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Chef Traci Des Jardins on Her Two New Restaurants in San Francisco's Presidio

The James Beard Award-winning chef behind Jardiniere opens two Spanish concepts in the historic park.

Two-time James Beard Award winner Traci Des Jardins, the chef behind the 18 year-old French-California restaurant Jardiniere in Hayes Valley, Public House sports pub at AT&T Park and Mijita Cocina Mexicana in the Ferry Building Marketplace, partnered with the Presidio Trust to open the The Commissary in May 2014, transforming a former military mess hall into a stylish, Spanish-influenced sit-down restaurant. Shortly after, she opened Arguello, a Mexican restaurant with a heated patio in the Presidio Officers' Club. Here’s her take on the projects in the Presidio, a former military base turned national park, and the local culinary scene.


Traci Des Jardins with her crew at The Commissary
Traci Des Jardins with her crew at The Commissary (©Aubrie Pick)

What attracted you to this opportunity?

This park is such a gift to the city. It’s spacious, and it doesn’t have that density that the rest of San Francisco is developing. It holds this untapped potential of beauty and access for San Franciscans and visitors from around the world.

Salad at The Commissary
Salad at The Commissary (©Aubrie Pick)

How did you develop The Commissary’s menu?

The rich history of the Presidio, in the context of Spanish and Mexican influences and occupation, was an interesting reference point for me. Obviously, I’ve worked with Mexican food and am very comfortable in that whole world. [The Spanish part] makes a lot of sense just given the products that we have in California. It just seemed like a natural. 

Cocktails at The Commissary
Cocktails at The Commissary (©Aubrie Pick)

What local restaurants do you consider classics, and to what do you attribute their long-standing success?

We continue to have great foundation places that set the parameters decades ago, like Chez Panisse and Zuni Café, and they continue to be innovators with forward-thinking new concepts in food.