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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.