They’ll say “Wanna get food?” And you’ll say “Yeah.” And they’ll say “Where do you wanna go?” And you’ll pause while you pull up this very story, which you geniusly saved to Pocket, and then say “How about the new secret bar above Gaspar? OhohOH or the all-you-can-eat brunch place? WAIT NO, LET’S GO TO THE THE SUBTERRANEAN VIKING ROOM!!!” And then they’ll say “Yep.”
Welcome to San Francisco’s 15 best bar and restaurant openings of spring.
What you’re getting: Charred sepia and pork belly or share the made-for-two salt-grilled beef ribeye with your date
An intimate date spot from the team behind Flour + Water serving Basque-style tapas with Northern California ingredients.
What you’re getting: Pig's head croquettes (with blood orange kosho, arugula, kumquat); dry-aged beef strip oin with farro verde, morel, little gem, and ramps
Housed in the former Beast and the Hare spot, the first solo project for Chef Brett Cooper (formerly of Outerlands) features a special focus on ingredients cultivated specially for the restaurant by Northern California farmers and ranchers. Enjoy two dozen wines by the glass and several European beers by the bottle.
What you’re getting: Chianti-braised beef short rib pot roast and literally anything(/everything?) on the cocktail menu. (We particularly love the $10 Old Fashions on tap and the Cinnamon cocktail.)
This elegantly masculine hotel restaurant and bar will be your new go-to spot for after-work drinks that inevitably will turn into drinks and bar bites (the New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp are well worth the mess, as is the Thai curry red coconut popcorn) that will inevitably turn into drinks and bar bites and dinner because you just glimpsed the work of art that is the Chianti-braised beef short rib pot roast at a table nearby.
What you’re getting: Bar steak au poivre and frites; mussels in whitbier
This is a Belgian brasserie with Californian sensibilities from the team that brought us Beretta, Delarosa, El Techo de Lolinda, and Starbelly. The innovative cocktail program from Nora Furst and curated Belgian beer list mean pre- and post-dinner (and during-, and pre-pre-) drinks are a must, but don’t sleep on the food, which promises “the sophistication of Belgian with the heft of German.” We likey.
What you’re getting: The NOLA iced coffee, duh
Blue Bottle joined the Twitter building dining hall party with a sleek, 500sqft café on the ground floor of The Market. Enter on 10th St between Mission and Market for your morning coffee and pastry fix (except, sadly, no waffles at this location... YET) and definitely take your pour-overs, iced coffee, and espresso drinks to go -- the compact, ultra-efficient cafe means minimal hangout space.
What you’re getting: $1 oysters and half-priced Champagne after midnight
The beloved 100-year-old subterranean concert venue is back and better than ever thanks to a new menu from James Beard nominee Thomas McNaughton. It's featuring small snacks (popcorn, bar nuts, and beef jerky) and entrees (Burger du Nord, Cioppino, Chicken al Mattone, and a ribeye steak), a cocktail program from the Trick Dog dudes, and an Art Deco-inspired design refresh. Enjoy live music seven nights a week in the back Viking Room that seats five at the bar and 30 for guests seeking a full-service dining experience.
What you’re getting: Brandy cocktails
It's a swanky, semi-secret (shhhhhhh) hangout above Gaspar Brasserie featuring the city’s largest selection of brandy cocktails, which each celebrate the spirit’s many varieties from Cognac to pisco. Slide up to the gorgeous golden bar after work and let barman John Codd (formerly of The Slanted Door and 15 Romolo) school you in this sophisticated spirit with a flight ($19-$230) or one (or, let’s be real, two-five) of the 50 brandy-based cocktails ($12 each) on the menu. Equipped with ambiance-making vintage light fixtures set to dim/super sexy, this is the spot to come with a date or even brood, Don Draper style, over a solo cocktail.
What you’re getting: Slow-cooked and grilled lamb shoulder, alliums, and lemon
Polk St keeps getting more and more refined, and Lord Stanley, run by cooking power couple Rupert and Carrie Blease, has upped the ante’s ante with a light and airy 40-seat dining room on the corner of Broadway. The co-owners met in the kitchen of two-Michelin-star restaurant Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in England and are infusing Lord Stanley’s menu with similar European influences along with some tricks they picked up working at New York hotspots like Per Se and Blue Hill. Another thing they brought with them from Europe: a no-tipping policy. Gratuity is included in the price of dishes such as poached hen, and black cod ($28 and $30, respectively).
What you’re getting: Deviled eggs with salsa verde, breakfast radish, and crispy shallot; roasted lamb sandwich with Moroccan tomato jam, feta, cilantro aioli
The former Nombe space (that looks largely the same, save for a decorative refresh) is now home to the long-awaited solo project of Chef Tricia Tracey (ThirstyBear Brewing Company, Momo’s, and Roti). Enjoy small plates or larger entrees inspired by global cuisines and flavors. The liquor license only allows for beer and wine, but there’s still a small selection of cocktails made from fortified beverages.
Lower Pacific Heights
What you’re getting: While the menu changes daily, recent highlights include grilled beef tongue with charred broccoli and marrow broth, and halibut crudo with charred green tomato, avocado, and cornmeal crisps.
Melissa Perello’s cozy new restaurant offers a similar concept to its sister site, Frances in the Castro: an ever-changing menu of simple home cooking that you definitely can’t simply cook in your own home.
What you’re getting: You choose what you want to pay ($100, $150, or $200 tasting menus), and the chef takes you on a taste bud adventure.
This Tokyo-style sushi restaurant is designed for adventurous fish lovers who want to be wowed and not make any decisions all night (ohmygodTHAT’SYOU!). Premium ingredients are flown in three times a week from Japan’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market (the largest fish market in the world), ensuring the highest quality and most authentic experience. Though on the expensive side, it’s certainly cheaper than a trip to Japan -- and this is the culinary equivalent.
What you’re getting: Hickory-smoked Carolina pulled pork, red slaw, and hush puppies or the burger topped with whiskey cheddar and all the fixin’s you already know and love from Biergarten
San Francisco’s current obsession with soul food continues in this casual Tenderloin eatery, featuring classic Southern fare, curated handcrafted beer (thanks to owner Rusty Olson’s Suppenkuche roots), communal tables, and a Plinko board. Chef Francis Rubio (formerly of Biergarten) brings his famed burger with him and also adds comforting Southern favorites like fried chicken, biscuits & gravy, grits, and catfish.
What you’re getting: Tony Gemignani’s new California-style pizza with an artisan ancient grains crust. On Sunday mornings, the Mexican Breakfast Pizza at the all-you-can eat brunch buffet.
Say hi to your new SOMA go-to for pre-game beers and slices, working lunches, and bottomless mimosa or sangria brunch with a massive all-you-can-eat buffet.
What you’re getting: An affogato made with De La Paz espresso and Three Twins Ice Cream
From surfing clothing purveyor San Franpsycho comes this charming shop within a shop for all your Sunday needs -- mainly coffee, ice cream, and other sweet treats to distract you from Monday’s impending doom. Enjoy De La Paz coffee, Four Barrel cold brew, Three Twins Ice Cream, and Devil’s Teeth Baking Co. treats, all while you peruse their Inner Sunset shop.
What you’re getting: The $35 three-course prix fixe menu that changes daily
From the same folks who brought us Stones Throw and Fat Angel comes this date spot (that won’t break the bank) and special-occasion restaurant (the prix fixe makes bill splitting a snap). The menu changes daily, but expect to see stuff like marinated calamari & roasted fingerling potatoes and short rib "pot roast" with potato gratin and roasted carrots. Add a pasta supplement for an extra $10 and choose from equally well-priced bottles of wine marked up no more than $40.
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Amy Copperman is a regular contributor to Thrillist who considered flying south for the spring if it wasn't for these new spots. Tweet her your favorites at @acoppergirl.
1. Aatxe2170 Market St, San Francisco
2. Aster1001 Guerrero St, San Francisco
3. Belga2000 Union St, San Francisco
4. Blue Bottle at The Market1355 Market St, San Francisco
5. Cafe Du Nord2174 Market St, San Francisco
6. The Cognac Room185 Sutter St, San Francisco
7. Lord Stanley2065 Polk St, San Francisco
8. Myriad Gastro Pub2491 Mission St, San Francisco
9. Octavia1701 Octavia St, San Francisco
10. OMAKASE665 Townsend St, San Francisco
11. Rusty's Southern750 Ellis St, San Francisco
12. Slice House by Tony Gemignani680 2nd St, San Francisco
13. Sundays1248 9th Ave, San Francisco
14. Trestle531 Jackson St, San Francisco
Pronounced "aah-CHAY," this Upper Market Spanish spot features a menu that is inspired from the Basque tapas culture, but is very much driven by local Northern California ingredients. The vibe is very intimate and European, the former meaning you’ll want to make a reservation (call if your party is five or more), though walk-ins can grab seats at the bar or the communal table.
Many of the ingredients at Aster are being cultivated by Northern California farmers and ranchers specially for the spot, so you can expect very thoughtful, tasty dishes like pigs head croquettes (w/ blood orange kosho, arugula, kumquat), and dry-aged beef striploin with farro verde, morel, little gem, and ramps. There are also almost two dozen wines by the glass, including biodynamic and naturally produced vintages, as well as plenty of European beers by the bottle.
The first thing you'll notice when you walk into this Belgian-inspired brasserie in Cow Hollow is the wall of refrigerated bottled beers, complete with a sliding ladder. Belga has both killer cocktails and an extensive Belgian beer menu (10 beers on tap, more than 50 in bottles), and a menu that's perfect for sharing (Belgian frites, oysters on the half shell, sausage plates). Oh, and it's got a really great brunch menu with waffles, beignets, and schnitzel with eggs.
Blue Bottle jumped in the Twitter building with this 500 sq ft space, designed to be a super efficient grab-and-go space (there's not much room to hang out while you drink your pour-over). They don't have waffles but they do have pastry's, so stop by to get your morning fix!
What happens when you take an over 100-year-old concert venue in Duboce Triangle, revamp it, and invite James Beard nominee Thomas McNaughton (the guy behind Flour + Water and Central Kitchen) to do the cooking and the Trick Dog guys to shake the cocktails? You get Café Du Nord, an absolutely killer new-but-old restaurant-cum-music-venue. The burger here is a juicy, messy-in-the-right-kind-of-way revamping of the classic, with gloriously melty sharp cheddar, lettuce, pickles, and secret sauce, and you can order it until 1am every night. Enjoy it in the Viking Room, a restaurant tucked away in the back, or at the bar while listening to live music and sipping a seriously good cocktail, and if you stay late, you can snag half price Champagne and oysters when the clock strikes midnight.
This semi-secret bar above Gaspar Brasserie is home to the cities largest selection of brandy cocktails. John Codd (of Slanted Door and 15 Romolo) will school you in sophisticated spirits with a flight $19-$230) or one (or, let’s be real, 2-5) of the 50 brandy-based cocktails ($12 each) on the menu.
Lord Stanley is run by cooking power couple Rupert and Carrie Blease and has once again upped the ante’s ante with a light and airy 40-seat dining room. Lord Stanley’s menu has European influences infused with some tricks the duo picked up working at New York hot spots like Per Se and Blue Hill. Plus, as is the European way, there's a no-tipping policy.
Hidden in the less-hip part of The Mission (in the former Nombe space), you’ll find beer-friendly bites courtesy of Chef Tricia Tracey, who hails from ThirstyBear Brewing Company, Momo’s, and Roti. Enjoy small plates or larger entrees inspired by global cuisines and flavors, like spiced shrimp with creamy grits, pappardelle with pork cheeks, and pan-roasted salmon with guanciale. Sip from an extensive list of wine and beers, or try one of the intriguing low-ABV cocktails made with fortified wines, aperitifs, and port. Bring a date and snack on deviled eggs with salsa verde and small plates of bone marrow, chicken-liver mousse, and salt-cod fritters.
Much like The Empire Strikes Back only made you appreciate “Star Wars” that much more, Octavia, the sister restaurant to Frances, will make you appreciate Chef Melissa Perello the most. The concept is similar: refined home cooking. In this case, home cooking just means simple, without any fancy tricks, and utterly delicious. The menu changes every day, but look/plead for things like chilled squid ink pasta, Atlantic sea scallops with crispy prosciutto, and chili-doused deviled eggs.
On the fringe of SoMa’s Design District, Omakase is busy crafting edible works of art all their own. Seats at the sushi destination have become a highly coveted commodity thanks in part to their Michelin star and a rave review from San Francisco Chronicle, so reservations are a must. Diners can choose from two prix fixe menus (with optional sake pairings) loaded with artfully prepared sashimi and nigiri at the discretion of the Tokyo-trained chefs. Fish and other ingredients are flown in from Japan to ensure an authentic and singular experience.
This casual haven of soul food offers Southern fare, curated handcrafted beer (thanks to owner Rusty Olson’s Suppenkuche roots), communal tables, and a plinko board. A modern BBQ den in the heart of SF's Tenderloin, Rusty's Southern is a solid option for lunchin', munchin' or brunchin'. Eaters are big fans of Rusty's fried chicken plates, buttermilk pies, and tasty grits.
Tony Gemignani (gold medal winner of the Food Network's Pizza Champions Challenge!) brings Italian-style pizza to his 2nd Street pizzeria, featuring two roomy floors in which to experience his creations by the slice (as the name would suggest) or by the whole pie. The famed Cal Italia is an award-winning treat featuring sweet fig preserves, prosciutto, and a balsamic reduction.
From surfing clothing purveyor San Franpsycho comes this charming shop within a shop. It's mainly coffee, ice cream, and other sweet treats. And we're talking De La Paz Coffee, Four Barrel Cold Brew, Three Twins Ice Cream, and Devil’s Teeth Bakery treats. Oh yeah.
Life is full of really tough decisions, but thanks to the folks at Trestle, now you'll have a few less to make. Every night, they offer a daily changing three-course prix fixe menu, and all you have to do is choose one of the two options for each course. And decide if you want to add the optional pasta supplement. Even better? It's cheap. And, since you're saving so much money on what's truly delicious food, you won't feel bad about splurging on a bottle of wine.