10 Hottest New Restaurants in San Francisco

By Zagat Staff  |  August 3, 2015
Credit: Dirty Water

From an authentic sushi experience to a game-meat specialist in the Twitter building, there's no shortage of exciting SF openings to keep you busy all summer long. In our monthly update, here are the 10 restaurants you need to know now.

  • Credit: Sessions at Presidio

    Sessions at the Presidio

    Why It's Hot: A log cabin meets a sleek industrial loft in this new beer-focused barstaurant. But it's not just ambiance, Golden Gate views, and outdoor seating that make this an exciting new spot. Master Cicerone Nicole Erny has curated over 100 beers, including 24 by the bottle while and Executive Chef Michael Bilger's menu complements with farm-fresh sharable plates ranging from crispy fried chicken sandwiches to hangar steaks to delicate clams. Beer even shows up in the food, with bread made from yeast of the beer or duck liver mousse with a red ale gelee.  

    Must-Orders: Mediterranean Clams

  • Petit Crenn

    Why It's Hot: The intimate, bright, and airy dining room, combined with Chef Dominique Crenn's star power make this brand new Hayes Valley spot a hot-ticket item. The five-course tasting menu is an ode to seafood and vegetable dishes inspired by Brittany, France where Chef Crenn grew up, and showcases the best spoils from local markets. 

    Insider Tip: Reservations go quickly but we've got hacks on how to score one of the coveted tables! For extra-special occasions, the Chef's Table Experience reserves the best table for the whole night and includes special, off-menu items, such as lobster, caviar, and abalone. 

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Bon Marche
    Why It’s Hot: With an on-site small-production brewery, café, raw bar, patisserie, full-service restaurant, and an adorable flower shop, Bon Marché is a grand representation of Paris, France—the kind of swanky, soaring experience you’d find in Vegas. Executive Chef Mark Liberman from the former Des Amis delivers French brasserie classics like steak tartare, French onion soup, and ham and cheese baguettes, while Master Cicerone Rich Higgins—one of just nine in the world to hold this distinction—oversees the seven-barrel brewing operation. 

    Must Orders: The dry sparkling wine with truffle salt rim whets the appetite for the the chef-favorite veal sweetbreads with parsley girardet, and madeira jus. 
    Insider Tip: A perfect spot for corporate events and private parties, inquire here [http://www.bonmarche-sf.com/events/] for your next French-inspired soiree. 

  • Credit: Dirty Water

    Dirty Water

    Why It’s Hot: This grand, ambitious bar-restaurant concept has made a big splash in the lobby of the Twitter building as a swanky destination for power lunches and after-work dinner and drinks. Chef Chris Fissel (formerly of Chez Spencer) has created a game-focused menu of exotic meats as well as traditional proteins and options for the vegetarian set, all cooked over a wood-fired, open-flame oven and served in large, shareable portions. The beverage menu is equally impressive, boasting 52 beers on tap, 115 wines by the glass and an extensive, surprising cocktail menu utilizing rare spirits.

    Must-Order: For lunch, the roasted tri-tip sandwich won’t disappoint. The Axis deer tartare is a gamey revelation, while the pig ear fritto misto is surprisingly fresh, flavorful and chewy, similar to calamari misto but with heartier pork.

    Insider Tip: With a supremely educated drink staff, this is the spot to imbibe while learning the intricacies of rare wines and spirits. “Bartial Artist” Zachary Taylor whips up mind-bending concoctions, such as the Long Strange Trip, which is a naturally sweet libation thanks to the maple-flavored candy cap mushrooms infused with 1776 rye, lemon, black pepper, and Zucca Amaro.

    1355 Market St.; 888-393-0530

  • Credit: Karen Solomon


    Why It’s Hot: This upscale Edomae-style sushi bar from Kash Feng (of Live Sushi) offers an ever-changing chef’s-choice menu, featuring fish flown in several times per week from Tokyo’s world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market for the freshest, most authentic sushi experience possible. Three seasoned chefs, headed up by Jackson Yu, preside over 14 counter seats and take diners on a surprising culinary journey, based on the three fixed price points. Yu is renowned for his exceptional knife skills, honed in acclaimed restaurants Japan’s Ukai and Ingi Son, New York’s Masa and Napa’s Morimoto. The donabe dishware, the world’s oldest pottery, adds to the refined experience with handcrafted dishes that maximize the plate’s ability to retain heat in order to enhance the flavors of the food.

    Must-Order: Pick your price point ($100, $150, and $200) and let the chefs do the rest.

    Insider Tip: While you surrender your taste buds to the chef, peruse the extensive sake menu, featuring several refined selections. From the mellow and clean $18 carafe of “Karakuchi” to the $345 bottle of Tedorigawa “Mangekyo,” lauded for its silky texture and deep flavor, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to exercise choice.

    665 Townsend St.; 415-865-0633

  • Credit: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: Intimate Frances has been a favorite of restaurant-goers and the national press since it opened in 2009. Now chef Melissa Perello and crew have opened a long-anticipated second restaurant, Octavia, in a space that housed a long line of restaurant greats from the Meetinghouse to the original Quince and most recently Baker & Banker. Open in April, Perello and her team continue to turn out ever-changing food that is soulful and heartwarming while simultaneously light, fresh and current.
    Must-Order: Chilled squid-ink noodles and featured toast (pictured) on Josey Baker levain with changing toppings like warm ricotta, charred spring onion purée and fresh watercress leaves.
    Insider Tip: Start with an apéritif from the winning list of vermouths from beverage director Paul Einbund (formerly of Coi) with helpful tasting notes offered straight, on the rocks with bitters and an orange peel or with tonic, bitters and orange.

    1701 Octavia St.; 415-408-7507

  • Credit: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: Long-awaited Aatxe (pronounced "aah-CHAY") opened in April on the dramatically transformed ground floor of the Swedish American Hall, which houses Cafe du Nord downstairs (recently reopened with new menus). Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (Flour + Water, Central Kitchen, etc.) and the Bon Vivants (Trick Dog) are behind this Basque/Spanish restaurant with chef Ryan Pollnow at the helm (formerly at Central Kitchen). Pollnow combines his favorite regional dishes from Spain and Basque Country travels with California ingredients and ethos.
    Must-Order: Pintxos or bites (pictured), exceptional patatas bravas, mussels escabeche, morcilla (blood sausage) and chickpeas with pork cheek, carrots, pine nuts and raisins.
    Insider Tip: The Bon Vivants' aperitivos and cocktails do not disappoint, showcasing sherry but also sporting a fantastic graph of gins from Aatxe's extensive collection with a range of tonics to pair with, in keeping with Spain's most popular drink, the G&T, all run by bar manager Tommy Quimby. Wine directors Sam Bogue and Geno Tomko's dynamic wine list focuses solely on small Spanish producers, a range of sherry and dry Basque ciders.

    2170 Market St.; 415-471-2977

  • Credit: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: Daniel Patterson Group's long-awaited Aster opened at the end of March on the cozy corner of Guerrero and 22nd. The kitchen is helmed by Brett Cooper, whose cooking we've missed since his days as Outerlands chef. Sous-chef Meghan Clark (Aziza, Spoonbar, Kin Khao) and pastry chef Sean Ehland (McCrady’s in Charleston) work with Cooper, utilizing ingredients from small, local farms on an ever-changing menu.
    Must-Order: Crispy potato and nettle dumplings; camouflage-esque frozen chocolate marked by cocoa-nib crumble, mandarin orange sauce and basil oil; kale leaf and carrot salad.
    Insider Tip: Aster has eschewed its highly publicized tip-included menu pricing for traditional tipping. Diners may now pay whatever they wish for service.

    1001 Guerrero St.; 415-875-9810

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    ICHI Kakiya

    Why It's Hot: Erin and Tim Archuleta opened ICHI Kakiya in May with longtime collaborator and restaurant manager/beverage director Shasta Olarte in the original ICHI Sushi space, which is now down the street in larger digs as ICHI Sushi + Ni Bar. In the intimate, 21-seat space, executive chef Tim Archuleta helms an oyster bar with raw, cold and hot dishes, steamed shellfish and a focus on sustainable seafood, whether from Japan, France or North America's West Coast. This newcomer maintains the welcome and intimacy of the original ICHI with a distinctive menu from its sister restaurant down the street.
    Must-Order: Oysters and half lobster (pictured), Hokkaido scallop crudo and daily changing seafood specials.
    Insider Tip: Watch for "secret menu" treats like mini, Japanese-style lobster rolls, vivid with tobiko (flying fish roe), kani (crab) miso and bonito (a fish in the mackerel/tuna family) Tabasco.

    3369 Mission St.; 415-814-3877

  • Credit: Virginia Miller


    Why It's Hot: A three-course dinner for just $35? Yes, please! The team from Stones Throw has come together again to launch a casual, neighborhood joint serving a daily changing menu of well-executed comfort food. This Jackson Square combo of appetizer, main course and dessert is one of the best bargains in town. The extra-hungry will want to add a fourth pasta course ($10 more); the thirsty will pop open one of the many top-notch bottles around $40.
    Must-Order: English pea risotto with cress and Parmesan; roasted tomato soup with whipped burrata and basil; thyme and garlic-stuffed chicken with dirty rice, sausage and greens; thyme panna cotta, poaches peaches and peach granita.
    Insider Tip: The 49-seat space can also be rented out for private parties. Helloooo wedding rehearsal dinner!

    531 Jackson St.; 415-772-0922