Hottest Bay Area Restaurant Openings of 2013 (So Far)

By Zagat Staff  |  September 16, 2013
Credit: The Cavalier

As the last quarter of the year begins, we're reviewing the current crop of new restaurant openings to see which ones have made the biggest impressions in 2013. There's plenty more to come before the year is out, but these eateries have made their marks in the culinary landscape in what feels like no time at all. Click through to see who lives up to the hype and leave your own suggestions for the biggest debuts of the year.

  • Credit: Ramen Shop, Oakland

    Ramen Shop

    Three Chez Panisse alumni are behind one of the year's runaway East Bay hits, slinging noodles out of a dining room made of reclaimed Douglas fir. There are no reservations, which means an all-but-guaranteed wait (the good news: that means cocktails). But customers are finding that it's worth it for the handmade noodles, sustainably raised meat, variety of broths and healthy California flair.

    5812 College Ave., Oakland; 510-788-6370

  • 1760

    It's only been open a few days, but the sister restaurant to Acquerello already feels like an important part of the emerging Upper Polk Street area. Chef Adam Tortosa, previously of Ink and Kiwami restaurants in Los Angeles, calls his style "modern ingredient-driven cuisine." His opening menu features dishes inspired by travels in Italy and Asia, such as watermelon gazpacho with Dungeness crab, finger lime and borage; bucatini with uni, garlic, red pepper and bread crumbs; and a fried duck sandwich with slaw, pickles and spicy aïoli.

    1760 Polk St., San Francisco; 415-359-1212

  • The Cavalier

    The latest from the Marlowe/Park Tavern team offers the feel of a cheeky yet classy British pub in the heart of SoMa. Now the neighborhood is finally learning the meaning and flavor behind terms like scrumpets, rarebits and brambles. Right now, the restaurant serves dinner only, but lunch will join the rotation on October 1.

    55 Fifth St., San Francisco; 415-321-6000

  • Credit: Sharon Vaknin

    Roka Akor

    This luxurious Japanese robata grill and sushi restaurant in Jackson Square is the first location in San Francisco; Roka Akor already operates three restaurants (one in Scottsdale and two in Illinois). The 118-seat restaurant boasts of a separate downstairs bar that holds a capacity of 68 people. Upstairs, the restaurant’s menu has been spearheaded by executive chef Roman Petry, who came to SF with an international resume of Japanese restaurants.

    801 Montgomery St., San Francisco; 415-362-8887

  • A16 Rockridge

    The long-awaited sequel to San Francisco’s A16 restaurant opened on June 1 in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood. Like Chris Thompson, chef of the original, Rocky Maselli has developed a menu centered around handmade pastas (crawfish cavatelli, bucatini with ramps and mussels), rustic mains (crispy fried lamb sweetbreads, rabbit cacciatore) and pizzas (rachetta, margherita), offering dishes unique to the East Bay outpost. And while wine is a focus in SF, the East Bay spot boasts a full liquor license.

    5356 College Ave., Oakland; 510-768-8003

  • Duende

    This ambitious Spanish-inspired restaurant and bar brought forth by former Oliveto executive chef Paul Canales and impresario Rocco Somazzi has made good on its mission of creating a bustling neighborhood hub for eating, drinking and carousing in Oakland’s up-and-coming Uptown district. At night, the art deco dining room offers a midpriced, locally sourced Iberian-inspired menu that showcases pinxtos augmented by live music and a sherry-focused wine bar/lounge. Meanwhile, the adjacent all-day bodega offering coffee, churros and tea cakes also has won over early risers.

    468 19th St., Oakland; 510-893-0174

  • Credit: Eric Wolfinger

    El Techo de Lolinda

    San Francisco’s only legal rooftop dining is now open again. Adriano Paganini, the restaurateur behind such hits as Beretta, Starbelly and Super Duper, has taken over the former Medjool space and transformed it into a Pan-Latin tapas and cocktail bar (his Argentinean restaurant Lolinda is just downstairs). Chef Alejandro Morgan has crafted bites such as shrimp ceviche, empanadas alambres and chuzos (skewers of meat and veggies) to go with cervezas, caipirinhas, piña coladas and more. The space has been reincarnated with an inclusive and inviting vibe, plus the breathtaking city views.

    2518 Mission St., San Francisco; 415-550-6970

  • Hard Water

    Unlike his popular Slanted Door Vietnamese restaurant and offshoots, Charles Phan’s latest waterfront restaurant is an American whiskey bar specializing in New Orleans-inspired seafood-centric cuisine. The compact dining room, which is illuminated by a massive vintage buoy-turned-light-fixture and overlooks the pier, features a raw bar and about 18 bar stools flanking the central white-marble-topped horseshoe bar, plus a handful more at high counters that line the space.

    Pier 3, The Embarcadero, San Francisco; 415-392-3021

  • Juhu Beach Club

    Top Chef alum Preeti Mistry’s brick-and-mortar outpost of her popular Indian street food pop-up in Oakland showcases updated renditions of Mumbai snack foods and Indian homestyle cooking such as vindaloo chicken wings with blue cheese raita, masala fries, slider-style sandwiches and kids' tiffin specials, all of which can be washed down with a slate of Indian and local beers, lassi drinks and chai. A sense of whimsy permeates the colorful storefront outfitted in a riot of pink-, red- and saffron-colored walls, Bollywood images, monkey-print wallpaper and shelves lined with spice containers to store her house-ground spice blends.

    5179 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; 510-652-7350

  • Padrecito

    This Cole Valley Cali-fresh Mexican taqueria and cantina, a spin-off from the Marina's Mamacita, quickly assumed its place as the new go-to watering hole and eatery in the otherwise sleepy 'hood. The menu of locally sourced Mexican fare is broken down into categories - tacos (fish, goat, bacon), botanas (ceviche, guacamole), salads, enchiladas and chilaquiles - and showcases made-to-order fresh corn and flour tortillas and produce from one of the owners' family farm.

    901 Cole St., San Francisco; 415-742-5505

  • Hi Lo BBQ

    Look for the charred cedar siding (inside and out) to sniff out this Mission smokehouse and corner bar from Scott Youkilis (Hog & Rocks, Maverick) slinging elevated Northern California-style BBQ meats (smoked chicken, St. Louis-cut ribs, grilled fish), seasonal sides (baked beans, sweet potato salad) and traditional American desserts (housemade whoopie pie), paired with ‘cue-friendly cocktails, beer and zero-proof drinks such as Abita root beer.

    3416 19th St., San Francisco; 415-874-9921

  • Coqueta

    Perched on the edge of Pier 5 with the San Francisco waterfront at its feet, Michael Chiarello’s convivial contemporary Iberian showcases contemporary regional Spanish tapas and raciones (family-style large plates), much of which is served tableside by roving waiters clad in gaucho vests who circle the dining room. The marble-topped bar focuses on artisanal Spanish and Californian wines, loads of sherry and molecular cocktails, plus a variety of housemade gin and tonics, all of which can also be enjoyed in the glass-enclosed terrace or alfresco on the patio along the Embarcadero.

    Pier 5, The Embarcadero, San Francisco; 415-704-8866