The Most Exciting Restaurants in San Francisco Right Now

From a modern Russian kitchen to a takeout sandwich shop, Filipino and Laotian-inspired hotspot, and more.

KAIYO Rooftop
Photo courtesy of KAIYO Rooftop

We’re just going to put it out there—we’re done making predictions. The last few months have been, well, all kinds of up and down, to say the least, but at least we can count on our city’s restaurant industry to keep thrilling us with new dining destinations, from Italian fine dining restaurants to sustainable seafood spots and more, spanning Union Square to the Mission and beyond.

These new additions to San Francisco’s culinary scene showcase the care and creativity of our beloved restaurant industry in the face of all odds. San Francisco is currently allowing indoor dining, with proof of vaccination required for those eligible. We urge you to continue following COVID best practices and be kind to restaurant staff who have been through hell and back over the last couple of years (and please, tip very generously).

These 20 restaurants, all of which opened in 2021 and 2022 (many in recent months!), continue to prove how essential this industry is to our city, and how joyful it can be. Do yourself a favor and start booking those reservations ASAP.

Automat
Photo courtesy of Automat

Automat

NoPa
$$$$

The gist: A sleek, all-day cafe from former Lazy Bear sous chef Matt Kirk, Automat is a magical blend of low-key daytime staple and nighttime dinner destination. This is entirely due to the creative, standout quality of the food, which marries fine dining cred with comfort food qualities, including an evening kid’s menu (for little ones and adults alike). The corner space, sleek, simple, and light-filled, boasts pops of turquoise and jewel-tone banquettes, which will suit your needs whether you’re popping in for a breakfast sandwich and a loaf of bread to-go, or for a lengthy sit-down dinner.
The food: Childhood favorites with a strong dose of creativity and technical prowess is the name of the game here, including two breakfast sandwiches served on house-made bread, a cheesy double smashburger, and one of the best new fried chicken sandwiches in the city. During the day, you’ll find a selection of sweet and savory treats plus loaves of bread on offer (from throwback Wondermat! sandwich loaves to honey tahini whole wheat sourdough bread), while dinner includes cravable fare like Spicy Beet Larb studded with sourdough croutons and dressed with a fish sauce vinaigrette, freshly made Squid Ink Cavatelli topped with squid bolognese, and Whole Dungeness Crab stir-fried with jalapeno butter.
How to book: Reservations for dinner are available online.

Available for Reservations

The gist:Liholiho Yacht Club, in addition to being one of the best restaurants in San Francisco, is a leader when it comes to transforming the way the restaurant industry works, and attempting to make it more equitable, livable, and healthy. A major component of this involves making it a point to foster new talent and allow a rising class of chefs to take the spotlight. That’s the ethos behind Good Good Culture Club, a stunner of a collaboration from Liholiho chefs Aimee Arcilla, Kevin Keovanpheng, and Brett Shaw that took over Liholiho’s pandemic-era home on 18th Street at the beginning of the year, and has been putting that equity work front-and-center.
The food: Good Good shares a similar vibe to Liholiho—shareable, heritage-driven plates anchored in local produce and top-notch products—but with an emphasis on Filipino and Laotian flavors. The menu showcases ample wood-fired cooking, making for a backyard party vibe that’s lively, fun, and flavor-packed, with dishes ranging from a Local Halibut Crudo with salsa macha to Smoked Beef Ribs glazed with pho flavors.
How to book: Reservations are available online.

KAIYŌ Rooftop
Photo courtesy of KAIYŌ Rooftop

The gist: San Francisco, a city of impossibly beautiful views, has something of a dearth of destination-worthy rooftops. That makes the opening of KAIYŌ Rooftop, on the top of the Hyatt Place Hotel in SOMA, all the more exciting. It’s all the better that it’s another showcase for chef Alex Reccio’s distinctive blend of Peruvian Nikkei cuisine, which marries Peruvian flavors with Japanese technique. In addition to the stunning views—you can scope downtown San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, and Treasure Island while sipping your Suntory highball—the 3,300-square-foot space is lush with plants that set off the gorgeous, jade green tiled bar. It’s also open late at night, and half a block away from Oracle Park, making it a necessary pre- or post-Giants game destination.
The food: The menu runs the gamut from sushi to ceviche, gyoza to empanadas, with a must-try selection of crudo, all of which would be perfect for a cocktail-paired happy hour snack or a full, decadent spread. Don’t sleep on the stellar cocktail program centered around sake, pisco, and Japanese whisky.
How to book: Reservations are available online.

Taksim
Photo courtesy of Taksim

Taksim

SoMa
$$$$

The gist: The team behind beloved Richmond restaurant Lokma has taken their thoughtful approach to Turkish flavors and brought it to SOMA. The two-story space was previously Cockscomb, and maintains some of those industrial-chic vibes, with touches of homey warmth thanks to an open kitchen with copper cookware on display. Chef Daniel Gribble, formerly of Atelier Crenn, has created a fine dining menu with inspirations from both Turkey and California, which pairs nicely with a standout wine selection.
The food: On-point Turkish dishes like Muhammara and Kebabs pair seamlessly with raw oysters and butter-poached sole served with crispy rice and marcona almonds. Pair everything with fresh-baked flatbreads, made in the restaurant’s wood oven, and Anchovy Rice Pilaf. The wine list deserves some serious attention, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t encourage you to start with a Raki Martini, which puts the anise-flavored Turkish spirit front-and-center.
How to book: Reserve online.

Chuck’s Takeaway
Photo courtesy of Chuck's Takeaway

Chuck’s Takeaway

Mission District
$$$$

The gist: Charles Phan, one of San Francisco’s best-known chefs, has long been associated with The Slanted Door, his stunner of a restaurant housed in the Ferry Building that boasts one of the better waterfront locations in the city. But Phan, and Slanted Door, both got their start in the Mission, making the opening of Chuck’s Takeaway, his dedicated sandwich shop, all the more fitting. The pocket-sized space is designed for take-out only, complete with warm wood shelving filled with pantry products (courtesy of Phan’s own line, Wo Hing General Store), cookbooks, and local ceramics.
The food: It’s all about the sandwiches at Chuck’s, with six options available, all served on house-made bread. In fact, everything is made in-house, including the pate for Vietnamese-style banh mi (meat and mushroom), the pickles which are served on the side, and the mayonnaise. In addition to banh mi, find egg salad on milk bread and a classic meatball sandwich doused in tomato sauce. Spritzers, coffee (both espresso and Vietnamese-style), and cookies round out the menu (and are musts for your next park picnic).
How to book: Takeout only.

Birch & Rye

Noe Valley
$$$$

The gist: A modern Russian kitchen, Birch & Rye is a true newcomer to San Francisco’s food scene, showcasing wide-reaching historic and geographic interpretations of Russian cuisine through a California lens, courtesy of chef-owner Anya El-Wattar. The bright, airy Noe Valley space is replete with warm woods tones, neutral shades and, appropriately, birch trees.
The food: Some dishes may appear familiar to lovers of Eastern fare, but Birch & Rye’s iterations of Borscht, Pelmeni, and Stroganoff have a decidedly modern, California-influenced vibe. Other hits on the changing menu may include cured salmon, wood-fired potatoes and mushrooms laced with duck fat and dill, Wagyu beef served with roasted cabbage, and Georgian Khachapuri, loaded with cheese and crowned with an egg yolk. Naturally, the caviar service is well worth exploring, and pairs wonderfully with vodka, a selection of cocktails, and a wine list showcasing Californian, French, and Georgian varietals.
How to book: Reserve online.

Sorella
Photo by Hardy Wilson, courtesy of Sorella

Sorella

Nob Hill
$$$$

The gist: Acquerello, truly one of the grande dames of San Francisco restaurants, has a new little sister—Sorella, a casual restaurant and bar with a next-level menu of fresh pastas, cocktails, Italian wines, and cicchetti at the bar (‘sorella’ also means sister in Italian, for some nice synchronicity). The corner restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, seating options that range from booths to barstools, and some of the best neon art we’ve seen—a pair of lips slurping up a noodle that unwinds to spell the restaurant’s name.
The food: Chef Denise St. Onge, formerly of Greens, is leading the charge in the kitchen with support from Seth Turianksy, Acquerello’s chef de cuisine (and also St. Onge’s husband). The menu is flavor-forward and well-executed without being fussy, with fresh pasta being the star of the show and preparations including Tonarelli with Sea Urchin and Bottarga, Fennel Pollen Gramigna with Pork Ragu, and Potato and Artichoke Ravioli in truffle-leek cream. While we certainly could live on pasta alone, the rest of the menu is worth your attention, and stomach space—we see you, Grilled Razor Clams—not to mention the cocktail-ready cicchetti menu which features elevated snacks like cacio e pepe potato chips, anchovy toast with black truffle and cultured butter, and ‘nduja-laced suppli.
How to book: Reserve online.

Available for Reservations
San Ho Won
Photo by Eric Wolfinger, courtesy of San Ho Won

San Ho Won

Mission
$$$$

The gist: Few new restaurants have been as hotly anticipated as San Ho Won, chef Corey Lee’s homage to the Korean comfort food of his childhood. While decidedly more homestyle than Lee’s venerated Benu, expect plenty of fine dining finesse. The sleek, striking space, dominated by earthy wood tones and rich blue hues, has plenty of roomy, comfortable booths to pack a crew in for a barbecue-centric feast. (There are no tabletop grills; the grilling takes place on a stove burning custom-created charcoal.)
The food: The menu includes everything from specialty banchan to soups and stews and, of course, an ample selection of barbecue with cuts including classic galbi, beef tongue, and a whole-marinated Cornish hen. Don’t skip Lee’s takes on traditional Korean dishes, including a blood sausage-topped Korean Pancake, Chicken and Ginseng Jook with Abalone, and Kimchi Jigae prepared pozole-style with hominy and avocado. Or skip making hard choices and go for the family-style house menu for the table.
How to book: Reservations via Tock.

Hilda and Jesse
Photo by Timofei Osipenko, courtesy of Hilda and Jesse

Hilda and Jesse

North Beach
$$$$

The gist: The beloved Brunch for Dinner pop-up has finally opened in its permanent home in North Beach in the form of Hilda and Jesse. Chef Kristina Liedags Compton, along with co-owner Rachel Sillcocks, have created a bright, exuberant destination for lengthy brunches (and, of course breakfast for dinner on Monday evenings), complete with striking murals and portraits of the duo’s grandparents alongside checkered floors and vintage, red vinyl swivel seats in a sweet nod to ‘50s-style diners.
The food: Classic comfort meets refined finesse with dishes like Cured McFarland Springs Trout, Dry-Aged Ribeye and Eggs, Hash Browns with Fermented Green Garlic Gribiche (and an optional caviar add-on), and Compton’s wildly popular “Pancakes Without Boundaries,” a double stack of souffled pancakes topped with grilled fruit and, if you’d like, white truffle.
How to book: Reservations online.

Available for Reservations
Chezchez
Photo courtesy of Chezchez

Chezchez

Mission
$$$$

The gist: The newest project from San Francisco bar stars Bon Vivants Hospitality, Chezchez is a glorious celebration of aperitivo culture housed in the former Bon Voyage! space. The two-level, indoor-outdoor space maintains a few decorative nods to the bar’s tropical past, but leans bright and light, evoking early evening hours in France, Italy, and Spain.
The food: Drink-friendly small plates are the name of the game, with seasonal Fritto Misto, a Brussels Sprouts Caesar, and dangerously craveable crispy potatoes that go just as well with a sherry-forward Coastal Martini or a glass of stellar natural wine, and a selection of cheese, charcuterie, and tinned fish. Get tins and baguette sandwiches for grab-and-go Saturday lunch, available to eat on the terrace or an easy walk to Dolores Park.
How to book: Reservations via the website.

Available for Reservations
Le Fantastique
Photo by Kelly Puleio Photography, courtesy of Le Fantastique

Le Fantastique

Hayes Valley
$$$$

The gist: Our wine bar dreams have come true in the form of Le Fantastique, where sustainable French wine, raw seafood, and records are the stars of the show. Courtesy of chefs Robbie Wilson and Emily Perry Wilson, of Palo Alto’s acclaimed Bird Dog, Le Fantastique was designed to complement the couple’s idea of a perfect night out. The high touch (but lowkey) space has been designed for optimal acoustics, with a custom-built Macintosh sound system built around a 1970s turntable in a golden, glowing space, centered around a curving sushi bar emblazoned with a distinctive, street art-inspired mural.
The food: Creative raw fish offerings showcase French-inspired flavors and Japanese techniques—mini eclairs are topped with caviar, fresh sourdough shokupan is served with house-cultured butter (and must-add supplements include local seaweed or spicy crab fat), and seafood can be sampled raw, smoked, or grilled. Large plates include chicken breast poached in creme fraiche, and a Wagyu ribeye.
How to book: Reservations via Tock.

The Vault
Photo by Hardy Wilson, courtesy of The Vault Steakhouse

The Vault Steakhouse

Financial District
$$$$

The gist: Fewer pandemic pivots were as splashy and successful as Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group’s The Vault Garden. Now, the team has seized the opportunity to reopen their stunning indoor space at 555 California as a classic yet modern steakhouse, perfect for special occasion outings, date nights, and satisfying the most carnivorous of cravings. Housed in a literal former bank vault, the space taps into comfort and decadence with sleek black surfaces, leather banquettes, velvet details, a slatted wood ceiling, and repurposed safe deposit boxes behind the bar.
The food: Decadent comfort reigns supreme at this new school steakhouse, with starters such as pigs in a blanket featuring house-made sausage and fancy tater tots topped with caviar, an on-point Caesar salad prepared tableside, and a raw bar that’s basically begging to be paired with a martini. Of course, steak is the main event, with five cuts of Black Angus steak from Kansas, along with a whole lobster and truffle-stuffed chicken.
How to book: Reservations online.

Available for Reservations
Chisai Sushi Club
Photo by Darren Samuelson, courtesy of Chisai Sushi Club

Chisai Sushi Club

Bernal Heights
$$$$

The gist: Few neighborhood restaurants were as universally loved as ICHI Sushi, which closed permanently in June 2020. Fortunately, local sushi star chef Eric Aplin has taken over the pocket-sized space and reopened it as a new destination for approachable, thoughtful omakase. Chef Aplin, who, in addition to spending time behind the sushi bar at ICHI, has worked at lauded establishments including Akiko’s and Robin as opening chef de cuisine, and is bringing a playful, American-Japanese aesthetic to the menu.
The food: Currently, there are three omakase options available, one of which is entirely vegetarian. Dishes include traditional preparations, alongside a Dungeness Crab Louie made with little gems and topped with miso-cured egg yolk, a BLTA hand roll, and an Udon Uni Carbonara.
How to book: Reservations online.

Available for Reservations
Queens
Photo courtesy of Queens

Queens

Inner Sunset
$$$$

The gist: This sweet little Korean superette in the Sunset quickly gained a citywide following for house-made gochujang, a stellar selection of Korean snacks and natural wine, and seasonal banchan and kimbap, available to go. Now, Queens has a new menu of well-executed Korean fare to enjoy at a few tables in their sunny backroom (or to take home), with a glass of wine, of course.
The food: The menu is anchored by classic, shareable dishes like rice cakes with fish cakes and boiled egg in a sweet, spicy sauce; garlic, chive-rich seafood pancakes; and tender, boiled pork served with kimchi. Keep an eye out for specials like omurice, and definitely sample their off-menu (but always available) gil geori toast.
How to book: Online ordering available on Clover.

Penny Roma
Photo by William Rittenhouse, courtesy of Penny Roma

Penny Roma

Mission
$$$$

The gist: The newest restaurant from Flour+Water Hospitality Group, Penny Roma has taken over the former Central Kitchen space (in the same complex as the Flour+Water Pasta Shop), making use of the industrial-yet-warm interior and stunning, covered outdoor patio. Penny Roma has a slightly more casual approach than its predecessor, prioritizing classic dishes from all over Italy and a cozy, neighborhood vibe. The Pasta Shop also has a new enoteca menu with small bites meant to pair with their excellent wine selection (it's also a great warm up to a meal at Penny Roma).
The food: Fresh pasta, made daily in the Pasta Shop, is the star of the show here, with classic preparations like Cacio e Pepe and Agnolotti Dal Plin alongside seasonal fare, like Casunziei served with roasted beet and Meyer lemon. Round out your meal with raw seafood starters, seasonal antipasti and sides, and mains including house-made pork sausage with lentils and a bone-in beef ribeye.
How to book: Reservations online.

Available for Reservations
Fiorella Sunset
Photo by Hardy Wilson, courtesy of Fiorella Sunset

Fiorella Sunset

Inner Sunset
$$$$

The gist: Beloved neighborhood pizza and pasta joint Fiorella has finally opened their long-awaited Inner Sunset location in the former Park Chow space. The two-level, indoor-outdoor restaurant is an immediate destination, thanks in no small part to the magical, string light and plant-bedecked rooftop space (the cozy interior features Fiorella’s signature wallpaper that honors Bay Area notables including Alice Waters and E-40).
The food: Similar to other Fiorella locations, top-notch wood-fired pizza, fresh pasta, and antipasti, with a few new items including Yellowtail Crudo, fresh spaghetti topped with calabrian chili-laced Dungeness crab, an excellent cocktail list, and weekend brunch.
How to book: Reservations via the website.

Available for Reservations
Michael Mina
Photo courtesy of MINA Group

The gist: 252 California Street has had an illustrious history in San Francisco’s restaurant lore—the former home of Chef Michael Mina’s Aqua, and later, his eponymous flagship restaurant, the space has now been transformed into Estiatorio Ornos, a Michael Mina Restaurant that serves as an homage to the flavors and feelings of the Greek Isles. The space, meant to evoke sun-drenched Ornos Beach, features a palate of blue and white accented with Mediterranean hues.
The food: The menu is meant to be shared, and is all about bright, fresh seafood preparations, with fish sourced both locally and from the Aegean Sea courtesy of the restaurant’s (and San Francisco’s first) “Fish Sommelier.” Fish is available in a wide variety of preparations, from grape-leaf-wrapped to salt-crusted to simply grilled with olive oil and lemon. Classic Greek flavors can be found in starters like tzatziki and saganaki, plus mains like Grilled Lamb Chops and Filet Mignon Souvlaki.
How to book: Reservations via SevenRooms.

Abacá

Fisherman’s Wharf
$$$$

The gist: Chef Francis Ang was born in San Francisco, but spent much of his early years in the Philippines. While earning accolades in fine dining kitchens, including Gary Danko and Fifth Floor, Ang became increasingly committed to exploring his culinary heritage, culminating in an award-winning pop-up, Pinoy Heritage, in partnership with his wife, Dian. Abacá, which opened in the Kimpton Alton Hotel in August, is the sister restaurant to that pop-up, showcasing an elevated, playful menu of Filipino-California cuisine and cocktails in a sleek, plant-filled space.
The food: Feast on a wide array of shareable small plates, including a selection of barbecue skewers featuring house-made longganisa pork sausage and seasonal vegetables, Scallop Pancit centered around handmade noodles and seasoned with bagoong-laced XO sauce, and lumpias served with apple ketchup and fermented mango. Craving something more substantial? Don’t skip the Dry-Aged Ribeye, prepared bistek-style and topped with crispy alliums. Breakfast is first-come, first-served and includes a Filipino breakfast with pineapple-cured pork belly and garlic rice alongside eggs, and a seafood and shellfish rice porridge. Weekend brunch ups the ante with hearty dishes including fried chicken served with mochi pandan waffles and Soy-Cured Wagyu Beef on garlic rice with sunny side up eggs.
How to book: Reservations for dinner and brunch online.

Available for Reservations

Empress By Boon

Chinatown
$$$$

The gist: This long-awaited high-end Cantonese destination opened in June after a number of pandemic-related delays in the former Empress of China space. The historic Chinatown banquet hall, known for ornate interiors and striking city views, was built in the 1960s and closed in 2014. This iteration, helmed by Malaysian-born, Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon (formerly the international executive chef of Hakkasan) has preserved much of the original’s special occasion-worthy vibes spread across multiple distinctive spaces—intricate lattice work and a striking wooden pergola have been restored alongside modern touches, including brightly-hued leather booths, sleek tilework, and a marble-topped, horseshoe-shaped bar.
The food: Empress by Boon is currently offering a prix-fixe menu only, with dishes including a Crispy Truffle Rice Puff, Beef Tenderloin in black pepper sauce, Grilled Black Cod with kumquat, and Sake-Braised Abalone. Look out for a la carte options in the future.
How to book: Reservations online.

Available for Reservations
Otra
@tasteofsoph

Otra

Lower Haight
$$$$

The gist: Husband-and-wife team Nick Cobarruvias and Anna Sager Cobarruvias opened this follow-up to their acclaimed Mission restaurant, Son’s Addition, in May. Chef Nick, who did stints at Jardiniere and Marlowe, is channeling the comfort foods of his childhood in the form of thoughtfully sourced, carefully executed Mexican dishes and a tequila- and mezcal-centric drinks menu. The simple space is sparse yet lively thanks to family photos on the wall, a tropical mural, and festive, blue papel picado adorning the ceiling.
The food: House-made masa is center stage here, which chef Nick nixtamalizes in-house for freshly made tortillas, tostadas, and more. Sample it in the form of tacos loaded with slow-cooked beef and laced with guajillo chile or roasted sweet potato; a huarache topped with avocado and maitake mushrooms; or starters including fresh salsas and aguachile. Larger dishes include Hamachi Collar topped with tomatillo salsa and a Pork Tenderloin served with a pecan-based mole. Don’t skip the charred cabbage, seasoned with chile de arbol, pecan dukkah, and smoked bone marrow.
How to order: Takeout via Toast.

Lauren Sloss is a San Francisco-based travel, food, and music writer who has done stints in Philadelphia, New York, London, Istanbul, and aboard a 32-foot sailboat. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.