Juanita Eats Out: S.F.’s Biggest Drag Queen Gets a Restaurant

Jones reopens as MORE!Jones on Sept. 4, which also happens to be Juanita's birthday.

Juanita More opens her new restaurant on her birthday. (Shot in the City Photography / Set Design / Tea Castro – Couture / Mr. David)

“I gotta have my hands in everything,” drag sensation Juanita More! told SF Weekly when we profiled her for our Pride issue in June. “It’s a joke, but when I die, wouldn’t it be great to have everyone say, ‘And the bitch had a restaurant in San Francisco? She also had a fucking restaurant.’ ”

She wasn’t at liberty to talk about it then because plans were still in an early phase, but it’s official. More is taking over Jones, the Tenderloin hotspot with three bars and a gigantic outdoor courtyard where she hosts her annual Pride party. On Sept. 4 — which just so happens to be Juanita’s birthday — Jones will become MORE!Jones, a collaboration with chef Cory Armenta (Rose Pistola, Terzo) and food stylist Cole Church. It’s a restaurant and an venue for banquets and private events, but More intends for it to be a hangout space, too. There are DJ set-ups both inside and out.

“I’ve been looking for a restaurant space for the past few years, and this just sort of fell into my hands,” she tells us. “It seemed like the right match for the moment.”

While More is adamant that she’ll be part of the kitchen staff — “before ‘Juanita,’ all I’ve ever done before was work in kitchens,” she says — but of course, she’ll also be working the floor in drag on certain nights. Wednesdays will be given over to an affordable, family-style prix fixe menu, and Sunday is brunch, of course. The Latin-Mediterranean menu with complementary cocktails includes “French-style carnitas,” pizza, chicken livers, and Juanita’s open-faced chilaquiles sandwich, which is a form of magical hangover relief.

“Everyone loves chilaquiles,” she says. “I’m doing refried beans, cheese, eggs how you like it, my own jalapeño escabeche. It’s just going to cure everything.”

The plan is to be open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5 to 9 p.m., with the bar open until closing. And it’s really a kitchen takeover more than anything else, as More doesn’t intend to change much about Jones’ aesthetic, which has served her well for years.

“Jones is already busy, and it’s going to continue to be busy — hopefully, even busier now that I’m going to be in there with this new menu, which is simple. It’s local ingredients, and it’s yummy,” she says. “All that kind of magic is going to happen once I get in there and sink my pumps into that kitchen.”

For the opening day celebration-slash-birthday party, expect — well, a giant party.

“We’ll have free passed hors d’oeuvres off the menu, and everyone that’s walking in is going to get a free drink. “My passion and love for food runs pretty deep.”

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