New & Hot Places

Hottest Restaurants in San Francisco

Despite the abnormally cold temperatures and all that rain, this winter has been as hot as ever for San Francisco restaurant openings. Spanning from splashy tasting and omakase menus to hearty brunch and Neapolitan pizzas, these are the 10 hottest newcomers right now in SF.

Alba Ray's

NewCajunThe Mission
From the Popson’s and Causwells crew comes this chic Mission Cajun spot with midpriced New Orleans classics (think crispy boudin balls, creole barbecue shrimp and jambalaya) plus late-night bar snacks and a playful beer, wine and cocktail menu. Expect bar, banquette and table seating and Southern-inspired design accents, from fleurs-de-lys art and ornate metalwork to purple velvet and bold tiles.

Must-order: Creole pork and chicken jambalaya; boudin balls; shrimp and grits; Sazerac

Insider tip: If you're dining with a group, reserve the communal table in front of the kitchen and order the large format seafood boil, which is currently head-on shrimp (next up is crawfish).

August (1) Five

Expect contemporary Indian fare with a California slant at this Van Ness Avenue lunch and dinner bistro, pairing midpriced menu items with international wines and cocktails that spotlight global flavors. Elegant and inviting, the spacious corner spot features modern design and offers a convenient option for local employees and concertgoers alike. P.S. Closed on Sundays, and weekday happy-hour specials available from 3–6 PM.

Must-order: Palak chaat (crispy spinach); paneer kebab; trio of naans; the quirky and spicy Ancho Reyes–based Royal Bombay Yacht Club cocktail

Insider tip: Being a short walk from the opera and symphony, this is a prime early or quick dinner spot with a great selection of cocktails and small plates for grazing. Don't miss the portrait of the Maharaja of Patiala ("Patiala Peg"), which has surged to the top of SF Insta-musts.

Babu Ji SF

IndianThe Mission
The San Francisco outpost of this New York favorite lands in the Mission, where a highbrow Indian menu changes regularly and features tandoori, regional curries and modern Indian street food plus cocktails and an ambitious, locally focused wine and beer list (with beers stocked in a self-serve fridge). Clean lines and global accents define the modern dining area, which welcomes patrons at banquettes and tables.

Must-order: Colonel Tso's cauliflower; "unauthentic" butter chicken; tuna tartar gol gappa snack; the smoky and earthy Don't Tell Auntie cocktail with beetroot

Insider tip: At $62 per diner for food and $34 for wine pairings or $24 for beer pairings (a rarity in SF), the chef’s tasting menu is one of the best bargains in the city (especially given its generous serving size). You won’t be hungry afterwards, but you will be thrilled with the many dishes sampled.

Finn Town

NewAmericanThe Castro
Chef Ryan Scott’s Castro bistro spotlights upscale New American comfort fare and cocktails, with midpriced dinner and weekend brunch menus (plus late-night eats) and Bay Area–inspired drinks offered at two bars. Casual yet stylish, the interior accommodates guests at colorful barstools, plush booths and tables, all surrounded by vintage accents.

Must-order: Fried chicken sandwich; Finn Town burger; Death by Chocolate dessert with a fudge brownie and four other chocolate components

Insider tip: Night owl alert: Dinner Thursday to Saturday is served until 1:30 AM. All other nights it's offered until 11 PM. Plus, there are two happy hours — 5–7 PM Monday to Friday and again 10 PM–midnight Sunday to Thursday.


NewMexicanCow Hollow
From Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House Restaurant Group (Uno Dos Tacos, Beretta, Delarosa, El Techo and others) comes this traditional Mexican dinner spot in the Marina, serving midpriced snacks and mains paired with modern cocktails. The bright, expansive interior employs light wood, vibrant tiles and artsy accents, while bar and communal table seating ups the buzzy atmosphere.

Must-order: Sopes with hearts of palm; huitlacoche and kale quesadilla; carnitas; Ghost Ride cocktail with mezcal and Averna

Insider tip: The restaurant recently unveiled a weekend brunch menu. Highlights include the pozole verde, huevos poblanos with chicken mole and a mini quesadilla, and chilaquiles. On a brunch-heavy street, it's easily one of the best options.


NewJapaneseRussian Hill
Upscale omakase comes to Polk Street, where this traditional Japanese spot from Michelin-starred chef Takatoshi Toshi (Sushi Ran) offers highbrow prix fixe dinners featuring fish sourced from Japan along with sake, wine and beer. Expect set seating times and sleek, minimalist decor in the intimate Russian Hill dining room, as well as a hinoki-cypress topped sushi bar and a petite private event space.

Must-order: A nine-course omakase meal at $120

Insider tip: When making your reservation, you'll be asked whether you prefer a table or to sit at the bar. Don't think twice: Sit at the bar and watch the sushi chefs from a front-row seat.


NewItalianCow Hollow
For rustic California-Italian fare and wine to match, visit this cozy, no-reservations Cow Hollow spot serving elevated wood-fired pizzas, seafood and classic pastas. There’s a spacious outdoor garden patio with communal tables, and inside, it’s reclaimed redwood, custom fixtures and lots of natural light brightening the bar and table seating areas.

Must-order: Brisket and pork shoulder meatballs with tomato sugo; squid ink bucatini with Dungeness crab and sea urchin butter; housemade sausage and wild nettle pesto pizza

Insider tip: There is a reason Contrada also considers itself a wine bar. Five sparkling wines are available by the glass and the lengthy white, rosé and red by-the-glass menu is exclusively wines on tap. That means all those wines are also available at a budget friendly half-carafe size.


NewChina Basin
Upscale Indian fare gets the California treatment at this SoMa bistro that serves elevated a la carte plates and a seven-course tasting menu, along with creative cocktails, wine and beer. The stylish space features bold colors and contemporary design, with bright banquettes, vibrant art and cozy corners for private conversation.

Must-order: Jhalmuri bar with avocado, tamarind gel and mint chutney; sea bass with agave and madras curry; seven-course tasting menu for $80; Banaras Sour gin cocktail with basil, cucumber and chartreuse

Insider tip: The best deals and most traditional Indian cooking are found with the vegetarian ($22) and non-vegetarian ($25) tastings. Each features an appetizer and main plate, along with a vegetarian curry, avocado raita and garlic naan and a few other accompaniments.

Tartine Manufactory

The Mission
San Francisco’s legendary bakery expands into spacious, multipurpose Mission quarters that also house a coffee counter, ice cream parlor and midpriced Californian cafe and bar serving wine, beer and low-proof cocktails. With soaring ceilings and a modern, industrial-chic look (including stoneware from neighboring Heath Ceramics), this production kitchen and food hall–style destination hopes to elevate local cuisine to a new level.

Must-order: Any bread; smoked salmon bun (breakfast); ham and cheese sandwich (lunch); bone broth (dinner); rocky road ice cream pie for two to four diners (dinner)

Insider tip: The venue can be chaotic from the crowds in the daytime. Luckily, dinner allows for table reservations. The evening menu is also much more ambitious than breakfast and lunch, deserving to be considered more than just an excuse to have larger platters of Tartine's breads and desserts.

Uma Casa

NewPortugueseNoe Valley
Chef Telmo Faria (Tacolicious) brings this contemporary Portuguese charmer to Noe Valley, offering a midpriced dinner menu of shareable small plates, seafood and entrees, plus a Portuguese-centric wine list, beer and low-proof cocktails. Clean lines, light wood and bright tiles distinguish the spacious, homey dining area, where diners choose from high-tops, banquettes or cozy tables.

Must-order: Salt cod fritters; spicy char-grilled piri-piri chicken wings; caldeirada, a seafood stew

Insider tip: Low-proof cocktails can be a disappointment, but not here. Try the Madeira and passion fruit creation, Savage Islands.

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