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Food & Drink

San Francisco lost some great restaurants in 2023—but some wonderful places returned

a restaurant facade with a prominent neon sign on a leafy street
Luna opened in January 2021 in the former Luna Park space and became an all-new concept two years later. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

There’s no way around it: 2023 witnessed the loss of a number of San Francisco restaurants and bars, in all neighborhoods, serving all manner of cuisines and at all price points. 

From quiet local stalwarts to flashy, chef-driven projects with Michelin stars to their names, restaurants of all kinds have shuttered. High commercial rents, the lingering effects of the pandemic, perceptions about public safety and shifts in how people eat out have all taken their toll on the city’s esteemed dining culture. 

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Several places have vowed to reopen, and in many cases, a vacant space just leads to another opportunity. Looking ahead to 2024 and the promised return of the Cliff House, it’s fair to say the only constant, as they say, is change.

a pale Art Deco brewery is seen from below
Anchor Brewing Company’s flag flies upside down at its headquarters in San Francisco on July 12. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

Anchor Brewing Co.

After 127 years, what could be more devastating to San Francisco’s ego than Sapporo closing down an absolute icon of American craft brewing in July? The Potrero Hill brewery is just sitting there, with plans to revive the label seemingly on hold for now, and nobody’s getting any Christmas Ale this year.


For more than 35 years, Mescolanza served linguine pesto and sweet potato gnocchi to the Richmond District, but the neighborhood staple’s long run came to an end in August. The silver lining? That Geary Boulevard space quickly flipped, and as of September, it’s now a restaurant called Oraan Thai.

Pi Bar

Pour one out next March 14, as there is no longer a math-themed pizzeria on Valencia Street. After 13 years in business and a period of running the place without additional staff, Pi Bar’s owners said they were unable to recover from the pandemic.


The Nob Hill Mexican-Korean fast-casual spot called it quits in late June, after the owner tussled with city bureaucracy about getting a parklet code compliant. Throw in the rise of remote work and the disappearance of the neighborhood’s workers, and kimchi burritos were no more.

Philz Coffee

The flagship location of one of San Francisco’s most successful mini-chains vacated its 24th Street premises in October, having opened on New Year’s Day 2003. Owner Phil Jaber offered employees positions at one of the many other locations, but it was still a loss for fans of the cafe’s relaxed, one-cup-at-a-time ethos.

a large dining hall with high ceilings, several kiosks and a few patrons
People eat lunch in La Cocina's Municipal Marketplace in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood on April 10. | Source: Sarah Holtz/The Standard

La Cocina Marketplace

Perhaps the second-saddest loss of the year was La Cocina’s food hall in the Tenderloin, which suffered from inadequate foot traffic but also grappled with accusations of tokenism. While it was undoubtedly a well-intentioned concept, subsidizing rents for the well-loved foodie incubator nonprofit’s fledgling businesses, it may have never fully gotten off the ground, with patrons noting frequent empty kiosks.


Chef Matthew Kirk’s Western Addition restaurant won acclaim for its sourdough, but the pop-up turned brick-and-mortar struggled to gain traction in spite of a partnership with Lazy Bear’s David Barzelay. The whole operation was sold off, equipment included, in August. 

Hawker Fare

Michelin-starred chef James Syhabout’s Thai-Laotian restaurant Hawker Fare stood out for its gaudy interior and strong commitment to spice levels, but originality and pedigree weren’t enough to keep it afloat after eight years. It closed in January, with staff given only a single day’s notice.

Xiao Loong

A low-key place in a low-key neighborhood, West Portal Chinese restaurant Xiao Loong surprised many fans when the owner abruptly shuttered the business in early December after a 20-year run


Mere months after it switched concepts to become a more casual New American restaurant, Luna—in the same Valencia Street space as its unrelated predecessor, Luna Park—vanished abruptly in late June. Almost six months later, nothing has yet replaced it.

The Avery

You’ll have to venture to Scotland to experience the magic of chef Rodney Wages’ nine-course tasting menu and extensive sake collection, as the Michelin-starred Fillmore Street restaurant shuttered in October with plans to reopen the Avery Edinburgh down the line.


The relatively casual sister to Perbacco, this Downtown Italian restaurant set a bar for top-notch service, but the dearth of blue-collar workers to eat bruschetta after work spelled doom for this California Street institution.

Dumpling Club

The Mission has almost every type of cuisine imaginable—except dumplings. Specializing in frozen dim sum, Dumpling Club earned plenty of local and national media attention, and its closure left a serious void in its wake.


One of few Basque restaurants in the city, Piperade was named after the regional delicacy, a peppery stew made from onions, tomatoes and peppers. After an illustrious career in numerous San Francisco kitchens, Chef Gerald Hirigoyen was simply ready to retire, and the eggplant-colored restaurant in the Northeast Waterfront is no more.

Park Tavern

Long one of the city’s biggest, flashiest dining rooms, Park Tavern only recently reopened after a lengthy hiatus—but the North Beach mainstay opposite Washington Square Park apparently owed more than half a million dollars in back rent. As of last week, it appears to be gone for good.

Turtle Tower

At this time last year, there were two Turtle Towers, and now there are none. (At one time, there were three.) Steven Nghia Pham’s commitment to pho may have been unequaled in San Francisco, but fans will now have to find the savory Vietnamese broth elsewhere, as the Little Saigon location closed in September and the SoMa outpost followed only months later.

a restaurant stands on a busy street corner.
Both remaining Turtle Towers closed, including this one in South of Market, in 2023. | Source: Courtesy Google Street View

Little Star Pizza

Divisadero Street looks mighty different than it did in 2004, and Little Star Pizza hung on as that surrounding neighborhood grew ever-fancier. But as of late November, the original location is no longer serving Chicago-style pizzas. The Mission District and East Bay locations remain open, however.

Wild Pepper

A closure so whisper-quiet it largely went unnoticed, Wild Pepper was a well-regarded Chinese restaurant along the Mission-Noe border in its heyday but seems to have slowly faded from the scene. Chome, the high-concept Japanese restaurant that recently left its Mission digs, has reopened in Wild Pepper’s stead.

A vacant restaurant's exterior is seen by day.
Wild Pepper closed quietly this spring after having slowly faded from the scene, but Chome, a Japanese restaurant, has relocated to the space. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

Rue Lepic

Nob Hill’s most romantic French restaurant opened in 1982 and enjoyed a fairly epic run until chef-owner Michiko Boccara sold it. As quaint as quaint got, the 36-seat Rue Lepic served its last filet mignon and l’escargot a la provencale in October.

The Uptown

Technically, you have another month before one of the true great Mission dives closes in January. The Uptown has long been among San Francisco’s shaggier legacy businesses, a gleefully freewheeling cash-only bar with sofas you could very well spill your beer sinking into, and the employees who took it over after owner Scott Ellsworth died a decade ago did it for as long as they could.

Media Noche

Sandwiches, salads and bowls aren’t usually exciting, but the Mission’s snazzy Cuban spot Media Noche managed to make them so during its six-year tenure on 19th Street. But the clock struck midnight in October and lovers of ropa vieja have to find it elsewhere.

Phoenix Irish Pub

Some bars close; with others, it’s more like they’re erased from existence. An Irish bar for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the Phoenix closed a few weeks before St. Patrick’s Day in a long-anticipated move, and the building on Valencia Street has since been demolished for redevelopment.

A slender, five-story building is under construction.
The Mission's former Phoenix Irish Pub was demolished to make way for this residential building, currently under construction. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

Ananda Fuara

Run by a spiritual guru, Mid-Market’s vegan Indian restaurant may have been the longest-lasting plant-based establishment in the city until it closed its doors in January. With a name that means “fountain of delight,” the sunny, no-frills spot at the foot of Larkin Street was famed for its meatless “neatloaf.” 

West of Pecos

Mac ’n’ cheese is considered a vegetable in much of Texas, and goat cheese cake and arugula salad passed muster at the Mission’s best Tex-Mex, which endured for more than a decade in a large space on Valencia Street until the tumbleweeds starting blowing through West of Pecos this fall. RIP to that mechanical bull, too.


All dreams end. After a six-month extension to the lease fell through, the owners of this beloved café-slash-wine-bar had no choice but to vacate in February, leaving Cole Valley with one fewer backyard patio.

Stonemill Matcha

Hand-whisked Japanese tea drinks were the staple of this spartan Valencia Street shop throughout its five-year run, which lasted until July. Fear not, premium green tea fans, as the website currently states it’s “progressing toward reopening” under new ownership.


Right at the beginning of the year, the Castro lost one of its most visible and longest-running LGBTQ+ spaces. Named for the gay civil rights pioneer and slain supervisor, Harvey’s had been a cruisy brunch destination since 1996—but the owners of nearby Beaux have already begun work on a successor project to open late next year. 


Chef Peter Hemsley shuttered his SoMa fine-dining space early this year only to flip it quickly into a new seafood concept called Aphotic that serves daring dishes like oyster ice cream. The food world took notice just as quickly, with Aphotic one of only two San Francisco restaurants to earn their first Michelin stars this year.


A sandwich board on a sidewalk next to an outdoor restaurant patio announces it's back in business.
No sooner than Rosamunde Sausage Grill announced its Mission Street location was closing, it reopened under a former employee's ownership. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

Always a terrific place for the ultimate late-afternoon lunch of a sausage and a beer, Rosamunde broke hearts citywide when its last location closed after 13 years on Mission Street near the ever-tumultuous 24th Street BART station in October—although hearts were mended when a longtime employee vowed to reopen it.

Just for You Café

Back when Dogpatch was scarcely on anyone’s radar, Just for You Café was 22nd Street’s temple of pancakes, and while that reign came to a close this year, Calabria Bros. deli owner Michael Tufo revived it as Giuliana’s Just for You Café this August.


Here is a true back-from-the-dead story. As of September, a full seven years after a devastating fire displaced it from its Mission District home, the Salvadoran-Guatemalan restaurant Antojito’s—technically, Antojitos Salvadoreños Aminta—is serving seafood and chicken dishes to go.