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

photo credit: Loquat

SFGuide

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

The new spots we checked out—and loved.

The Hit List is our guide to the best new food and drink experiences in San Francisco. We track new openings, 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 (11/23): Empire Pizza

collection

Where To Eat In California Right Now

Keep Reading

Fresh

Where To Eat In California Right Now collection image

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Julia Chen

Empire Pizza review image

Empire Pizza

Perfect For:LunchQuick Eats

$$$$

688 Mission St, San Francisco
Earn 3X Points

SF’s pizza scene has tangy sourdough pizzas topped with seasonal sweet potatoes and corn galore. Empire Pizza, a straightforward New York-style slice shop in SoMa, is a welcome change-up. The decor is a nostalgic nod to the East Coast—the walls are covered with photos of the New York skyline, subway station signs, and framed “Knicks Win It!” headlines. It’s exactly where you want to be when devouring snappy thin slices bigger than the average adult's face. And you should get here for the square slice of pepperoni alone. If you’re shopping at Union Square or working in a high-rise nearby, Empire Pizza is an easy lunch destination to seek out. 

If you’re someone who seeks out the city’s newest pastries like they’re limited-edition Cars-themed Croc drops, get Loquat high on your radar. The laidback Hayes Valley cafe and bakery (located in the old 20th Century Cafe space) serves Jewish and Levantine-inspired pastries that will encourage you to embrace the early bedtime you’ve been manifestation journaling about and officially become a morning person (they open at 8am). Salted chocolate babka has mesmerizing swirls of thin, golden-brown layers. Flaky bourekas get a touch of sweetness from the warm ricotta and sage filling. And because cake for breakfast is always a good idea, they have slices of chocolate cake with silky smooth espresso buttercream and labne cheesecake at the ready. 

Sign up for our newsletter.

Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.


By signing up, I agree to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

The proliferation of tasting-menu spots over the last few years has been pretty staggering. Ox & Tiger is one that’ll make you wonder “Why haven’t I gotten here sooner?” Last year, the former pop-up took over a space near Union Square, and it’s been turning out the city’s most exciting six-course dinner ever since. The eight-seat place is intimate and run by a two-person team who prepare, serve, and reveal their personal connection to each dish like they’re your closest friends. Grilled strip loin is topped with peanut sauce and served next to a beautiful panko-crusted fried eggplant. Salmon tataki and a creamy coconut mango sauce arrive alongside a bagoong tare-topped seared green mango. A mashup of Japanese and Filipino flavors, the menu changes often, but the dishes always taste genuinely different and new. There’s really no excuse not to get here.

Like Paramore or low-rise jeans, Kin Khao is officially back after a two-year closure. Translation: get to this Union Square spot immediately to experience the funky, spicy dishes that’ll draw you in like a moth to a flame. Sticky tamarind and Sriracha-glazed wings pack heat from a smattering of bright Thai chilis. Thick chunks of caramelized pork belly pair perfectly with tangy charred squid and sticky rice. And even a simple bowl of garlicky stir-fried bok choy will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about the vegetable. The minimalist dining room is where you want to be for dates and group catch-ups over family-style dishes and cocktails spiked with prik laab and galangal honey. 

Arepas Latin Cuisine imageoverride image

Arepas Latin Cuisine

RESERVE A TABLE

POWERED BY

open table

Go to Arepas Latin Cuisine on special events nights, and you can dance to live salsa and merengue music, drink $25 bottomless mimosas, or watch soccer matches on TV over discounted wine and beer. Even if you head to the casual Venezuelan spot in the Mission on non-themed evenings, dinner will always add up to a fun time. The arepas are fried or grilled handheld behemoths well-stuffed with things like shredded beef, carne asada, and tender cochinita pibil. And the eye-catching tostones are topped with tangy red cabbage and seasoned shrimp. There are also cachapas filled with gooey mozzarella cheese, pabellón criollo plates, and Venezuelan burgers, too. And if you want, snag some Venezuelan snacks from their mini market on your way out.

At this casual pizza shop in the Tenderloin, parmesan-dusted slices are the size of an average adult face, and served on plastic trays, like a school lunch but one you’ll actually want to eat. We’ve been shouting from the rooftops about Outta Sight’s show-stopping pies since their pop-up days, and aren’t about to stop—eating just one slice of mushroom, pesto, or pepperoni will leave you reminiscing about the crispy, charred crust for approximately five days straight. One you should clear your schedule and chase after is the Lunch Lady (they only make about 20 slices of it a day). It’s a special with slightly sweet vodka sauce, globs of gooey mozzarella, and a thick crust. So take this as your excuse to get here, now. 

A new casual date spot has touched down in Nob Hill, and it happens to serve excellent Nepali small plates. There are momos with pork filling that’s so tender it practically melts in your mouth, spicy, lime-y chatpate, and delicate pani puri. Smaller shareable dishes aside, they also have lettuce wraps and chicken bowls for something more filling, and refreshing soju cocktails and wine that pair perfectly with anything off the dinner menu. If you’re not already convinced to come here for a second date with someone you swiped right on, know that they also do $2 oysters every day. 

There aren’t many places to get tsukemen in the city—so excitement surrounding Taishoken’s opening in the Mission rivaled that of a Telfar Rainbow drop. Luckily, the dip ramen coming out of this spot lives up to the hype. The housemade noodles are chewy and thick, and the rich, umami-packed broth clings beautifully to each one. And when you’ve finished devouring your noodles, staff will pour dashi into any leftover broth so you can drink it straight from the bowl. The other ramen options, loaded with things like chashu or lobster, feature thinner noodles and are worth getting equally jazzed about.

Ancora is a buzzy restaurant that highlights local seafood with the same laser focus we imagine Rihanna dedicates to her evening skin care routine. A night at this upscale Mission spot—which has tiny fish painted all over the walls to really drive home the nautical theme—should most definitely involve their pan con tomate topped with salty SF anchovies and bright green plankton tagliolini in a decadent caviar and leek fondue sauce. And don’t miss the show-stopping halibut, which is presented like a rack of lamb and comes with a smoky seafood sausage and chermoula. Everything from the appetizers to the heartier entrées are simply and beautifully executed, making this a place that works just as well for an impromptu pre-dinner snack and glass of wine at the bar, as it does for a date night you plan a couple of weeks out. 

Pie Punks focuses on three different pizza types and absolutely nails each one. Grandma-style pies are so light they’d probably float, round pizzas have snappy thin crusts that crack loud enough to hear down the block, and Detroit-style bricks are made up of perfectly caramelized cheese walls. The pepperoni grandma pie was the standout from a recent visit to this casual SoMa pizza spot. The eight-slice masterpiece is the size of two laptops combined, covered in spicy tomato sauce and curled up pepperoni cups that rest atop a tangy golden-brown crust. Another must-order—the onion round, decorated with ricotta dollops and garlic confit. Pair them both with a glass of natural wine, then chill at the bar, or watch some sports on the big projector—Pie Punks is your new favorite spot to hang out after work, go on a date, alone, or come whenever fantastic slices call. 

At Bodega SF near Union Square, you’ll feast on family-style Northern Vietnamese dishes that are a mix of comforting, familiar flavors and interesting new ones. Oysters are topped with yuzu coconut foam, and beef carpaccio is zhuzhed up with citrus fish sauce and lime. And the whole-fried branzino is the perfect balance of crisp on the outside and flaky on the inside, while the umami-packed mushroom and pork-filled bánh cuốn will make you want to order another round after your first bite. But to really see what this contemporary restaurant can do, go for the chef’s tasting menu ($88)—it’s an eight-course, non-stop parade of their best family-style dishes. 

photo credit: Jeremy Chen

Bansang review image
7.9

Bansang

$$$$

Going out for Korean-style tapas in SF wasn’t something we did often, until Bansang came along. And now the modern Fillmore spot is where we go for midweek double dates and catch-ups with old friends over steamed egg crowned with caviar, yellowtail crudo punched up with Korean melon slices, roasted gochujang-coated beef tartare, and other small plates that mix traditional Korean flavors with Californian twists. Heartier entrées, like kimchi fried rice with soy-braised pork and a shower of parmesan and the tomato-y shrimp rice cakes, shouldn’t be missed, either. Order a round of soju cocktails to go with everything, and you’re set. 

Great news for fans of showstopping dosas—this casual South Indian spot in the Mission is serving great ones the size of a mini golf club. They’ll get your fingers nice and buttery as you tear crisp pieces off and drag them through the small dishes of tomato-y chutney and tamarind-heavy sambar that come on the side. As hard as it will be, don’t fill up on these dosas alone—everything else on the menu is packed with layers of rich flavors and spice. Get the coconut prawn curry that’s extra thick, along with a bowl overflowing with goat biryani. The bright orange space is cheery, with a few hanging streamers and twinkly lights. It’s just where we want to be for lowkey Wednesday night group dinners or any time we need a midweek dosa fix. 

It’s easy to love Taksim. The upscale Turkish restaurant in SoMa from the Lokma people has a large dining space centered around a wood-fired oven, and is pretty enough for an easy weeknight dinner, or meals with co-workers when snacks at the bar just won’t do. The biggest reason to come here is the food, coupled with friendly service. The menu is a mix of mezes, salads, housemade breads, and large plates—just about everything is what you want to eat over convivial conversation about water signs. The golden branzino is balanced with salty sea beans, the lamb and beef kabob is perfectly cooked, and the plump king shrimp wrapped in finely shredded kadaif are a dream over sweet pomegranate molasses. And the interesting cocktails infuse Mediterranean ingredients like carob molasses and urfa pepper. 

When Handroll Project opened in the Mission, it took roughly .2 seconds for lines to form down the sidewalk. This temaki-focused offshoot of the high-end omakase spot Ju-Ni draws a crowd every night—and it’s worth every minute of the wait. The five, seven, or ten-piece sets ($35, $54, or $95) are well-curated playlists of hits (a la carte handrolls are also available). Just sit back in one of the 12 bar seats in the minimalist space and enjoy some perfectly vinegary sushi rice topped with things like scallop drenched in miso aioli, smoked uni and ikura, and A5 wagyu showered with garlic chips. Since this is Ju-Ni’s sister spot, the menu also includes that restaurant’s signature frozen, shaved monkfish liver pâté, which has the texture of an ice cold cloud. Handroll Project is one of the most exciting places in SF to eat at right now, and if you have the time to get in line, you absolutely should. 

Seasonal ingredients are the star of the show at Mijoté. The cozy French restaurant in the Mission uses three or four main ingredients in a dish and lets each one shine—which is certainly one reason we’ve already made our second (and third) reservations. Despite the deceivingly simple ingredient lists, everything on the four-course, frequently changing menu ($82) packs big flavors that don’t hold back. See: the buttery king salmon is so fresh it was probably still swimming hours before, complete with crisp slices of leek on top. Or the maitake mushrooms and rainbow chard that are drenched in rich harissa butter. This place is always filled with folks on dates, celebrating birthdays, or taking their parents out—and, based on just one visit, it’s easy to see why. 

The natural wine bar and pizzeria in the Mission makes grandma-style pies using blemished or surplus vegetables, off cuts of meat, byproducts, and basically any ingredient that would usually end up in the trash. The results are rectangular pies with surprising topping combinations that keep things interesting. The somewhat sweet crust (made from whey and oat flour) with blackened edges might be piled with wilted greens, salmon belly conserva and relish, and pepperoni and ricotta fluff that tastes like whipped cream. These pies can turn into a gooey mess (the crust is super thin), but for pizza this good, we’ll gladly wear a bib any day—especially if it means eating in a dining room that looks like a glam ‘70s fever dream. Think highlighter yellow and green walls, a cheetah mural, a glitter-topped bar, and tassel animal print lamps. This place also has skewered goddess salads, pickles (featuring their Ugly Pickle Co. brand), buffalo chicken wings with a side of crispy livers and hearts, and wine by the bottle and glass. 

You can now get your hands on Mensho Tokyo’s top-notch ramen without waiting in the infamous lines at the Tenderloin location. The new counter-service outpost in the Twitter building is designed for takeout. Everything arrives in separate to-go containers unless you eat at one the few seats at the bar, or you can find a table inside The Market. What makes this casual ramen place a destination worth seeking out is the miso and chicken based broth and housemade noodles. The square noodles are thick and cooked to perfection, and one sip of the rich soup is all it will take to feel soul-curing effects. You have four options: Toripaitan (in original broth or spicy), the G.K.O. that gets its dark color from black garlic oil and charcoal, and a vegan version with local seasonal vegetables. We gravitate toward the spicy Toripaitan, a well-balanced, start-to-finish parade of spices and umami.

We always leave Donaji in a better mood than when we came in. The counter-service Oaxacan restaurant in the Mission has bright turquoise and pink walls, hanging papel picado, and leafy plants lining the space. Add mole-topped totopos and tender tamales to the equation and you might actually physically feel your serotonin levels rise. The sweet and richly spiced pollo con mole decorated with a zigzag of crema should absolutely be on your table. Two thick homemade tortillas come on the side, and the only downside is there aren’t more of them. If you’re not already feeling warm and fuzzy just by being in the colorful dining room and eating their fantastic food, the warm churro donut dipped in melty chocolate sauce will take care of that.

Good news for bagel lovers: the former pop-up has finally opened the doors to their brick-and-mortar in NoPa. And the New York-style bagels coming out of it are always chewy, evenly coated on all sides with seasoning, consistently golden-brown, and massive. A simple bagel with schmear and house-cured lox is our go-to, but the menu also includes delicious bagel sandwiches stuffed with caper schmear, eggs and sweet pepper butter, and veggies. Grab a hot coffee to go with it and know that there’s no better way to start your morning.

Sushi Sato looks like the inside of a hotel lobby, with big paintings on the walls and a shiny, fully-stocked bar. But once you sit down and the first nigiri lands on the table, you’ll realize it deserves a permanent spot on your sushi rotation. The Japanese spot in Polk Gulch stands out for its impeccable rice, which practically melts in your mouth with a sweet, vinegar-y finish. It’s the base for their excellent sushi and things like the fatty tuna-uni-truffle bowl, which is as decadent (and delicious) as it sounds. Get here for midweek date nights or group catch-ups, or any time you want to treat yourself to a spread of really wonderful fish.

When the team behind Liholiho Yacht Club opened Good Good Culture Club in the Mission, we fired off about 95 excited Slack messages and immediately started setting our Resy notifications. GGCC is located in the old Dear Inga space, where Liholiho popped up for most of last year. And when we finally sat down to a meal here, the lively dining room, friendly staff, and twists on dishes influenced by the cuisines of Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines (to name a few), only made our initial excitement grow. Inside, you’ll find people sipping on bright blue cocktails and natural wine at the bar and long communal tables, and digging into family-style spreads of things like crying tiger shrimp, and adobo-glazed chicken wings stuffed with garlic sticky rice up on the colorful new rooftop. One thing we’re especially excited to come back for is the “Halo Ha-Lao,” a shisho shaved ice, tapioca, and ube ice cream dessert (and a play on words that’s a nod to the chef’s background). Be sure to get it on your table, then make a mental note to come back here for your next celebratory meal. 

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested By Writer

San Francisco's New Restaurant Openings guide image
Guide
San Francisco's New Restaurant Openings

The new SF restaurant openings you should know about.

The East Bay Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Oakland, Berkeley, & Beyond guide image
Guide
The East Bay Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Oakland, Berkeley, & Beyond

We checked out these new restaurants in the East Bay—and loved them.

The 17 Most Exciting Dinner Spots In SF Right Now guide image
Guide
The 17 Most Exciting Dinner Spots In SF Right Now

A night out at one of these places‚ whether it’s for a catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night—feels overwhelmingly of the moment.

29 Great SF Restaurants That Are Actually Open On Mondays guide image
Guide
29 Great SF Restaurants That Are Actually Open On Mondays

Lots of restaurants are closed on Mondays. But you can always rely on these spots.