Photo courtesy of Liholiho Yacht Club

The RundownSan Francisco

Liholiho Yacht Club Opens Anew in San Francisco


Before you go to a restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know most? In our series, The Rundown, we’re sharing all the essentials about newly opened (as well as some of your favorite) restaurants.

Today, we’re looking at the much beloved Liholiho Yacht Club on Sutter Street in Nob Hill. The restaurant has been closed to dining since the start of the pandemic, but after almost three long years, the space in now reopened. And though Liholiho will be familiar to its legions of regulars and its tagline remains the same — “a restaurant celebrating heritage through food in a lively atmosphere” — the return after three long years means it is, in many ways, very much a new restaurant. Here are five things to know before you go.

1. The Values

Following in the forward-thinking footsteps of sister restaurant Good Good Culture Club, Liholiho is transparent about its workplace culture and the ways in which it is trying to build a better restaurant industry. Read the entire statement here, and take note of the emphases on equitable pay, growth, care, and empowerment. For these reasons, among others, there is an equitable compensation fee on all checks of 20%; read more about that here.

Photo by Rasami Storm
Photo by Rasami Storm

2. The Space

The space has been refreshed and remodeled in nuanced ways. If you’ve been to the restaurant once, you might not notice, but if you’ve been a regular over the years, you’ll definitely see and feel the changes. There are new light fixtures and more bar seating up front; the booths are now lined with comfy, burgundy cushions, and the walls are painted with a wave-like pattern by Oakland-based artist Kalani Ware. The glass partition in the back has been knocked down, and the large espresso machine that used to sit at the bar counter has been removed, effectively increasing the feeling of spaciousness inside the restaurant.

Photos by Rasami Storm
Photos by Rasami Storm

3. The Food

You’re of course at Liholiho Yacht Club for the unique and singular fare inspired by heritage. Some of the restaurant’s classics make a return, albeit slightly refreshed: The tuna poke on nori chips are a different shape. The fluffy, poppyseed-studded buns are now filled with housemade spam instead of beef tongue. And the duck liver mousse is now served on wonderful banana bread.

But there are also new items on the menu that are sure to be instant hits, like the spicy, thinly shaved pig head salad and the swordfish katsu with Russian dressing and a caper butter sauce that evokes Filet-o-Fish vibes in the best way possible.

Photo by Rasami Storm
Photo by Rasami Storm

4. The Drinks

Sean Kelley started at Liholiho Yacht Club back in 2015; he’s now beverage director, creating vibrant, citrus-forward cocktails like the Fholston Paradise, which has agricole rum, coconut liquor, just enough absinthe so that you barely notice the subtle licorice layer, and bright lime to balance it all. There is also beer, wine, sake, and non-alcoholic cocktails as well.

Fans of the downstairs bar, Louie’s Gen-Gen Room, will have to be patient; the space isn’t ready to debut just yet, but the team is hoping to have it open by the beginning of 2023, if not sooner.

5. The Reservations

So you want to make a reservation at Liholiho Yacht Club? Smart move. Know that reservations open exactly two weeks out at exactly 10 p.m.; as usual, your odds are better if you’re looking at non-primetime hours, and weekdays. If nothing’s available, do set that Notify. It’s a wonderful thing. And of course, the crew does save some walk-in spots every night.


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