San Francisco’s Mission District gained a valuable player when Arcana arrived on the scene in May 2021. Although it began primarily selling plants and gardening materials, Arcana has since evolved into a multifunctional event space and wine bar draped floor-to-ceiling with thriving leafy green plants.
On our recent visit, we chatted with owner Naz Khorram and the team about how their openness to change paid off, especially during what could have been a rocky pandemic opening. “Businesses that don’t evolve don’t usually survive,” they said.
We’re part of a new generation shaping and changing the city.”
If you managed to visit Arcana in its early days you’ll see exactly what they’re getting at. The team has certainly maximized the location, not to the point of being unrecognizable, but with such willingness that the space feels simultaneously fully realized yet still brimming with potential. Even the plants have taken to their new home with vigor, expanding throughout the bar and seating area to lend a tangible vitality and longevity.
The wine bar
One of Arcana’s most successful ventures has been the addition of the Greenhouse Bar, which presents a variety of natural wines served in front of an eye-catching hexagonal wall shelf that looks like a cluster of plant cells.
Bar director Delia Ridge Creamer sources delicious reds, whites, and orange from all over the world, but with a certain partiality for local natural wines. They pair beautifully with Arcana’s small bites menu featuring items like rosemary focaccia and cheesecake.
If you’re interested in developing your knowledge and taste for natural wine, it’s worth ordering a wine flight for $15-20 or perusing the by-the-glass list, which is extensive and changes frequently. Be sure to stop by on a Friday evening when the upstairs Fern Bar hosts visiting winemakers and educational events — a new addition to the calendar which has been a massive hit.
Recently Arcana also launched a new wine club, which brings you three hand-selected natural wine bottles and exclusive discounts for $100 a month.
Events at Arcana
The plant store and wine bar together create a breezy atmosphere on any given day, but Arcana really comes to life through its events. The calendar is stacked with spirited Friday jazz nights, Saturday DJ nights, and appearances by talented vocalists and musicians.
Another recent success has been the introduction of Arcana’s new Paint & Sip and Plant & Sip workshops, a pet project of event director Andy Garcia. Join an intimate art class in the upstairs Fern Bar where you can create a step-by-step succulent arrangement, painting, or other masterpiece while sipping on delightful natural wine.
About the owner
Iranian asylum seeker, queer activist, and artist Naz Khorram founded Arcana in May 2021 after over a decade living in San Francisco. Khorram grew up on their family farm in Iran, but was sentenced and released as a political prisoner in 2009. Eventually they fled to San Francisco, studied at Academy of Arts University, and put in hard work in San Francisco’s tough restaurant industry. They also cultivated their passion for plants while working at a Bay Area plant store, and now specialize in indoor grow houses.
“I know what struggle means cause I have experienced it on so many levels,” Khorram told us. “This goes from hardships of immigration to not being able to feel heard and seen, to feeling ashamed or scared of being who I am, or facing difficulties and unnecessary processes of opening a small business as a young entrepreneur.
“Arcana’s goal is to bring the community together, to bring all the people who need a place to feel welcomed and at peace in one place, show them love, support them and tell them that they are beautiful exactly the way they are.”
Being an accomplished metal artist and designer, Khorram designed the store’s incredible staircase and bridge to create a feeling of “being drawn into space without necessarily defining what we are about.” The name “Arcana” is a word meaning “magical mysteries,” and Khorram certainly accomplished their goal of creating a space with that ethereal feel.
Keep up with Arcana
Join the Arcana community at 2512 Mission Street, open Wednesday-Friday from 4pm-midnight, Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon to 9pm. Happy hour is from 4pm-6pm Wednesday-Friday and 12pm-2pm on weekends. Plants are available for purchase during all bar and restaurant hours.