Iconic San Francisco restaurant Fog City is now open. Housed in the location of the legendary Fog City Diner, Fog City has been completely renovated and reimagined by founders Bill Higgins and Bill Upson and talented local chef Bruce Hill, of Bix, Picco, and Zero Zero.
The offerings, very much a reflection of San Francisco’s rich culinary landscape, were conceived by chef Hill and will be executed by chef Erik Lowe, former chef de cuisine at Bix. “Some people call it personal cuisine, others might call it modern eclectic, but it’s really just the food that my chef and I and my partners love to eat,” says Hill. Virtually everything is made in-house, including buns, cheese, crullers, and barrel-aged hot sauces.
What’s not made in Fog City comes from the area’s finest farmers, fishermen, breweries, and distilleries. Chef Hill says, “I am incredibly grateful for all of my farmers and the people who are our suppliers. My relationships with some of my farmers go back almost 30 years!” Fog City specializes in grilled Brandt beef and other meats, such as chicken and lamb, cooked in the restaurant’s expansive wood-fired grill. Pastry chef Aaron Toensing oversees the pastry program, which includes house-made Straus Family Creamery frozen custard, made fresh daily. Hill, who actually worked as a chef at Fog City Diner in the early 2000s, notes, “Fog City is another name for the city of San Francisco. So, this is really a San Francisco restaurant. We have a local patriotism we’re capturing here.”
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Rather than be daunted by the prospect of revamping an iconic brand and location, Hill was excited. “Having worked at Fog City Diner, even spending 9-11 there, watching the towers fall, I have a lot of emotional connection to the space. We absolutely took the history into consideration, but, other than the adventurous spirit of the original, we didn’t want to carry anything over.” The process has been in the works for three years. Hill was able to work on the opening while also operating several other successful Bay Area restaurants, something he credits to open lines of communication. “The key is my connection to my managers and my chefs, which is on a daily basis,” he reveals.
Chef Hill arrived in the Bay Area in 1984, just a year prior to Fog City Diner’s birth. When asked if he could have imagined he would one day own it, he says, “I thought if I were lucky, I would own one restaurant, and here I am opening my fourth. With the history of that spot, it’s a really special opportunity. What we’re doing right now is just the beginning of this restaurant, and we will continue to make everything better.”
Hill, Lowe, and the whole team behind Fog City hope to become a favorite of new diners — and Fog City Diner regulars. To those folks, he shares, “It’s going to be very different, but we care about what we’re doing and we really hope you enjoy it.”