A new cocktail and snack spot from a team of industry vets has just debuted in the corner space that was formerly home to Black Sands Brewery, and, briefly, Fort Point's Lower Haight outpost.
We first heard about Stoa over 10 months ago, when a liquor license transfer application went in with some familiar names on it. It's a collaboration between Allyson Jossel — who was part of the opening team behind Nopa and the ex-wife of current Nopa chef-owner Laurence Jossel — and a crew from Nopalito including Bar Director Yanni Kehagiaras, Chef de Cuisine Joji Sumi, and origina Nopalito chef Gonzalo Guzman.
The word "stoa" refers to a classical collonnade or column-lined portico, and it seem to just be a reference to the existing support columns in the space. The design is fairly simple, but a remodel has added brass-colored ceiling tiles and new, Tiffany-esque stained glass hanging light fixtures, as well as some banquettes in the back.
(This business has no connection to a vegetarian restaurant of the same name that existed in Palo Alto two decades back.)
There is limited table seating, with a few tables for four or six in front, a couple in back, and a few banquette seats with small, high-top tables in the center, and about 12 to 14 seats at the bar.
The focus is clearly on cocktails, with a three-page cocktail list that ranges from self-described "complex" low-ABV selections, to more fruity, shaken/highball drinks, to some punchy and spirit-forward ones. The latter category includes an excellently herbaceous spin on a Martini called the Hedge Maze with St. George Terroir gin, Dolin blanc vermouth, and a hint of green Chartreuse.
In the "Stern, But Fair" section of the menu, there's a gin rickey variant called the Rickey Ricardo, with City of London gin, lime, soda, and Pernod Ricard; as well as a mezcal Paloma, and another mezcal drink called the Surfer Rosa, with hibiscus, Punt e Mes, Benedictine, lemon, and soda.
As Kehagiaras tells Eater of the drink menu, "Stylistically, I think I’ve been infamously known as a minimalist... I believe that simplicity and complexity live right next to each other, and in the same way that a chef highlights ingredients, that’s the same way that I feel about cocktails."
The largest food items on the food menu are a sea salt-grilled pork collar with salsa verde ($17), and a bowl of congee with braised chicken and mushroom ($18) that was reportedly a hit as a staff meal at Nopalito — and Nopalito, the concept itself, grew out of the Mexican staff meals that Guzman used to make while working at Nopa.
Sumi has taken the lead on the food menu, while Guzman is technically serving as culinary manager. The menu has a number of Asian and Mexican influences, and while it's all small plates, you could probably put together a decent meal — it's just that, unless you snag a table, the place looks like it will be a bustling environment more conducive to drinking and a quick snack.
Thursday was opening night and the place was already packed without a seat to be found at 6 p.m. — the Lower Haight 'hood was clearly itching to get a look inside and get a happy hour drink.
The outdoor parklet is not yet operational, but outdoor seating is reportedly coming.
For restaurant industry folk, this is likely to be a Monday destination, as they will be open Mondays, closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
For now, the hours are Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight; and Sunday to Monday, 4 to 11 p.m.
Stoa - 701 Haight Street at Pierce