The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
October 5, 2021

The welcoming bar at Ora Wine Bar. Photo courtesy of Ora Wine Bar.


There’s a Shared Space with high-top tables out front. Photo courtesy of Ora Wine Bar.

There’s a new, woman-owned wine bar that just opened on Polk Street: ~ORA WINE BAR~. Owner Sabrina Thillard is an SF native (she grew up in the Sunset and still lives by the beach), and owns Bask in North Beach with her husband Patrick. She is beyond thrilled to open her dream wine bar inside what was the location for the very first See’s store in San Francisco. It has been a looooong work in progress, from finding the right space to finally signing the lease on the space in June 2018, navigating permit hell, and then getting ready to open right when Covid hit. Wah wah. 18 months later, Sabrina is so happy to finally have the doors open.

Her wine list is full of international selections, from Corsica to the Canary Islands to Mexico. She loves to travel through wines, and is also dedicated to highlight women winemakers. Her list carefully designates organic, organic-practicing, certified sustainable, natural, and biodynamic wines. Take a look here (her descriptions make me thirsty). There are local beers (Ghost Town Brewing, Woods), including San Francisco’s first gluten-free beer from Otherwise Brewing, and Far West Cider is also coming (plus some small bites).

The space has its original brick walls, and was designed to have a cozy and welcoming vibe (think: plants and nice lighting). There’s also a Shared Space outside with four high-top tables and sidewalk tables. Hours for now are Thu-Sat 4:30pm-10pm or so. 1519 Polk St. at California.


The bar at Comstock Saloon. Photo: © 2010 Liza Gershman.


The Middlechild at Bar Iris: Japanese gin, verjus blanc, snap pea, tonic. Instagram photo by Ilya Romanov for @bar-iris-sf.

For the past month, I’ve been watching the ~COMSTOCK SALOON~ team on Facebook prepare for reopening their Barbary Coast saloon! Nothing makes me happier than knowing that big lock is coming off the front doors and a Cherry Bounce is in my near future. (And a boot from Flash.) According to a post on SFGate, they have set the reopening date for Tuesday October 19th! Cheers!

Opening Thursday October 14th, is ~BAR IRIS~, the bar adjoining David Yoshimura’s newly opened Restaurant Nisei on Polk. There will be cocktails featuring Japanese ingredients from Ilya Romanov, sake, wine, and beer, plus a few bar snacks. There is both indoor seating in the chic room, and in a Shared Space outside. Open Wed-Fri 5pm-12am, Sat-Sun 3pm-1am. 2310 Polk St. at Green.

Great news about one of my all-time favorite SF standbys: ~DALVA~ is coming back, and getting a big remodel in the process, from new flooring to furniture to bathrooms (hallelujah), although the Art Deco mahogany back bar will stay put! Owner Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud has brought on new partner Eric Ochoa (Elda), and they’ll be updating the cocktail list to be more craft across the board (instead of just in the Hideout in the back, the original home of one of my favorite SF cocktails: the Gin and Celery Tonic ). Stay tuned for more in coming months. 3121 16th St. at Valencia. [Via Eater]

The super-divey ~540 CLUB~ in the Inner Richmond will be coming back this fall as 540 Rogues, with a new ownership team of former bartenders who are taking over (I used to work with former owner Jamie Brown back in my advertising days). They’re going to be updating the space with some much-needed TLC (and the plumbing), and hope to reopen before the end of the year. 540 Clement St. at 6th Ave. [Via Chronicle]

September 21, 2021

The trademark B sign at Hôtel Biron is all fresh and new. Instagram photo via @hotelbironwinebar.


The updated, outdoor space at Bar Fluxus. Photo: Wayne Serrano.

A couple reopenings to report, starting with the return of the candlelit ~HÔTEL BIRON~ wine bar/den in Rose St. alley (by Zuni). A tablehopper reader (and regular) let me know there’s a slightly different management team than before the pandemic, and you’ll notice the new orange B sign and paint job (plus: HEPA air filters). Their artist shows are returning, and industry night is back on Mondays (tell them where you work and take 15 percent off). Cheers! Open Wed-Mon 5pm-1am. 45 Rose St. at Gough.

Downtown’s ~BAR FLUXUS~ has returned with a renovated outdoor space, artwork, and refreshed menus, thanks to owner Ludo Racinet. You can enjoy cocktails with premium spirits and fresh produce, wine, and local beers, plus cheese plates, charcuterie boards, and snacks. Plus: there’s karaoke in the evening (9pm-1:30am) and comedy shows on the weekend (Sat-Sun 6pm-10pm). Open Wed-Sun 4pm-2am. 18 Harlan Pl. at Grant.

One of SF’s classic dive bars—known for its vintage rock exterior and pinball machines (and was infamously one of the last family-operated bars where you could smoke inside)—Lower Nob Hill’s ~THE SUMMER PLACE~ closed [via Hoodline] in the beginning of the pandemic (after 23 years). But according to some ABC license activity, a new team (Brett Frost, Leonid Kaplan, and James Ruta) is taking it over. This post on What Now SF thankfully reports they’re keeping the name and the dive bar sensibility, but are making some light renovations (like raising the ceiling) and updating it into a “dive bar with class.” Stand by for a reopening date. 801 Bush St. at Mason.

September 8, 2021

A spread of aperitivo-friendly bites at Chezchez. Photo courtesy of Chezchez Facebook.


The new Island Hopper cocktail at Uma Casa. Photo: Jackie Hancock.


Uma Casa’s Telmo Faria and Jessi Graham. Photo: Jackie Hancock.

Some quick boozy updates for you, starting with the opening of ~CHEZCHEZ~ from Bon Vivants Hospitality in the former Bon Voyage! in the Mission. The project is from founder Josh Harris; Drew Record, Chezchez operating partner and sommelier; Jennifer Colliau, BVH beverage director; and Timmy Malloy, BVH chef de cuisine. (Yeah, that’s a great lineup right there.) This new bar and restaurant is your new aperitivo HQ, with aperitivo-style food, aperitifs, cocktails, wines, beers, and drinks without alcohol, too.

Chezchez features imported tins of fish served with pain d’epi baguette, fresh seafood (like Oregon pink shrimp cocktail), lots of vegetables (like Champagne-battered and fried market vegetable fritto misto with Chezchez dip), meats (how about thinly sliced tri-tip, served cold with chile oil and blue cheese), cheeses, and more.

Chezchez’s drink menu sections include Bloodies, Daiquiris, Martinis, Negronis (including a frozen one), Old Fashioneds, and Spritzes. I just got thirsty reading about the Aperitivo Daiquiri with Martini Fiero, fino sherry, and lime. The wine list got a lot of attention here, with sections like High Acid Whites, Sparkling Wines, Chilled Reds, and Oxidized Orange Wines. There are 20 by-the-glass and -can offerings, and take a peek at the special bottles from the BVintage Cellar, an eclectic collection of old bottles that Harris sourced from a local estate.

The front terrace has seating for 50 on Valencia, with 18 spots at the counter of the original BV! bar, and another 18 seats at the back counter (and the private event Salon upstairs). Look for some great seats right by the big, new windows looking onto the street. Cheers. Open Tue-Sat 4:30pm-10pm. 584 Valencia St. at 16th St.

Last month, I mentioned ~UMA CASA~ got their liquor license, and his wife Jessi Graham just launched their Portuguese-centric cocktail program. Take a look at the brand-new menu here, which includes interesting ingredients like Azorean green tea syrup, piri-piri salt, and carob syrup. Happy hour just kicked off: Tue-Sat 5pm-6:30pm (at the bar only). 1550 Church St. at Duncan.

Over in the Castro, ~LAST CALL BAR~ has reopened under new owners Kris Foster and Tammy Soo, who reportedly want to honor the dive bar’s heritage and memorabilia and keep the awesome, disco-loaded jukebox as is, great. Open daily 12pm-2am. 3988 18th St. at Noe. [Via Hoodline]