A couple of weeks ago, I got a sneak peek of HOWELLS wine bar, which just opened in the former Mezes in the Marina. You’ll recognize Nate Welch behind the bar; he managed the California Wine Merchant for a decade and has now partnered with some other folks on this project (Sameet Mehta and Adam Weiner). There’s a spacious and beautiful bar (25 feet!), built by Welch’s father-in-law, Don McCall. It’s rustic and so handcrafted, made of walnut and roof metal from a old barn that suffered in the Butte Fire of 2015, with hickory frames, wood dowels, and a resin top. (McCall is quite the craftsman—he has been working on the bar since September!) The space has bright blue vinyl bar chairs with tufted backs, and there are skylights, Deco-style brass sconces, an unusual chandelier made of sticks, and a pressed tin ceiling that is actually made of acoustic tiles.
It’s a handsome space, and there’s also a mezzanine with more seating and a private cellar room you can rent for tastings of high-end and rare wines, with room for six to eight people. There are also plans to open the back patio soon for brunch.
The main wine list has 20 by the glass, featuring a variety of Californian, old-world, and Southern Hemisphere wines. There’s quite a cellar list of high-end wines too.
Chef Sarah Galloway (formerly Spruce, Trestle, Stones Throw, Mason Pacific) is offering a Cali comfort menu that spans cheese and charcuterie options, plus sandwiches, salads, and some Midwestern dishes (with a touch of Cali) like stuffed peppers and beef stroganoff. Dishes will range around $8-$16, but you can also splurge on some caviar from The Caviar Co.
While the block doesn’t seem to be wanting for wine options, they have created a space and vibe that is a bit different than the others, and they want guests to come by for dinner, or a glass before or after. Opening hours will be daily 4pm-12am and until 2am Thu-Sat. 2373 Chestnut St. at Divisadero, 415-814-2150.