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NomicaSan Francisco, CA

This new 3,500 square foot Izakaya is located in San Francisco’s Upper Market/Castro, designed as a gem for the neighborhood and as a city destination. The ownership team is headed by Yoshi Tome and Paul Quinn from Sushi Ran in Sausalito. As a Japanese Izakaya, it’s meant to be a local neighborhood place for eating and drinking.


The restaurant was designed to look and feel subtly Japanese, and therefore modern, also fitted to the expectations of San Francisco diners. Overall, its DNA is that of many Japanese interiors: mixed wood, detailed carpentry, and artful craft. All of the carpentry and majority of the furniture was built on site for the utmost in authenticity.


There are essentially three spaces that play off each other. The long Carrara bar runs the length of the interior, and has its own side and front dining areas and own ambiance. With large windows, it establishes a visual connection to the street. The back bar is made from walnut shelving, arranged in an irregular composition that’s meant to express a wabi-sabi quality, also allowing the bartenders to arrange bottles in their own special way. Pairs of Cypress beams at the ceiling extend over to the dining room, which is the main space and is slightly more refined than the bar. Set atop the beams and carefully spaced are cedar slats that define the room and transcends the carpentry overhead.  Each side of the room has site-built seating that is walnut and cedar with leather seat cushions.  The third space is a private dining room tucked into the back of the restaurant. This is a special ‘place’ that sits twelve.  A trio of lights centers the intimate space, while a massive walnut slab table adds drama and craft.


The façade was designed to be calm in counterpoint to the busy street. The vestibule is sided in Charred Hemlock boards, which is an homage to the Japanese process of burning wood called Shou Sugi Ban.  Another distinctive façade element is the large boulder placed in an alcove between two of the windows. All of the tables and built-in seating were design by CCS as unique, bespoke pieces. The artwork is by Suzie Buchholz from Sausalito, painted specifically for each area of the restaurant.


Photography: Paul Dyer