Readers and friends of The Infatuation often share one very specific request with us: they want to know about the best new restaurants, before we review them.
This was impossible, until now. We didn't invent a mind-reading device, or a time machine (yet), but we're happy to present The Infatuation Hit List, a regularly updated guide to the new San Francisco restaurants we think are awesome.
On this list, you'll find new places we've recently reviewed, as well as the places we've enjoyed and will likely have good things to say about in the future.
One thing you can always rely on: we'll only put places on this list that we have actually vetted. That means we won't add every upscale-Mexican joint opened by a famous chef, or every place that is booked out for two months, or every place with notable venture capitalist investors, just because we feel like we have to. Even if Jack Dorsey tweets out his endorsement, we'll only add it to the list if we think it's actually a place you should spend your time and money.
Here's our update for August and September: The people at In Situ are straight-up plagiarizing famous chefs, but we (and everybody else in town) are cool with it, and Tartine's giant cafe/bakery/ice cream spot finally opened. We're also very into the waffle-heavy menu at Louie's Gen-Gen Room and the potential for carboloading at Barzotto. We've taken Mister Jiu's, Del Popolo, Souvla, and Fiorella off the list - all still winners, just not super new winners.
They couldn’t just open a restaurant or a factory or a manufacturing plant - Tartine had to make up its own word and invent the Manufactory. Located inside the Heath Ceramics store/factory in the Mission, the new Tartine space involves a coffee bar, a cafe, a bakery, an ice cream store, and also lots of fine pottery for sale to make you feel poor. It’s gorgeous and the food is also fantastic - and very similar to the options at Tartine Bakery. There will be a line, but it moves pretty quickly, so don’t lose your sh*t when you show up and see a horde of people fiending for gluten.
Remember when it was cool in high school to have parties that consisted of drinking in a basement? You can relive those glory days with way better drinks and way better food at Louie’s Gen-Gen Room. This cocktail bar that also serves decadent savory waffles and a few other very good small plates is reservations-only, hidden underneath Liholiho Yacht Club and absolutely worth your time.
If you have pasta diabetes and your insulin shot is some cacio e pepe, Barzotto is your lifeline. The new Mission spot's setup is order-at-the-counter, snag a table, and quickly get delivered some seriously legitimate pasta. The salads and meatballs and porchetta are also all excellent, as is the wine list - with every bottle priced at $40. Not a spot for a leisurely dinner, but definitely a spot to check out and order as many pastas as your table will fit. You may have to get up and order more.
In Situ is a real Concept Restaurant, but despite our initial skepticism it's one we like a lot. At the bottom of SFMOMA, this place is doing a thing you would have gotten kicked out of college for: plagiarism. The kitchen recreates dishes from famous chefs around the world (don't worry, they asked first), and the result is food that's insanely good - and not as fussy as you might think. But be warned: portions are teeny tiny and expensive. The SFMOMA tourists don't seem to be sure what to make of this place, but that just means the locals get to keep it to themselves.
We’re all in on this new Eastern Mediterranean spot on the edge of the Mission. The inside is full of artsy tiled walls and cool lights and most importantly, there's excellent food and a strong wine list. The grilled baby fava beans, octopus, and mujadara (a rice and lentil and yogurt thing) should be at the top of your order list, but we also advise coming with a group and ordering a bit of everything. On multiple visits, the owner has been flitting around the restaurant, saying hi to everyone and doling out sour plums from Jordan as palate cleansers.
Are we usually pumped to eat in office buildings? Nope. But Bellota, in the Airbnb building, is a different story. The space is gorgeous, the service is top notch, and the food more than makes up for the slightly random SoMa location. The Spanish food is amazing across the board, and the menu has a ton of stuff that’s more interesting than your typical tortilla espanola. Get some olives off the little cart, order a paella, and settle in for the night. It’s another awesome spot for big groups.
Prepare yourself: Fénix is a Mexican restaurant that doesn’t serve margaritas. Sipping sangria instead, you realize that those sickly sweet pre-mixed margs aren’t all that anyway. Fénix does Mexican a little bit differently - the guacamole has crisped rice in it (and is still really good), and instead of ordering lots of little tacos, you get a large plate or two (try the carne asada or the birria) and build your own. All the main dishes come with a bunch of little tastes like pineapple adobo and Mexican pickles, and lead to all kinds of tortilla-related experiments.
We saw this place on a walk, went inside, and ended up staying for much longer than we planned. It has an open, glass-roofed outdoor area, and a pleasant interior space as well. The small menu is a little all over the place, but everything is good - the ceviche and pork tacos are especially strong. Overall, Horsefeather’s a great spot to pop in for cocktails and small plates in the lower Divisadero area. No lines out the door like Bar Crudo yet.
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