SANTA CLARA -- While the 49ers are playing upstairs at Levi's Stadium this fall, down below, local celebrity chef Michael Mina will let loose at what he calls his own personal playground, where he hopes to treat fellow fans to a unique upscale take on traditional tailgating.

Mina's new Levi's Stadium restaurant will be open year-round, but on game days it will be unlike anything Silicon Valley has ever seen: A whole 1,200-pound ox roasting a few feet from tailgaters, a few 500-pound crane-lifted pots churning out hundreds of lobsters, and a Ferris-wheel style two-story rotisserie that can cook 12 animals such as ducks and chicken all at once.

Chef Michael Mina in the Bourbon Pub area of the Bourbon Steak & Pub in Levi’s Stadium, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.  (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News
Chef Michael Mina in the Bourbon Pub area of the Bourbon Steak & Pub in Levi's Stadium, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

The lineup for Bourbon Steak & Pub, which opens Monday, features a gold rush wagyu burger with bacon marmalade ($28) and a pretzel with "'merican beer-infused cheese," bacon and a coddled egg ($10), are offered, for instance. Then there are fine-dining items such as heirloom carrot tortellini with wilted kale, saffron broth and navel orange ($24).

"We wanted it decadent but keep it in the theme of tailgating," the Michelin-star chef known for his innovative "trios" -- one ingredient served three wildly different ways on the same plate -- and restaurants like his namesake Michael Mina in San Francisco, said during a tour Thursday. "I think there's a stigma of what kinds of restaurants are in stadiums. Whether this is in a stadium or not, there's nothing like it."


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While Mina has an empire of 20 restaurants -- including eight in the Bay Area -- he'll be based out of the Levi's Stadium restaurant for the coming year.

The 17,000-square-foot Bourbon Steak & Pub, at the Tasman Drive entrance to the stadium, can hold 900 people and features three distinct spaces: The restaurant (with fine dining and mirrors that turn into TVs during 49ers games); the pub (including an open kitchen next to live fantasy football standings and betting lines); and a private tailgate area for games and other events (where communal-style food will be featured, including from celebrity chefs from the opposing team's city).

"This is a dream come true for me," said Mina, a 24-year 49ers season ticket holder who used to hold tailgate parties for hundreds of fans at the Candlestick Park lots. "I wanted to create a place that's all about food and sports."

Mina, who is expected to draw friends such as hall of famers Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott and team owner Jed York to his new restaurant, is a legit fan. He laughed about secretly ladling some cheese on the back of Green Bay Packers fans' jerseys when they came to visit his tailgates at Candlestick, and is in a perpetually lousy mood all week when the Niners lose.

Naturally, during game days he'll only be working pre- and post-game shifts, so he can sneak up to the stadium to catch the game.

The Bourbon Steak dining area of the Bourbon Steak & Pub in Levi’s Stadium, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.  (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)
The Bourbon Steak dining area of the Bourbon Steak & Pub in Levi's Stadium, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group) ( LiPo Ching )

The game-day tailgate is not going to work for most 49ers fans because it costs $5,000 for a 10-game season. More than 400 of the 500 available memberships have been sold.

At the game-day tailgate, fans get served six to eight different dishes, featuring a custom menu based partly on the opposing team, starting five hours before kickoff. For instance, if a team from Texas comes to town, Mina would offer a fire-roasted saddle of beef and smoked boar bites.

The rest of the time, the restaurant is open for dinner and lunch, and some of those prices are also sky-high. On the extreme end, the restaurant is selling a Kagoshima rib cap that would cost $336 for 8 ounces, and a 25-ounce Deus Belgiam Strong Ale for $75.

On the other end, a Mickey's Brown Bag Special -- 40 ounces of malt liquor -- costs $12 and a falafel burger with minted Greek yogurt, tahini and tomato jam is $16. Most other prices are in line with a nice local restaurant ($18 for a half-rack of ribs with "liquid gold BBQ sauce, for instance).

Perhaps the item getting the most attention is the smoking double barrel wagyu dog: two bacon-wrapped hot dogs topped with pork chicharrones, honey mustard and coleslaw, for $18. Another unique choice is the whole tortilla-fried nachos, which come stacked in a tower and are topped with a sunny side-up egg, and servers use a machete-like knife to cut it into nacho pieces at your table.

The Nachos appetizer at the Bourbon Steak & Pub in Levi’s Stadium, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.  (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)
The Nachos appetizer at the Bourbon Steak & Pub in Levi's Stadium, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group) ( LiPo Ching )

The menu took nine months to develop and many items require great care: The short rib is slow-cooked for 72 hours; the duck is dried in the walk-in refrigerator for five days; and the burger buns are a custom mix of potato and brioche topped with black pepper, and cooked on a custom bun griddle.

"We have enormous firepower," Mina said. "This is really fun cooking for chefs."

Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at Twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.