A year after opening as a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and two years after its mid-pandemic launch as a pop-up in chef-owner Imana's apartment, Oakland restaurant Hi Felicia is pivoting a bit to offer à la carte dishes for the first time.
"Hi Felicia the brick & mortar has been doing tasting menus for 1 year. For 1 year before that I did tasting menus in my apartment. I want to shake it up, and really push myself. Starting next week, hi Felicia will be an a la carte restaurant with the option to do a tasting menu if you want," Imana writes in an Instagram post.
It should be noted that, as a firmly Gen Z/younger Gen Y restaurant, Hi Felicia still has no website, and most business communication is conducted via Instagram post — along with the restaurant's Resy page. And as the Resy page makes clear, and as Imana made clear to Eater when the restaurant opened last year, she aspires "to Michelin stardom," and gaining a Michelin star has been a goal from the start.
Imana, 26, has dubbed the style of the restaurant to be "vulgar fine dining" and "California comfort food," while most diners — and their Michelin guide blurb — have commented on the fact that the menu skews primarily Latin American, if not mostly Mexican. Signature dishes to date include a cashew-cheese queso dip, duck mole tacos, duck burritos, and Wagyu quesadillas — and there are touches of high-end luxury including uni- and caviar-topped amuse-bouches.
The move to à la carte may be a purely business decision, with the majority of negative Yelp reviews focusing on the price point. The restaurant opened last April with a $195/person prix fixe, and last August lowered the price to $125 with a seven-course, family-style format.
The move to an a la carte menu included a video announcement posted Monday.
Chef Imana's story, as a young chef of color who worked in fine dining in the Bay Area before launching her home-based, supperclub pop-up, gained widespread media attention in the last two years, with local TV stations that don't often cover small restaurant openings giving air time to this one.
Since opening the brick-and-mortar spot, Imana expanded earlier this year with Sluts, the Wine Bar in SF's SoMa neighborhood — giving a permanent home to a natural wine pop-up she had been doing at the restaurant. Like the restaurant, Sluts embraces an eclectic, youthful, campy vibe, with hallmarks like a neon piece behind the bar that asks, "Spit or Swallow?"
Rather than talk about wine regions or producers, upon opening Sluts, Imana told Eater, "I just want people to come and have a really, really good time. I want people to have a place to be wild and crazy."
Hi Felicia's à la carte experience — where the tasting menu will still be an option — launches Thursday. And the restaurant's final Bye Felicia wine-bar pop-up is Wednesday evening from 6 to 10 p.m.
Photo by Derek Yarra/Hi Felicia