Bay Area dining is back, and these spots showcase some of the leading culinary indicators this season.
Boulevard’s hamachi crudo
Celebrated San Francisco eatery Boulevard is back in time for its 28th anniversary—and this time, it boasts a new look by acclaimed designer Ken Fulk. Featuring new menus, a new blue onyx bar and a new wine vault, the Embarcadero waterfront spot enters as a refreshed gem while remaining true to its California roots. Nancy Oakes, Boulevard’s renowned chef and owner, offers a menu with a focused approach: A more highend menu can be enjoyed in the dining room with either three or four courses of seasonal delicacies, and a la carte offerings are served in the relaxed bar and lounge area. Along with the revamped menu, Ken Fulk’s team has incorporated vibrant upholstery and fanciful murals, one with an epic peacock that’s become a symbol of the reimagined restaurant. 1 Mission St., 415.543.6084
Inside Boulevard’s reinvented space
Inside the San Francisco Proper Hotel, the eclectic indoor-outdoor La Bande evokes a vision of a European cafe with gorgeous green walls and floors. The restaurant’s menu, inspired by the Mediterranean coast, the streets of Barcelona and its famed La Boqueria market, focuses on gourmet tapas like tomato toast and cauliflower croquettes, and Galician conservas, such as squid, tuna belly and mussels. “The idea behind La Bande is to create a cohesive meal, with layers of small dishes,” says executive chef Jason Fox. “[We] use some of the best local ingredients very simply in a space that inspires friends to come together and share a meal in the European spirit.” Guests also can expect sips like craft aperitif cocktails, notable old-world wines and a vermouth program by San Francisco-based BVHospitality. San Francisco Proper Hotel, 1100 Market St., 415.735.7777
Tyler Florence greeting guests in the Miller & Lux dining room
MILLER & LUX
This elegant and sophisticated space is the new steakhouse from renowned chef and owner of Wayfare Tavern Tyler Florence. Inspired by a story of two immigrants, Henry Miller and Charles Lux, who opened a butcher shop in the 1850s that grew into one of the largest cattle ranches in the United States, the upscale restaurant brings their legacy into a refined and comfortable setting showcasing brown leather booths, divine white table cloths and glimmering gold accents. The resto features high-quality steaks from the best ranches in America, a delicious raw bar, farm-fresh vegetables and sustainably sourced seafood. Early favorites include the French Dover sole finished tableside with Meyer lemon and brown butter. The globally curated wine list and seasonally inspired cocktail menu round out the appeal. 700 Terry A. Francois Blvd., 415.872.6699
A spread from La Bande
THE ROCK & RYE
The Rock & Rye offers plenty of room to groove with an expansive weatherproof, 56-seat outdoor patio and 18-seat indoor cafe adjacent to the iconic Sweetwater Music Hall. Featuring a cocktail list with drinks named as tributes to independent music venues that are powering through the struggles of the pandemic, as well as a robust collection of American, Irish, Scotch and Japanese whiskeys, the bar program led by Joshua Fernandez is impressive. The menu, headed by executive chef Rick Hackett, features South American- and New Orleans-inspired fare using ingredients from Bay Area farmers and ranchers. Key ingredients such as okra, chile peppers, sweet potatoes, eggplant and summer squash create an eclectic menu that fuse notes from various cultures. 19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley, 415.388.3850
Fisher Loft inside the new Palihotel
Located on the second level of the new Palihotel, the guest-exclusive Fisher Loft is a comfortable 2,900-square-foot restaurant, lounge and liquor bar. The relaxed spot, characterized by neutral tones, wood accents and mix-matched patterns, features four versatile spaces: the bar with a stage for live music, the lounge with casual seating, the dining room separated by semiopen curtains and the private dining room for intimate meetings and events. Developed by hotel group Palisociety’s in-house food and beverage team alongside group executive chef William Marquardt, the bill of fare currently features delicious breakfast offerings while menus for the rest of the day are in development. “Fisher Loft is designed to be the kind of space you can reimagine any day of the week and any time of day,” says Avi Brosh, founder of Paligroup. “It’s an unexpected, fun mix of casual and fine dining, and we hope San Franciscans and our hotel guests enjoy it and consider it home—if home came with a really great burger and a perfect cocktail.” 417 Stockton St., 2nd Floor, 424.425.3474
Luce’s pistachio-crusted duck
Reopened with new executive chef Rogelio Garcia at the helm, Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco hotel serves up inventive eats with an opulent presentation. Garcia takes the reins with his decadent eight-course chef tasting menu. “Luce is an iconic restaurant with an outstanding reputation,” says Garcia. “To be able to be part of the team and highlight some of the best produce in the world is amazing. The menu tells the story of my journey through cooking in Northern California.” Featuring exquisite dishes like golden Osetra caviar, pistachio-crusted duck and, one of the chef’s personal favorites, bluefin tuna, which is dry-aged with the bone for a more robust flavor, the tasting menu is inspired by California cuisine with nods to Europe and Latin America. Accompanied by a distinguished wine program, Luce’s contemporary American fare exhibits the bounty of local ingredients from regional producers like Tenbrink Farms and K & J Orchards. InterContinental San Francisco, 415.616.6566, 888 Howard St.
The Feel More cocktail from The Rock & Rye
Chef-owner Ray Lee of beloved family-run Japanese restaurant Akiko’s is expanding with a sleek new flagship on Avery Lane, set to open in early 2022. Designed by visionary design firm AvroKO, the new Akiko’s dramatic vibe and collection of abstract art is inspired by the 1970 Osaka Exhibition, a world’s fair that was held in Japan, as well as celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The luxe spot will feature an elevated and transformed version of the traditional Japanese omakase experience centered on a 24-seat chef’s stage. “We look forward to pursuing innovative concepts, sharing bespoke, curated ingredients paired with modern preparations and connecting more personally with guests from the sushi counter and beyond,” Lee says. Using as much sustainable, organic and local product as possible, Akiko’s prioritizes the quality and freshness of its fish as well as how sustainably it’s sourced. Diners can pair traditional-contemporary sushi with a variety of enticing drinks, from cocktails to an assortment of reserve sake. 430 Folsom St.
Photography by: FROM TOP: BOULEVARD PHOTO BY ERIC WOLFINGER; MILLER & LUX PHOTO BY JASON PERRY; LA BANDE PHOTO BY ALINA TYULU; FISHER LOFT PHOTO COURTESY OF PALISOCIETY; LUCE PHOTO BY NADER KHOURI; ROCK & RYE PHOTO BY JOSH MILLER