San Francisco’s food scene has exploded in recent years. Its theater scene? Not so much. That’s part of the reason why progressive restaurateurs entering the realm of dinner theater is so exciting. Below, some of the best on offer:
Swedish American Hall
After a year of aesthetic nips and tucks, the Castro’s Swedish American Hall reopened this spring. The Old World meeting space kept its European décor but now operates as a music venue with a modern lineup curated by Noise Pop (which runs the popular Treasure Island Music Festival). The team behind celebrated restaurant Flour + Water just opened Aatxe for post-show Basque bites, like charred pork belly with saffron and rabbit albondigas. Next month, Cafe du Nord, the final component to the auditory-culinary-libation trifecta, re-opens for craft cocktails from the Bon Vivants.
Doc’s Lab kicked off San Francisco’s dinner theater renaissance last year when it revived North Beach’s defunct Purple Onion space. The subterranean venue that once hosted Woody Allen, Robin Williams, and Bob Newhart kept the stand-up comedy, but added burlesque shows and live music to the mix. Above ground, their Doc Ricketts restaurant serves neighborhood brasserie fare with a modern twist, like gnocchi Parisienne with pea tendril pesto, walnuts and pickled shallots.
Starline Social Club
Across the Bay in Oakland’s booming Uptown neighborhood, palm fronds and burgundy leather booths line the plaster walls of this 19th-century building that’s recently re-opened with an urban revamp. Inside the space, which houses a restaurant, bar, and 350-person ballroom, there will be dance parties as the Bay Area’s DJ scene takes over the upstairs ballroom. Downstairs, in the restaurant, the chef (who has done stints at Oakland’s Boot and Shoe Service and Paris’s acclaimed Bones) dishes out elevated bar food like lamb sweetbreads with black trumpet mushrooms and frisee, and steamed pork buns.