167 Raw makes moves from tiny East Bay spot to luxe lower King digs


Ruta Smith

Life Aquatic

Surrounded by high-end boutiques, swanky inns, antique stores, and art galleries, 193 King Street sits along a quiet stretch of storefronts. The old Il Cortile Del Re space was purchased by 167 Raw owner Jesse Sandole in early 2018 after the building sat empty for three years. The new 167 finally opened to the restaurant's loyal following at the close of January. And yes, there are more than seven seats.

167 is still open for lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat., boasting the same lineup of New England bivalves and lobstah rolls that were much-lauded at their teeny East Bay Street home. That location will continue to be part of the family, re-opening as a new concept TBA says operating partner Darren Harrison-Panes.

"It will be like walking into Momofuku," he says. "You know it's a David Chang restaurant, but each one feels just a little bit different." With their expansive new lower King digs, their OG Nantucket fish market and food truck, and that East Bay slice, 167 is well on their way to building their very own seafood tower … err, empire.

As downtown arteries (we're looking at you, Spring) and off-peninsula neighborhoods (Park Circle, Johns Island) become increasingly attractive, we wondered why the Raw crew wanted to move their hip, industrial concept into arguably one of the sleepier areas of town. "Sense of place," says Harrison-Panes. The first floor of the ever-so-charming 19th century building is long and narrow, with original brick walls and a new walnut bar. Neighboring buildings are equally old and flush with character, adorned with clean sidewalks, well-trimmed palms, and street lamps. No honking horns or late-night stumblers on this side of town. But seek out the golden diver helmet jutting out of the wall — 193 King is a buzzing.

On a recent lunch visit we caught bar vet Teddy Nixon shaking up the good stuff while Sandole and Harrison-Panes, donning matching aqua hues, greeted regulars at the door. There were Chicago business types and couples toting toddlers. By 12:05 p.m., a little over an hour after lunch service started, there was a wait. With four tops, banquettes, a full bar, community table, chef's table, raw bar seating, and an expansive patio, there's room for regulars to sit, and even more for them to wait. Waiting is part of the fun, right? At least, that's what Sandole hopes his patrons will come to believe.

We check out the back patio, where a string-lit bar and tall, round marble tables create an attractive outdoor waiting room. The idea is that guests are invited to grab a drink (and eventually, small bites) and linger as their table is turned. Heat lamps help, but there's still a nip in the January air. But, turns out, 167 fanatics all have a little New England blood in their veins — we catch a handful of guests slurping Duxburys by the dozen out back. Fifty degrees and sunny, with a long lunch on the horizon.

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