The Bay Area’s 11 most anticipated restaurants opening this winter – San Francisco Chronicle

Posted By on January 11, 2022

With omicron spreading in the Bay Area and many restaurants temporarily shutting down, it may be tempting to assume nothing good will happen in the food scene this winter. But new restaurants are still planning to debut, and some of them are extremely exciting.

While fall is typically the most significant season for restaurant openings, this winter which ends March 20 is seeing plenty of action as well. Thats partially because pandemic-related staffing and supply chain issues have brought delays for falls crop of most anticipated openings, including Oakland pitmaster Matt Horns upcoming fried chicken spot, Kowbird.

There are also new casual efforts from popular owners, such as a hand roll-focused sushi bar from the team behind Michelin-starred Ju-Ni as well as a Korean-Chinese spot from the owners of Korean market Queens. Some notable pop-ups, including ramen legend Noodle in a Haystack and bagel outfit Schloks, are expecting to open their first permanent locations.

Of course, its possible some of these openings will get further delayed because of omicron. Regardless, here are 11 highly anticipated restaurants planning to debut this winter, in alphabetical order.

Birch & Ryes borscht, served with roasted vegetables, fresh herbs and smetana, a type of cultured cream.

At Birch & Rye in Noe Valley, Moscow native and former Greens chef Anya El-Wattar will marry Russian dishes with California ingredients. Look for a deconstructed borscht made from roasted cauliflower and zakuski, or small bites, like an indulgent potato salad topped with uni, caviar and shavings of jidori egg yolk cured in dill salt. Meats, veggies and breads will be baked fresh in a wood-burning oven. The cocktail menu celebrates vodka, many infused in house with flavors like horseradish and linden flower.

Projected opening: mid-January

1320 Castro St., San Francisco. birchandryesf.com

Acclaimed San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardins first-ever Peninsula restaurant is gearing up to open at the splashy State Street Market in Los Altos. El Alto is an homage to her and chef Robert Hurtados Mexican roots, seen through a Bay Area lens. Think confit duck with an apricot mole and local produce charred on a live-fire grill. The drinks menu will focus on agave spirits (and also be served at a speakeasy hidden underneath the restaurant).

Projected opening: early winter

170 State St., Los Altos. facebook.com/El-Alto-Los-Altos

Good Good Culture Club is taking over Liholihos temporary Mission District pop-up, including this plant-filled rooftop patio.

The newest restaurant from the acclaimed Liholiho Yacht Club team will serve food inspired by the Asian diaspora, like Korean short ribs and achiote-glazed cornish game hen, in a bright, plant-filled space in San Franciscos Mission District. Good Good Culture Club also represents the owners desire to address deep-seated industry issues that came under the spotlight during the pandemic, such as wage inequity and mental health. This will be a tipless restaurant thats only open five nights a week in hopes of creating a healthier work environment for employees.

Projected opening: January 14

3560 18th St., San Francisco. goodgoodcultureclub.com

When Handroll Project opens in the Mission District, expect a long sushi bar where chefs pass customers one hand roll after the next. The takeout-friendly restaurant will be simpler and more affordable than co-owners Tan Truong and Geoffrey Lees other sushi spot, the Michelin-starred Ju-Ni. But given the teams background, diners can bet on high-quality ingredients like ikura and uni swaddled by soft rice and crisp nori.

Projected opening: early February

598 Guerrero St., San Francisco. instagram.com/handrollproject

Queens selection of soju and other Korean drinks will also be on offer at the owners new Outer Sunset restaurant, Hotline.

For their second act, the owners of hit Korean market Queens are opening a casual restaurant devoted to junghwa, or hybrid Korean-Chinese cuisine. Think dishes like tang soo yook, deep-fried sweet and sour pork, and gun mandoo, crispy dumplings filled with garlic chives, Napa cabbage and vermicelli noodles, served alongside natural wine and craft soju. There will be some indoor seating, but Hotline will largely be a takeout operation.

Projected opening: February

3560 Taraval St., San Francisco. instagram.com/hotline_asap

A fried chicken sandwich from Matt Horns forthcoming Oakland restaurant, Kowbird.

Barbecue savant Matt Horn is getting into the fried chicken game with Kowbird in West Oakland. The menu isnt yet available but he teased three sandwiches at a pre-pandemic pop-up: buttermilk fried chicken, a spicy Nashville hot chicken version and a sweeter one with smoked honey.

Projected opening: January

1733 Peralta St., Oakland. kowbird.com

Early 2022 will bring a casual, counter-service spot to State Street Market from Srijith Gopinathan, a fine-dining chef from the Michelin-starred Taj Campton Place in San Francisco and upscale Ettan in Palo Alto (Ettan owner Ayesha Thapar is also a co-owner of the new business). Little Blue Door will serve a variety of Indian snacks and dishes like vada pav, the Indian street food sandwich typically featuring potato, but with cauliflower instead; and rotisserie chicken rubbed with kashundi, a mustard sauce. For drinks, look for housemade masala chai and seasonal lassis.

Projected opening: first quarter of 2022

170 State St., Los Altos. statestreetmarket.com

Bay Area bagel fans will soon be able to try the creations of Christopher Kostow, chef-owner of the Michelin-starred the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena and Charter Oak in Napa, at Loveski Deli. Kostow and his wife, Martina, will soon open their Jewish-inspired deli at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. There will be fresh-baked, definitively California bagels, Kostow said in a preview interview. Plus, smoked fish and deli sandwiches filled with ingredients sourced from the same Napa farm that supplies Kostows high-end restaurants.

Projected opening: February

610 1st St., Napa. loveskideli.com

Good news for fans of Noodle in a Haystacks standout ramen: Despite permitting hurdles, owners Yoko and Clint Tan plan to open their first restaurant in late January or early February. The couple served bowls of ramen and other intricate Japanese fare out of their Daly City home for years, with tickets for seats at their dining room table selling out in minutes. They plan to re-create the pop-up at the restaurant, cooking a multicourse Japanese menu that features various styles of ramen, from XO paitan to a yuzu-shio broth.

Projected opening: January or February

4601 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. noodleinhaystack.com

San Francisco pop-up Schlok's makes unusually large bagels, with a seed-covered crust on the bottom instead of the top.

One of San Franciscos buzziest pandemic-born bagel outfits, Schloks is opening a modern bagel shop in a former laundromat in the Lower Haight. Co-owners Zack Schwab, also a partner at Fillmore St. restaurant the Snug, and James Lok, who cooked at top-tier fine dining pillars Benu and the Restaurant at Meadowood, have won hearts with their extra-large, chewy bagels with seeds encrusted on the bottom instead of the top. Offerings will lean classic bags of bagels, a few bagel sandwiches, schmears galore but with some special touches, such as smoked trout roe and salmon belly on top.

Projected opening: January

1263 Fell St., San Francisco. schloks.com

Despite Fishermans Wharf and San Franciscos history of fishing, its rare to find restaurants in the city with sizable selections of local, sustainable seafood. That will be the focus of Seven Fishes. It comes from Joe and Andi Conte, who also own popular seafood company Water2Table, the preferred supplier for many of the citys Michelin-starred restaurants. Local specialties like Dungeness crab, rock cod and white seabass will be served as fresh as possible, just a couple of miles from the boats at Pier 45.

Projected opening: February or March

557 Valencia St., San Francisco. water2table.com

Elena Kadvany and Janelle Bitker are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: elena.kadvany@sfchronicle.com, janelle.bitker@sfchronicle.com

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The Bay Area's 11 most anticipated restaurants opening this winter - San Francisco Chronicle

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