Just when you thought winter had too many openings to track, spring is gearing up for a dizzying array of restaurant and bar premieres. Well-known local chefs like Chris Cosentino and Dominique Crenn are expanding to new regions (or moving next door). Meanwhile, trends like omakase sushi, ramen, izakayas, craft cocktails with thoughtful bites and chef tasting menus definitely aren't stopping. Don't forget donuts and pear–bleu cheese ice cream for dessert to round out this list of 28 must-tries. We hope you're hungry.
The Barrel Room
ETA: Early June
Sarah Trubnick and Manny Hewitt’s wine bar–restaurant duo (FiDi and Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood) will become a trio in a few months, taking over the former Scotland Yard address. Former Bouche and Michael Mina chef Danny Murcia will be chef de cuisine for this location, with a menu that emphasizes the importance of food and wine pairings. A twist for oenophiles: All dishes will list both a recommended complementary pairing and a contrasting pairing. There will also be a monthly prix fixe menu based on specific regions, like at the other locations. Of equal note, the same gigantic by-the-glass list (at least 50 choices) and extensive cellar will head to the Marina.
From one popular Bay Area fast-casual concept to another, the cramped original Marina Tacolicious location (last year it moved down the street to bigger, sunnier digs) will be the second city outpost and fifth Bay Area cafe for Chad Newton and Grace Nguyen's Asian street-food concept. Expect the same two-part menu of "boxes" where diners can customize their noodle, rice or salad-based meals with various proteins, toppings and sauces or opt for one of the pre-designed options (we recommend the Miss Jones with lemongrass pork, chilled noodles, vegetables, extra fish sauce, caramel egg and all the toppings from bean sprouts to chopped peanuts). One great addition: This will be the first Asian Box serving bottled cocktails, which is sure to be a popular addition knowing the nightlife-loving location. Note that a San Jose location is also opening soon.
ETA: Late April
Next door to her flagship Cow Hollow restaurant, Atelier Crenn, Dominique Crenn will open her third and most informal concept, in the former Cellar Door wine bar. On cue, it will also be a wine bar but function as a casual destination or a prequel to dinner at its high-end neighbor. The two spaces share a rear walkway and courtyard. To drink, there will be low ABV cocktails along with biodynamic and natural wines. With the customary cheese and charcuterie, the wine bar will serve small plates and possibly a few more substantial dishes to share, all channeling classic French specialties and Crenn’s creativity.
Sonoma County & Marin County
ETA: Early April
The popular Jewish delicatessen is heading across the Golden Gate Bridge for its first location outside SF. It will take over what previously was Miette Patisserie in Larkspur’s Marin Country Mart. The menu will be similar to Wise Sons Bagel & Bakery in the Fillmore, with bagel sandwiches and plenty of house-cured pastrami, plus a few more salads and new items. Since last summer, Wise Sons has had a stand at the farmer's market here; soon Marin residents can get their favorites daily.
The Brass Rabbit
ETA: Late May
Chef Shane McAnelly and his team from Chalkboard are reinventing one of Healdsburg's most iconic restaurants (and fellow Square-adjacent neighbors), Bistro Ralph, which recently closed after a 24-year run. The original atmosphere will mostly stay in tact, with some refurbishing for a fresher retro look. Plans call for a seasonal supper club menu and classic old-school cocktails to satisfy locals and wine country tourists alike.
109 Plaza St., Healdsburg; 707-431-1380
ETA: Late March
Enough about the porcini donuts. Roasted chicken, cauliflower and porchetta are the specialties of Rich Table’s second project, to open just a block from the flagship in a 1,200-square-foot space. The inspiration comes from what husband-and-wife chef-owners Evan and Sarah Rich cook up to refuel after a ski trip. That means hearty and nourishing meal centerpieces from the rotisserie (as plates or sandwiches), accented by salads and soups. Bites include individually baked plancha bread, creamed kale and sorrel, and umami fries. Each rotisserie comes with two sauces amongst Douglas fir yogurt, chimichurri, RT ranch dressing or aji amarillo salsa. Unlike Rich Table, RT-Rotisserie will be open all day, 11 AM–9 PM.
Hayes Valley will get an omakase restaurant courtesy of Adam Tortosa, the original chef at 1760. His menu there was globe-spanning small plates — but since spending time as a chef at Union Square’s excellent sushi spot, Akiko’s, a sushi-heavy omakase concept became the chef’s calling. With just 30 seats, it will be an intimate experience like most omakase spots, but it will also have a lively, more stylish ambiance than the usual serene sushi bar, with a more accessible under-$79 price entry point. Note: It will be in the same complex as Johnny Doughnuts, and the working title used to be The Starling.
388 Fulton St.
Still unnamed Adriano Paganini project
Details are scarce, but prolific restaurateur Adriano Paganini and his Back of the House group are heading to Hayes Valley. With a portfolio ranging from Los Gatos to the Marina, and pizza (Delarosa, Starbelly) to burgers (Super Duper) to Mexican (Flores) to Belgian (Belga) and more, the next concept is casual Italian and the Hayes Valley neighborhood a new one for them. The restaurant will be on the ground floor of a recently unveiled (and controversial) glass-heavy, impossible-to-miss apartment building across from Patricia's Green.
Hayes Valley & Fillmore desserts
Salt & Straw
ETA: Late March
San Francisco’s already top-tier ice cream scene is about to get even sweeter with a duo of ice cream shops by this Portland-based purveyor. Having already made a splash in Los Angeles, Salt & Straw will continue its West Coast reach first in the Fillmore and later this year in Hayes Valley. Everything is made in-house, from the waffle cones to the pecan pie used in the apple brandy and pecan pie flavor. Ice cream lovers can also expect the shops' signature Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, plus only-in-SF creations like roasted strawberry tres leches or peach vinegar cobbler with toasted nutmeg.
2201 Fillmore St.
Good news for San Francisco donut lovers: You no longer have to venture to San Rafael or plan around Off the Grid's hours to enjoy a Crodough or Orange You Glad raised donut from Johnny Doughnuts. The homemade donuts, often considered the best in the Bay Area (and most unique at over 25 flavors at any given time) are coming to a ground-floor shop in a new Hayes Valley condo building. They've also got wheat-free “frittah things” plus vegan roasted sweet potato–based versions. Equator coffee will be offered from the full barista bar. Johnny Doughnuts will also open an outpost in Larkspur's Marin County Mart later this year (as is Wise Sons Deli).
388 Fulton St.
Homemade Chinese and Japanese dumplings with a California influence — paired with beer — are the theme for the 70-seat SoMa newcomer from the Omakase Restaurant Group (Omakase, Okane). There will be a range of dumpling shapes and fillings on offer (seafood, heritage pork, lamb, Wagyu beef, chicken, vegetarian). Some dumplings will also have creative skins (purple beet, anyone?) and a noodle special will be offered daily. In a nod to the ubiquitous dumplings served at Asian night markets, most of the seating will be communal tables. An outdoor patio is also part of the restaurant’s design.
The SoMa wine bar Les Clos is about to become a wine bar and raw bar thanks to the Big Night Group (Leo’s Luxury Oyster Bar, The Cavalier, Park Tavern, Marlowe). The space will get a sharp refresh by star designer Ken Fulk, with lots of Parisian accents like a marble bar, plush banquettes and various items brought back from the Paris flea markets. Besides the raw bar, Jennifer Puccio’s food will be simple small plates like cheese, charcuterie, salads and steak tartare. Les Clos co-owner Mark Bright (Saison) will stay on as a wine advisor with his specialty, Burgundy, as a prominent part of the bar’s wine roster. It’s full circle for the Big Night Group since they've expanded far beyond the neighborhood, but the original Marlowe location was just two blocks away from this Townsend Street address.
San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino (Cockscomb) is venturing up into the Napa Valley, guiding the restaurant at Las Alcobas, a 68-room luxury resort next to the Beringer Vineyards property near downtown St. Helena. Cosentino’s menus will be seasonally driven and include breakfast, lunch, dinner and poolside dining for the hotel, along with picnics for cyclists and an extensive bread baking program. Don’t expect as much offal as at Cockscomb or Cosentino’s previous Incanto, but do expect a Napa-heavy wine list given the setting.
1915 Main St., St. Helena; 707-963-7000
Chef Christopher Kostow and front-of-house director Nathaniel Dorn of The Restaurant at Meadowood are branching out with a more casual concept in St. Helena’s old Tra Vigne venue. The elaborate tasting menus of the high-end resort dining room will be swapped out for a family-style experience with seasonal, approachable flavors, with lots of produce from the shared garden with Meadowood and dishes cooked in the hearth. Diners might start with grilled oysters and ham cured in spicebush, then move on to salads and fun vegetable compositions (like onions with a chorizo Bolognese) before larger plates such as short ribs smoked over local Cabernet barrels. Renovations by Kostow, Dorn and Napa's star architect Howard Backen call for an outdoor patio, bar, communal table and an airy brick-exposed dining room with custom oak tables and a massive overhead chandelier.
1050 Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena; 707-963-4444
Mid-Market, Lower Nob Hill & Fillmore
Kagawa-Ya Udon Noodle Co.
ETA: Early April
Ramen, omakase sushi and izakaya snacks have had their trendy moment in recent years. Maybe udon is next? That’s the focus of this Mid-Market newcomer, specifically dedicated to Sanuki-style udon, a square-shaped noodle with flat edges. The co-owners even went to the Kagawa prefecture in Japan for an extensive training session on the udon art in the home of the noodle, so there is serious scholarship behind these bowls. The minimalist 40-seat space boasts tall ceilings, exposed-concrete walls and views of the exhibition kitchen where the noodles are made.
Hitachino Beer & Wagyu
ETA: Early April
The Union Square izakaya from Japan’s Kiuchi Brewery is already open — sort of. Right now the restaurant is doing an extensive and mostly secretive soft opening where email list members or friends of previous diners can visit the restaurant for a prix fixe menu or just have a beer and snacks at the bar. Later this spring, it opens to the public and the full-blown à la carte action will begin, along with 10 beers on tap, mostly brewed exclusively for this location, and Kiuchi’s sakes. Soak up the drinks with raw Wagyu beef dishes, cold snacks and pickled bar bites. The chef-partner is former Nombe chef Noriyuki Sugie, who is originally from the Ibaraki prefecture of Japan (where the brewery is located).
639 Polk St.; 415-792-6160
Heading from their prior restaurant, Reverb on Polk Street, to another busy thoroughfare, chefs-partners Ryan Shelton and Madison Fraser have a unique project on deck in the Fillmore that changes from day to night. In the evening, Merchant Roots will have two dinner services at an eight-seat chef’s counter three times a week with French-Italian-Californian tasting menus. In the daytime, the merchant component emerges with housemade pastas and charcuterie, along with wine, beer and takeaway home meal kits sold in the craft grocery market. Whether at noon or 8 PM, it will be an intriguing Fillmore newcomer.
1365 Fillmore St.
Camino’s first expansion project is replacing the North Oakland space that previously was home to the much-missed Salsipuedes. The menu is inspired by the original restaurant's popular Monday night dinner series, Kebab Mondays. Ordering at a counter, diners can opt between falafel, meat kebabs and other Indian, Northern African and Middle Eastern–inspired sandwiches, salads and plates, rounded out by sides such as grilled artichokes and red lentil hummus.
ETA: Early April
The Emeryville Public Market’s renaissance continues with a fast-casual modern Peruvian street-food stall from chef Carlos Altamirano. It’s his sixth concept, from sit-down Peruvian spots in San Francisco to Parada’s in Walnut Creek. Paradita’s menu will include rice bowls, grilled anticuchos, pollo à la brasa (traditional Peruvian roast chicken) and dulce de leche centered alfajores cookies for dessert. Take note that the stall will have a liquor license and include plenty of pisco cocktails and South American wines.
ETA: Mid April
The Bay Area just can't get enough ramen. Next up is the first West Coast location of this ramen shop, a worldwide heavyweight in the ramen world, coming to Berkeley. Amidst a rustic wood-heavy decor, diners can expect the chain’s beloved rich tonkotsu bowls and smaller izakaya plates like pork steamed buns. It’s part of a shared work office complex that will also house a new Blue Bottle Coffee shop. A San Francisco location will open later in 2017 on SoMa’s Yerba Buena Lane.
4505 Burgers & BBQ
Oakland soon will have a branch of 4505, SF’s most popular barbecue, in the former retro roadhouse diner-style hot dog joint, Glenn's Hot Dogs. The menu will be the same as the SF location, which means plenty of barbecue meat plates and sandwiches, sides like the infamous frankaroni and, of course, what many diners consider the aptly named Best Damn Cheeseburger. One new addition will be some outdoor seating.
ETA: Late June
Joyous news to the passionate local sushi fan population: Nobu Matsuhisa is coming to the Bay Area at long last. His first Northern California restaurant will be in Palo Alto's Epiphany Hotel, replacing Lure + Till, the hotel's original dining room. Bay Area diners can expect the same Nobu duo of Japanese-Peruvian cooked and raw fish compositions, combined with a chic, minimal atmosphere that have made his restaurants from Malibu to London celebrity magnets. This is Palo Alto's first big-name chef since Wolfgang Puck's Spago closed in 2007.
180 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto
From the northern tip of San Francisco, the Presidio Social Club team is opening a second and different concept in the heart of the South Bay. The Catamount replaces California Cafe in Los Gatos’ upscale Old Town shopping area and will lean towards a modern American menu (fresh salads, sustainable seafood) with a steakhouse edge (a selection of different cuts and chops). The airy 10,000-square-foot space boasts a green-heavy color scheme with bronze accents and a plush yet comfortable social club vibe. Another reason to be excited: more great cocktails for the South Bay and a strong selection of Santa Cruz Mountains wines.
Anytime an alum of The French Laundry opens a restaurant, it's enormous news. Make it a pair of TFL protégés and there's blockbuster potential. This aptly named Palo Alto fine-dining restaurant will likely be a step above normal fine dining though not in the same price and formality bracket as The French Laundry. It will be located on the ground floor of a new mixed-use building on California Avenue, an area known more for fast-casual lunches than three-hour dinners. Master sommelier Dennis Kelly teamed with chef Anthony Secviar for the project, which will have a daytime and nighttime lounge, plus a prix fixe only dinner. The two spaces combined should have about 80 seats. Secviar's cooking will certainly pay homage to the luxurious French-Californian style of the Yountville legend, with some modern and Spanish flourishes from his time as a chef at the legendary elBulli.
ETA: Late March
The Peninsula will soon get an exciting all-day restaurant — and a new nominee for most Silicon Valley–appropriate restaurant name — in the renovated lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley. Menu items throughout the day will be seasonally influenced and more casual in nature than usual for the luxury hotel chain, mainly since the restaurant is more of a hybrid dining room and meeting space. Pastries will be made from scratch in the mornings, with homemade charcuterie offered for dinner. Not surprising for the 101-adjacent location, happy hour will be featured, and each Friday is an oysters-and-caviar night (speaking of openings, the caviar is from The Caviar Co., who just debuted its SF shop earlier this month). Note that it’s not replacing the flagship dining room, Quattro.
Mission & Mission Bay
ETA: Late June
Luckily, we’ve seen lots of food trucks becoming brick-and-mortar success stories. San Francisco’s first pizza truck will get a permanent home after five years roving the streets. The full table service restaurant will have eight signature thin-crust pies, complemented by seasonal salads and housemade desserts. To drink, craft beer will be the focus, with plans for fun collaboration brews with local breweries (given owner Casey Crynes’ close ties to that community). The 30-seat restaurant in the rapidly growing Mission Bay area will have a rustic look, with custom booths and tile accents.
Alta Cafe & Bar
The Dogpatch’s Minnesota Street Project will get a marquee dining component: a sequel (but not quite a twin) version of Daniel Patterson’s Alta CA in Mid-Market. Diners at the gallery and visual arts destination can look forward to similar comfort Californian dishes with a few Eastern European touches that are heavy on rotisserie items and small plates. Anthony Lee is moving from the original location and will be the Dogpatch’s executive chef. We’re expecting some favorites to carry over, like the cheeseburger and "everything-spice" deviled eggs, along with the similar high-caliber cocktails and wine program. Jensen Architects is designing the 45-seat restaurant (Healdsburg SHED, SFMOMA’s rooftop sculpture garden and the rest of the Minnesota Street Project). Yes, there will be plenty of artwork throughout the space, as you’d guess based on the venue. Breakfast and lunch will be counter service, while dinner and weekend brunch will have full service.
ETA: Late May
Cocktail options in the Mission keep getting better. Proprietor Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand has a third project in the works heading to 24th Street (close to the BART station), which will focus on rum and its historical background in Africa and the Caribbean. Food, drinks and atmosphere will lean on those influences but will be much simpler than at Vogler’s other spots (think bar first, food second). Obispo is also much more intimate in size than its two sister spots.