In San Francisco and beyond, the name Michael Mina needs no introduction. The head of MINA Group, which is responsible for local standouts like Pabu, The Ramen Bar and his namesake Michael Mina restaurant, Mina is a household name. But it’s been a while since he opened a new establishment in San Francisco.

Instead, he’s been running seasonal pop-ups at Mina Test Kitchen in the Marina, serving anything from regional Italian to Hawaiian fare. The latter captured Mina’s fancy enough to open a food court in Honolulu last year. He liked that food style so much, he made the menu the backbone of his opulent Trailblazer Tavern.

The concept; elevated Hawaiian dishes served in a chic setting. The location? The chic Salesforce East building, next to the Salesforce Tower, which is slated to also host Dominique Crenn’s new project. Behind the menu are Hawaiian chefs Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka, of Honolulu’s MW Restaurant. The two chefs filled the menu with traditional staples like fish and poi and banana leaf-steamed snapper, as well as bibimbap, ceviche, and other crowd pleasers.

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Once (or, if) you get past the relentless (not in a good way) #salesforce “we’re blazing trails of innovation” college brochure-style fluff schtick, the week-old @trailblazertavern is a pretty darn fun place for the rest of us who actually don’t have gyms and great dining in our offices, and have to pay the higher rents that Salesforce helps force us to. But I’m not here to talk about the company. You can guess my thoughts 😎. I’m here to tell you that the desserts are stellar at Trailblazer Tavern and it’s very exciting to have the immensely talented husband-and-wife team of @mwrestaurant #honolulu working with a restaurant in the heart of SF. Giant win ✅ 🏝👍 for fans of #poke and #spammusubi 👌. . . #sanfrancisco #sfeats #kqedfood @kqedbayareabites #zagat #eeeeeats #spamcocktail #trailblazertavern #sanfranciscofood #bayareafoodie #bayareafood #forkyeah #foodstagram #hawaiianfood #onogrindz #newrestaurant #cocktail #tikidrinks

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The cocktails, as you may have guessed, are colorful and occasionally served in a Spam can; a surprisingly kitschy touch.  Another welcome touch is the beers list, as most are from Northern California. The dramatic, lush design and open floor plan complete the inviting postcard picture.

True to its central, Downtown / SoMa location, a good way to sample the restaurant would be at lunch. There are more affordable lunch “deals” – $35 for three dishes. Many of the lunch pairings, like a cocktail and ceviche, can be sampled for about $30. If budget isn’t much of a concern, get a dinner reservation, live large and splurge a little; don’t miss the delicious ‘compressed’ chicken and crab lumpia, and definitely order the Nobody Touches the Mango cocktail, not only fun to say out loud, but also to sip.

Trailblazer Tavern
at 350 Mission Street, San Francisco

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Top Image courtesy of Mina Restaurant Group’s website