Our Favorite New Dishes in the Bay Area This Year

From cereal pancakes to Thai breakfast staples, a Chicano-style Scotch egg, and more.

With such a tumultuous past couple of years, especially for the restaurant industry, the number of new restaurants that debuted in the Bay Area within the past year alone has been impressive. As for non-brick-and-mortar food establishments, many of the new pop-ups, pickup and delivery-only food businesses, and home-based food ventures were actually born out of pandemic survival pivots, but have grown so popular, they’re likely to stick around for a while longer. As one theme of this ongoing pandemic has been to appreciate the small things in life, this year we’re highlighting the best dishes we ate at new restaurants across the Bay. Here’s to another year of hopeful eating, and looking forward to fortunate food futures.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Cereal Pancakes at Glen Park Cafe

Glen Park, San Francisco
Momofuku Milk Bar’s cereal milk soft serve from the late aughts spurred an era of cereal-infused milky sweets. Glen Park Cafe, which took over the old Tyger’s space this July, presents its take with three thick, fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with two mounds (scoops, really) of house-made cereal milk-infused whipped cream and a generous handful of Corn Pops and Fruity Pebbles. Nostalgia plus carb loading are part of this complete breakfast.
How to order: Walk in or order pickup online.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Joke Gai at Khob Khun

Inner Richmond, San Francisco
Yes to Thai breakfast, including the comforting chicken meatball congee of joke gai, which comes with a poached egg, sliced matchsticks of ginger, onions, crispy rice, and a fried savory donut stick. There are also American breakfast offerings at Khob Khun, including house-made caramelized bacon seasoned with rosemary and black pepper. Since the soft opening in July, newly converted regulars return not only for the breakfast, but also for the special “Thai authentic” menu (only offered after 11 am), like the kaeng som kung lai bua, a sour tamarind soup with lotus rootlets and shrimp.
How to order: Walk in or order pickup and delivery online.


The dish: Chorizo Scotch Egg at Low Bar

Uptown, Oakland
It takes a steady hand to wrap a soft-boiled egg in ground British sausage, roll it in seasoned breadcrumbs, and deep fry it in such a way to fully cook the meat, perfectly crisp the breading, but not overcook the yolk. Substitute house-made chorizo for the meat and corn tortilla panko for the breading, and you’ve got a new Oakland-born classic from the Chicano-owned bar that finally opened in the spring after a year of pandemic delay.
How to order: Walk-ins only.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Le Kus Kus Chicken Bowl at Kayma Algerian Eatery

Tenderloin, San Francisco
What a burst of fresh flavors, from the yogurt-marinated chicken breast stewed with tomatoes, onions, cumin, and Algerian spice mixture ras el hanoul, to the silky, fluffy kus kus, to the super crisp green salad studded with creamy green olives. Married couple Mounir and Wafa Bahloul run the only Algerian restaurant (now also a food truck) in San Francisco, and got their start at the immigrant- and women-friendly kitchen incubator La Cocina. It’s one of the inaugural food kiosks at the much-anticipated La Cocina Marketplace that opened in April.
How to order: Walk in or order pickup online.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Chili Frank Plate at Diamond Head General Store

El Camino Real, San Bruno
Talk about a comfort dish that’s not common in the Bay Area. Diamond Head General Store’s gussied-up version of a classic Hawaiʻi plate lunch combo features a juicy, jumbo all-beef frank, house-made beef chili topped with melted cheese and sliced jalapeños, two scoops of white rice sprinkled with furikake, and one scoop of secret-recipe mac salad. It really does come on a paper plate, covered with parchment paper and placed in a branded ten-inch pie box because the thing is so damn deliciously huge.
How to order: Walk-ins only.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Beef Noodle with Shank and Tendon at Chiang Beef Noodle

Cupertino and various Bay Area locations
When beef broth is gelatinous in cold form, that’s a great sign of deep, rich flavor, full of melted collagen from slow-simmered bones, aromatics, and spices. When reheated at home from Justin Chiang’s Taiwanese beef noodle soup takeout kits, the thick broth coats each chewy, bouncy, toothsome noodle with a 30-ingredient flavor, rounded out with tender beef pieces, bright pickled mustard greens, baby bok choy, and blanched tomato.
How to order: Check their Instagram page for pre-order dates and links. Chiang Beef Noodle is now available at various Bay Area pick-up spots via Pastel.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Purple Rice Yogurt Drink at Yomie's Rice x Yogurt

Various Bay Area locations
Is purple rice yogurt the new boba? The Aussie chain with more than 400 locations worldwide certainly thinks so, having opened its first Bay Area locations this spring. The signature drink is like an adult-sized, healthier Go-Gurt, with high-fiber, protein-rich, and antioxidant-filled purple rice mixed with yogurt made in-store daily.
How to order: Walk in or choose a location and order pickup online.


The dish: Steak and Mushroom Pie at Fleet Street Pie Company

Various Bay Area locations
Even if you’re lukewarm toward mushrooms, the roasted fungi creates magic when married with slow-cooked chuck and blanketed in beef gravy, all wrapped in a flaky pie crust that is both delicate and hearty enough to eat with your hands (because you might not be able to help it). The New Zealand-style savory pie company delivers to various parts of the Bay via Shef, with occasional pop-ups in chef Genni Thomas’s home base of Santa Clara.
How to order: Order delivery via Shef and follow them on Instagram for additional pop ups.

Photo by Margot Seeto

Jackfruit Birria Tacos at P-Town Birrias

Various locations in Pacifica
We’re lucky that quesabirria tacos have weaved themselves into the Bay Area food scene, though the vegetarian jackfruit variety is not as plentiful. Owner Tiffany Keeling, creator of the Blaxican Burrito, serves good vibes and conversation alongside her veggie tacos (easily made vegan without the cheese), complete with veggie consommé for dipping or sipping.
How to order: Place orders via Instagram DM for local delivery in Pacifica.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Teriyaki Beef Hash Brown Sandwich at Art’s Cafe

Inner Sunset, San Francisco
SF was ecstatic that the 30-year-old diner reopened under new ownership in February of this year after the original owners retired in July 2020. While there’s no tofu kimchi scramble, other signature dishes happily remain, such as the hash brown sandwich combos that feature a square of flat, super crispy shredded potatoes sprinkled with cheddar and wrapped around your choice of sautéed protein and onions, accompanied by two eggs and toast.
How to order: Walk in or order pickup online.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Buko Pandan Pan De Ube at Ube Mami

San Bruno and various Bay Area locations
This little vegan bun’s beauty lies in its perceived simplicity. The compact green baked good emits a subtle young coconut and screwpine leaf aroma, the bread is soft to the touch, and the first bite reveals a smooth, boldly purple ube halaya filling. The “vegan Filipinx baked goods” pop-up that took its first official orders in February has steadily gained popularity with its variety of eponymously named ube desserts, and hopes to open a brick-and-mortar location down the road.
How to order: Check their pop-up schedule online and pre-order for pickup online.


The dish: Fried Chicken at Respectable Bird

The East Side, South San Francisco
Breaking away from SF Chickenbox and debuting as Respectable Bird in May, the fried chicken specialists revealed revamped recipes that include a special chicken brine and secret spice blend. The chicken manages to stay extra crispy and light on the outside, and juicy on the inside.
How to order: Order online for pick-up or delivery from the commercial kitchen, or find the food truck around the Bay Area.

Photo by Margot Seeto

The dish: Spicy Kalbi and Kimchi Pizza at Pacifica Pizza Project

Linda Mar, Pacifica
Made with gochuchang tomato sauce, kalbi-marinated short ribs, house-made zucchini kimchi, sesame seeds, and green onions, this pizza combo was a special that just may reappear on the weekend pop-up’s ever-changing menu. Due to pandemic job losses, restaurant industry vets Ryan Wilson and Natalie Wong started using their backyard wood-burning pizza oven last fall to provide super fresh, Neapolitan-style pizzas with mostly local ingredients, like various greens from Pacifica’s Lenny’s Lettuce. Even if you don’t see the spicy kalbi and kimchi variety on their rotating menu, the classic cheese, margherita, and pepperoni options are well-worth a try, or go for whatever the weekend special happens to be.
How to order: Fill out the order form on their Instagram for pickup on most Fridays and Saturdays.

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Margot Seeto is a Bay Area freelance writer and a contributor for Thrillist.