Celebrate Women’s History Month at these Bay Area Women-Owned Restaurants

Bay Area Women Chefs

Top row L to R: Pim Techamuanvivit (Khin Khao), Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen), Preeti Mistry (Juhu Beach Club), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn). Bottom Row L to R: Traci Des Jardins (Jardiniere), Sarah Kirnon (Miss Ollie's), Nancy Oakes (Boulevard), Melissa Perello (Frances, Octavia) (Photo collage Wendy Goodfriend, Photos courtesy of the chefs)

Each year, the National Women’s History Project declares a theme for women’s history month in March. This year, the theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”

It’s been a busy time for women lately, with the record-setting women’s marches around the world last month, and calls for a Day Without Women general strike today on International Women’s Day.

In the food world, women have long had an impact on shaping what we eat and how we eat: from chefs to food advocates to restauranteurs. And nowhere has that been more true than in the Bay Area. Organizations like Women Chefs & Restauranteurs and the James Beard Foundation’s Women Entrepreneurial Leadership Program have been working to give more women resources to start their own restaurants and companies.

A number of local women chefs were acknowledged on this year’s James Beard Award semifinalist list (and some of them are listed below as well). And let’s pay our respects to culinary icons who have passed away, like Zuni Cafe’s Judy Rogers and Bette Kroening of Bette’s Oceanview Diner.

Watch the Check, Please! Bay Area episode featuring Bette’s:

To celebrate all that women do and the impact they have on our food, why not go out and eat at their restaurants. Here are some of our favorite female-owned or -run local spots, with a longer list below. This is certainly not every restaurant owned or managed by a woman, so please share your favorites in the comments if we missed them.

Atelier Crenn

Dominique Crenn became one of the highest rated female chefs in the U.S. in 2013 when her Atelier Crenn got two Michelin stars. Since then, she won a James Beard award and was named “the World’s Best Female Chef.” It’s all happened fairly quickly, which means it can be hard to come by reservations for the $315 multi-course tasting menu at her experimental, high-concept local, sustainable restaurant. (That’s also why the restaurant will be moving to a ticketing system.) She’s also opened Petit Crenn, focused on French cooking and her childhood.

Watch the Check, Please! Bay Area episode:

Atelier Crenn
3127 Fillmore St. [map]
San Francisco, CA
Ph: (415) 440-0460
Hours: Tues-Thurs, 5:30am-8:30pm; Fri, Sat, 5pm-9pm
Facebook: Atelier Crenn
Twitter: @AtelierCrenn
Instagram: @dominquecrenn
Price range: $$$$

El Molino Central
El Molino Central (Courtesy of El Molino Central)

El Molino Central

Out of a casual taco spot at Boyes Hot Springs, chef Karen Taylor Waikiki serves up some of the surprisingly best Mexican food in Northern California. A molino is a kind of Mexican mill, where the community grounds its corn into masa. And here the masa is ground fresh. Try the tamales, made with local and seasonal ingredients, or the Oaxacan chicken mole — and, of course, the tacos, especially the fish ones. It’s not a fancy spot, but it is delicious. That’s why Taylor Waikiki was nominated for a James Beard award. Chef Taylor Waikiki also sells her foods at a Primavera booth at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market.

El Molino Central (Will be featured on Check, Please! Bay Area Season 12)
11 Central Ave. [map]
Sonoma, CA 95476
Ph: (707) 939-1010
Hours: 9am-9pm, daily
Facebook: El Molino Central
Instagram: @elmolinocentral
Price range: $

Juhu Beach Club

When Preeti Mistry opened Juhu Beach Club in 2013, it was the natural conclusion of what started as dinners she made for friends. After training at Le Cordon Bleu, Mistry went on to start her own pop-up restaurant of high-quality Indian food. She makes her dough by hand and her unique, quirky Indian street food, like lamb kofta and tamarind coconut curry, garnered the attention of fans. Mistry’s worked as the executive chef at Google and was on Bravo’s “Top Chef.” She also has been nominated for a well-deserved James Beard award.

Mistry at work.
Mistry at work. (Courtesy of Juhu Beach Club)

Juhu Beach Club
5179 Telegraph Ave. [map]
Oakland, CA 94609
Ph: (510) 652-7350
Hours: Brunch: Sat, Sun, 11am-2pm; Dinner: Tues-Sat, 5:30pm-9:30pm
Facebook: Juhu Beach Club
Twitter: @juhubeachclub
Instagram: @juhubeachclub
Price range: $$ (dinner: $20-30)

Kin Khao’s Pretty Hot Wings are glazed with a sriracha and tamarind sauce.
Kin Khao’s Pretty Hot Wings are glazed with a sriracha and tamarind sauce. (Kate Williams)

Khin Khao

Pim Techamuanvivit started as a food blogger, but moved into developing her own recipes and in 2014 opened Kin Khao. Kin Khao’s goal is to “liberate her beloved Thai cuisine from the tyranny of peanut sauce,” and they do just that with a small menu that’s big on innovation and short on pad thai. Inside the Parc 55 Hotel, try the cocktails and then move on to the papaya salad, the spicy wild boar Laab Kua, or a house favorite, Khao Kan Jin (a kind of banana leaf-wrapped steamed pork blood sausage). Or try the $60 prix fixe menu to get all the highlights.

Kin Khao (Will be featured on Check, Please! Bay Area Season 12)
55 Cyril Magnin (entrance at the corner of Mason and Ellis) [map]
San Francisco, CA 94102
Ph: (415) 8362-7456
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Sun, 11:30am-2pm; Dinner: Sun-Thurs, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri, Sat, 5:30pm-11pm
Facebook: Kin Khao
Twitter: @KinKhao
Instagram: @kinkhao
Price: $$

A plate at Miss Ollie's
A plate at Miss Ollie’s (Courtesy of Miss Ollie's)

Miss Ollie’s

Here, it’s all about the fried chicken. Plates full of delicious fried chicken. And, also, the island-style pork, the cornmeal fritters with honey, the plantains with garlic oil, and the jerk shrimp. Basically, you will be very full by the time you’re done with a meal at Miss Ollie’s. Opened and run by Sarah Kirnon, who was previously the chef at Hibiscus, Miss Ollie’s is named after her grandma and offers up her take on the Caribbean food of her childhood. For what you get, the prices are low. Maybe that’s why everyone orders more than they can eat.

Miss Ollie’s (Will be featured on Check, Please! Bay Area Season 12)
901 Washington St. [map]
Oakland, CA 94607
Ph: (510) 285-6188
Hours: Lunch: Tues-Fri, 11:30am-2pm; Sat, 12-3pm; Dinner: Tues-Thurs, 5:30pm-9:30pm; Fri, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sat, 5:30pm-10pm
Facebook: Miss Ollie’s
Price: $$ (dinner: $10-20)

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Clarification in Kin Khao segment: The original phrasing about ownership was unclear. Pim Techamuanvivit is the owner of Kin Khao. Michael Gaines was the chef de cuisine when the restaurant opened in 2014 but left the position in 2015.

  • chatgirl

    Sharon Ardiana- owner of Gialina (as shown on Check Please!) and Ragazza, and the upcoming Ardiana.

Author

Kelly O'Mara

Kelly O'Mara is a writer and reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes about food, health, sports, travel, business and California news. Her work has appeared on KQED, online for Outside Magazine, epsnW, VICE and in Competitor Magazine, among others. Follow Kelly on Twitter @kellydomara.

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