If you find yourself heading hungrily to San Francisco, there’s the go-to’s on anyone’s list: lunch at the Ferry Building, tacos in the Mission District, sourdough bread (anywhere and everywhere). But, don’t leave the Bay without spending an evening at Liholiho Yacht Club, one of the city’s best and most creative dinner spots.
Liholiho was conceived and opened by chef Ravi Kapur, a native Hawaiian who cut his teeth at San Fran favorites Boulevardier and Prospect, before launching out on his own. The Yacht Club, in the famous Tenderloin/Nob Hill neighborhood, has gotten raves since it opened in late 2014, and it’s no surprise why: Kapur’s food is delicious, whimsical and most importantly, worth waiting for. Which you should be prepared to do, as there’s a line waiting to get in before dinner service starts every night!
Liholiho’s menu is separated into bites, small plates and entrees (and by entree we mean An-Entire-Rack-of-Shortribs-Entree). The best way to experience it with a small group is mixing and matching off the bites and small plates section. Some of my picks for dishes not to be missed? Check them out below!
And, of course, no great meal is complete without a great dessert! Liholiho has a page of tempting dessert offerings, but we had to go for their famous “Baked Hawaii,” a take on the traditional Baked Alaska. Pineapple ice cream and vanilla chiffon are hidden under a gorgeous swirl of toasted meringue, and served on top of caramel, coconut and roasted pineapple. Unreal!
Every dish we tried at Liholiho was impeccable: artfully crafted flavors and textures, beautifully presented and full of personality. That personality also rings true in the restaurant’s design and atmosphere, from the print of Kapur’s smiling mother on the wall behind the bar, to the restaurant’s name. According to their website, the Kealoha uncles – who grew up in Hawaii on Liholiho street – loved racing Hobie Cats in the early 80’s. To finance their hobby, they started throwing beach parties for the neighborhood, complete with food, music and booze (and a small entrance fee). As their pop-ups gained in popularity, the brothers decided to call themselves “Liholiho Yacht Club.” Kapur and his team loved the concept: “throw a party to keep doing what you love.” Mission accomplished, sir.
Liholiho Yacht Club. 871 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA. Monday – Thursday, 5-10:30 pm; Friday – Saturday, 5-11 pm. (415) 440-LIHO.