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A century-old hotel & restaurant ditch ‘Drake’—and more local food news

A fireplace warms up the Beacon Lounge, the new flagship restaurant at the Beacon Grand Hotel. | Courtesy Beacon Lounge

From Dry January to baby penguin chicks, the first month of the year is all about starting anew. That’s exactly what a hotel in Union Square just did. Longtime San Francisco residents all know the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, which opened nearly a century ago and, undeterred by Prohibition, became one of the swankiest hotspots for the city’s upper crust. 

The hotel recently rebranded, ending its tribute to Drake—a 16th century explorer and one of England’s first slave traders. Resurrected as the Beacon Grand, the hotel is back in action with a farm-to-table flagship called the Beacon Lounge. Sourcing produce from the nearby Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, the lobby restaurant leans modern Californian, with dishes like cauliflower cheese toast to start and fresh-caught salmon as one of the centerpiece main courses. 

“We are thrilled about our first few months of operations at the Beacon Lounge and to see our historic lobby activated by welcoming locals and hotel guests alike,” said managing director Sebastien Pfeiffer. “Business has been growing steadily and exceeded our expectations during the Festive Season.”

Beacon Lounge 

Union Square 

📍 450 Powell St., SF

This week, we got to know a few other restaurants around the Bay that have reinvented themselves. Over on Valencia, Luna reopened with a slightly new name and a casualized, approachable menu. Chef Mike Lanham just turned his elaborate multicourse pop-up into a brick-and-mortar in Lower Pacific Heights. Head over to Dogpatch for some of the most immaculately decorated cakes we, at least, have ever seen. First up, a cafe that honors Ethiopia’s traditional coffee ritual just opened in Oakland. 

1. Jebena Cafe


📍 2930 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Ethiopia is widely considered the birthplace of coffee. Today, it’s a full-fledged ritual in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where the matriarch of the family burns incense and cooks the raw beans over a fire. Once the beans are roasted, she fills a clay pot with a long neck—called a jebena. Hence, the name of this new cafe in Pill Hill, which serves traditional Ethiopian coffee, as well as espresso, smoothies, breakfast and lunch.

2. Anomaly SF 

Lower Pacific Heights 

📍 2600 Sutter St., SF

The opening of Anomaly SF is a triumph on several levels. As Eater reported, chef Mike Lanham decided to launch his solo venture directly following a serious spinal injury that left him reevaluating his life goals. That multicourse pop-up—powered at one point by a single toaster oven—developed a cult following. This month, Lanham unveiled Anomaly SF in a permanent location on the edge of Lower Pacific Heights. The restaurant centers on a complex eleven-course seasonal tasting menu, the first of which Lanham is calling “Home for the First Time.” It’s a series of wholly transformed comfort foods, including a seaweed dashi potato foam enriched by a whisper of egg yolk. Lanham references his upbringing in Georgia with a sweet potato dessert that resembles a crème brûlée.

3. LUNA Bar & Restaurant


📍 694 Valencia St., SF

Last weekend, the folks at Luna on Valencia celebrated the new moon with the rise of their reimagined kitchen, LUNA Bar & Restaurant. This new Luna features a far more casual, crimson-hued dining room designed with laid-back noshing in mind. Chef Michelle Matthews revised the menu to encompass a collection of shareable small plates, like koji double-fried chicken and vegan cauliflower steaks. The bar is now much larger as well, and if you stop by during happy hour, oysters are a buck and a half each. True to the restaurant’s name, the bar is now more nocturnal, closing at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

4. Butter& 


📍 690 Indiana St., SF

If it’s possible to find a cake that’s too pretty to eat, it may be at this new bakery on the border of trendy Dogpatch. These cakes, apart from being immaculately decorated, also come in savory and seasonal varieties. For Lunar New Year, there’s a black sesame and red bean layer cake to help ensure the Year of the Rabbit starts off sweet.