Bourbon Steak at Levi's Stadium — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
Almost too many faces to count will be absent from the San Francisco 49ers in 2015. The headline departures – including Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, linebacker Patrick Willis and running back Frank Gore – were Pro Bowl players that will surely be missed. But there's one all-star that will be returning after a stellar rookie season: Michael Mina, the beloved culinary genius of San Francisco.
Michael Mina exploded onto the highly competitive San Francisco food scene in 1991, when he opened the now-famous Aqua restaurant. And like legendary 49er quarterback Joe Montana, Mina has made a lasting impact on the San Francisco culture.
He kept that legacy growing by taking the risk of opening a restaurant in a football stadium last year, to the surprise of many.
Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers and Bourbon Steak & Bourbon Pub — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
But one year in, the reviews have been consistent: Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak & Pub at Levi's Stadium has re-imagined what football food can be. Borrowing from the success of the original Bourbon Steak in San Francisco's Union Square, Bourbon Steak & Pub in Levi's Stadium will have football fans wondering why they ever settled for popcorn and corn dogs in the first place!
Realizing that a rowdy crowd and fun food can add an essential atmosphere to a football game, Mina expertly separated the pub from the restaurant.
Bourbon Pub "reinvents pub fare," with starters like Avocado Toast (crushed avocado, shaved radish and grilled sourdough) and inventive happy hour specials like K. F. C. (Korean fried chicken wings, gochujang sauce and pickles).
The big Bourbon Burger! — Photo courtesy of Bourbon Pub
And for those ready to step up to an "all-pro" level of dining, Bourbon Steak (the restaurant) has everything you'd find in the sizzling San Francisco dining scene about 40 miles north of the stadium, such as a decadent ahi tuna tartare (Asian pear, pine nuts, scotch bonnet, mint and sesame) and enough steak options to feed an entire offensive line: filet mignon, Tajima skirt steak and the so-called Tomahawk Chop for Two, just to name a few.
The elegant Bourbon Restaurant dining room. — Photo courtesy of Bourbon Restaurant
Whether you're eating in the pub or the restaurant, you'll be eating local, organic veggies and environmentally sustainable meat and fish, the signature choices of all California cuisines.
"If you're not using what California has to offer, you shouldn't run a restaurant in California," says Chef Chris Curtiss.
Whether you're a veteran San Francisco 49er fan or just a visitor in the Bay Area who's willing to try something new, consider a trip to Bourbon Steak & Pub at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
It's no rookie mistake.
49ers fan store at Levi's Stadium — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy