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 8/8): Violet’s, Sorrel, School Night, Pearl
Sorrel feels more like an upscale restaurant you’d eat at on a European vacation than a place in Pacific Heights. Not that the food is anything you can only find overseas - it’s all California Italian - but the restaurant itself doesn’t feel like it’s in SF. It’s a clean, dimly-lit space with a bright kitchen that you’ll want to go to on a big date or when your family is visiting. The menu includes things like beef tartare, pastas, and large plates like wagyu beef and a rack of pork, but it’s all well prepared and worth the slightly high price of admission.
If you live in the Richmond, Violet’s is a good spot to grab a cocktail and something to eat on a nearby date. They have a raw bar, as well as bar snacks and large plates if you’re in for the long haul. Start with some blue cheese-stuffed devils on horseback or an order of chips with duck liver mousse and onion dip, which basically tastes like what you ate with Ruffles when you got stoned in college. There’s also a late-night Happy Hour (after 10pm on weeknights and 11pm on weekends) that includes things like grilled wings, a shrimp roll, and a $20 burger and cocktail combo.
Work anniversaries and contrived half birthdays happen on Mondays too, and if you work near Dogpatch, School Night is a perfect spot for these occasions. It’s set up in The Pearl event space and is open (you guessed it) only on school nights. Sunday through Wednesday you can drop in for some small bites from their wood-fired oven, like the al pastor tacos. But you’re really here to drink, and the cocktail list includes a variety of drinks made with pisco, agave, and whiskey. Just don’t overdo it - you still have to be on time tomorrow.
Pearl in the Richmond feels slightly Southern, with high ceilings, a central bar, and a white balcony overlooking the dining area. In the daytime, stop by for the excellent smoked salmon toast. At night, the menu has enough variety to keep everyone happy without looking like the Cheesecake Factory booklet. Everything - from the pasta to the pork chops and crudos - is solid, but make sure the roasted cauliflower with black tahini hummus is on your table.
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.