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25 New Restaurants to Try in the Bay Area

By Virginia Miller
October 17, 2014
Photo by: Virginia Miller

Where and what do we eat tonight? That's the never-ending question on everyone's mind. We're here to help answer that with a roundup of the latest openings you need to know around the Bay Area. Here are the 25 newest spots in order of opening — East Bay openings start at 22. Check back every Friday for an up-to-date list. 

1) The Hall
Opened by Scott Peterson and Ted Wilson with AQ's Matt Semmelhack, The Hall is the latest step forward in the revitalization of Mid-Market. The hip, spacious food hall and market features six local food vendors and a bar, which means you can find breakfast, lunch, happy hour drinks and an early dinner all in a single space. Vendors cover a wide range of culinary styles, each using a heavy amount of sustainable and organic ingredients. Here's our walk-through of dishes and drinks to try (bonus: everything under $15). 1028 Market St.; 415-558-8293

2) Les Clos
Imagine your dream cafe, one with impeccable food, world-class wine and robust coffee. Lucky for SoMa, such a place exists: Les Clos, a new wine bar and café hybrid from award-winning sommelier Mark Bright. The Saison alum has brought on board two cohorts from the acclaimed restaurant, chef Shawn Gawle and cellar master/sommelier Cara Patricia Higgins. Modeled after the wine bars of Paris, Bright's Les Clos feels like the ideal French cafe, boasting both high-quality food and drinks. Despite the humble setting, chef Gawle's Parisian-inspired dishes certainly can wow. 234 Townsend St., 415-795-1422

Les Clos' Parisienne gnocchi gratinée  [Photo credit: Virginia Miller]

3) Lazy Bear
Lawyer-turned-chef David Barzelay launched his underground pop-up Lazy Bear last year, throwing imaginative tasting-menu dinners that gained a huge cult following (and long waiting lists). In late September, Barzelay finally rolled out a brick-and-mortar location in the Mission's former Hi Lo space and we had a First Look at some of the food just before the grand opening. The beautiful bones and feel of the interior are still there, complete with the vaulted, rafter-lined ceilings and charred, barrel-like wall. On the second floor, there's a chic lounge overlooking the dining room that's perfect for pre-dinner cocktails and small bites. Reservations go the Alinea and Next route: an online ticketing system of prepaid, nonrefundable (but transferable) tickets are released monthly — purchase them here. 3416 19th St.; 415-874-9921

4) Bistro L'Aviateur
The latest addition to the recent resurgence of French bistros is the Mission's L'Aviateur, opened mid-September by husband-and-wife duo Maha and Vincent Laforge (Vincent a former pilot, hence the aviation-themed name and decor). The cafe/bistro fare is rife with Mediterranean influences, namely from Maha's native Tunisia. Though the menu changes daily, it follows a format of salad and soup, two appetizers and two entrée options for lunch or dinner, with initial offerings like traditional Tunisian bread or quiche. Call ahead for hours which are still in flux. Here's our take on the cafe in opening weeks. 2850 21st St.; 415-757-0272

Tunisian pastries at Bistro L'Aviateur [Photo credit: Virginia Miller]​

5) Charin
Dinner in a changing, undisclosed location in the Mission/Bernal Heights/Noe Valley area? This is the setting for a rather unique concept that's may feel like a pop-up, but is actually a new restaurant that's always on the move. Charles-C Onyeama launched the concept, having staged at high-profile places like Benu, SPQR and Manresa. Here is our early take and course-by-course photos from the first week. The eight-course tasting menu will generally range from $95-$135 per person with the maximum reservation size for four people given the few tables (just 15). Sign up for dinner alerts on their site directly. The exact location is announced once reservations are made.

6) Hecho
Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim (Hi Tops) — with consulting from Top Chef alum chef Jamie Lauren — launched this sit-down restaurant in the Castro focusing on modern interpretations of Mexican classics. On the menu, you'll find a variety of tacos (duck confit, crunchy picadillo, al pastor), along with entrees like beer-steamed clams and whole fried snapper. Naturally, drinks are heavy on tequila and mezcal cocktails. Read up on our early recommendations for dinner and brunch here. 2200 Market St.; 415-926-5630

Whole fried red snapper in chiles, lemon and garlic at Hecho [Photo credit: Virginia Miller]

7) Urchin Bistrot
Husband-and-wife duo Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani (AmeTerra) opened Urchin Bistrot at the beginning of August in the former Wo Hing General Store. Running in partnership with Ame's Michael Morrison and chef/GM Susan Naderi Johnston, this on-trend bistro offers excellent escargot-style mussels along with other California-meets-France hits. Also: a Frenchy bar program from Rafael Jimenez Rivera (Ame, Comal, A16, Plum Bar), plus a mural highlighting Mission landmarks like the Roxie Theater warms the space. Our early recommends here. 584 Valencia St., 415-861-1844

8) Plin
Alexander Alioto's Plin breathes new life into the former Conduit/Another Monkey space with modern Italian small plates, including crudos, handmade pastas and a heavy focus on seafood. After tasting through the gamut, here are the menu items you shouldn't miss. The whole space looks fresh and new again thanks to a sleek redesign by Alioto's mom. 280 Valencia St.; 415-655-9510

9) Beso
The group behind Bisou in the Castro opened Beso (Spanish for “kiss”) in late August — another in the recent spate of new tapas spots. The open kitchen is run by Bisou Group’s executive chef and co-owner Nicolas Ronan and consulting chef-partner Anthony Lemortellec from NYC’s Boqueria. Here are our menu recommendations. 4058 A 18th St., 415-801-5392

Tamarind margarita slushie at Loló​ Cevicheria [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]

10) Loló​ Cevicheria
Now open in the former Loló​ space on 22nd Street, this new Peru-meets-Mexico concept from the same owners is a mellower alternative to the bustling relocated Loló​ on Valencia Street. A few of the cult-followed dishes of yesteryear are available at the Cevicheria, namely the taco tropical and tuna tacon. The rest of the menu has a decidedly Peruvian slant, overseen by chef-owner Jorge Martinez and chef Alberto Pitman, who cooked at famed Pujol in Mexico City. Amid toucan wallpaper, toy parrots and beach towel-lined banquettes, fill up on Peruvian ceviche and causas and Mexican tacos and sopes, while drinking sangria or margarita slushies. More early recommendations are here. 3230 22nd St.; 415-913-7898

11) Ferry Plaza Seafood
This long seafood counter, serving fresh crab and chowder, recently relocated from the Ferry Building to a light-filled space just off Washington Square Park in North Beach. It's still heavy on shellfish, but now offers a range of seafood on an expanded menu. Chef Joey Ng, who worked for years at the original location, cooks "with love," as she says, and one can taste it in the clean, but heartfelt, lines of the seafood-dominant dishes. 653 Union St.; 415-274-2561

12) Mason
TV personality and chef Ryan Scott hits Potrero Hill with a new restaurant called Mason, opened at the end of July serving “American pub food.” A pizza oven churns out pies like Maui Me with tomato sauce, ham, Maui Gold pineapple, jalapeño and rosemary. Of course, there's also a classic Margherita. Bites like house-cured olives in citrus and lavender and grilled artichokes dipped in remoulade round out the menu. Our recommends here. 338 De Haro St.; 415-255-9335

Cocktails at ABV [Photo credit: Virginia Miller]

13) ABV
Cocktail experts Todd Smith, Ryan Fitzgerald and Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud soft-opened ABV in the former Tokyo Go Go this week, featuring a 16-cocktail menu organized by spirit. Chef Kevin Cimino, formerly of St. Vincent, is playing with his Southern roots and many other global inspirations in the likes of a pimiento cheeseburger and a ma po sloppy Joe. Most of the finger foods and cocktails are priced at $10 or less. Bonus: hours are 2 PM-2 AM daily. Our favorite initial dishes and cocktails here. 3174 16th St., 415-400-4748

14) The Tradesman
In what was a sausage-smoking plant near Trick Dog and Flour + Water, The Tradesman opened 7/18 from Harrison Woodworking + Design owners, which means custom woodworking everywhere, from cabinets to tables. Scott Youkilis (Hog & Rocks) and chef Bryan Baker have helped put together a drink-friendly menu that offers the likes of peanut butter cheddar burgers and a strong wine and beer list. Our early recommends here. 753 Alabama St.; 415-814-2276

15) South
Charles Phan's South at SF Jazz was just completely changed and reopened under the same name as a Mexican small plates and cocktails bar for pre-show or any-time dining and drinks. Chef Rymee Trobaugh (of Zuni Cafe) serves affordable small plates ($5-$19) like shrimp sopas, beef tongue, albondigas, clam ceviche and entrees like rabbit in yellow mole, alongside cocktails with an agave spirits focus, naturally. Our early favorite dishes and cocktails here. 205 Franklin St., 415-539-3905

16) PABU
Sushi master and chef-owner of long-beloved Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park, Ken Tominaga joined forces with Michael Mina to open PABU at the beginning of July, along with The Ramen Bar, which opened June 30. Expect izakaya and robata grill dishes alongside cocktails and Japanese whiskies from Mina Group head bartender Carlo Splendorini and lead bartender Nick Jones. Also: a fantastic nigiri tasting menu with sake pairings from master sake sommelier Stuart Morris. Here are our early food and drink recommendations. They recently added on lunch service. 101 California St.; 415-668-7228

17) Causewells
Owners Alvin Garcia and Tom Patella join forces with chef Adam Rosenblum, a former sous chef at Flour + Water, to serve a list of trendy greatest hits, including deviled eggs and kale Caesar. There are also playful turns like Allstar Donut bread pudding. The Bon Vivants Design+Build updated the 1930’s deco space and an outdoor patio space is on the way if they can raise Kickstarter funds to open it. PS: this too is a welcome late night option, serving food until 1 AM. Here are our initial food and drink recommendations. 2346 Chestnut St., 415-447-6081

18) The Ramen Bar
From Chef Ken Tominaga and The Mina Group, The Ramen Bar opened June 30 serving Tominaga’s signature Tokyo-style ramen bowls utilizing ingredients from local farms and purveyors, ethically-sourced meats and fresh fish. Drinks include Japanese beers, sake, cold-pressed juices, Los Angeles’ LAMILL Coffee and non-alcoholic “Tea-Tails,” like Hong Kong Milk Tea or Masala Chai Tea on tap. The space is meant to evoke a Japanese fishing village marked by shipping sails, rope and reclaimed wood. 101 California St.; 415-684-1570

Nigiri tasting menu at PABU [Photo credit: Virginia Miller]

19) Marla Bakery
Husband-wife team Amy Brown and Joe Wolf — who met working at Nopa and started Marla Bakery as a popular takeout window in the Mission — opened Marla Bakery, the restaurant, on June 20. It's an all-day affair, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch. Of course there's also a bakery attached. Check out our early picks here. A custom, two-tiered wood-fired oven centers the room, marked by wood cabinets and pottery, and a back garden and patio designed by Paxton Gate. There's also a wine, beer, cider and sherry drink menu from Chris Deegan, also formerly at Nopa. 3619 Balboa St.; 415-742-4379

20) Aveline and The European
Consider it a two-for-one deal: Aveline is a chic new restaurant from Top Chef alum Casey Thompson and The European is its equally classy neighboring bar, overseen by Adam Wilsom, formerly of Beretta. Both opened in tandem on June 6th in The Warwick hotel, central for theater- and gallery-goers, downtown shoppers and tourists. The bar serves fun bites like house Spam and black grape jelly with Texas toast paired to a menu of low-alcohol and Champagne cocktails. See our top items here, including visionary, gratifying yolk beignets wrapped in lardo and wagyu beef. 490 Geary St., 415-292-6430

21) Chubby Noodle Marina
With a soft opening on May 29, the long-fantastic original North Beach location of Chubby Noodle in the back of Amante bar has spawned a new Marina outpost. This Asian fusion gem from Don Pisto's Pete Mrabe and Nick Floulis serves creative noodle dishes, dumplings, poke, crudo and more with 13 wines on tap as well as a beer, sake and a low-alcohol cocktail on draft. We tried the entire menu and here are our favorites. 2205 Lombard St., 415-655-3335


Rye Parker House rolls at Causwells [Photo credit: Virginia Miller]


22) Taiwan Bento
Soft opening at the end of August for Oakland's daytime lunch crowd, Taiwan Bento is from husband-and-wife team Stacy Tang and Willy Wang. They offer a range of Taiwanese-style bento dishes in various meat and vegetarian options, each with rice, pickled vegetables and a soft-boiled egg. For the moment, they are open Monday-Friday, 11:30 AM-2:30 PM. 412 22nd St., 510-250-9858

23) Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House
Opened August 19, in Oakland’s Jack London Square, Jack’s Oyster Bar & Fish House is the second restaurant from Rick Hackett and Meredith Melville of next door Bocanova. Hackett crafted a seafood-dominant menu, ideal in Jack's waterfront setting with spacious outdoor patio gazing out at docked boats — pictured above — alongside Executive Chef Peter Villegas (Campton Place, La Mar, La Folie).  East and West Coast oysters flow and the house clam chowder ($9 bowl) is luxuriously creamy and smoky with bacon. Here are our initial recommends at this welcome new Oakland seafooder. 336 Water St., 510-271-7952

24) Shakewell
Top Chef alums and former Scala's Bistro chef Jen Biesty and pastry chef Tim Nugent opened their Oakland restaurant, Shakewell, on July 11. The airy space features Cal-Med cuisine with a Spanish emphasis, like boquerones, chicken albondigas, deviled quail eggs, lamb kefta. Nugent also puts forth some dreamy desserts and there are classic and seasonal, rotating cocktails, to boot. Our early standouts and recommended dishes and drinks here. 3407 Lakeshore Ave., 510-251-0329

25) alaMar, Oakland
Open May 1, alaMar, from chef-owner NYC-native Nelson German, is all about seafood. There’s a Louisiana-style crawfish boil and peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp, alongside playful seafood like coconut shrimp lollipops in champagne gastrique, dipped in Thai basil cocktail sauce. Cocktails by Rob Wertheimer continue in the playful spirit with punch bowls, sno-cones and house sodas. Our initial favorite items here. 100 Grand Ave.; 510-907-7555

Places Mentioned

Chubby Noodle

Asian • Cow Hollow

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Californian • Nob Hill

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The European

Nob Hill

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American • Marina District

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Ramen Bar

Noodle Shop • Downtown

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Ferry Plaza Seafood

Seafood • North Beach

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Lolo Cevicheria

Mexican • The Mission

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Urchin Bistrot

French • The Mission

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Italian • The Mission

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Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House

Seafood • Oakland

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Mexican • The Castro

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Spanish • The Castro

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Lazy Bear

The Mission

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