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 8/30): Barcino
The waste of space in Hayes Valley that was Boxing Room is no more, and like a food phoenix rising out of the ashes comes Barcino, a new Spanish/tapas place that is a huge improvement from what came before it. The food is made to share, with a mix of smaller salads and tapas and larger plates including some very good short ribs, as well as a creative dessert menu that involves a churro/smore sandwich that you should order without a second thought. It’s also worth noting that the short wine list has several $10 wines that don’t taste like lighter fluid. Overall, Barcino is a great addition to the neighborhood.
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.
If you’re the kind of person who counts rotisserie chicken as a major food group, we endorse your life choices and welcome you to join us at the temple that is RT Rotisserie. This new Hayes Valley corner spot from the people behind Rich Table makes some exceptional chicken, and is one of our new favorite places for a low-key weeknight dinner. The vibe is casual, and the food is simple and close to perfect. With a short menu of salad, sandwich, and rotisserie options and a local wine and beer list, RT is basically a slightly more upscale Souvla. You’ll need the umami fries, and the cauliflower, which is one of the best vegetarian entrees we’ve had in a long time. Maybe because it’s fried.
Upscale Indian restaurants decorated with large portraits of mustachioed men are apparently a thing now (see: Babu Ji) and so far, we are fully on board. August 1 Five just near the Civic Center is such a place, and its menu of creative and classic Indian dishes is very good. Besides excellent shareable plates (like palak chaat and a bunch of biryanis), the cocktails are stellar too. It’s a good dinner spot for almost any occasion, but if you need an excuse, it’s especially well-located for pre- or post-Bill Graham show meals. They also do brunch.
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 just opened, but 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.
This Cajun place does it right. The food and cocktails are remind us of stuff we’ve actually eaten in New Orleans, and the vibe is fun without trying to replicate the feeling of Bourbon-Street-after-drinking-one-to-three-hand-grenades. The jambalaya is fantastic, as are the roasted oysters, and all the fried food is as good as fried food can be. If you’ve never tried a sazerac before, this is a good place to drink one.
Contrada is perfect if you want Delarosa-type pizza without the crowds or tyrannical hosts. It’s way more laid-back than other spots in the Marina, and you probably won’t have to wait to get a table, but none of that means this restaurant is boring. They have a great outdoor deck, excellent pizza and pasta, and it’s perfect for dinner before a night out on Union. If you like things containing wheat, this will be your happy place.
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.