First, let's be clear: yes, that season we just experienced still counts as winter -- even though you spent more days sweating through your T-shirt than you did sporting your Patagonia fleece. Also, it's officially over, which likely means absolutely nothing in terms of the weather, but means EVERYTHING when it comes to lists of the best bar and restaurant openings from the past three months.
San Francisco's 12 Best Winter Openings
Yeah, so it's Bacon Bacon, but in a trailer. In Fisherman's Wharf. Which is actually SF's coolest old/new spot (according to us, anyway). The menu is slightly pared down due to space constraints (see: trailer), but they've totally got your classic faves, like the bacon burger, bacon grilled cheese, bacon fried chicken, bacon breakfast sandwich, and the bacon bouquet. Bacon.
Clearly the theme of this winter was "super-cool bars that are super hard to find" and we're down with that because, again: secrets are our favorite. Here's how to find Benjamin Cooper. Once you do, settle in and enjoy fresh, yummy oysters and cocktails that are adventurous, but in a grown-up kinda way.
Californios, a tiny, but glamorous Mexican-influenced restaurant, is a true dining experience. It's not the type of place you just decide to go on a whim, but rather the type of place for which you make a reservation so that you can anticipate and look forward to your meal. Which, by the way, will always be a a $75, nine-course tasting menu (that can accommodate vegetarians if, ugh, need be), will never include a menu until after your meal is finished, and should definitely include the $45 wine pairings (which can also include beer). The menu is constantly changing, but you can expect things like braised beef tongue and a very unusual twist on chips and salsa. Oh, and foie gras ice cream. One can not talk too much about that.
First things first: if you're not into meat, you're not going to be into Chef Chris Cosentino and partner Oliver Wharton's newest restaurant. Dishes like the "Ham"burger (it's made with pork), meat pie, and wood-roasted pig's head (that one's meant to be shared and costs $65) require a "let's do this" attitude you'll be happy you came with. If you were bummed when Incanto closed down (which you were), then you're elated that Cockscomb came to town. You're also elated that it just introduced not one, but TWO happy hours. One from 5-6pm and another from 10-11pm, during which you can enjoy $1 oysters and $5 draft beers and wines.
Does SF need more reservation-only bars? Probably not. But is it totally worth it to make a reservation for The Devil's Acre (and its secret downstairs bar Remedie)? We think so. The saloon/apothecary vibe is spot-on, and we're obsessed with the fact that we can add actual remedies like a "stress soother" and a "hangover cure" to the cocktails, not to mention the spinning cocktail shaker from the 1890s.
El Capitan is the kind of neighborhood spot one actually leaves his neighborhood for. Latin and Caribbean flavors are the heroes of this menu that's predominantly made up of small plates like ceviches, crudos, and Navajo tacos. Pro tip: come here with a big group so you can take advantage of the family-style platters, specifically the suckling pig and the asado Argentina. There are 10 craft beers on taps, pitchers of sangria, and best of all: an outdoor patio and beer garden.
Obviously there's nothing we (or anyone in SF) loves more than a secret bar. And considering you have to go up a super-tall staircase in the back of Hawker Fare to get to Holy Mountain, we totally think it counts. But even if you're not in the mood for a secret bar (???!!!!), Hawker Fare is a dining destination in its own right. First, it's a way more grown-up version of the Hawker Fare you'll find in Oakland, and we say that as a compliment (even though there's a time and a place for both). The food is just as amazing, though (it's family-style and you can eat with your hands if you want), and not to dwell on the bar program, but the cocktails are legit. Yes, Thai whiskey bottle service, we're looking at you.
Lower Nob Hill
Either you or someone you're tight with has been to Liholiho Yacht Club by now. After all, it was one of the most talked about openings this winter. If you haven't been, do that right now. Whenever you do finally get in, be sure to order the beef tongue steamed buns, the tuna poke on crisp nori crackers, and the fried cornish game hen. And save room for the baked Hawaii for dessert.
Even if you've never been there, you probably love State Bird Provisions. It's kind of a requirement, after all, of living in SF. Which means you should be super stoked that its follow-up restaurant, The Progress, opened in December. The "Choose Your Own Adventure," family-style menu is $65/person and includes dishes like "spiced lamb tartare with various ‘mix-in’ condiments" and a "‘treasure chest’ of fermented sausage, trout quenelles." Want a table? Forget making a reservation, which is basically impossible. Instead, try to get a spot at the 30-seat bar, which opens at 5pm every night and is first-come, first-served. Even better? All of the dishes on the bar menu are $5 or $10 and are scaled-down versions of what's on the regular menu, so you get to try more. Also, The Progress has a liquor license (!!!!!!) so you can enjoy your meal with a "classic" or "progressive" cocktail.
There are many things we love about Sous Beurre Kitchen, but the two that jump out are 1) the menu is all inclusive, which means no tips and a happier staff, and 2) the fact that "sous beurre" is French for "in butter." We also dig that all of the a la carte options on the menu are $25 or under (yes, even the bavette steak au poivre and the sage-brined pork loin), although we're truthfully huge fans of the $85 tasting menu (and the $30 pairing) because if you're going to indulge (which you are if you're eating at Sous Beurre), you might as well go all the way.
This permanent pop-up village constructed from repurposed shipping containers in a small corner of the SF Giants parking lot is basically everything you ever wanted from life. So, you know: an Anchor Brewing Company beer garden with BBQ and burgers from The Whole Beast, a permanent location for Off the Grid food trucks (including a bus that serves wine), and a Peet's Coffee. Now if only they also offered housing...
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Daisy Barringer is Thrillist's SF Editor and there is nothing she loves more than a beer garden. Except a beer garden with burgers and BBQ. Tell her what you love the most on Twitter @daisy.
1. Bacon Bacon Trailer2828 Jones St, San Francisco
2. Benjamin Cooper398 Geary St, San Francisco
3. Brewcade2200 Market St #102, San Francisco
4. Californios3115 22nd St, San Francisco
5. Cockscomb564 4th St, San Francisco
6. The Devil's Acre256 Columbus Ave, San Francisco
7. El Capitan1123 Folsom St, San Francisco
8. Hawker Fare680 Valencia St, San Francisco
9. Liholiho Yacht Club871 Sutter St, San Francisco
10. The Progress1525 Fillmore St, San Francisco
11. Sous Beurre Kitchen2862 24th St., San Francisco
12. The Yard3rd St & Terry A Francois Blvd, San Francisco
Bacon Bacon's permanent trailer is located in Fisherman's Wharf, by Carmel Pizza Co. and the Codmother Fish and Chips. Due to space constraints (with the bumper, the trailer is is 19.5ft), there are a few less offerings, but who cares when they’ve got all of the greatest hits, like the bacon burger, bacon grilled cheese, bacon fried chicken, breakfast sandwich, and the bacon bouquet? No one, that's who. It’s open from 8am-7pm, seven days a week.
This difficult-to-find boozery in the Tendernob's Hotel G is definitely worth finding -- mostly because of its weekly-changing cocktail menu and cheap oysters, all of which are served in a super industrial space with wall-to-wall-to-ceiling concrete and sleek metal bar stools.
Get this: Brewcade's an arcade-meets-bar on Upper Market where you can spend hours playing classic video games like Ms. Pacman and Street Fighter. That’s twenty-one games, 24 beers on tap, and 70 more in bottles and cans, to be exact. It’s the perfect spot to bro out with friends or lessen an awkward first date because there will be something to distract you from the standard “So what do you do?” talk that usually marks that initial encounter.
This elegant Michelin-starred spot in the Mission is a take on Mexican food unlike you've ever tasted. The hallmark of Californios is the multi-course tasting menu and the additional wine pairing. The menu is always changing, but you can expect lots of seafood, meat, and if you're lucky, foie gras ice cream. Reservations are hard to score but once you do, you're in for an intimate night (the restaurant has only 22 seats including a chef's counter) of truly haute Mexican food.
Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino celebrates the many tastes of San Francisco with his lauded restaurant Cockscomb. Warm, welcoming, and a bit rustic, Cockscomb welcomes diners for lunch and dinner with “nose to tail” delicacies like beef heart tartare, braised lamb shoulder, and pork belly with fermented black bean aioli and fried clams. Classic cocktails like San Francisco’s own Pisco Punch round out the menu for a uniquely delicious night out.
This North Beach spot is serving up apothecary-themed cocktails in an expansive space with a hidden basement bar. The Devil’s Acre pays tribute to the Barbary Coast with period-specific cocktails that are billed as “remedies.” And the theme doesn’t just stop at the cocktails -- the bar staff wears leather smocks, there’s an 1890's cocktail shaker, the menu’s designed to resemble a classic almanac, and you’ll find apothecary bottles dotting the bar, which is ideal since a drink from the Future Bars gang is a prescription we'll take any day.
Latin-Caribbean restaurant and bar El Capitan lights up the Folsom Corridor with vibrant flavors and a lively social setting. Long reclaimed wood tables create a communal environment perfect for sharing small plates of oysters, ceviche, and poke. Hit their outdoor patio and beer garden to enjoy a few cold one or a pitcher (or two) of housemade sangria.
The Mission outpost of this beloved Oakland eatery turns up the heat with spicy Thai-style street food and Tiki cocktails. The Thai-Issan menu features coconut milk curries and grilled meat dishes, as well as spicy salads and sides like chicken fat rice and fermented mustard greens. The family-style portions, picnic tables, and massive space make Hawker Fare an island oasis perfect for a group dinner.
Liholiho Yacht Club is a pop-up restaurant that found a permanent home in Nob Hill...and isn't a yacht club by any means. The kitchen serves a mash-up of Hawaiian, Californian, and Southeast Asian flavors, led by dishes like poppy seed steamed buns with beef tongue, tuna poke on a nori cracker, and twice-cooked pork belly. Aside from an à la carte menu, there's a family-style tasting dinner that's served at the Ohana Table, a communal table in the front of the restaurant.
With lines out the door every night at State Bird Provisions, it’s no wonder the team launched a follow-up to the perennial hotspot spot. If State Bird is all about small plates, The Progress emphasizes communal eating. Snag a seat at the lazy Susan-equipped Balcony Table that perches above the restaurant and get ready for a six-course, family-style feast of classic Californian food.
The fact that “Sous Beurre” means “in butter” should be enough to convince you to check this place out. But in case you need more, the chef is *doing Provencal French cuisine starring seasonal local ingredients, like steak tartare, a bavette steak au poivre, and an $85 tasting menu that will change, but currently includes dishes like Mendocino uni and Bone marrow French onion soup.
Forget iPhones and Twitter, the coolest innovation to come out of SF is now The Yard, a pop-up shipping container village with a waterfront beer garden. Yeah, you read that right. It's a VILLAGE made out of 13 recycled SHIPPING CONTAINERS and there's also a BEER GARDEN.