San Francisco
1. 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 opens in the Kimpton Alton Hotel on August 16, 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 thy dry-aged rib eye, prepared bistek-style and topped with crispy alliums.
The cost: Prices range from $7 summer vegetable skewers to the $42 ribeye.

2. 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 black truffle-topped zucchini and prawn steamed dumplings, curry-spiced crispy chicken, and grilled ribeye with tofu in spicy, numbing mala sauce. Look out for a la carte options moving forward.
The cost: The prix fixe menu is $68 per person.

3. Luna
Mission

The gist: This Valencia Street space has sat empty since 2015, when longtime neighborhood staple Luna Park closed up shop. Now reborn as Luna, the modern American brasserie aims to be an all-day destination for the Mission, with a menu of comfort food classics, cocktails, and a simple, warm-yet-modern space featuring wood paneling, a communal table, and eye-popping wallpaper.
The food: Creative, approachable fare from a Wayfare Tavern-alum is the name of the game here, with a menu anchored by mains like stuffed roast chicken, a marsala-style pork chop, and naturally, a chuck and short rib burger on a brioche bun. Expect a touch of whimsical decadence with starters like buttermilk fried burrata topped with a sunny egg, and oysters “Hellafeller,” loaded with creamed kale, corn, pickled mushrooms, and herbed cornbread crumbs. Brunch takes a similarly playful ethos, with healthy and hearty options including “vitality porridge,” topped with blueberries, avocado, and an acai gastrique, fried chicken and savory waffles topped with black truffle syrup, plus a serious menu of brunch-friendly drinks (including slushies, spritzes, and bottomless mimosas).
The cost: Starters are $12 to $16, and mains are $19 to $34. Brunch starters are $12 to $16, and mains are $14 to $24.

4. 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 but 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 the star of the show 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.
The cost: Starters are $7-$15, tacos and tostadas are $11-$16 and mains are $20-$26

5. Sunset Squares
Multiple locations

The gist: Chef Dennis Lee and his daughters began experimenting with making pizza in their Outer Sunset home in the early days of shelter-in-place. Their sourdough, “Detroit-ish”-style pizzas quickly took off on Instagram (orderable by DM), leading to a rabid following throughout the city. Now Lee, already a fixture in San Francisco food thanks to his beloved Namu restaurants, has made his entry in the pizza game permanent with an expansive restaurant, beer hall, and NFT gallery off Market Street, and a late-night slice shop on Divisadero in the former home of Namu Stonepot.
The food: SSP Beer & NFT Gallery features Lee’s delicious versions of square-shaped, crispy edged Detroit-style pizza, with toppings ranging from classic cheese and pepperoni to bulgogi and bonito flakes, not to mention the mind-blowingly good mapo tofu pie, plus round, “New England” style pies. Also on offer: chicken wings, and an entire separate menu of Filipino fare called Uncle Tito’s (with pork sisig and lechon porchetta sandwich, among other things), and a selection of Namu Stonepot favorites including Korean-style street dogs, bibimbap, and okonomiyaki. The slice shop focuses on pizza, available by the pie or by the slice.
The cost: Whole pizzas are $22 to $37, slices are $4.50-$7.50. Namu fare is $7-$15, and Uncle Tito’s is $5-$21.

6. The Red Window
North Beach

The gist: Holding court on Columbus, just off Washington Square Park, Red Window, the latest project from mixologist Elmer Mejicanos (Tony’s) and chef Adam Rosenblum (Causwells) is a bustling ode to Spanish tapas and Basque pintxos culture, complete with a menu of low-ABV cocktails.
The food: Pintxos, available by the piece, mix classics like ham and cheese croquettes and gilda (anchovy, pickled pepper, and olive) skewers, with playful twists on tradition (see: a chicken and chorizo-laced “paella popper”). Round out a meal with shareable tapas classics (tortilla espanola, patatas bravas) and larger-format stunners including a seafood-filled brothy rice dish and pork shank with white beans and broken herb sauce.
The cost: Pintxos are $3-$4, tapas are $6-$19, and mains are $29-$38.