9 Restaurant Openings in San Francisco You Need to Know
Believe it or not, new restaurants are still opening.
The last 14 months have been pretty brutal for the restaurant industry. For what felt like eons, it was just temporary closings and reopenings (and repeat), shutterings, and an overwhelming feeling of unrelenting angst. Now, though that feeling of angst is still very much there, it’s accompanied by a sense of hope. After all, if chefs and restaurateurs still believe enough in SF’s dining scene to open new food trucks and bistros and bakeries, that has to be saying something. And right now, what it’s saying for us is, “Go check them all out and tip generously!”
This list includes nine new places we think are worth hitting up ASAP. Still, they aren’t the only ones you should add to your culinary to-do list. We’re also excited about these new additions to SF’s restaurant scene:
Tailor’s Son, a casual Italian restaurant in the former Elite Cafe space in Lower Pac Heights (we haven’t recovered from the fact that they ripped out the iconic 100-year-old booths, but that doesn’t prevent the food and cocktails from being great). Valencia Subs, a Mission spinoff of the Inner Sunset’s beloved Irving Subs. Total Meltdown, a Mission pop-up that’s all about grilled, mac’d, and melted cheese. And the La Cocina Marketplace, an affordable and woman-owned food hall in the Tenderloin, opened for weekday lunch.
Finally, so many new and exciting things to look forward to and enjoy!
This spring, the folks behind La Mar, the popular (albeit slightly touristy) Peruvian seafood spot on the Embarcadero, opened a more casual and upbeat restaurant along a bustling stretch of Steiner Street. The tables around a dramatic olive tree basking in the spotlight of the atrium’s glass ceiling, as well as the ones in the colorful heated parklet, are already full of local in-the-know diners enjoying low-ABV cocktails and authentic Peruvian food. The menu is all about slow-roasted rotisserie chicken cooked over a charcoal grill, complemented by traditional dishes, like fresh and vibrant cebiches, classic and comforting empanadas, and “okay, I’m just going to have one more” Dungeness crab croquettes.
How to book: Resy
It takes a certain something for a restaurant to succeed in Cow Hollow’s famous (also infamous) “triangle” anchored by neighborhood stalwart Balboa Cafe. Many have tried. Most have failed. But it feels like Wilder, a fun, doesn’t-take-itself-too-seriously restaurant and lounge from the team behind the country-western-themed Westwood, might break that curse.
That’s because Wilder isn’t trying to compete with Balboa; it’s trying to complement it. And it’s succeeding thanks to a menu of crave-worthy shared plates and meat-centric entrees, as well as dishes that ensure the gym-going, athleisure-wearing set also have something to order (like a French-style mussel skillet and a handful of salads that don’t feel like a compromise). Not to mention a solid brunch offering, which is a must around those parts.
Wilder has also nailed the cocktail list, understanding that it needs to play off of what its neighbor offers, meaning: lots of martinis (yes, including one of the espresso variety), but also things you can’t get across the street, like pitchers of Aperol spritz and sangria. Drinking and dining seating currently includes a heated parklet, a cozy log cabin-esque lounge, a 12-person bar, and the rustic Tahoe-inspired dining room.
How to book: Resy
Thrive City didn’t exactly thrive after its opening late in 2019 for obvious reasons (the pandemic). But as things start to open back up, the enormous plaza built around the Chase Center is coming back to life. And a big part of that life is Harmonic Brewing’s second location that just opened and will accommodate 300 people once the city is fully reopened. That includes 100 people on the 2,000 square foot patio (one of the largest outdoor eating/drinking spaces in all of SF) and another 200 inside the taproom, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and tons of HDTVs.
Wherever you sit, you’ll enjoy unobstructed Bay views and a menu featuring Harmonic’s hand-crafted beers on tap (and some local wines), as well as fancy bar food, like SF inspired-Sciilliuan pizzas, a pastry-wrapped hot dog, and a soft pretzel with a cheese window (yes a cheese window!) from a 2019 James Beard finalist. Hours vary right now, but it will be open for all Chase Center events and eventually seven days a week.
How to book: Walk-ins only
There’s nothing not to love about Red Window, the new Spanish-inspired restaurant and low-proof cocktail bar on Columbus Avenue, but what we appreciate most is how versatile it is. Tuck in for a full meal of tapas dishes and cocktails made tableside, or pop in for a bite (or four) of pintxos and a glass of wine or beer. (There’s even a Little Red Window where you can get takeout if you’re on the go.)
Eventually, you’ll want to make your way through the entire menu, mainly meant to be shared, save for the pintxos, which are ordered by the piece. Croquetas, crostini, and skewers, as well as patatas bravas, queso fundido, gambas, and pork shank, are just a few popular options as far as food goes. The cocktails -- sangria, tiki drinks, spritzes, high balls, sours, a signature cobbler, as well as a few that arrive on a bar cart, are all low ABV, which simply just means you can enjoy more of them. Red Window has 100 outdoor seats, as well as an intimate dining room slated to open soon.
How to book: Tock
The Señor Sisig food truck was a big deal when it started rolling through SF a decade ago and serving up fusion sisig burritos and tacos filled with Filipino sweet pork and the sisig nacho fries topped with pork or chicken. And yes, there was always the option of tofu, but now that Señor Sisig Vegano food truck is open, vegans (and omnivores) can do even better than tofu. They can get all of Señor Sisig’s signature offerings made with a vegan version of every protein option replicated in taste and texture as closely as possible to the “original” version. That includes the pork sisig, the chicken sisig, the tocino, the chorizo, the shredded and nacho cheeses, and even the scrambled eggs to put on top of any or all of it. Specialty items, like the Taco Bell-inspired Crunch-a-Dilla are on the way, as well. Right now, you can find the Señor Sisig Vegano parked at Valencia and 18th Street on the weekends.
How to book: Show up and wait in line if there is one
We mourned the loss of Baker Street Bistro, which recently shuttered after 30 years of business, but we can now dry our tears, as a new French bistro with a menu of classic dishes has moved into the space. Think steak frites, mousse de foie gras, moules marinières at dinner, and benedict tartine (poached eggs over smoked salmon), croque monsieur, and a burger topped with petit basque cheese at brunch). A fresh coat of paint, updated banquettes, and a newly-opened kitchen helped brighten up the restaurant. We see those cozy banquettes playing a big role in our many brunch endeavors to come, but for now, the outdoor sidewalk tables are the ones to snag.
How to book: Yelp
If there’s one type of cuisine for which there can never be too many options in SF, it’s Mexican. And now there’s a new place to satiate those tacos and tostadas cravings thanks to the acclaimed husband-and-wife team behind Son’s Addition. Otra is all about bold and modern Mexican food made with traditional cooking techniques and fresh house-ground masa for the tamales and tortillas. Though the masa isn’t the star of the show, it would definitely win “best supporting actor” if movie awards were a thing for food. Cocktails by the glass and a few by the pitcher (house margarita and spicy paloma) come out quickly from the bar and round out the cast of characters in just the right way.
How to book: Walk-ins only
Lazy Susan truly gets those of us who grew up ordering Chinese American food for delivery when the adults were too tired to cook or going out for the night. And it has capitalized on that nostalgia in just the right way. The menu offers “just” 25 classics, like orange chicken, potstickers, and kung pao chicken, all of which are gluten-free and made with fresh ingredients, health, and price in mind. (Turns out it’s much easier to agree on an order when you don’t have 75+ dishes to choose from.) They also created everything with travel in mind (aka no more soggy spring rolls.) All of the dishes we’ve tried (10+) were fantastic, so the only ordering advice we can offer is to add a side of the umami crunch to your order and apply liberally.
How to book: Order for pickup and delivery on Toast
Because 13-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani hasn’t done enough for this city by making some of the best pizza around, he’s now opened a bakery specializing in bagels and sourdough bread, effectively ending the keto diet’s lengthy hold over many a San Franciscan. Right now, there are about 300 bagels a day (Tony claims they’re authentic New York-style, which is hard to believe, but if anyone can do it…) and 100 loaves of bread, so if you don’t get there early, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out.
How to book: Order at the counter on Thursday through Sunday from 8am to 3pm, or until everything is sold out