After an interlude with Tsk/Tsk, Future Bars alumni Ian Scalzo and Justin Lew have finally opened their main attraction, Horsefeather, a polished wood-paneled tavern with a heated, ivy-filled atrium. Coolers, cobblers, and stirred cocktails featuring house-made wine syrups dominate the cocktail menu, but these aren’t your aunt’s 3pm wine spritzers. Instead, expect mind-bending and tongue-pleasing libations that geniusly pair wine with rum, mezcal, bourbon, and the occasional surprise ingredient, like horseradish. The food, like the digs, is also more grown up, as Chef Ryan Chinchilla (formerly Foreign Cinema) is manning the kitchen, offering shareable seasonal specialties like a hearty halibut curry (get this!) and buttermilk fried chicken with siracha honey (get this too!).
The pop-up that brought us guava custard-filled donuts is back, now with its very own charming Dogpatch corner storefront, meaning you can now get malasadas -- those yeasty, Portuguese-style donuts -- six days a week... (on the seventh day, you have to work out). Jordan Keao, a Hawaiian local, is getting back to his roots in more than one way by kicking off the family-and-friend-run project with a Hawaiian brunch. He and partner Jason Alonzo made a splash more than a year ago with their weekly brunch pop-up, and now they’re bringing Hawaiian vibes and flavors to the masses. While they have plans to expand to other meals, expect modern takes on local Hawaiian brunch food, such as taro french toast and homemade spam musubi.
If you live in the Mission, Wildhawk, which moved into the old Lexington Club space, will likely become your new go-to date spot. It’s slightly off the beaten path (meaning it’s not on Valencia, so non-Mission residents will likely never find it), and comes equipped with cozy corners, delicious shareable apps, and a super-sexy bathroom set-up. PlumpJack Group’s (Balboa Cafe, Forgery) Chef Howard Ko created the tapas offerings, featuring crudos, sardines, and charcuterie, and Forgery alumni Ken Luciano and Jacques Bezuidenhout developed the vermouth-forward bar menu, featuring 10 vermouths for tasting, and a collection of mostly cognac and rye-based cocktails. The daily operations are left in the capable hands of Karri Cormican, who has come over from Comstock (so you know the drinks are good), and the all-female bar staff fits in with the sultry, ultra-feminine decor, and the bar’s inspiration, Lola Montez, a San Francisco dancer who stalked the neighborhood like a wild hawk in the 1880s. Va va voom.
The Tacolicious crew has swiftly replaced Chino with this casual Cal-Mex sports bar. It’s a sports bar -- there are lots of TVs and tons of high-top tables -- but the menu is a mix of high (steamed mussels and a flavorful shrimp cocktail) and low (Pancho’s nuts) and high-low (a bacon-wrapped hot dog that goes for $11). The irony that you can get 11 bacon-wrapped hot dogs for the same price right outside is too much, even for 16th St. Instead, the move here is to go for the quesoburguesa, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a cheese-filled burger that’s as fun to eat as it is to say. The spot’s not perfect -- what cantina doesn’t have chips and salsa?! -- but it’s got enough TVs and Micheladas on the booze-heavy menu to still be a contender for a Giants game -- especially if you’re with a big group. Stay tuned for a mezzanine bar complete with foosball tables -- and let’s hope they’ve got some chips by then, too.
If you find yourself in North Beach with a large group and each of you has a different craving, and maybe you’ve been drinking (let's be honest: you’ve been drinking), and at least one person needs to use the bathroom, like right away, while another needs to eat, like right away, head straight to this spacious gastropub across the street from sister-bar Grant & Green Saloon. Not only will the 102-seat barstaurant likely be able to accommodate your needy group, but the equally large menu boasts everything from oysters to ramen to a hefty burger, aptly named the Carnivorous Beast, so everyone’s going to be happy. We’re usually skeptical of restaurants that try to do it all, but the industry vets behind the project make this work. Sometimes you just need an easy bar, and this one’s worth checking out when the fog rolls in on your Washington Square park day.
The traditional Chinese banquet dinner is getting a major upgrade thanks to Brandon Jew (Bar Agricole and Quince) who’s set on combining traditional Chinese cuisine with San Francisco’s signature attention to fresh, local ingredients. He’s even got local farmers cultivating traditional Chinese ingredients specifically for the restaurant. Such a concept deserves a grand setting, and Mister Jiu’s certainly delivers thanks to the iconic 10,000sqft Four Seas space it’s moved into. Don’t expect to recognize much of it, though -- the massive golden chandeliers are about the only things that have remained from its former life. Instead, the light and airy ambiance, as well as the open kitchen (with nothing but woks inside) set this palace apart from most Chinese restaurants just about anywhere. The menu is $69/person for five dishes, served banquet style, meaning the entire table orders together, selecting courses from the vegetable, soup, fish, meat, and dessert sections. Additional options are also available, including salt-baked whole fish, suckling pig, or tea smoked duck, many served tableside.
Lower Haight kids are excited about this neighborhood spot that replaced Rickybobby this month as the casual local hang. Expect affordable gourmet comfort food with a counter-service setup. We haven’t made it there yet, but multiple accounts confirm the the burger and Buffalo mac & cheese are highlights. Brunch also joins the party with items such as vegan French toast, green chile rancheros, buttermilk pancakes, and lumberjack hash with slow-cooked corned beef.
Clear on the other end of the fancy Chinese dining spectrum is Fondue Chinoise, which just opened on Broadway. Here you’ll find cheap, traditional Szechuan hot pot until 2am -- perfect for all your spicy late-night cravings.
1. Horsefeather528 Divisadero St, San Francisco
2. 'āina900 22nd St, San Francisco
3. Wildhawk3464 19th St, San Francisco
4. Bar San Pancho3198 16th St, San Francisco
5. The Barbary Coast478 Green St, San Francisco
6. Mister Jiu's28 Waverly Pl., San Francisco
7. The Lodge on Haight400 Haight Street, San Francisco
8. Fondue Chinoise430 Broadway, San Francisco
This Divisadero bar from Tsk/Tsk and Future Bars alumni Ian Scalzo and Justin Lew is a low-key tavern that serves up the trendy duo of creative cocktails and small plates. Drinks-wise, expect refreshing stirred and shaken libations, while Asian-inspired plates like amped-up hot wings make up the food menu. The quaint sun room-like area is perfect for drinking away hazy San Francisco days.
'Aina is a pop-up gone permanent thanks to the much-deserved hype surrounding its exceptional Hawaiian food. The breezy restaurant is known for its quintessential Hawaiian brunch, which includes taro French toast, loco moco, and you guessed it: spam. The Portuguese-style doughnuts filled with guava custard are a must-try, as are the tropical-style morning cocktails like coconut milk punch. Dinner options tend to change with the seasons but have included plates like charred octopus and Okinawan sweet potato gnocchi.
The Mission's Wildhawk is a swanky yet quirky neighborhood cocktail spot serving up a nice array of cognac and rye-based libations. Slightly off the beaten path (aka not on Valencia), this charming lounge is a standby Mission date spot thanks to its dim corners, cozy seating (zebra-print bar stools, leather couches, plush armchairs), and solid drink offerings.
From the Tacolicious crew, Bar San Pancho is a Cal-Mexican cantina-meets-sports bar in the Mission. The concept is pretty unique -- there are a lot of TVs and high-top tables per any sports bar, but instead of run-of-the-mill fried food, the menu features high and low fusion bites like mussels, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and roasted pepper clam chowder. The signature standout is the "quesoburguesa," aka a cheese-filled burger. As for drinks, expect Mexican tap beers, build-your-own-cocktails, and Micheladas.
Across the street from sister spot Grant & Green Saloon, this 102-seat barstaurant in North Beach is the kind of place that accommodates every kind of eater and drinker. The upscale casual menu is unbelievably extensive and features almost every kind of American comfort food out there -- oysters, wings, pizza, fried chicken, grain bowls, and so much more . Barbary Coast's do-it-all vibe makes it a great spot for group dinners.
Brandon Jew (Bar Agricole and Quince) combines traditional Chinese banquet cuisine with San Francisco's signature attention to fresh, local ingredients at his high-end Chinatown restaurant. Set in the iconic Four Seas space, the 10,000sqft restaurants features massive golden chandeliers, an open kitchen, and mid-century lazy Susans. The menu offers five courses served family-style with the option to add extra courses, like tea-smoked Liberty duck.
The Lodge on Haight is like a diner gone gourmet: think trendy all-day fare like vegan French toast, green chile stew, and bacon grilled cheese served in a friendly and casual hang spot. The counter-service set up makes it feel extra low-key, and if the cool vibe doesn't make you a regular, then surely the Lodge burger and breakfast sandwich plate will.
Is it fondue or Chinese? Well, it's a little bit of both at this industrial basic North Beach spot that specializes in traditional Szechuan hot pot cuisine. The DIY spot (you cook the meat yourself in a tabletop pot) is cheap and open until 2am -- perfect for all your hot and spicy late-night cravings.