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Uptown Brown

Chef Tanya Holland’s sweet new spot for soul food.


Brown Sugar Kitchen

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Photo: Courtesy of Troya

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Photo: Sarah Felker

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The Valut

Photo: Courtesy of Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group

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Brown Sugar Kitchen
The Shake Shack of soul food? Brown Sugar Kitchen chef and owner Tanya Holland says that’s the ambition for her beloved restaurant, which closed in West Oakland last summer, but, now, has two new locations: a counter-service outpost in the Ferry Building and a breakfast-and-lunch spot in Oakland’s Uptown district. The Oakland space, carved from the shells of what were formerly Picán and Ozumo, is roughly twice as large as the original Brown Sugar Kitchen, and the food is every bit as good. Loyalists will find the familiar comforts of Holland’s homey, well-honed cooking expressed in Southern-inspired standards such as hearty pulled barbecue pork sandwiches with spicy cabbage slaw, and gumbo of alluring complexity and depth. If Holland has a signature, it’s her buttermilk-fried chicken and waffles, and it’s here too—a golden sunrise of a dish with crispy-starchy contrasts that are hard to resist. Aside from the size, the other difference in the new place is a full cocktail bar, which hints at the future. Achieving Shake Shack scale will take some time. But in the shorter term, dinner service is slated to start later this year. 2295 Broadway, Oakland –Josh Sens

Eating lunch “al desko” in SoMa just got a lot tastier, thanks to Berk Kinalilar’s new order-at-the-counter outpost of his popular Fillmore Street Mediterranean spot, Troya. By experimenting with different delivery concepts, he discovered neighborhood workaholics love fresh, fast Turkish fare to go. With that, he was ready to expand. With only four indoor seats, Troya’s new location is truly food to bring back to work, and, thus, the smaller, tailored menu has office-friendly items, such as Greek salad with halloumi cheese instead of feta, and a veggie platter of dolmas and dips. The recently opened 30-seat (heated) patio allows for seasonal lingering (Troya stays open until 8pm Monday through Friday). Weekends feature a prix fixe Turkish family-style brunch. Think egg dishes (shown above) and overloaded trays of spreads (humus, tzatziki, baba ghanoush and muhammara), plus heaps of warm pita for dipping. 214 Townsend St. (near Ritch Street), 415.757.0048 –Abby Tegnelia

Fiorella die-hards are in for twice the fun now that the Richmond District pizzeria has a Russian Hill sibling. The Polk Street outpost has Fiorella’s popular classics, from caccio e pepe to pasta pomodoro, plus new favorites such as a crispy pig ears bar snack (shown above) with Calabrian chile and honey for dipping, sinful calzones and linguine vongole with clams. Here for the pizza? Both locations use the same dough baked over a wood fire, so don’t worry about it not being “the same.” The burrata pizza is already proving as popular at the new Fiorella as the original. There’s plenty of Old World vino, served in 8-ounce quartino pours. The approachable list is Italian, with some options from California boutique wineries that specialize in Italian varietals. Standouts include Matthiasson Ribolla Gialla from Oak Knoll and the Montepulciano/Dolcetto blend Hi-Jump from Sonoma’s Inizi. Salute. 2238 Polk St. (near Green Street), 415.829.7097 –AT

The Vault
To get a feel for the neighborhood to which The Vault caters, simply look up—to every floor of the former Bank America Center. Power lunches and business dinners can be held in the 25-seat private dining room, where private liquor lockers are on hand to make sure big-wigs are always ready to impress with a choice bottle of wow-factor booze. The Vault’s signature event is its resurrection of bread service in the dining rooms and the bar. Think parkerhouse rolls served with sophisticated fixins—such as caviar, country ham and lobster salad—ordered a la carte or as a spread. Chef Robin Song, long a French/Cali devotee, folds in a few nods to his Korean heritage too—in the form of kimchi accents, housemade Korean chile paste and chilled noodle salad. There’s also a menu of simply prepared fresh veggies from a rotating coterie of farmers, plus dry-aged steaks and a burger specially developed for The Vault. 555 California St. (near Kearny Street), 415.508.4675 –AT


Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco 

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