From the same restaurant group that brought us Thrillist-fave Belga, comes this buzzy, expansive Mexican restaurant in the old Betelnut space right next door. The shareable menu of traditional fare has something for everyone from quesadillas to sopes de palmito (lightly fried masa dumplings) to negro poblano and plates of carnitas. The mid-ranged price point allows you to nibble your way through a substantial portion of it, but definitely order the ceviche de pescado and anything with handmade tortillas -- spoiler alert -- that’s most of the menu. Executive Chef Alejandro "Alex" Morgan (Lolinda and Techo) has made fresh masa the star of the menu, perfecting the tortillas of his childhood. Marina and Cow Hollow have a ton of Mexican eateries to choose from, especially as Don Pistos tequila bar moved in recently, but Flores stands out for its modern cocktail list, which is so good we wrote a whole article on it.
Across town is another luxurious new hot-spot where you’ll want to order one of everything... over and over. Finn Town is the kind of place you go to for brunch to feel fabulous and end up staying forever (or at least wishing you could). We got to move in one Sunday brunch to experience the homey yet rollicking atmosphere and inventive comfort food Executive Chef Ryan Scott and Chef de Cuisine Jason Raffin have become known for through stints at Market and Rye and Scotland Yard respectively. Must-orders include the lobster eggs Benedict on a homemade english muffin, the fried egg breakfast sandwich, and the French toast fingers that come with huckleberry sauce. We haven’t been for dinner yet, but something tells us Raffin has brought his burger skills to the Castro. With two bars (along with signature cocktails on tap), sleek comfy leather chairs, and jewel tones that recall vintage SF, Finn Town offers loads of ambiance for price points in the $7-$21 range.
Chef Adam Sobel, Thrillist’s San Francisco Chef of the YEAR, has done it again with his latest seafood-driven concept for MINA Test Kitchen, which opens a new pop-up every three to five months. This time the extensive tasting menu ($59/person) takes your taste buds on a trip through coastal Italy with menu full of pescaterean delights, Italian cocktails, and a house-made limoncello program. Treat yourself to this virtual vacation immediately and definitely order the yellowfin tuna crudo, the cauliflower with sea urchin, and the black pasta with octopus, clams, garlic, and hot peppers. If fish isn’t your thing, there are a few really special items on the menu that still make it worth a trip. Go for the ricotta and short rib-stuffed “pillows” and the bone-in New York steak for two.
The Boxcar Theater’s immersive 2014 theatrical hit is back, offering modern-day revelers a chance to travel back to 1923. Since its brief stint, the 9,000sqft space has undergone a $2 million renovation, which includes a two-story circular cabaret space, as well as secret passageways and disguised entrances. Here the servers and bartenders are actually actors, creating an elaborately staged nightclub from 1923. But don’t worry, these actors know how to pour a cocktail. Prohibition Era cocktails like Corpse Revivers and Black Manhattans are on offer for $12-$13 and a couple light bites.
Secret bar alert! Inside WesBurger 'N' More (the Mission’s diner you need in your life) is a tiny Tiki-inspired lounge called The Den. The space may be small but it packs a punch -- literally. A rotating selection of house-made punches crafted by top SF bartenders is the star, but you can also get beer and cans of Funaguchi, one of Japan’s most popular aged sakes that’s neither pasteurized nor blended to create a rich, light taste.
San Francisco gets its first Kosher-certified bakery with the Israeli-owned Taboon. Relying on recipes passed down from a Jewish great-grandfather who owned a bakery in Isreal, the team is baking up all sorts of Middle Eastern delights fresh every day except Saturday, such as challah, pita, bagels, babka, Israeli-style donuts, and a variety of stuffed puffed pastries called burekas. Get there early (they open at 8am everyday except Saturday) or order ahead online -- the popular pastries are already selling out daily.
Twelve-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani opened his seventh Slice House this month and because you can never have enough award-winning pizza in your life, we’re not mad about it! The Haight St location has some unique additions, like house-made hamburgers served on house-made Kaiser buns like the El Diablo with serrano peppers, Calabrese aioli, smoked provolone, arugula and agave syrup, and the vegetarian-friendly Honey Hippie Veggie Burger with mozzarella, red onion, arugula, peppadew peppers and honey. Pair it with Blue Moon beer-battered onion rings, rosemary garlic fries or honey pancetta fries with Parmigiano cheese. As a nod to the historic Haight St location, Warhol-esque prints of cultural icons like Wonder Woman and Spock as well as portraits of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and John Lennon line the walls.
The popular cafes located in Fillmore and Tenderloin have expanded to this new bakery concept, overseen by Head Baker Jorgen Carlsen, who’s behind the artful bread baking at Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station. The new location features a production bakery and offers an extensive selection of breads, pastries, and baked goods including mini cookies available in peanut butter tahini, almond fennel biscotti chocolate shortbread, meringue kisses, savory croissants, cinnamon rolls, chocolate brioche, and much more. Fresh bread includes surprising twists like chocolate sourdough and several gluten-free options as well. A small menu of breakfast, brunch, and lunch offerings is available, as well as to-go ordering. The food menu will have JANE’s classic sandwiches with daily flatbread additions as well as other savory items to pair with soups and salads.
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1. Flores2030 Union St, San Francisco
2. Finn Town2251 Market St, San Francisco
3. MINA Test Kitchen2120 Greenwich St, San Francisco
4. The Speakeasy SFSomeplace Discreet In, San Francisco
5. The Den2240 Mission St, San Francisco
6. Taboon132 6th St, San Francisco
7. Slice House1535 Haight St, San Francisco
8. Jane the Bakery1881 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
Adriano Paganini (Beretta, Delarosa) is behind this stylish Cow Hollow spot that serves traditional Mexican and contemporary cocktails in an artsy space with light-wood paneling, black-and-white tiling, and ornate murals. The food includes favorites like carne asada, ceviche, and mole poblano, while cocktails reign supreme in their sheer originality. Don’t overlook the Tostiloco, a rum-based concoction inspired by a popular Baja street food dish and mixed with tamarind, lemon, chile, and club soda. It’s TJ in a glass.
From Top Chef alum Ryan Scott, this classy cocktail tavern takes its name from the Castro's 1860s moniker, Finn Town, which referred to the neighborhood's dense population of Finnish seamen. The stylish yet low-key space boasts two bars and a plush banquette-filled dining room where comfort food -- double-decker burgers, white cheddar dumplings, and lobster cioppino -- reigns supreme. While it's a wise choice for a dinner date, Finn Town is also the type of neighborhood spot you can stop into for a drink and some oysters. The cocktails are based on SF icons, including the Harvey Milk-themed Milkman: a vodka, lychee milk, and ginger concoction served in a glass milk carton.
MINA Test Kitchen isn't a restaurant, it's a dining experience. The 1,600sqft space in the Marina is an R&D lab for Michael Mina and a rotating cast of all-star chefs to experiment with different cuisines and techniques. A series of pop-up dinners showcases the latest creations, which will eventually end up on various MINA restaurant menus. The pop-up themes are always changing, but past ones focused on Italian-American and Mediterranean food.
North Beach's Speakeasy will transport you to 1923 via a cabaret stage, gambling tables, and multiple bars. The interactive bar stages an immersive theatrical experience that will make you question not only who's a guest and who's a paid actor, but also why the hell you weren't alive in the Roaring Twenties. You'll feel left out of the crowd of corrupt politicians and flappers if you’re not boozing, so be sure to sip on one of the Prohibition-era cocktails offered on tap. Once the three-and-a-half hour, 35-character show finishes up, you’ll wish you could remain an epic time traveler instead of hobbling back to your walk-up.
Owned by Wes Rowe, The Den is a pint-size bar next to WesBurger that serves house-made, low-ABV punches in a 100sqft space decorated with a mini jungle of plants and faux birds perched atop bamboo. Aside from the Lo-Fi Aperitif-based drinks, you can order Lone Star craft beer and cans of Funaguchi, an aged sake that's neither pasteurized nor blended and has a rich yet light taste. There's only room for 15 here, making each visit feel like an intimate tiki-themed cocktail party.
Kosher bakeries are far and few between in the Bay Area, making this one in Soma all the more sacred. The trio of friends behind Taboon uses recipes passed down from one of the founder’s great-grandfathers, who owned a bakery in Jerusalem, to bake traditional breads and pastries daily. Za’atar-spiced flatbreads, sweet cinnamon challah, fluffy jelly doughnuts, and sesame seed bagels are all heavy-hitters here, but don’t miss the fan-favorite bureka, a triangular puff pastry stuffed with savory fillings like spinach, cheese, potatoes, and mushrooms. Arrive early or order ahead before the goods are gone because Taboon’s yeasted breads sell like hotcakes. Not to mention, the industrial high-ceilinged space only has a handful of seats.
The Haight-Ashbury outpost of Tony Gemignani's Slice House offers the World Pizza Champion's killer pies, plus welcome additions like burgers on house-made buns, rosemary garlic fries, and bourbon BBQ wings. Both the pizzas and burgers are loaded here, the former with toppings like sun-bathed tomatoes, imported gorgonzola, or Genoa salami, the latter with Cheddar, fried onion rings, or smoked provolone. Many menu items nod to the Haight's hippie past, like the California Dreaming grilled chicken sandwich and the Mary Jane burger (we're pretty sure it's not laced with anything).
It's safe to say this former KFC/Taco Bell space got a serious upgrade when Jane opened its doors here. The bakery branch of Jane cafes is more of a retail space than a sit-down coffee shop, offering only a few counter seats to enjoy the extensive selection of breads, pastries, and baked goods. Peanut butter tahini cookies, almond fennel biscotti, meringue kisses, savory croissants, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate brioche are just a few of the sweet tooth-satisfying goods on display. To-go sandwiches and salads are available as well, plus coffee, tea, and smoothies.