San Francisco's Best New Restaurants Of 2022 guide image

SFGuide

San Francisco's Best New Restaurants Of 2022

We spent the year looking for the best new restaurants across San Francisco. This is where you’ll find them.

This year, a never-ending stream of exciting restaurants opened across the city. We navigated lines down the block. We ate too much butter. And, unsurprisingly to no one, there was an explosion of new tasting menu spots (we went to all of them). From a six-seat omakase place in the Lower Haight to a mood-boosting Oaxacan restaurant in the Mission, the 11 places listed here are the definitive standouts. Without further ado, meet San Francisco’s best new restaurants of 2022.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Erin Ng

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2170 Bryant St, San Francisco
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The galbi from San Ho Won is the best in the city. Each glistening short rib has caramelized edges and lines of fat we can only describe as luxurious. It’s flat-out memorable, but so is the rest of the meal at this sleek Korean restaurant in the Mission. Which is why we've already deemed it one of the very best restaurants in town. The scallion-covered egg soufflé is so light it could float off the table. Spicy chicken tteokbokki arrives bubbling. And the beef neck fillet and chunjang-glazed pork ribs get a smoky char from the lychee wood charcoal grill. Unless you can hack Tock, set your calendar 29 days in advance to snag a reservation. It's not easy to get a table here.

Ken feels more like a dinner party than another high-end sushi omakase spot. The eponymous chef will crack jokes from across the six-seat counter while he blowtorches tuna and prepares jiggly chawanmushi with creamy cod milt. And this so-small-you-might-miss-it Lower Haight spot is intimate. You’ll probably end up exchanging dog walker recommendations with the couple to your left. The special evening continues with 14 courses of nigiri, sashimi, and small plates that dazzle. The peeled tomato with dashi bursts like a miniature water balloon in your mouth. And ikura becomes sticky when poached and served in a bowl of ume and rock sugar broth. Dinner is $175 per person, and worth it. 

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The two-person team behind this former pop-up recently found a permanent home in Union Square. Their $125, six-course tasting menu has been a 2022 high point ever since. This spot fuses Japanese and Filipino flavors. Grilled strip loin is covered in peanut sauce and served next to a panko-crusted fried eggplant. Salmon tataki comes with creamy coconut-mango dip and a bagoong tare-topped seared green mango. The fact that the chefs break from their grilling, tweezing, and plating to explain their connection to each dish, and that the anything-but-casual dinner goes down in an eight-seat space the size of a Las Vegas elevator are more reasons to go here for your next big-deal dinner.

Our mind has been 25% actual thoughts and 75% bánh khọt ever since our first visit to this Northern Vietnamese restaurant. Their turmeric-tinted pancakes are zhuzhed up with caviar dollops for a salty punch, and that unexpected surprise is indicative of what you can expect from a meal here. Each dish is somehow more impressive than the last: papaya salad is topped with crumbled beef jerky, and oysters get a zing from yuzu coconut foam. The original Bodega SF closed in 2017 and reopened this summer in the Tenderloin with a revamped menu. And now, the new space with cushy leather booths is the ideal spot for birthdays, date nights, and fuel-ups after we’ve touched every comforter at the Union Square Macy’s. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that there are approximately two million seasonal tasting menu spots in town. Mijoté’s $82, four-course French menu is the only one that makes us feel thrilled about sauces. Just-sweet-enough elderberry jus spills over roast chicken. Rich harissa butter drips over a slow-roasted maitake mushroom. It's so seductive you might want to take it home. Since no two meals are ever the same, this wood-filled spot should be top of mind for intimate celebrations that call for lots of natural wine—you’ll never know what sauce-centric dish Mijoté will star next. 

In a city with no shortage of spots doing overcomplicated pies garnished with too many toppings (including eight different vegetables you didn’t know existed), Outta Sight Pizza is refreshing. The Tenderloin slice shop's simple, thin-crust pies—which we call New-York-style-meets-California—will send you to an out-of-body state. One bite of the ranch and hot honey-drizzled pepperoni will make you realize that all future pepperoni slices you eat are certifiably boring. Thicker vodka slices are dotted with mozzarella that stretches so far it defies the laws of physics, and well-spiced sausage chunks are crispy yet perfectly tender. Maybe just give in and get a whole pie to-go.

A newfound appreciation for seafood and rice wasn’t something we expected to cross off on our 2022 bingo card. The Mission restaurant (by omakase experts Ju-Ni) is the first place in SF dedicated entirely to temaki. And the minimalist spot drew long lines of raw fish enthusiasts and kickstarted a Bay Area-wide hand roll mania. The rolls practically glitter with decadent topping combinations. Delicate ikura is dressed up in a snowfall of shaved monkfish liver pâté. Buttery wagyu gets topped with crunchy garlic chips and chives. Since they're served omakase-style, the only decision you have to make is whether to go with a set of five, seven, or ten. 

Good Good Culture Club excels at smashing together every flavor to create dishes you won't find anywhere else in the city, let alone the country. We’d expect nothing less from the team behind Liholiho Yacht Club. The mostly Southeast Asian-inspired dishes command your attention, like double-fried boneless chicken wings stuffed with garlic rice and Lao sausage served alongside pasilla pepper jaew. And while the food is thrilling on its own, the space brings in a whole new element. Neon pink and tropical plant murals brighten up the walls, E-40 and Jay Rock pump through the speakers, and the plant-filled rooftop (one of the best outdoor spaces in the city) transports you to an island party. 

Have you ever had masa so outstanding you got the sudden urge to replace your dining chairs with corn stools? If the answer is no, go to Donaji. The Oaxacan restaurant in the Mission will make you want to become one with your chair and spend the rest of your days eating through their menu of fork-tender tamales, fried masa discs piled with juicy brisket, and tlayudas that are so thin you’ll wonder what sorcery allows them to hold up to the heap of toppings. Simply put, the food alone is worth a trek across town, and it'll still be when this spot is no longer the new kid on the block. Because a meal at Donaji is always a far cheerier alternative to a night on your couch. Prepare to return for spontaneous dinners—it's always easy to walk-in and snag a table.

We spent so much time at Automat in 2022 that Google Maps thought this spot was our permanent address. The all-day place in NoPa saw us through espresso-fueled mornings glued to our laptops, breakfast dates with friends in town, and days when the only way to ward off existential dread was to dive headfirst into a cinnamon roll. At Automat, brioche donuts are sugar pillows filled with strawberry jam and chocolate pomegranate cream, and sourdough cookies literally glimmer behind the pastry case. And the savory things, like hot fried chicken, double smashburger patties, and pimento cheese-drenched breakfast sandwiches, have become the main characters on our lunch cravings shortlist. While this spot serves a perfectly nice dinner, the daytime menu—a.k.a. when Automat shines—is what sets it apart from your average neighborhood cafe. 

Put the city’s best new restaurants in a high school yearbook, and Aaha Indian Cuisine would win senior superlative for The Best Back Pocket Restaurant Of 2022. Which is exciting, since getting a seat at most restaurants these days requires you to book tables weeks in advance and possibly throw together a spreadsheet. Casual weeknight dinners at this Mission spot are simple—walk in with a group of friends and take a seat. South Indian dishes, like deeply charred tandoor pomfret and tangy uthappams, make a lasting impression. And the fragrant dosas will keep you coming back again and again. Perhaps the best part is that you’ll spend less than $25 per person here on a filling meal and leftovers. 

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