If there’s one place in San Francisco that will instantly make me happy as a clam it’s Leo’s Oyster Bar. The cheerful, 1950’s tropical decor feels like you’re walking into a friend’s house party during the golden age of glamour. From the impeccable decor, to the warm staff, and whimsically delicious menu (“Mr. Nicholas’ Liquid Lunch” anyone?) Leo’s fires on all cylinders and is the perfect retreat for a mid-day meal and romantic date night alike.
The moment you walk through the door you can’t help but feel you’ve stumbled upon something special. A pink onyx bar, rattan furnishings and a parade of shell wall sconces all come together to create an environment that’s simultaneously upscale and playful. The gorgeous custom wallpapers throughout the restaurant are designed by Big Night creative director Jake Mogelson, inspired by a print found on a chair at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Husband and wife owners James Nicholas and Anna Weinberg are masters at sourcing vintage decor, which they use to infuse simple gestures with surprise and delight, such as pouring water from a vintage pitcher, or bringing the bill in a brass cigarette holder.
Once you’re done looking at all the visual delights, you might get down to the business of ordering lunch. Oysters are a no-brainer, and I loved Leo’s “Fancy” variety that come covered in a horseradish puree. David and I often share plates when ordering, but we both wanted the entire serving of Miso Broiled Trout for ourselves! And you can’t leave without trying their French Fries with Dynamite Sauce.
I especially love the back cocktail lounge called “The Hideaway”, which offers an impressive selection of pink bubbles and perfectly balanced cocktails. Design director Ken Fulk named and designed the space to be “the quintessential work-day oasis and the perfect excuse to spend your daylight hours hidden away.” Be sure to try the Mah Jong cocktail or Hideaway Punch!
After all that you may be still be asking: “But who is Leo?!” James and Anna’s 3 year old son.
Thank you to the team at Leo’s for having us!
Photos by Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com