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 6/25): Dancing Yak, The Beehive, Stonemill Matcha, Sunday At The Museum
Dancing Yak is a Nepali restaurant in the old Babu Ji space on Valencia Street. The decorations get your attention immediately - there are dark purple walls with paintings of things like mushrooms and giant crystals - but the food isn’t upstaged by everything that’s going on around you. The menu ranges from dumplings to tandoori plates and curries, and we like the samosas and the goat curry daal (heads up, it has some bones). Get a few things to share and a round of very good cocktails.
Museum restaurants can be hit or miss, but this one, in the Asian Art Museum, is a hit - we’d go back even if we weren’t also checking out an exhibit in the museum itself. It’s a counter-service spot with a menu featuring things like prawn noodles, tomato soup with coconut curry cream, and a Korean fried chicken sandwich on a steamed bao bun. There are small tables around the bright dining room, plus one large communal table at the center, and while a lot of the guests seem to be museum-goers or employees, if you work in the area, stopping by for a quick fried chicken sandwich is not a bad idea.
Matcha is incorporated into nearly every item on the menu at this all-day cafe in the Mission. You’ll probably have to wait in line, but it’s worth it to sit down for a snack or some lunch. There are all kinds of matcha drinks, from lattes to cold brew, and food-wise, we like the housemade matcha cream puffs and the pork katsu sandwich, which is worth a trip on its own. Stonemill also collaborates with Tartine on some of its baked goods, like a matcha croissant.
This ’60s-themed Mission spot serves great cocktails, like the namesake Beehive, which has gin, honey, lemon, and ginger, and the Hound Dog, with peanut-washed bourbon and caramelized banana. It also serves food ranging from shrimp cocktail to fondue. Hang out on the couches in the back room and pretend that Paul Newman and Audrey Hepburn are on their way.
This bright, airy spot on the edge of NoPa serves excellent Italian/Californian food with a Jewish influence (which means you’ll find everything from pasta to chopped duck liver on the menu). It’s trendy enough to be good for a date, but also homey enough that you could bring your whole family. Either way, definitely bring someone, because you’re going to want to order a lot of food and share everything. Make sure there’s at least one pizza on your table - the crust (which tastes kind of like a cross between a Neapolitan pizza crust and sourdough bread) is outstanding. The cocktails are delicious, too, but you probably won’t want to share those. If you can’t get a reservation, try walking in - just get there early to avoid a wait.
This is a new place from the people behind Lazy Bear, but you won’t have to buy a ticket a month in advance to go. True Laurel serves interesting drinks in a not-too-serious atmosphere. The food menu seems to have been inspired by every tier of bar in existence, with options ranging from a patty melt to a trout crudo to broiled oysters. The dishes we’ve tried so far haven’t blown us away, but the cocktails are excellent. Use this spot for a fancy drink date.
The first SF location of this international ramen chain is on the blurred line between the FiDi and SoMa. (There’s also a location in Berkeley that opened last summer.) While it looks small from the outside, there’s actually a large, busy dining room in the back. The menu has a long list of small things to start with - from buns to fried chicken - and an equally extensive ramen selection (you can even decide how firm you’d like your noodles to be). This place gets crowded, but service is extremely quick. If you can afford to sneak out of your office for a lunch break here, do it.
Barvale, in NoPa, serves excellent, substantial tapas made with high-quality ingredients. You won’t need to order two of anything, but you’ll probably want to. The space is huge, making this an easy choice for date night or a midweek dinner at the bar. The octopus here is some of the best we’ve ever eaten.
Contrary to what you might expect from the name, The Snug is not ski lodge-themed. You won’t find a fire, warm blankets, or taxidermied elk inside. What The Snug is is a welcome addition to Fillmore - because how many times can you really go to Palmer’s? This place is big, busy, and “snug” in the sense that you can count on being elbow-to-elbow with other humans. The short menu has mostly snacks and small plates - we like the poke, wings, and hummus with naan. Try those alongside some excellent cocktails.
Prepare to pay a lot of money for a lot of delicious raw things - from oysters to salmon crudo to beef tartare - at this SOMA wine bar. You could basically throw darts at the menu as an ordering strategy here and be happy, if significantly poorer post-meal. It’s from the people behind (wait for it) Marlowe, and even though it’s new, it feels like a fancy old-school oyster bar. Come for a girls’ night or date when you want to get slightly spendy and share a bunch of phenomenal things, possibly including a seafood tower.
This newer spot from the people behind Namu Gaji is always busy. Its prime Divisadero location doesn’t hurt - nor do its affordable crispy rice stonepots (bowls of rice, vegetables, and proteins with some delicious sauces) or solid local beer list. You’re mainly here for those pots, but the fried chicken is spicy and great and also worth your time. Come with a small group and you should be able to get in without too much of a hassle.
We’re generally skeptical of hotel restaurants, but Villon, in the San Francisco Proper, is genuinely good. It doesn’t have that depressing “I’m just a lobby with some tables” feeling, and the bar (which has a Beauty and the Beast library-style ladder for top shelf bottles) is an attractive place to meet someone for drinks. Get the tuna tartare, the Hawaiian bread, and the squid ink noodles - just leave room for some beignets to close out your meal. Then, head upstairs to the hotel’s rooftop bar, Charmaine’s. It has comfortable couches, great views, and expensive but good cocktails. Overall, this place is perfect for a one-two punch, and the crowd is only a tiny bit obnoxious.
Omakase places are popping up around the city like high school friends announcing they’re having kids on social media. Unfortunately, they’re generally too expensive for anything but birthdays, anniversaries, or celebrating successful Ethereum trades. Robin is a new sushi spot in Hayes that does a (relatively) affordable $79 omakase in a modern space that you’ll want to hang out in. For your $79 you get an excellent mix of high-quality nigiri, sashimi, and a few non-fish dishes - it’s enough food that you won’t have to go eat a burger afterwards. The salmon, caviar and potato chip, and any of the tuna pieces are highlights, but almost everything put in front of you will be great. If you can’t totally shake your control issues, there’s an a la carte menu to order from, but the omakase is really the way to go. However you’re eating, save room for dessert. Sake soft serve is the best new way to eat your alcohol.
On a sunny day, lunch outside at Hook Fish Co. might have you thinking about a move to the Outer Sunset, convincing yourself that the neighborhood feels just like LA. The tiny order-at-the-counter seafood spot has a simple menu of poke, tacos, fish sandwiches, and fish and chips, plus beers and agua frescas. When it’s nice out, there are lots of benches outside to eat one of their phenomenal fish tacos or sandwiches on, or if it’s one of the 300 days of the year when the weather could best be described as “98% cold humidity,” there are bar seats and tables inside too. Since it closes at 9pm, Hook is a place for lunch or a casual early dinner.
There aren’t too many things that bring us to Noe Valley. We don’t have kids or a dog stroller, so we mostly just feel like imposters. But Uma Casa is the kind of place that will start getting us there much more often. This Portuguese spot has awesome seafood, super-friendly service, and a great wine list that isn’t offensively priced. You should be ordering the spicy shrimp, octopus, and short rib. The bar is ideal for posting up solo, and also has a TV if you need to watch sports rather than interact with a human.
A Mano already feels like a staple. This Italian spot in Hayes Valley is cool without trying too hard, just like everything else on Hayes Street. If you like Delarosa or Beretta, you’ll be excited about this place, which is from the same people (and potentially even better). Start with the asparagus (if you need something that’s not a carb), and then move on to any (or all) of the pastas, which are handmade and surprisingly affordable. Expect a bit of a wait, but Anina is just a couple doors down for drinks outside while you do. A Mano is our favorite new date spot around.