The new spots we checked out—and loved.Less
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.