Table Stakes: January
By Diane Rommel / January 31, 2019 9:00 am

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.

Udon Time and Butcher Shop by Niku (2 images)

Images (from left): Udon Time, Butcher Shop by Niku Steakhouse

Udon Time
Design District
Why now: Check that pedigree: This is the latest opening from the Omakase Restaurant Group, which is also behind Dumpling Time and the Michelin-starred Omakase.
Eat this: The kamatama udon with jidori egg, soy sauce, parmesan and butter, plus a few selections from the tempura menu.
Note: While you’re there, check out the equally just-opened Butcher Shop by Niku Steakhouse, the only certified kobe beef retailer in town.

Sushi Ondo Best New Restaurants

55 Division St. (map)

Sushi Ondo
Why now: Because you’ve had every other omakase menu in town, and this one mixes things up a bit with a Korean vibe.
Eat this: Obviously the Jung-sik tasting menu, which alternates room-temperature (“ondo”) sushi with Korean dishes, like a wagyu dumpling soup.

1550 Howard St. (map)

Laguna Hayes Valley Best New Restaurants
Image via Cherylynn N. / Yelp

Hayes Valley
Why now: Because brunch on Tuesday might mean all the Belgian waffles, with none (or at least fewer) of the lines. Also because you like a relaxed, neighborhood café.
Eat this: Do you enjoy eggs? Then scurry on over for the Egg Tower, which is exactly what it sounds like with two sunny-side-up eggs, smoked salmon, avocado, potato cake and crema. If you don’t: Let’s return to that Belgian waffle, served with fried chicken and fresh fruit.

602 Hayes St. (map)

La Calenda Thomas Keller Tacos
Image via La Calenda

La Calenda
Why now: When Thomas Keller decides to open a low-key Oaxacan-themed taqueria with $6 tacos, you pay attention. Especially if you have kids, who might enjoy the $10 set menu with a main, rice and beans, and a dessert — the best deal in Napa.
Eat this: The chicken enchiladas in mole negro with queso fresco — and definitely the churros. But maybe you get everything to go, since the no-res policy can mean long (90-minute) waits.

6518 Washington St., Yountville (map)

La Bande Best New Restaurants

La Bande
Why now: The Proper Hotel already has one of the best-looking dining spaces in the city with Villon — now it’s joined by this gorgeous, also-Kelly Wearstler-designed all-day café and coffee spot. It’s made for Instagram (though don’t hold that against it), with a marbled bar and gorgeous green-tiled walls.
Eat this: The La Bande chopped salad with Counter Culture coffee. It’s that kind of place.

1100 Market St.. (map)

Plus: If you love cheese, you love Cowgirl Creamery. Big news from the Point Reyes Station-based brand: their first new cheese in 11 years, Hop Along (we hope but not definitely named for the Philadelphia band fronted by Frances Quinlan). It’s “a rich, semi-firm organic cow’s milk cheese washed with organic cider and aged 45 days. The nose is yeasty and sweet, reminiscent of an apple orchard, and the paste is pudgy with a silky mouthfeel that melts easily on the tongue.” Enjoy.