Table Stakes: February

To keep tabs on every S.F. restaurant and bar opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a monthly rundown of the five (or so) must-know spots that have swung wide their doors in the past thirty (or so). Bon appétit.

Brown Sugar Kitchen
Uptown
Why now: Hometown hero, Top Chef competitor and UVA Russian major Tonya Holland anchors her rapidly expanding empire with this sleek, 85-seat restaurant in Oakland’s Uptown.
Eat this: Come early — and with a big appetite — for the bacon-cheddar-scallion biscuits followed by (of course) the buttermilk fried chicken and cornmeal waffles with brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup.
Note: Look for BSK to expand to dinner hours this spring — or grab it at the newish outlet at the Ferry Building.

2295 Broadway, Oakland (map)

Niku Steakhouse
Design District
Why now: Last month we discussed the opening of the adjacent wagyu-centric butchery. Now comes the debut of the main attraction, chef Steve Brown’s temple to high-end beef. Look for the 10-course chef’s-counter tasting menu to kick off March 1.
Eat this: Like we said: 10-course chef’s-counter tasting menu. Alternatively: the A5 wagyu jerky flight, followed by your choice of steak. Even better: hope the notably gregarious Brown is around, and ask him for suggestions.

61 Division St. (map)

Pawn Shop
SoMa
Why now: The storefront at 993 Mission Street looks just like a real-deal pawn shop, but it’s just a port of entry for the “hidden” restaurant in the back. Plan to make the trip for weekend brunch, in time for the bottomless red sangria or mimosas.
Eat this: Like we said: bottomless sangria. Supplement that with your choice of tapas — we’re having the ensalada de Berza (with kale, cranberries, butternut squash, etc.) and the grande cheese plate.

993 Mission St. (map)

Smokebread
Mid-Market
Why now: Now enlivening your daily lunch at The Market: Smokebread, formerly of The Perennial, offering a king’s selection of heavenly sourdough and the day’s selection of chef Nick Balla’s justly famed dips.
Eat this: Literally whatever’s on offer. Maybe the sprouted white beans with cauliflower and chili oil? Maybe the pumpkin seed tahini with zucchini and green chili?

1355 Market St. (map)