10 eagerly anticipated Bay Area restaurants for summer/fall 2023 — and beyond

10 eagerly anticipated Bay Area restaurants for summer/fall 2023 — and beyond

There’s no holding back the Bay Area’s resilient restaurant industry — not inflation, nor staffing challenges, nor the still-working-from-home crowd. Here are 10 of the most eagerly anticipated culinary concepts expected to make their debut in the coming weeks and months.

The Yellow Chilli, Walnut Creek and Livermore

Shaam Savera, cheese-stuffed spinach koftas cooked in a tomato-butter gravy, are among chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s specialties served at Yellow Chilli. (Photo courtesy of Yellow Chilli) 

Fans of celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his refined Indian recipes won’t have to anticipate these openings much longer. Both locations are expected to open in September — first the Walnut Creek one in restaurant-rich downtown, then a Livermore restaurant with a 280-seat dining hall.

Bay Area diners were first introduced to Kapoor’s food when the owner of the world’s largest Indian restaurant chain opened one of his first U.S. restaurants five years ago in Silicon Valley. That Santa Clara restaurant led to a Danville opening. And now owner/GM Shivraj Sidhu is overseeing this broader East Bay expansion.

Entrees that have been scoring big with diners, Sidhu says, are the rich Butter Chicken (make sure to order enough naan so you can savor all of the makhni sauce), the Tandoori Lamb Chops and the vegetarian Paneer Tikka Masala.

If Kapoor schedules an appearance for the grand openings, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Details: Opening in September at 1512 N. Main St., Walnut Creek, and 1650 N. Vasco Road, Livermore; www.theyellowchillidanville.com

Che Fico, Menlo Park

Chef David Nayfeld’s Che Fico is one of the key pieces of the retail-culinary lineup for Springline, the massive mixed-use project that’s springing up along El Camino Real and bound to become a top dining destination.

Che Fico (pronounced keh fee-koh) was San Francisco’s most anticipated restaurant when it opened there in 2018, and now it holds a spot on our “eagerly anticipated” list for late 2023.

Can Nayfeld re-create the buzz on the Peninsula?

Surely the best from his Cal-Italian menu will migrate south. Pastas and pizzas, all made in-house, showcase seasonal ingredients — right now, late summer’s fresh corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash. Year-round customer favorites like the Suppli, oblongs of fried risotto that ooze fontina and tomato, and the Lasagna Verde, rich with a duck ragu and bechamel, have got to be considered musts for Menlo too.

Look for a dessert menu studded with seasonal fruit crostatas and gelati and a lineup of Italian-themed cocktails.

Details: Aiming for a late September or early October opening at 1300 El Camino Real, Menlo Park; www.chefico.com

The Salty Pearl, Oakland

A briny hole was left in the East Bay seafood scene this year, when Rocky Island Oyster Co. abruptly departed from the Richmond waterfront.

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Poor House Bistro reopens in San Jose’s Little Italy — finally!

But lovers of raw oysters, succulent lobster rolls and roasted Dungeness crab can rejoice, because the restaurant is returning in a new form at Oakland’s Jack London Square. It will have an Irish pub feel and be called The Salty Pearl, says owner Danny Pirello.

“I might bring in a whole salmon and break it down, maybe smoke some and serve other parts as fillets,” he says. “We’ll have steamed clams and moules-frites. There will always be crudo on the menu, whether that’s local halibut or scallop or salmon, and occasionally a sea urchin. And always Dungeness crab, when it’s in season – a whole, roasted crab you can crack at the table or maybe crab pasta.”

There will, of course, be plenty of oysters, including $1 specials. “We have local companies from the Bay Area and also British Columbia, Morro Bay and Baja California,” Pirello says. “Basically, it’s a diverse selection of East Coast and West Coast oysters.”

Details: Look for the new hot spot to open in September or October at 550 Second St., Oakland; rockyislandoysterco.com

Small Change Oyster Bar, Oakland

Small Change Oyster Bar will bring lobster rolls, fresh oysters, crab micheladas and more to Oakland’s Temescal district this fall. (Photo courtesy of Cesar Garcia/Small Change Oyster Bar) 

Two new restaurants making lobster rolls in Oakland? Must be something in the water. Not that you’ll hear anybody complaining at Small Change, which already has a cult following from serving primo oysters at local cider and wine joints.

Owner Branden Nichols has a knack for deconstruction – his background includes restaurant demolition and oyster shucking at farmers markets. He’ll be putting the latter skill to work in the former Doña Tomas space in Oakland’s Temescal district, serving Pacific-focused oysters, clam chowder and micheladas topped with shrimp and fresh crab.

“I started this thing because I just enjoyed shucking oysters, drinking Champagne and getting a buzz on with my friends. I wanted to create a place for people to do this,” Nichols says.

The restaurant, which will pair oysters with bubbly wines, has a big patio out back so guests can chill and listen to music. “The design is inspired by old restaurants and neighborhood institutions like Swan Oyster Depot and House of Prime Rib,” he says. There will be a large bar and a shucking station, with oysters going out in raw, Rockefeller and kimchi-butter forms, as well as heartier bites like crudo, fish and chips and of course those lobster rolls.

Details: The expected opening is September at 5000 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; instagram.com/smallchangeoysterbar

Hobee’s, San Jose

Hobee’s famous Blueberry Coffee Cake is coming to downtown San Jose. (Photo courtesy of Hobee’s) 

A breakfast restaurant taking over a German beer garden?

Believe it. Camille and Danielle Chijate, owners of the long-running Hobee’s chain, had been looking for a replacement site for their North San Jose restaurant when they heard that a lovely blue Victorian, a German social club venue with a street-facing patio, had become available. “We went to see it and just fell in love,” Camille said.

Renovations are under way now for this perfect match of a historic building and a legacy business. Originally constructed in the 1890s as a symphony hall, the Victorian became Germania Hall in 1923 and for years, has hosted restaurants. Hobee’s was founded in Silicon Valley in 1974.

The Chijates are pivoting wildly with ideas for what will become their fifth restaurant. For morning and midday, they’ll offer their signature menu, the one with the famous freshly baked Hobee’s blueberry coffee cake, then switch to a lineup of craft beers, burgers, salads and shareables and extend the hours for evening customers.

You can count on a Germanic touch. “The most requested afternoon/dinner noshes at this point are pretzels and sausages — so they are both in R & D,” Camille reports.

Details: They hope to open before Oktoberfest at 261 N. Second St., San Jose; https://hobees.com/

The Little Pear, Walnut Creek

Chef Rodney Worth, the restaurateur behind Danville’s The Peasant & The Pear and Alamo’s The Peasant’s Courtyard, plans to open a new restaurant in Walnut Creek next month. Called The Little Pear, the casual-fine dining eatery in the works aims to provide neighborhood bistro vibes and serve American fare alongside a full bar and California-centric wine list.

Look for a menu featuring starters such as cast-iron Mexican white prawns in a butter-chardonnay sauce, beer-battered broccoli with buttermilk ranch and cheddar fondue with pear. The signature Rodzilla Burger will be made with wagyu, crispy onions and barbecue sauce, and that lamb shank will be braised osso buco-style and served with creamy polenta and gremolata.

Details: Expected to open in September at 1699 N. California Blvd., Walnut Creek; rodneyworth.com/location/the-little-pear/.

Mazra, Redwood City

A Falafel Mezza Sampler at Mazra in San Bruno comes with four falafel and sides and dips. The restaurant makes a dozen side dishes daily. (Photo courtesty of Mazra)

The brothers behind a popular Mediterranean eatery in San Bruno are planning to open a second location in Redwood City.

Brothers Saif and Jordan Makableh started the restaurant in their father’s grocery store in San Bruno, offering pita, shawarma, rotisserie, falafel and lamb alongside salads, halloumi cheese rolls, and dessert. Expect to see vegetarian and seafood options too.

The expansion into Redwood City has hit some delays, in part involving their efforts to add a hood for a solid fuel grill, according to Saif. “Although it means missing the summer season, we are eagerly looking forward to bringing some warmth and excitement to Redwood City this winter!” he said in an email.

Details: Mazra is expected to open in January or February 2024 at 2021 Broadway in Redwood City; eatmazra.com

Downtown Food Hall, San Jose

“Coming Soon” signs on the exterior of a food hall located at 82 through 96 East Santa Clara Street near South Third Street in downtown San Jose. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group) (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group)

Foodies who work, live, dine and attend arts events in downtown San Jose know this as the hush-hush food hall.

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Poor House Bistro reopens in San Jose’s Little Italy — finally!

That’s because we don’t know too many specifics yet about this venture near City Hall by Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick that’s been proceeding at a rapid clip. According to Mercury News reporting, city planning documents show that the first floor of this historic building — the circa 1885 Odd Fellows hall — will feature 26 “ghost kitchens” for takeout and delivery food, plus an onsite restaurant and a coffee bar.

The exterior signs have been up for months, and construction is well under way inside. Tenant announcements should be coming soon.

Details: Opening day can’t be far off, can it? 82-96 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose.

Tarts de Feybesse, Oakland

A pistachio-everything tart from Tarts de Feybesse, which plans to open an Oakland location. (Photo courtesy of Monique Feybesse) 

Even before Monique Feybesse achieved national stardom on season 19 of “Top Chef,” she and husband Paul Feybesse were Bay Area stars for their French-inspired pastries so intricate and vibrantly decorated you didn’t know whether to munch them or hang them in the Louvre.

The Vallejo couple are now ready to debut their first brick and mortar, in a luxury apartment development near Lake Merritt. The establishment will feature the core offerings of their previous home-based operation. Think tarts with stonefruit curled into flowery bouquets, decadent Paris Brest with praline and nut-diplomat cream, and lacquered eclairs in all the shiny colors of a high-end nail salon. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

They might feature regional specialties from Lozère in Southern France, where Paul’s paternal side is from. There could be “individual savory options that are French-inspired, like yuzu-kosho jambon beurre, or some classic aligot (cheesy pommes purée from Lozère) packaged for reheating at home,” says Monique. “There might even be some days we’ll be slinging Tarte Flambées (onion-and-bacon flatbreads) straight from the oven.”

Details: They plan to open in early 2024 at VESPR Apartments near 24th and Waverly streets in Oakland; tartsdefeybesse.com.

Chotto Matte, San Francisco

Global hot spot Chotto Matte is preparing to make a splashy entrance on the West Coast.

Founded in London in 2013, entrepreneur Kurt Zdesar’s upscale Peruvian-Japanese culinary concept has expanded to Miami, Toronto and Doha, Qatar — along with over-the-top restaurant design and decor touches.

Global hot spot Chotto Matte, an upscale Peruvian-Japanese restaurant, will open on the rooftop of the former Macy’s Men’s Store at San Francisco’s Union Square. (Rendering courtesy Chotto Matte) 

The 10th anniversary plan has Chotto Matte taking over the rooftop of the former Macy’s Men’s Store at Union Square before the brand expands to Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh, Philadelphia and Manchester, England.

Chef Carlos Couts will lead the San Francisco kitchen’s execution of such signature dishes as Lychee Ceviche, Amazonian Barbecue Salmon, Pollo den Miso and Tentaculos de Pulpo. The bar will offer a “Tokyo to Lima” lineup of cocktails and other beverages.

Details: A Sept. 23 opening date has been set at 50 O’Farrell St., San Francisco; https://chotto-matte.com/.