San Francisco

8 Fall Openings in San Francisco to Get Excited About

An aperitivo-inspired bar, Greek fish house, new hotel in Union Square, and more.

Photo by David Varley, courtesy of Estiatorio Ornos
Photo by David Varley, courtesy of Estiatorio Ornos
Photo by David Varley, courtesy of Estiatorio Ornos

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:

Chezchez
Chezchez
Chezchez

Chezchez

Mission District
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.

Photo by Kelly Puleio, courtesy of Le Fantastique
Photo by Kelly Puleio, courtesy of Le Fantastique
Photo by Kelly Puleio, courtesy of Le Fantastique

Le Fantastique

Hayes Valley
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.

Photo by David Varley, courtesy of Estiatorio Ornos
Photo by David Varley, courtesy of Estiatorio Ornos
Photo by David Varley, courtesy of Estiatorio Ornos

Estiatorio Ornos

Embarcadero
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, Mina’s 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.

Photo courtesy of citizenM
Photo courtesy of citizenM
Photo courtesy of citizenM

citizenM

Union Square
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 California 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.

Vico Cavone

Castro
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.

Photo courtesy of Osito
Photo courtesy of Osito
Photo courtesy of Osito

Osito

Mission District
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.

Bottle Bacchanal

Castro
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.

Birch & Rye

Noe Valley
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.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Lauren Sloss is a San Francisco-based travel, food, and music writer who has done stints in Philadelphia, New York, London, Istanbul, and aboard a 32-foot sailboat. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

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Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

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