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10 Hottest New Restaurants in San Francisco

By Virginia Miller
July 15, 2014
Photo by: Virginia Miller

It's been another fine season of new restaurant openings. And the streak continues, with some weeks averaging six newcomers. From two new sushi temples to BBQ trailblazers, here are 10 of the most exciting openings of recent weeks.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: Sushi master and chef-owner of long-beloved Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park, Ken Tominaga, joined forces with none other than Michael Mina to open PABU at the beginning of July, along with neighboring The Ramen Bar, a fast-casual ramen shop.
    Must-Order: There are plenty of worthwhile izakaya and robata grill dishes, including a stellar squid- and pork belly-studded okonomiyaki. Cocktails and Japanese whiskeys from Mina Group head bartender Carlo Splendorini and lead bartender Nick Jones make an ideal partner. For a splurge ($95), we recommend the fantastic nigiri tasting menu. Read more about it here
    Insider Tip: You've never had sake pairings like those sake master/sommelier Stuart Morris can match with your dishes.

    101 California St.; 415-668-7228

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: Cocktail experts Todd Smith, Ryan Fitzgerald and Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud soft-opened ABV in the former Tokyo Go Go mid-July, featuring a 16-cocktail menu organized by spirit.
    Must-Order: Chef Kevin Cimino, formerly of St. Vincent, is playing with his Southern roots — and many other global inspirations — in the likes of a drool-worthy pimiento cheeseburger and Southern pulled-pork tacos (unofficially dubbed South Carolina carnitas). There are many cocktail highlights, but don't miss the Pina Verde: Tapatio blanco tequila, lime, genepy, pineapple and house orange fennel bitters. Most of the finger foods and cocktails are priced at $10 or less.
    Insider Tip: Another late-night win — hours are 2 PM-2 AM daily.

    3174 16th St.; 415-400-4748

  • Monsieur Benjamin

    Why It's Hot: Benu’s acclaimed chef Corey Lee (pictured) has finally opened his more casual project Monsieur Benjamin in Hayes Valley. The airy space is the backdrop for an in-depth menu of over 40 dishes, featuring French classics from Lee and chef de cuisine Jason Berthold, formerly of RN74.
    Must-Order: We are heading in this week to dine so we'll have recommended dishes for you soon, but we're eyeing sweetbreads grenobloise, escargot and Camembert beignets —and a France-dominant wine list from Benu's master sommelier Yoon Ha.
    Insider Tip: This is yet another in the recent spate of late-night spots, open from 5 PM-1 AM daily with weekend brunch on the way.

    451 Gough St., 415-403-2233

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Gaspar Brasserie

    Why It's Hot: Alluring in reds, blacks, polished brass and dark woods under low ceilings, this new FiDi hot spot from restaurateur Franck LeClerc recalls a Parisian brasserie circa 1960. A dream team of executive chef Chris Jones, pastry chef Chucky Dugo and bar manager extraordinaire Kevin Diedrich confirm its status as a new dining and drinking destination.
    Must-Order: Absinthe Frappe to drink, Burgundian snails poached in sherry vinaigrette (pictured) and any of Dugo's stellar desserts.
    Insider Tip: Sit at the intimate upstairs bar under a low ceiling for a lighter dinner with cocktails.

    185 Sutter St.; 415-576-8800

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: Open on May 21, Kusakabe is an intimate sushi restaurant in blond wood showcasing the talents of Mitsunori Kusakabe, who for years was the highly lauded sushi master at Sushi Ran in Sausalito.
    Must-Order: $95 omakase menus with changing ingredients gives you the best experience of Kusakabe's range. Here are some standout moments from our recent visit.
    Insider Tip: Reserve seats at the sushi bar online via Seat Me.

    584 Washington St.; 415-757-0155

  • Photo by: Douglas Zimmerman

    Dirty Habit

    Why It's Hot: Palomar Hotel's former Fifth Floor restaurant officially reopened on May 1 as Dirty Habit: a new, more casual bar and restaurant with a chic outdoor patio that seats 50 people, complete with a fire pit, couches and tables. From a Cheech and Chong-inspired appetizer to playful cocktails in vintage glassware with names like Femme Fatale, the returning Fifth Floor dream team of executive chef David Bazirgan, pastry chef Francis Ang, bar manager Brian Means and sommelier Jose Maria Aguirre ensures the same high standard of consumables with a more playful edge.
    Must-Order: Charred octopus with eggplant and cherries (pictured); ginger churros in miso caramel; Spritz & Giggles, a bottled, carbonated cocktail mixing Belvedere Vodka, a strawberry-vinegar shrub, local Sutton Cellars Vermouth and corn tea.
    Insider Tip: When making a reservation, request a patio table — one of the hottest seats in town right now.

    12 Fourth St.; 415-348-1555

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: Chef Dennis Lee's (Namu Gaji) fatty, thick-cut, fall-apart-tender brisket vies for best in the city. Wash it down with beers made by owner/Magnolia founder Dave McLean, who is teasing new suds here. There's also an exceptional spirits selection and cocktails from bar manager Eric Quilty — all served up in a space that feels modern and historic at once.
    Must-Order: Brisket, brisket, brisket, Texas toast; The Long Bridge cocktail.
    Insider Tip: Arrive early. It's usually packed up with the after-work crowd by 6 PM.

    2505 Third St.; 415-864-7468

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    4505 Burgers & BBQ

    Why It's Hot: 4505 Meats owner and butcher extraordinaire Ryan Farr soft-opened 4505 Burgers & BBQ on May 1 in the former Da Pitt BBQ hut on Divisadero. Barbecued meats, beer and Farr/4505 favorites like chicharrones and juicy sausages flow.
    Must-Order: Pulled pork/pork shoulder, Best Damn Grass-Fed Cheeseburger, grits and egg vegetarian sandwich.
    Insider Tip: A shipping container that acts as dining space will be coming soon.

    705 Divisadero St.; 415-231-6993

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Bartlett Hall

    Why It's Hot: Beer and classic cocktails with upscale comfort food? Yes, please. Barlett Hall focuses on quintessential urban-casual Downtown dining, with iconic dishes from Eman Eng, like Maverick’s butter burger and fried chicken.
    Must-Order: That dreamy butter burger, fried chicken entree, octopus and watermelon salad, miso-maple ribs, Emperor Norton cocktail.
    Insider Tip: Chris Wike brews his own beer in the on-site brewery with a few rotating beers at a time.

    242 O’Farrell St.; 415-433-4332

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: 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 spaced features Cal-Med cuisine with a Spanish emphasis.
    Must-Order: We recommend the chicken albondigas (meatballs), summer squash salad and any of the bomba, a style of paella named after chewy bomba rice, which soaks up more of the broth; Amy Chapman's gorgeous lavender and egg Summer Berry Flip cocktail.
    Insider Tip: Order a glass of Gonzales Byass Solera cream sherry with Nugent's desserts.

    3407 Lakeshore Ave.; 510-251-0329


Places Mentioned

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Schroeder's Restaurant

German • Downtown

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Bartlett Hall


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Sushi • Downtown

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Gaspar Brasserie

French • Downtown

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