S.F.'s Most-Anticipated Restaurant Openings Of 2015 (So Far)

We hope you have a healthy dining-out budget, because 2015 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year for restaurant openings. Even the typically slow month of January is already seeing some newness. This year will mark a bunch of personal and very chef-driven projects, with culinary talents opening everything from intimate boîtes to bigger, splashier establishments — with some sophomore efforts and second locations in the mix, too.

Chinatown is going to gain a couple new destination-worthy projects, and you’ll see a number of chefs exploring their heritage on a deeper level. Here are 18 spots that are at the top of our to-watch list. One big question lurks: How are all these places going to find enough staff? All will be revealed in time — including even more new projects, of course. Yes, you’re going to be busy.   

Marcia Gagliardi is the founder of the weekly tablehopper e-column; subscribe and get more food news and gossip at tablehopper.com. Follow her on Twitter.
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Photo: Via Californios.
Californios
Chef Val Cantu kicked off 2015 with one of our city’s first new openings, making the move from pop-ups to his first brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Mission — and what a stylish spot it is (you’d have a great date here). There’s a $57 tasting menu (wine pairings for $35) that is modern and playful, pulling influences from Mexican cuisine through a contemporary Californian lens.

Californios, 3115 22nd Street (at Mission Street); 415-757-0994.
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Photo: via Ravi Kapur.
Liholiho Yacht Club
Chef Ravi Kapur has a deep culinary background in S.F. (Boulevard, Prospect), and now, through a partnership with Nopa’s Allyson Jossel and Jeff Hanak, he’s going to be exploring his own unique and multicultural style of Cali/Asian cuisine (with a touch of a Hawaiian sensibility). Opening at the end of January, this airy and stylish restaurant also has a full bar and will offer plenty of aloha spirit and warmth.

Liholiho Yacht Club, 871 Sutter Street (at Leavenworth Street); no phone yet.
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Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.
Mister Jiu’s
Come summer, chef Brandon Jew (formerly of Bar Agricole) is opening this 125-seat project in the historic Four Seas in Chinatown. The concept: a contemporary Chinese restaurant, featuring a completely local pantry and quality and seasonal ingredients, plus many housemade items, including tofu and soy sauce. There will be a tasting menu and an artisanal cocktail bar, Jiu’s Ho Ho, as well.

Mister Jiu's, 731 Grant Avenue (at Commercial Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via James Syhabout.
Hawker Fare
Chef James Syhabout has launched a San Francisco outpost of his beloved Oakland restaurant Hawker Fare (lucky us!). The new spot opened in the former Amber Dhara on Valencia Street on Friday, January 23. The bigger kitchen means Syhabout will be doing deeper menu exploration (look for some dishes from his native Isan region in Thailand). There will also be an upstairs bar, Holy Mountain, opening February 6, and then weekend lunch kicks off around February 7.

Hawker Fare, 680 Valencia Street (at 18th Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via Darryl Bush/The Chronicle.
The Manufactory
The Tartine Bakery crew (led by Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt) is opening this multifaceted dream project in the Heath Ceramics building in the Mission, which will feature an all-day café and restaurant, and will also be the future site of all the bread-baking (Tartine on 18th and Guerrero streets will then expand the pastry kitchen). There will also be a wood-burning pizza oven, ice creams made on-site, pickles and preserves, and other delicious additions. Planned opening: May.

The Manufactory, 2900 18th Street (near Alabama Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via Chris Kiyuna/Farmforklife.
The Perennial
Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz (Mission Chinese Food, Mission Bowling Club, Commonwealth) are launching San Francisco’s most eco-sustainable restaurant, with aquaponics, environmentally friendlier meat, and perennial agriculture all coming into play in this groundbreaking 65-seat establishment. MCF’s Chris Kiyuna will be running the energy-efficient kitchen, serving lunch, dinner, and late-night eats, plus there’s a full bar. Plan on a springtime opening.

The Perennial, 59 Ninth Street (at Mission Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via Mourad Lahlou.
Mourad
Mourad Lahlou is opening his second restaurant — far from his Outer Richmond mothership, Aziza — right smack-dab in downtown, just next door to Trou Normand. It’s a spacious one (6,000 square feet), with around 60 seats in the dining room, plus private dining options and a patio. Expect a continued exploration of Lahlou's modern Cal-Moroccan cuisine (including a tasting menu), opening at the end of January.

Mourad, 40 New Montgomery (at Mission Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via Azalina Eusope.
Market Square Projects
Otherwise known as "the Twitter building," this complex is full of food businesses, including a well-curated food market, The Market (which will also offer prepared foods, a butcher counter, sushi, and a coffee stand), which opened January 21; Azalina’s Malaysian opens February 2. Coming later in spring: AQ’s Bon Marché Brasserie, a redux of the classic Cadillac Bar & Grill, and the craft beer and cocktail bar (and meaty restaurant) Dirty Water.

Market Square Projects, 1355 Market Street (at 10th Street).
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Photo: Via Dennis Lee.
Namu Noodles
The Namu Gaji crew (the trio of Lee brothers) is opening a noodle spot in Dogpatch this summer, offering a range of international noodle soups, from pho to tom yum to Indonesian; chef Dennis Lee wants it to be clear this is not a ramen shop, but there will be one ramen available. It’s going to be spacious, with 80 to 100 seats, and there’s also going to be a full bar. Score!

Namu Noodles, 2405 Third Street (at 22nd Street); no phone yet.
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Aatxe/Cafe du Nord
The former Cafe du Nord is debuting some big updates, starting with a Basque-inspired restaurant from the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group's Ryan Pollnow and The Bon Vivants, called Aatxe. Aaxte is on the first floor and features a full restaurant and bar experience, featuring a list of all-Spanish wines. While the Downstairs space will be the new Cafe Du Nord (equipped with food, a bar, and bands). Look for (early) spring openings. Meanwhile, the space’s musical roots will continue — Noise Pop will curate programming at The Swedish American Hall.

Aatxe/Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market Street (at Sanchez Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via Suvir Saran.
American Masala
Known as the talented chef at Dévi in New York, New Delhi-born chef and cookbook author Suvir Saran is coming west, partnering with Paresh Ghelani to open this exciting restaurant in the Mid-Market NEMA building. His menu will span Indian, home-cooking, and Mediterranean influences, with seasonality and quality ingredients at the forefront. April is the targeted opening date.

American Masala, 14 10th Street (at Market Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via George Chen.
China Live And Eight Tables
One of the most exciting projects to open in Chinatown will be this new, multilevel mega-project that will include an interactive retail market (dubbed a "Chinese Eataly"), China Live Market-Restaurant — which features multiple exhibition kitchen stations, offering noodles to organic roast meats — and Eight Tables by George Chen, a reservation-only, destination restaurant and lounge. AvroKO is designing the 30,000-square-foot space, which will also feature a roof deck, with plans to reopen the basement theater at some point, too.

China Live And Eight Tables, 644 Broadway Street (at Stockton Street); no phone yet.
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Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.
AL’s Place
Aaron London (the AL in the name), well lauded during his time as the chef of Ubuntu in Napa, is opening his first solo venture in the Mission in February (after a very long hunt for a suitable space). His Northern Californian cuisine will feature the best local produce and ingredients, striking a balance between precise food and casual atmosphere, alongside quality wines and sherries, too.

AL's Place, 1499 Valencia Street (at 26th Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via Brett Cooper.
Aster
Due to open in February is this project from chef Brett Cooper (Outerlands, Coi) in the former Beast and the Hare space in the Mission, under the auspices of the Daniel Patterson Group. Expect a Northern Californian style with impeccable sourcing, including dishes like "binchotan roasted pork, umeboshi, brassicas." Also innovative: Prices will include staff service, so there’s no need to tip.

Aster, 1001 Guerrero Street (at 22nd Street); No phone yet.
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ICHI Kakiya
Now that the ICHI team has their expanded, newish digs, they’re going to be opening an oyster bar in their original petite space ("kakiya" is Japanese for oyster shop). There will also be some other raw selections and a few hot items as well, like Japanese seafood stews. Opening verrrry soon, probably in February.

ICHI Kakiya, 3369 Mission Street (at Godeus Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via Daniel Patterson.
Loco’l
L.A.’s Roy Choi (Kogi) is partnering with local Cali-cuisine honcho Daniel Patterson to launch this much-needed alternative to crappy fast food — the plan is to open multiple locations, with the first one appearing in the Tenderloin this summer. The healthy and affordable menu is designed to appeal to youth in struggling neighborhoods, featuring "smashes" (burgers with beef, whole grains, and tofu), rice bowls, and other dishes with a focus on sustainability.

Loco’l, 57 Taylor Street (at Turk Street); no phone yet.
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Photo: Via Gianluca Legrottaglie.
Montesacro
One of the partners of nearby 54 Mint, Gianluca Legrottaglie, is opening this all-day/night enoteca, serving a special kind of Roman flatbread called a "pinsa." To pair with your glass of wine will be house-marinated vegetables, salumi, salads, and more. Look for a late-February opening, at which time we’ll be able to get a look at the huge vintage oven they uncovered during construction.

Montesacro, 510 Stevenson Street (at 6th Street); no phone yet.
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Frances Spinoff, Name TBD
Details on chef Melissa Perello’s plans for her second restaurant remain mysterious: Will it be a spinoff of Frances? What will it be called? What we do know is the currently unnamed project is in the former Baker & Banker space, and the dining room will be a bit larger than Frances’ (but still casual and welcoming). The food will be an evolved version of Frances' offerings, but the same awesome wine program will continue. The opening is slated for sometime this spring. Stand by for more!

Frances Spinoff, 1701 Octavia Street (at Bush Street); no phone yet.
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