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SF

Guide

The SF Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In San Francisco

The new spots we checked out - and loved.

29 Spots
Launch Map
29 Spots
Launch Map
Updated October 14th, 2021

The Hit List is our guide to the best new food and drink experiences in SF. We track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. While the Hit List is by no means an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city itself - inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at sanfrancisco@theinfatuation.com.

New to the Hit List (10/14): Abacá, Chao Pescao.

The Spots

Melissa de Mata

Abacá

$$$$ 2700 Jones St

This Filipino fine dining spot in Fisherman’s Wharf was one of summer’s most anticipated restaurants. We’re here to tell you that Abacá lives up to the hype, and then some. It was born from the same mind behind the Pinoy Heritage pop up, and focuses on flavors from across the many regions of the Philippines, but with a very contemporary, California twist. The results are dishes made with ingredient combinations rarely seen in this city - and every one that hits the table is more surprising (in a good way) than the last. We’re talking delicate yuba that’s folded up like an accordion on a skewer and drizzled with adobo glaze; squash fritters with black garlic, herbs, and a fiery pinakurat vinegar; and a seafood chowder (a nod to the restaurant’s location) with ginataan as the base. And that’s not even half of it. But instead of reading about every one of the beautiful dishes you can get here, make a reservation now and come see for yourself.

- Lani Conway, Senior Editor

Chao Pescao

Chao Pescao

$$$$ 272 McAllister St

Chao Pescao is a casual new Cuban-Colombian restaurant, and a literal bright spot in Civic Center - we were drawn in by the punchy teal and yellow signage and greeted inside by even more pops of color. Lively music and laughter echo through the huge space with high walls, all of which sets the stage for when your server returns to say, “Your cocktails are coming; it’s almost time to get the party started,” you fully believe them. Here the cocktails and food tie all the good energy together, like the perfect tostones and fried Colombian-style empanadas that are brought out on large wooden boards to the sound of oohs and ahhs from everyone at your table. Make sure to follow those up with some large plates of lechon cubano and a Tajín-spiced fried chicken finished with heaps of traditional white rice, black beans, and maduros. Many things on the menu are made for sharing, from the salads and soups to the house specials, and you should. Chao Pescao knows how to ensure you and your friends eat well and have a great time, and that’s exactly why we love it here.

- LC

Julia Chen

Nisei

$$$$
$$$$ 2316 Polk St

There’s a new fine dining, Big Night Out restaurant in town: Nisei, a Japanese American restaurant in Russian Hill from a Californios alum. It’s $174 per person for a 12-course meal, so you’re probably not dropping in on a whim. But you’ll want to get here eventually to experience their excellent tasting menu, which is based on washoku cuisine, a Japanese approach to cooking that focuses on seasonality and balanced flavors. The lineup of delicately plated dishes includes things like binchotan-grilled unagi with shishito peppers, mochi dumplings floating in a fragrant bone broth, or a tiny dorayaki filled with banana and topped with caviar. Every dish that lands on the table is unlike anything we typically see at other upscale Japanese restaurants in the city - for one, you won’t find sushi or ramen here. Ultimately, this place is all about high quality ingredients, thoughtful preparation, and pushing the boundary of what Japanese fine dining can be.

- Julia Chen, SF Staff Writer

Eric Wolfinger

Joyride Pizza

$$$$
PizzaPasta  in  Mission
$$$$ 411 Valencia St

Detroit-style pizza, with its caramelized cheese walls and classic square shape, is having a big moment in SF (see: Square Pie Guys, Pizza Squared, and Sunset Squares (sort of). Joining in on the fun is Joyride Pizza, which just opened two locations in August: one in the Mission and one in Yerba Buena Gardens. The main attraction here is naturally the pizza, which is baked in an 8- by 10-inch sheet pan and comes out with a dark brown, crispy crust. Each is loaded with gooey Wisconsin brick cheese or mozzarella, thick stripes of tomato sauce, and toppings like pepperoni or pineapple and jalapeño. The slices may look hefty, but the dough stays airy and light underneath it all. Though the pizzas are where you should spend your time, Joyride also has good house-made pastas and salads, like a Caesar that’s covered in an avalanche of freshly-shaved parmesan. Swing by for a quick lunch, or hang out on their parklet or patio with a group of friends and some cocktails, beer, or wine.

- JC

Angelina Hong

Itria

$$$$
PastaSeafood  in  Mission
$$$$ 3266 24th St

Itria initially opened in May as a takeout-only spot serving pizzas and salads. But since then, the Mission restaurant has opened their dining room with an entirely new menu devoted to house-made pastas and crudos - and it’s packed with hits that’ll make all of your carb and raw fish dreams come true. Each pasta is absolutely lovely, from the squiggly gramigna tossed with tender pork and beef ragu to the thick orecchiette with grilled rabe pesto and sausage. Spend some time in the raw bar section of the menu too - you’ll do a little happy dance in your seat after the first bite of soft, lemon-y scallops, or oysters topped with a tarragon leaf. Itria is the perfect place to come on date night, to catch up with friends at one of the long wooden communal tables, or to dine solo at the bar with a big bowl of pasta and a glass of wine.

- JC

Jean Bai

Empress By Boon

$$$$
$$$$ 838 Grant Ave

Empress by Boon is one of the most beautiful places to eat in SF right now. The upscale Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown recently opened in the old Empress of China space with a prix fixe menu ($78) of occasionally-changing dishes like xiao long bao with jamón Ibérico, zucchini prawn dumplings with black truffle, or a standout grilled black cod. To get inside, you’ll take the elevator up to the sixth floor and step into a stunning dining room with intricately carved panels, the original wooden pergola from Empress of China, and floor-to-ceiling windows with a sweeping view of the bay and Coit Tower - if you time things right, you might catch the sunset. They also have a curved marble bar where you can walk up and order from an a la carte menu (it’ll eventually be an option for the dining room tables, too). The food and cocktails are both great - but it’s the gorgeous space and view that we left thinking about.

- JC

Julia Chen

Marlena

$$$$
$$$$ 300 Precita Ave

Marlena is an upscale restaurant that’s perfect for celebrating an anniversary, birthday, or any other special occasion. But this Bernal Heights spot also has the feel of a relaxed neighborhood restaurant that’s ideal for popping into for a chill weeknight dinner. The name of the game here (and your only option) is the four-course prix fixe menu ($65) that changes pretty often - but fresh, seasonal ingredients always shine. You might end up with a rich Brentwood corn bisque poured tableside, a soft Hokkaido scallop topped with pickled strawberries and a lacy squid ink tuile, or a crispy-skinned bass with smoked roe beurre blanc. Whatever you get, each dish, down to the fantastic desserts, will be beautifully presented and packed with a range of flavors and textures.

- JC

Erin Ng

Ernest

$$$$
AmericanSeafood  in  Mission
$$$$ 1890 Bryant Street

Unless you possess super dexterous fingers and an uncanny ability to sniff out freshly-released slots on Resy, eating at Ernest will probably mean sucking it up and booking a dinner at 9:15pm. The new-ish restaurant in the Mission is a tough reservation to snag, but for good reason - everything on the menu is phenomenal. Ernest focuses on seasonal dishes made with local ingredients, and the menu has some clear Asian influences, like in the aged beef and bone marrow dumplings, or duck with stone fruit vindaloo. You’ll also see a great raw bar section with super-fresh seafood, a fantastic beef tartare made out of neat layers of sushi rice and salty ikura, and an uni “carbonara” that easily cracks the top three on our very official list of Best SF Pastas. Whether you order the chef’s pick menu ($95) or a la carte, there will be a lot of food - this is a meal you might have to be rolled home from (likely straight into bed), but it’s one you’ll remember for a while.

- JC

The Anchovy Bar

The Anchovy Bar

$$$$
Seafood  in  Fillmore
$$$$ 1740 O'Farrell St

If your sixth love language involves bread, seafood, tinned fish, and cheese, drop what you’re doing and make a reservation at The Anchovy Bar, the new restaurant by the State Bird Provisions team. A meal here feels like a special occasion, but with piles of fluffy parmesan and 24-month-aged prosciutto in place of confetti and cake. Their menu is split into a few sections, including Anchovies, Seafood (cold and hot dishes), and a Butters and Spreads category I didn’t know I needed. No matter what section you order from, everything from the steamed potatoes with cod roe and Mendocino nori butters to the slick, salty anchovies bathed in olive oil will be exquisite and delicious - and taste even better paired with an aperitif or some wine from their extensive list. But if I had to choose one Anchovy Bar dish to rule them all, it’s the whipped cloud of Wagon Wheel cheese.

- JC

Marc Fiorito Photography

Red Window

$$$$
$$$$ 500 Columbus Ave

We come to this new Spanish restaurant at the corner of Columbus and Stockton to chill on a colorful parklet and drink one of their refreshing low-proof spritzers or a glass of sangria. But these aren’t the only reasons to love Red Window. The tapas are fantastic and made with an attention to detail that will blow you away - the fried mushroom skewers are delicate and airy, the patatas bravas are thin, crispy layers of potato that stand in a drizzle of aioli and are topped with a neat dollop of salsa brava. The shrimp is bathed in a garlicky, bright red oil and served with toasted bread - it will elicit an audible sigh of delight from everyone sitting at your table. And every bite you have of the crema catalana, with its creamy vanilla custard and crackly, caramelized top, will make you more excited for a return visit.”

- JC

Julia Chen

Sunset Squares

$$$$
Pizza  in  Soma
$$$$ 59 9th St

The thick, chewy sourdough crust pizzas at Sunset Squares are just what I crave whenever I’m in need of a serious comfort meal. I’m a big fan of their square pepperoni pizza, which comes topped with excellent tomato sauce, mozzarella, and globs of creamy ricotta. But they also have really great Chicago tavern-style pizzas with thin crusts, like one with honey butter, garlic confit, potato, and leeks. The range of unconventional pizza toppings here are also possibly-controversial conversation starters - you can get an entire beef rib, pork belly and kimchi, and even mapo tofu. Choose your own adventure - just know that whatever you order will probably convert you into a Sunset Squares regular.

- JC

Julia Chen

Billingsgate

$$$$
$$$$ 3859 24th St

Billingsgate is a new seafood market and cafe from the team behind Four Star Seafood, a wholesale seafood company in SF. Their menu includes a raw bar and a ton of prepared dishes that highlight their excellent seafood, like clam chowder and octopus carpaccio, plus seafood salads that you can get on top of thick, buttery slabs of brioche or butter lettuce. One dish that’s a must-order: the kampachi crudo - thin slices of yellowtail are doused in olive oil and topped with slices of serrano peppers, bits of pomelo, and tarragon. You also can’t go wrong with the smoked salmon with creme fraiche and pickled onions.

- JC

Julia Chen

Dumpling Home

$$$$
$$$$ 298 Gough St

On my never-ending, Very Important Quest to try every single xiao long bao in San Francisco, I headed to Dumpling Home - and they did not disappoint. The juicy pork filling and delicate, chewy skin were absolutely fantastic. But if the promise of perfect soup dumplings isn’t enough to inspire you to clear your schedule and head to this Hayes Valley spot, just know the rest of the menu is incredible. Exhibit A: the shengjianbao - soup-filled, pan-fried dumplings with satisfying crunchy bottoms. And also, everything from the green veggie dumplings to the sticky, sweet dry-fried chicken wings.

- JC

Erin Ng

Damnfine

$$$$
Pizza  in  Sunset
$$$$ 3410 Judah St

Damnfine specializes in excellent wood-fired pizzas made with perfectly crispy, chewy crusts. The Outer Sunset restaurant has a bunch of pies to choose from, like one topped with an earthy mix of five types of mushrooms, and another with purple potatoes, pesto, and pancetta. They also make a mean margherita, which is even better with a drizzle of their hot honey and ranch.

- JC

Julia Chen

Early to Rise

$$$$
Brunch  in  Nob Hill
$$$$ 1098 Jackson St

Pre-2020, Early to Rise was a pop-up that served family-style, 50-person brunches around a massive communal table. They’re now a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Nob Hill that’s only open on weekends (for now). One reason to check them out is their bagels - they make some of the best in the city. They’re well-seasoned, chewy, and have a really solid crunch on the outside. Be sure to also snag a couple of made-to-order donuts (weekly-changing flavors include earl grey or maple bacon with spiced apple filling), or pre-order a bagel kit with lox.

- JC

United Dumplings

United Dumplings

$$$$
$$$$ 525 Cortland Ave

One of the many reasons to love this city: you could spin around 15 times, blindfolded, then point a finger at a map of San Francisco and it’d land near a great dumpling spot. And joining the roster of excellent ones is United Dumplings in Bernal Heights. Their hand-folded dumplings - from plump little xiao long bao and pork and Napa cabbage to chicken, sweet corn, and mozzarella - are delicious. Don’t leave without also ordering their garlicky string beans and sautéed pea shoots, which are worth a return trip on their own.

- JC

Hetchy's Hots

Hetchy's Hots

$$$$
Sandwiches  in  Soma
$$$$ 1077 Mission St

Hetchy’s Hots, the takeout-only restaurant from the Square Pie Guys, was one of the first pivots of the quarantine era - and is still one of our favorite takeout spots. At Hetchy’s, the Detroit-style pizza purveyors are making Nashville fried chicken sandwiches. The first time you open the box, don’t be surprised if your jaw essentially dislocates from its socket. The golden-brown chicken thigh is so big it touches all four corners, and it’s stacked with red peppers and a thick lemon aioli. You can now build your own sandwich and choose from a variety of spices, sauces, and toppings.

- LC

Erin Ng

Lucinda’s Deli & More

$$$$
Sandwiches  in  Nopa
$$$$ 535 Scott St

One of my favorite sandwich memories (and I have many) revolves around Lucinda’s Deli & More. I tried it for the first time during the height of the pandemic, while on my way home from a beautiful hike at Mount Tam. My friends and I shared the Baja turkey, a spicy tuna melt, and the hot ham with aged cheddar pimento and garlic confit mayo and ate them in the sun in Alamo Square. The sandwiches here are perfect - ridiculously soft rolls and overflowing with tons of fillings. Safe to say they’re making the kinds of sandwiches you definitely need to add to your lunch rotation - whether you’re sharing one after a hike or not.

- JC

Flour + Water Pasta Shop

Flour + Water Pasta Shop

$$$$
$$$$ 3000 20th St.

The takeout-focused provisions shop sells the same incredible handmade pasta that makes Flour + Water one of the most special restaurants in the city. So head here whenever you want to make a steaming plate of pasta, fresh out of the pot, at home. They also make excellent sandwiches and salads and are stocked with lots of dried pasta, sauces, and DIY meal kits that change seasonally - expect to see things like corn cappelletti, agnolotti dal plin, or autumn squash tortelloni.

- JC

Quik Dog

Quik Dog

$$$$
American  in  Mission
$$$$ 3010 20th St

The casual, takeout-friendly concept from the Trick Dog team nails every element that makes a hot dog great: slightly-toasted bun, juicy, perfectly cooked meat (chuck and brisket, in the case of the titular Quik Dog), and excellent toppings. We especially love the Mission Dog, topped with bacon, sautéed onion, and jalapeño spread. And while you should definitely order a hot dog when you’re there, don’t pass on the chicken nuggets: small, crispy pieces of thigh meat, which are even better when doused in a side of Quik Dog’s sweet, house-made honey mustard.

- JC

Erin Ng

Palm City

$$$$
$$$$ 4055 Irving St

In the Year Of The Sandwich, Palm City, a wine shop in the Sunset, is making one of the biggest (and best) in the city. It’s the Italian American hoagie, overflowing with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, onion, arugula, parmesan, and a layer of ’nduja mayo. The hoagie is the approximate length of an extra long chopstick or a small newborn baby, and biting into one just so happens to taste like what watching a baby using chopsticks feels like: pure joy. Palm City also has an extensive selection of snacks, salads, wine, and beer, which makes it the perfect pre-picnic stop. Don’t be surprised if you find me at Golden Gate Park, finishing off the hoagie and their spicy garlic cheese spread in ten minutes flat.

- JC

Hotbird

Hotbird

$$$$
Sandwiches  in  Soma
$$$$ 1355 Market St Ste 180

If you missed your chance to try Hotbird, the Nashville hot chicken sandwich spot, when they were a staple at Oakland First Fridays and Off the Grid at the Presidio, you’re in luck. They’re operating out of a temporary space in the Twitter building food hall while their brick-and-mortar restaurant (also located in the same building) is under construction. After devouring their titular Hotbird, I’m happy to report that this sandwich is a master class in the art of doing one thing great. Like, Jordan Peele great. I chose medium out of five heat levels, which had a fiery kick but not in a, “Help, please send milk” sort of way, as well as dill pickles, a tangy aioli, and a light, buttery bun. This is a perfect sandwich.

- LC

Erin Ng

Lily

$$$$
$$$$ 225 Clement Street

The upscale Vietnamese restaurant in the Richmond nails every aspect essential to a fantastic meal: great service and an intimate, inviting space, excellent food, and attention to detail in everything they do. You’ll want to get into the colorful shaking beef salad, with tender filet mignon and tons of bright, crisp veggies, and the whole fried fish curled around a bed of kimchi and pineapple chow fun. Or the pork chop, which melts in your mouth, and is served with a mound of broken rice that stays magically intact in a little bowl of broth. No matter what you order, prepare to be blown away after a meal here.

- JC

Lani Conway

Komaaj

$$$$
Iranian  in  Mission
$$$$ 3359 26th St

Komaaj opened in 2015 as a pop-up, and in 2020 they launched a new takeout spot out of The Laundry, an art gallery and events space in the Mission - and I’m glad they did. They specialize in dishes from Gilan, a province along the Caspian Sea in Northern Iran. And each one is packed with so many kinds of nuts, herbs, and spices that take my taste buds on a roller coaster ride that only goes up. Case in point: the kuku sabzi, a spongy, herb-y green frittata leveled up with a dollop of rich sumac labneh, or the Persian cucumber salad with barberries, radishes, and dalar, a fermented herb paste loaded with mint, cilantro, and savory. But the dish that really showcased an unbelievable balance of flavor was the sumac-roasted chickpeas dunked in a sweet walnut, herb, and pomegranate molasses stew (there’s a slightly sour version of the stew with a savory chicken thigh and drumstick, which you should also get). If you want to know more about the ingredients used at Komaaj and in Northern Iranian cooking, I highly recommend following their Instagram.

- LC

Julia Chen

One thing you need to know about Astranda Bakery - they sell out of their coffee cinnamon rolls quickly. The other: your jaw will drop at the sight of it. The fluffy rolls are layered with brown sugar cinnamon paste and a sticky coffee caramel sauce. It’s then bathed in a smooth, drippy, coffee-flavored frosting that I want to take shots of before I work out. Simply put, Astranda’s cinnamon rolls are cinnamon rolls done perfectly. Since you should absolutely get your hands on one, keep an eye on their Instagram to find their schedule and pick-up locations (usually at Excelsior Coffee in the Mission or Oakland’s Magnolia Mini Mart).

- JC

Susie Lacocque

Nopalito To Go Window

$$$$
Mexican  in  Mission
$$$$ 3690 18th St.

I’m a sucker for wasting away a Sunday on a sunny patch of grass, so I love Nopalito’s new to-go window, which is right down the street from Dolores Park. Location aside, what makes this spot so great is the exclusive menu of things you can’t get at their Broderick location. There’s a chicken and rice bowl, and coffee and conchas by pop-up Norte 54. But I keep coming back for their totopos con carnitas. The dish is easily one of my top three favorite power combos of 2020, and also includes a generous heap of crema, onions, cilantro, and shaved cotija. It’s decadent, delicious, and the perfect companion for an afternoon of people-watching and [REDACTED] at Dolores.

- JC

Julia Chen

Anyone I know will tell you I have terrible reflexes. I’m bad at every sport, and if you throw something at me, be prepared for it to hit the floor. But when I ordered a cheesecake from Basuku, I learned that I’m pretty damn good at furiously hitting the refresh button on a Tock page... which counts for something, right? Their cheesecakes usually sell out in under a minute, so I’m glad my reflexes came through for once because these creamy Basque cheesecakes are something else. Each bite was super rich, with a caramel-y exterior and a jiggly inside that all melts in your mouth. Be quick if you want to order one - if I can do it, you can too.

- JC

Routier

Routier

$$$$
$$$$ 2801 California St

Routier is a casual French restaurant in Pacific Heights co-owned by b. Patisserie’s Belinda Leong. So, based solely on her incredible kouign-amann and financiers, I had high expectations when I ordered the Formule Routier - a $39, three-course prix fixe dinner that comes with an appetizer, main, and dessert. The edition I got included a rillettes de volaille, a petrale sole with mustard sauce and a rich potato puree, and an amazing buttermilk panna cotta topped with persimmon strips and pomegranate seeds. Other things that make Routier special are the a la carte options, like a game-changing chicken liver mousse with a chunky sweet red currant compote, and one of the most tender beef cheeks you’ll have.

- LC

Julia Chen

I fully credit Pie Society for transforming me into a “pie person.” The pop-up, run by Angela Pinkerton (a former pastry chef at Che Fico), churns out incredible pies every week in both San Francisco and the East Bay. Hers are my favorite - fresh, seasonal fillings that catapult my happy little taste buds to another dimension. Get the passionfruit bay leaf meringue pie: a five or nine-inch tart made with layers of curd, sweet cream, and a delicious graham cracker crust. The toasted swiss meringue topping makes this pie a masterpiece.

- JC

SF

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