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Food & Drink

Ikea’s new food hall just opened. Is it any good?

A bustling, modern cafeteria with people mingling. Unique lighting and ductwork enhance the industrial-chic decor.
Customers gather inside Ikea’s new Saluhall on opening day. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

The new Ikea food hall opened Thursday morning. Will it be the delicious jolt of commerce downtown needs? Or will it leave an unsavory taste in our mouths? The Standard pulled up early to get inside for the 11:30 a.m. opening and find out if what the new Saluhall has to offer (there's a lot) is actually good.

The two-story, 450-seat complex has multiple bars and mostly vegan local food offerings, including:

  • Curry Up Now
  • Kayma Algerian Eatery
  • Casa Borinqueña
  • Momo Noodle
  • Taqueria la Venganza

These entries will join in-house—and appropriately Scandinavian-sounding—concepts like Swedish pastries from Smörgåsland, a soft-serve outlet, Snöberg, beer pub the Lagom Bar, cocktails at Punsch Bar and burgers at Burgare Bar. 

Smörgåsland immediately drew a huge crowd when The Standard got into Saluhall following a long line out the door on Market Street. So we opted for the Snöberg soft-serve ice cream.

A paper cup of ice cream on a table, with sprinkles on top. Blurry background with people standing in a cafe.
At Saluhall, an oat-based vanilla soft-serve with “unicorn powder,” a mixture of cocoa nibs, sprinkles and edible flowers, costs $8.02 before a tip. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

The ice cream has a creamy texture free of crunchy ice shards, but combined with the “unicorn powder,” it is overly sweet and tastes a bit like raw flour toward the end. For $8, we can't say we'll be rushing back for more.

Sitting at a table upstairs, Lucien Alexander, who grew up living between San Juan, Puerto Rico and New York City, said he rated the food from Puerto Rican restaurant Casa Boriequeña a 98 out of 100.

“It doesn’t quite have the Puerto Rican flavor,” Alexander said, “but for fast food, it’s as good as you’re gonna get.”

Alexander graciously let The Standard try each of his dishes. He had ordered one plate each of yucca fries and plantain chips, both served with mayo-ketchup sauce, and two “mofongo cups,” a dish made primarily with fried chopped plantains and topped with mayo-ketchup sauce.

A plate of crispy fried plantains topped with a reddish sauce, with a knife on the side. The dish appears to be half-eaten.
A plate of two mofongo cups from Casa Boriqueña at Saluhall costs $13. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

The finger foods were tasty, with each oily bite feeling substantial and not wanting for meat.

The chips and fries cost $6 for each plate, while the two mofongo cups cost $13, a total of $28.66 after taxes.

A taco with cilantro on a plate with lime, on a marble table, restaurant setting blurred in the background.
A vegan pollo taco from Taqueria la Venganza at Saluhall will set you back $6. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

At Taqueria la Venganza, the vegan "pollo" taco offering is solid, with bright acidity from the tomatillo salsa, although you definitely get a tofu aftertaste. At $6, we also won’t be rushing back for this one.

Dying to know what all the Smörgåsland fuss was about but not wanting to wait in the ever-growing line. The Standard found Brendan Nee munching on a frosnapper almond twist from the bakery.

“It’s almondy, crunchy, has the right level of sweetness,” Nee said, who lies nearby.

The almond twist is priced at $6, measures nearly a foot long, and is topped with poppy and sesame seeds.

A man is biting a pretzel in a busy, modern cafe, looking pleased.
Brendan Nee bites into an almond twist pastry at Saluhall in the Downtown San Francisco Ikea on Thursday. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

“I hope this goes well because this area’s empty,” said Melissa Chow, who works nearby and came for the soft-serve. “Maybe this will bring people back.”

San Francisco's Ikea opened on Aug. 23, and city leaders heralded its arrival as a welcome shot in the arm for the city's floundering downtown recovery. Mayor Breed declared the date "Ikea Day" in San Francisco henceforth. The furniture store recently added a posh working space on its fifth floor, while plans for a fitness center on the fourth floor are also underway.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at