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Food & Drink

Giant rooftop restaurant in downtown San Francisco heralds revival. See photos

A picture of an interior restaurant dining room with large glass windows and city buildings in the distance.
Chotto Matte officially opened and is now San Francisco’s largest rooftop restaurant. | Source: Julie Zigoris/The Standard

It was a scene not witnessed in Downtown San Francisco for some time: a line behind black velvet ropes that wrapped around two city blocks, with passing cars and curious pedestrians stopping to inquire about the draw. 

The opening party for Chotto Matte—likely San Francisco’s largest restaurant—was the venue to celebrate the city Friday night, and more than 500 people waited as long as 45 minutes to be part of it, entertained by a taiko drum performance that continued on the rooftop. 

Taiko drummers perform at the rooftop restaurant Chotto Matte. | Source: Julie Zigoris/The Standard

The conversation on people’s lips at the Nikkei dining destination was that San Francisco is poised for a renaissance. The verdant rooftop escape with views of the twinkling skyline certainly seemed like evidence that the city’s best days are ahead. 

Restaurateurs, real estate brokers, luxury retailers and city stakeholders rubbed shoulders at the leafy, tropical venue that evoked hot nights in Miami Beach. Well-dressed guests angled to snag Paloma-inspired highballs and French 75s at a fern and monstera-covered bar before moving into the main space, anchored by a DJ booth, cafe tables and banquettes under a mirrored ceiling. 

The rooftop restaurant Chotto Matte in San Francisco has a plant-decorated bar. | Source: Julie Zigoris/The Standard

San Francisco—its woes, its hand-wringing, its frequent forecasts of worsening doom—seemed miles away from the airy 450-seat restaurant, where passing trays of dragon rolls, shrimp tempura, vegan crispy rice and soft-shell crab quickly vanished.  

The expansive space occupies the rooftop of Macy’s former men’s department and includes an open kitchen, a private dining area and a sushi bar, all of which flows into a wraparound roof terrace studded with dining tables. 

Partygoers were invited to serve themselves sake by dipping a ladle into a wooden bucket while others waited in line for flutes of prosecco. A laser cannon tucked around the side of the sprawling roof shot a blue beam skyward. 

Servers prepare sushi at the rooftop restaurant Chotto Mate. | Source: Julie Zigoris/The Standard

The restaurant opened a month later than planned, and the exit stairwells still showed signs of construction at the Friday night opening party. The restaurant opened to the public on Saturday. 

The restaurant’s logo—a version of an Incan cross meant to represent harmony and balance—is echoed in the zigzag pattern on the black and white tile floor and sewn onto blankets draped over the outdoor seating and emblazoned on servers’ uniforms. 

The rooftop restaurant Chotto Matte has a view of the San Francisco skyline. | Source: Julie Zigoris/The Standard

Guests left with black gift bags dangling from their fingertips. Inside? A sleek black box with Chotto Matte chopsticks and a rest in the logo’s cross shape, tucked among purple tissue paper.