Wondering where you should be eating in San Francisco right now? You’re in the right place. The Infatuation Hit List is your guide to the city’s best new restaurants.
And when we say “best new restaurants,” we mean it. Because we’ve tried every single one of these places - and we’ve also left off many spots that simply aren’t as worthy of your time and money.
The Hit List is our record of every restaurant that’s opened in the past year that we’d highly recommend you try. This guide is sorted chronologically, so at the top you’ll find our latest entries to this list (the newest spots), and as you keep scrolling you’ll find the places that are on the older side - but are great enough that we still haven’t stopped talking about them.
New to The Hit List (as of 12/21): Flores, Nomica, Ju-Ni, Babu Ji, and Onsen.
Babu Ji, the new Indian spot in the Mission, is in the running for our favorite new restaurant of the year. Yes, it has the exact same menu as the NYC original, but for good reason: the food is fantastic. There’s a fridge in the back to grab yourself a beer, and a cool private room that we have our eyes on for our next birthday. You can go with the tasting menu or do a la carte, and if you’re doing the latter, save room for the kulfi dessert. Thank us later, and maybe order a second one.
Does a Japanese sauna combined with a restaurant sound like something Gwyneth Paltrow dreamt up in a turmeric smoothie-induced endorphin overload? Perhaps. But lucky for us, Onsen in the Tenderloin serves great food that doesn’t involve macrobiotic wheatgrass. While the sauna situation is a little odd, and half the people eating have wet hair after coming from the spa, the place has a chill vibe and excellent, surprisingly affordable food. Definitely get the lamb skewers.
There might be a lot of excellent Japanese food in SF at the moment (and on this list), but Nomica does things a bit differently. This fusion-y place on Market has one of the more interesting menus we’ve come across in a while. If you’re a planner, you can call a day ahead and get an entire chicken baked inside a brioche carved at your table. It costs $100 and looks like something served at a feast in Game of Thrones. Even if that’s not your style, you won’t be disappointed with their stellar salmon belly, risotto, and laminated brioche rolls (and no, we don’t know what a laminated roll is).
What was once Betelnut in Cow Hollow has become a whole lot fancier now that it’s Flores. But that doesn’t mean things are serious - this Mexican spot is really fun, with all the carnitas, tostadas, and ceviche you could want. Start with the sikil p’ak - a pumpkin, tomato, and lime dip - and move on to the chili colorado (AKA saucy short ribs and rice). Whether you’re planning a girls night out, or just want a cocktail and some snacks, Flores is a winner. There are no reservations though, so be prepared to wait.
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.
One of several very expensive omakase places to open this year, Ju-Ni is killer. It will also kill your wallet, so probably reserve it for special occasions and/or attempted self-bankruptcy. The tiny space right off Divis is quite calm, and has some of the best sushi we’ve had outside Japan. The tobiko with shaved liver mousse on top is incredible.
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.