city, challenges and heartbreaks aside, continue to showcase the beautiful, creative stuff we’re made of.
And as time marches on, new things continue to grow here. This fall, there’s a whole wave of openings coming our way, from reimagined drinking destinations from San Francisco’s top bar stars, to California-influenced Russian and Georgian fare, to wine galore (paired with records! For sale alongside vintage glassware!). We’re even getting a new hotel in Union Square! As September approaches and the fog (hopefully) recedes from the western edge of the city, here are eight openings we’re particularly looking forward to:
Opening Date: August
It’s a universal truth in San Francisco that a new bar from Bon Vivants Hospitality—the brilliant minds behind Trick Dog, still one of the very best cocktail spots in the city—is worth checking out, ASAP. Meaning we can’t wait to check out Chezchez, BVH’s latest project, an all-out celebration of aperitivo culture. Housed in the former Bon Voyage! space, Chezchez is a two-level, light-filled, indoor-outdoor bar meant to capture the feeling of enjoying drinks and snacks on the terrace in the early evening hours in France, Italy, Spain, and beyond. Drinks center on classics like martinis, negronis, and, course, spritzes (with classic, creative, and non-alcoholic versions of each) and a robust wine list courtesy of BVH Beverage Director Jennifer Colliau, ChezChez operating partner and sommelier, Drew Record, and BVH Founder, Josh Harris. The complementary food menu from BVH Chef de Cuisine Timmy Malloy is all about simple, snackable fare — fritto misto, cheese and charcuterie, and best yet, a selection of top notch, imported conservas.
Opening Date: August
White wine, raw fish, and records are the stars of the show at Le Fantastique, a dreamy wine bar concept from Chef Robbie Wilson and Emily Perry Wilson. The couple, who own acclaimed Bird Dog in Palo Alto, are creating a high-touch yet low-key space, centered around their own vision of an ideal night out. Expect creative raw fish offerings, with French-inspired flavors and Japanese technique, fresh sourdough shokupan from Joe Hou (formerly of Angler), served with house-cultured butter (and must-add supplements including local seaweed or spicy crab fat), and a wine list centered around an extensive selection of white, rose, and Champagne from sustainable French producers. Vibes are sure to be on point, too, thanks to a custom-built Macintosh sound system centered around a 1970s turntable and Robbie’s vinyl selections. The entire space has been designed for optimal acoustics, but proper audiophiles would do well to seek out the Record Shop, a dedicated “listening nook” and private dining space.
Opening Date: September
252 California Street has had an illustrious history in San Francisco’s restaurant lore—the home of Chef Michael Mina’s Aqua, and later, his eponymous flagship restaurant, the space is now being transformed into Estiatorio Ornos, a Michael Mina Restaurant that serves as an homage to the flavors and feelings of the Greek Isles. This new concept is in partnership with Chefs Girair “Jerry” Goumroian and Nikolaos Georgousis, and centers around bright, fresh seafood preparations with fish sourced both locally and from the Aegean Sea courtesy of the restaurant’s (and San Francisco’s first) “Fish Sommelier.” Fish will be available in a wide variety of preparations, from grape-leaf-wrapped to salt-crusted to simply grilled with olive oil and lemon. Both prix fixe and a la carte menus will be on offer with an emphasis on sharing; the space, meant to evoke sun-drenched Ornos Beach, features a palate of blue and white accented with Mediterranean hues.
Opening Date: October
A new hotel opening in San Francisco tends to feel like an event, especially when that hotel is opening smack dab in the middle of Union Square. That’s where citizenM, an Amsterdam-based hotel brand centered on affordable luxury and new school, tech-friendly features is touching down this October. This will be citizenM’s first San Francisco property —the 195-room hotel will include a fitness center and a public rooftop space. This is the first of three hotels planned for the Bay Area, with SOMA and Silicon Valley locations to come.
Opening Date: October 1
The Castro is getting a piece of Naples this fall in the form of Vico Cavone, an ode to the southern Italian city courtesy of Alessandro Raimondi, Sanaa Hams, and Giancarlo Esposito. Raimondi, who hails from Naples originally, wants to bring traditional Napoletana culture to the fore, with a menu of pizzas, fresh pastas, and Italian desserts. The restaurant is named after one of the oldest streets in Naples—Vico Cavone is home to a high concentration of pizzerias, and where Raimondi’s father grew up. Expect grab-and-go items for a quick lunch alongside the main attractions, a wide wine selection, and cocktails featuring fresh, Mediterranean-inspired ingredients like basil, rosemary, and mandarin.
Opening Date: October 15
Chef Seth Stowaway has been iterating on Osito, his first restaurant, for years, drawing inspiration from his Texas childhood, Northern California products, and the Mission District, while drawing from his years of fine dining experience as a sous chef at Mister Jiu’s and the executive chef of the Bar Agricole Group. But the heart of the daily changing, multi-course prix fixe dining experience is fire: Osito will be San Francisco’s only 100% live fire restaurant. As such, the restaurant centers around a steel and brick hearth, with simple, natural materials, like reclaimed redwood, sugar pine, and stone, dominating the dining spaces. As for that daily changing menu, expect stunning produce from local farms, a whole animal carved counter-side and served with bonchon, and dessert and cheese offerings, all accompanied by seasonal cocktails or carefully selected wines. There will be two seatings a night—tickets are $295 per person, with optional wine pairings at $95; reservations for the October opening can be made here. There will also be a more casual experience on offer at Osito’s bar with drinks and woodfired Tex-Mex snacks.
Opening Date: Early November
Beth Hughes has always deeply loved food and drink—passions she’s pursued since moving to San Francisco ten years ago. The former manifested in her work as a pastry and bread baker at lauded Tartine Bakery, and as a pastry chef at neighborhood staple Blue Plate. The latter, spurred in culinary school and developed during months spent working in vineyards in the south of France, is coming to fruition this fall in the form of Bottle Bacchanal, a boutique bottle shop in the heart of the Castro showcasing natural wines, ciders, small-batch liquor, and craft beer, plus, “everything you need to enjoy your drinks,” per Hughes (think unique, vintage glassware, bar sets, and educational reading material). In addition, Hughes wants the shop to be a real center for the community, and plans on hosting tastings, classes, and events.
Opening Date: Fall
Russian and Georgian cuisine are getting the California treatment at Birch & Rye, a brunch and dinner destination from chef-owner Anya El-Wattarand Chef de Cuisine Amiran Tskhvaradze that’s opening in Noe Valley. El-Wattar, who hails from Moscow, plans to combine traditional flavors and dishes from her childhood with an ethos developed at New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute and famed San Francisco vegetarian destination, Greens. Tskhvaradze is originally from Georgia and made a lasting impression on diners and critics alike at Palo Alto’s Bevri. Look for traditional dishes with a twist, like beet borscht with sour cream and rye croutons, and golubsti, cabbage rolls loaded with Wagyu beef. Famed Georgian kachapuri adjaurli will absolutely make an appearance, likely topped with changing seasonal vegetables, along with a selection of Georgian, Californian, and French wines, a vodka-centric cocktail menu, and craft beers.