Fog City, a beautiful and historic destination for modern, eclectic San Franciscan cuisine and cocktails along the Embarcadero, will open in mid-September under the leadership of renowned chef/owner Bruce Hill. The original Fog City Diner, which opened in 1985 and closed for renovations in March, has been completely reimagined by Chef Hill and its founders, Bill Higgins and Bill Upson. Maintaining the energy and approachable spirit of the beloved original, Foc City will offer innovative new menus in a sophisticated, warm and open space created by Bay Area architect Michael Guthrie.
“Fog City is an institution in this city, and a restaurant that’s really proud of its location,” says Higgins. “From the moment our guests walk in and have that ‘wow moment’ to the time they leave, we want to make sure their experience here is spectacular and memorable. Our new changes will invite guests to fall in love with us all over again.”
Guthrie, who is well-known for his work conceiving exemplary restaurants, has designed Fog City in a timeless style that accentuates the building’s history, location and individuality. There are 145 seats total, with 30 surrounding a V-shaped center bar and 20 outside along Battery Street. By opening up the triangular, 2,100 square-foot dining space, Guthrie has created an energetic and comfortable atmosphere full of natural light surrounded by sweeping Bay views. An exhibition kitchen greets the guests the moment they walk in and treats them to a theatrical “behind the scenes” show throughout their meal, complete with a magnificent fire element showcased in the wood-fired oven and seven-foot grill. The lively bar area is open and inviting, and features a subtle tribute to the classic Fog City Diner with its glowing onyx-hued bar, lit from underneath with LED lights.
Chef Hill has been cooking for the hearts of San Franciscans since leaving Washington D.C. and moving to the Bay Area in 1984. After cooking at acclaimed San Francisco restaurants such as Stars, Aqua, Oritalia and Waterfront Restaurant, Chef Hill became a partner at Real Restaurants and co-owner of Bix, Picco, Pizzeria Picco, and Zero Zero. After working alongside Hill as chef de cuisine at Bix for the last five years, chef Erik Lowe will be executing chef Hill’s vision of modern eclectic San Franciscan cuisine at Fog City. With signature items such as a burger that is cooked using chef Hill’s patented chef’s Press, to grilled and roasted meats, the restaurant’s cuisine will be largely focused on the built-in wood-fired grill and oven and dishes that can be easily shared. Evoking a feeling of comfort with visitors and locals alike, the food is always seasonally and locally sourced, bringing the best flavors forward.
“Fog City’s menus are eclectic mix of everything I personally love to eat. We want to create great, flavorful dishes, presented in a modern, approachable way,” says chef Hill. “Whether you are on top of the ‘SF foodie’ scene or visiting the Bay Area for the first time and looking for an amazing San Franciscan experience, we are a welcoming place for everyone.”
Chef Hill’s longstanding collaborations with local farmers and fishermen have resulted in the best produce, meats and seafood available in the Bay Area at Fog City. Most of the menu items are shareable, and every signature dish has accompaniments that change seasonally. Vegetable selections of particular note are the Grilled Fig Salad with baby lettuces, Echo Mountain Blue, prosciutto, and walnut gremolata; and King Oyster Mushrooms with Red Heart Pimento-paprika stew and dill-scented Greek yogurt. Seafood specialties include year-round raw crudos and other signature items such as: Local Halibut Crudo with pickled watermelon, ginger, jalapeño, cucumbers and lemon olive oil; Chilled Local Oysters with house-made barrel-aged hot sauce, shallot mignonette and parsley; and Wood Oven Clams with sake butter, padron peppers, sweet corn, calçot onions, and cherry tomatoes.
Fog City specializes in grilled Brandt Beef and other meats that are cooked using the wood-fired oven or over the massive wood-fired grill, which is the first thing guests arriving at Fog City see when they enter the restaurant. Some of the signature meat-centric dishes include: Fog City Burger with smoked tomato aioli, house-made American cheese, beef steak tomato, onions, and B&B pickles; Wood Oven Chicken with charred Brentwood corn, crispy potatoes and spiced Maldon salt; and Wood Grilled Lamb Skewers with tomato, red onion, lemon, little gem lettuce, spiced yogurt, and Vadouvan flat bread.
Virtually everything at Fog City is made in-house, from the hamburger buns, barrel aged hot sauces and American cheese to the “frozen custard” and French crullers for dessert. Leading the dessert program along with Bruce Hill is Pastry chef Aaron Toensing. The house-made Straus Family Creamery “frozen custard” is prepared fresh daily and served with an array of toppings, such as egg yolk caramel, fresh fruit, and sea salt and olive oil, while the decadent French crullers are made fresh to-order every 15 minutes. Other dessert selections include seasonal panna cottas, deep chocolate desserts, and a locally sourced cheese menu.
Overseen by the restaurant’s general manager Tyler Higgins, Fog City’s lively and interactive bar offers guests expertly crafted classic cocktails made with the finest American-made spirits, featuring local distilleries like St. George and Distillery No. 209. Guests can expect to find exceptional Bloody Marys, Irish Coffee, and Manhattans on the menu, as well as signature Fog City cocktails, market-driven collaborations between the chefs and bartenders, and inventive offerings like barrel-aged and on-tap cocktails. There is also an extensive tap system offering eight white wines and eight red wines, primarily from Napa and Sonoma, available in single glass, half liter and full liter pours. Seven additional taps offer beer from hyper-local breweries like Anchor Steam, often featuring selections brewed expressly for Fog City.