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Food & Drink

Here’s what’s coming to Ikea’s massive Saluhall. Can it beat the meatballs? 

A modern cafe interior with patrons dining, a smiling barista, pendant lights, wood accents, and green plants.
A rendering shows a dining area in Ikea’s massive new food court and gathering space, Saluhall, slated to open mid-April. | Source: Courtesy Saluhall

Once upon a time, dining at Ikea meant Swedish meatballs and other Scando-lite fare like gravlax and lingonberry soda.

Not anymore: A just-announced lineup of food purveyors is significantly diversifying the options at the new San Francisco outlet of Sweden’s you-buy-it, you-build-it housewares megastore.  Soon you can forswear meatballs in favor of mushroom “carnitas,” deconstructed samosas and even Swedish-sounding soft serve.   

When it opens in mid-April, Ikea’s 23,000-square-foot, 450-seat dining destination Saluhall will attempt to be more than just a food court where customers refuel before getting hopelessly lost searching for the bedding department. 

Two chefs in a kitchen smile at each other, holding plates with colorful food.
Casa Boriqueña will be serving up fried "chicken" pinchos and arroz con gandules in Ikea's new Saluhall. | Source: Courtesy Saluhall/Albert Law

The two-story complex will feature multiple bars and local food purveyors, including Curry Up Now, Kayma Algerian Eatery, Casa Borinqueña, Momo Noodle and Taqueria La Venganza, as well as Smörgåsland, an all-day artisanal bakery and eatery, and a cooking school: Cooking Skola. These entries will join in-house—and appropriately Scandinavian-sounding—concepts like a soft-serve outlet (Snöberg), a beer bar (the Lagom Bar), a cocktail bar (Punsch Bar) and a burger bar (Burgare Bar). 

An illuminated eatery at twilight with patrons inside, and a woman approaching its modern, glass facade.
A rendering of Ikea's new food court, Saluhall, which dramatically upgrades the store's food options. | Source: Courtesy Saluhall

The ambitious undertaking goes far beyond the store’s meatball roots. Instead, it offers a wide-ranging plant-forward selection with signature dishes like Taqueria La Venganza’s mushroom “carnitas” and seitan and soy flour “skirt steak.” But the carnivores need not worry—there will be plenty of meat, both in ball forms and other shapes, on the menus as well. 

Elise von Hellion, the managing director of the hall, sees the complex as an engine not just for hungry shoppers but for the revitalization of the surrounding Mid-Market and Tenderloin areas. The multiuse space includes an event and entertainment space for hosting live music, talks and gatherings. The store partnered with the Office of Economic Workforce and Development to hire a team of local employees. 

“Saluhall is a first-of-its-kind space,” said von Hellion. “We want people to feel relaxed, welcome and at home.” 

A cozy modern eatery with wooden tables, orange chairs, and decorative lighting. People dine and chat casually.
The Cooking Skola at Ikea's new Saluhall, coming to San Francisco's mid-Market, will offer cooking classes for individuals and groups. | Source: Courtesy Saluhall

Ingka Centres, the real estate arm of Ikea, is partnering with the British hospitality organization Kerb to bring food purveyors to Saluhall. The new venture is also joining forces with Urban Alchemy and the Mid-Market Business Association to ensure safety.

“I’m excited by the scale and ambition of Saluhall,” said Ian Dodds, co-founder and director of Kerb and London’s renowned food court Seven Dials Market. “It really is an amazing space to come and eat and drink in the heart of San Francisco.” 

The venture will join Ikea’s coworking space, Hej!, in what feels like Ikea’s effort to be your everything in San Francisco.  

A hand holds a taco in front of a black T-shirt with "LA VENGANZA" in red text hanging on a wall.
Taqueria La Venganza's signature plant-based dishes include a "skirt steak" made of seitan and soy flour and a "carnitas" made from marinated mushrooms. | Source: Courtesy Saluhall/Albert Law

Dodds hopes that the wide array of price points and dining options will encourage people to make the trip to Mid-Market not just to shop but also to stay awhile. He imagines people meeting friends for lunch at Smörgåsland or having a happy hour at Sauna. Unfortunately, that concept is not an actual sauna (Memo to Ikea: Get on this!) but the venture’s elevated cocktail bar.  

Dodds said that San Francisco is the birthplace of so many brilliant ideas that have influence all over the world—so he’s not troubled by what might seem like a troubling location. 

“We want to be less about the doom loop and more about the cinnamon swirl,” he said.

Ikea’s Saluhall is slated to open mid-April. The bakery and cafe will be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, the burger bar and local restauranteurs will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.