— Upscale Izakaya & Cocktail Bar: The Bar at Hotel Kabuki
A multi-million dollar renovation transformed Joie de Vivre’s Hotel Kabuki in Japantown into a chic, modern destination, including the new Lobby Bar, a sleek izakaya and cocktail bar serving elevated versions of Japanese bar food like chicken karaage or okonomiyaki. Beverage director Stephanie Ann Wheeler serves a tight list of refined cocktails, some inspired by traditional tea ceremonies.
— Modern Jamaican: Kaya
Alta Group (Daniel Patterson’s restaurant group) and chef/co-owner Nigel Jones of Oakland’s Kingston 11Cuisine opened Kaya in the original Alta Mid-Market space with smoldering hot, modern Jamaican dishes, festive island cocktails and hard-to-find Jamaican films showcased on the wall. While many (rightly) beeline toward the jerk chicken with plantains and rice, our favorite is the spicy-sweet black pepper crab.
— Spanish Tapas & Pinxtos: BarVale
Nopa’s new tapas restaurant, BarVale, comes from Adriano Paganini’s successful Back of the House group. Chef Patricio Duffoo focuses mostly on cold and hot tapas and bite-sized pintxos in the bar next door. Highlights include Basque-style piquillo peppers stuffed with house morcilla (blood sausage) and sardines grilled with shallots, guindilla chile peppers and olives. Everything on the menu can be beautifully paired with sherry flights or gin and tonics.