Openings: Empress by Boon in Chinatown, Chao Pescao, Palm City, Luna

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The new Empress by Boon. Photo via Empress by Boon’s Facebook page.

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You can’t miss the colorful exterior of Chao Pescao at Civic Center. Photo: Barbara Ve.

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The tables inside the newly opened interior of Palm City, where you can eat and drink wine. Yay. Instagram photo via @palmcitywines.

On Friday evening, I was able to take the elevator once again to the top floor to admire the unique views from ~EMPRESS BY BOON~ in Chinatown, previously The Empress of China, a banquet hall that also had an awesome lounge where I’d take out-of-town guests for an “only in SF” kind of experience (and view). I’m so thankful that historic space wasn’t converted into tech offices—instead, it’s a massive, 7,500-square-foot project from Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon (of Hakkasan fame, although this is a solo project) and Asianova Hospitality Group, Inc.

The design by UK-based design studio Atelier LLYS kept some original details (like the carved panels and wooden pergola) but it actually reminds me quite a bit of a Hakkasan 2.0, with dramatic cutouts and moon gates, bold colors, and a sleek and chic aesthetic. There’s a lounge, and two dining areas (the front room definitely has the better view of Coit Tower).

Chef Boon’s menu of modern Cantonese cuisine features organic produce grown on the restaurant’s farm in Gilroy. They are launching with a $68 prix-fixe menu (take a peek here). Dinner is served Mon-Sat 5pm-10pm. 838 Grant St. at Clay.

More bold color for us can be found at the newly opened ~CHAO PESCAO~ in Civic Center, formerly Soluna. Owner Rene Denis returned to the Colombian and Cuban dishes of his childhood, and you may have seen my post/pics about the wonderful takeout they were offering during the pandemic: eight-hour lechon Cubano (with chicharrón gremolata that you sprinkle on top!), a superb ropa vieja, crusty Tajin fried chicken, tostones with avocado-pistachio salsa verde, three kinds of empanadas (Colombian-style—made with masa dough and fried), plus some new cocktails, including a daiquiri and a variation on Colombia’s signature Coco Loco. There are also sandwiches, arepas, and salads, perfect for lunch. It’s hearty, affordable, flavorful Latin-Caribbean food that makes you happy. Now that indoor dining has returned, you can visit in person, and admire the color-saturated dining room Denis redesigned himself, full of fun details. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-8pm for now. 1272 McAllister St. at Larkin.

After opening not more than a year ago, and serving the city the best goddamn hoagies throughout the pandemic, ~PALM CITY~ is finally opening their doors as their original concept: to serve you tasty things while you drink delicious wine and beer. There are five tables outside and four inside (ideally your party is four or less); bar seating is coming soon. No reservations, so it’s first come, first served.

The menu includes olives, giardiniera, spicy garlic cheese spread, white bean salad, anchovies, speck and stone fruit, Little Gem salad with garlic croutons, chopped salad, and a chocolate chip cookie and a strawberry-rhubarb hand pie. Hoagies are thankfully still available (Italian American, roast pork, hoag au poivre, and roasted cauliflower), but they’re making them a bit smaller (and less expensive). Open Wed-Sun: food from 12:30pm-8pm, beer and wine until 9pm. 4055 Irving St. at 42nd Ave.

~LUNA~ is opening this Thursday June 24th, and you can look at the newly posted American brasserie menu here, featuring a wedge salad, broccolini stromboli, oysters Hellafeller (Brentwood corn, pickled beech mushrooms, creamed kale, herbed cornbread), and a heritage pork chop with creamy yellow polenta, forest mushrooms, sweet & sour figs, and marsala jus, plus there’s a full bar. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-9pm. 694 Valencia St. at 18th St.