The holidays have long come and gone and yet as San Franciscans we do like to celebrate continuously, particularly in establishments that have provided us with good memories over the years. Every one can rejoice that long-time SF restaurant Elite Café at 2049 Fillmore St. has reopened. New owners Andy Chun and Jan Wiginton (Schroeder’s, Press Club) quietly took over the 35-year old establishment last March and have been working to update and relaunch one of Fillmore Street’s most popular dining destinations and watering holes.
Photos by John Storey
BCV Architects—who also handled the restoration of historic Schroeder’s—worked on the refresh of the 78-seat art deco space. The mahogany booths that were badly weathered have been spruced up with a fresh blue-gray paint job and the floor has been redone with penny tiles to closer approximate how it was in the 1920s. Some may lament the loss of the original long wooden bar that has been replaced with Carrara marble but these are new times and this is a more modern take on the original. The tabletops are marble and art deco inspired pendants now adorn the 20-foot-high ceiling.
Chef Chris Borges, a New Orleans native, has kept the menu true to Cajun and Creole flavors with NOLA classics such as duck gumbo and crawfish etouffée. A not to miss starter is the fried okra with vadouvan and cucumber raita. Consider pairing with bar manager Kevin Deidrich’s creative spin on a Sazerac made with Cognac. One very nice thing about the menu is that many of the items are available as half orders, enabling diners to try more dishes. One could go for the NOLA sampler and try the stewed okra, the chicken jambalaya and the red beans and rice. A not to miss classic is the Mary’s buttermilk fried chicken with house pickles. And of course there are the deviled eggs! Elite Café is open nightly for dinner and serves brunch on weekends.
James is a food writer and Bay Area chef who owns and runs a private dinner party and cooking class business specializing in regional Italian and Spanish cuisine. See CookWithJames.com