The Best San Francisco Restaurant Openings of 2022
Where to get the best fried chicken (and more)
As we reflect back on 2022, we can be very grateful for the host of new dining establishments to arrive in the Bay Area. While we were sad to see some folks go (including longtime Chinese staple Feng Nian, three-Michelin-star Manresa and Fisherman’s Wharf staple Alito’s), we’ve also welcomed a variety of new dining establishments serving up everything from Asian-inspired small plates to classic French brasserie fare, from ingredient-driven fried chicken to top-notch Korean barbecue.
Whether you’re looking for a new neighborhood fave or a spot to ring in the New Year, here are some of the new restaurants we’re most excited to have welcomed to San Francisco.
At the very beginning of 2022, the folks behind Liholiho Yacht Club wowed the Mission with the opening of Good Good Culture Club. The restaurant capitalizes on the team’s varied backgrounds, marrying Southeast Asian flavors with a distinctly California vibe and local sourcing. The result offers up ultra-original small plates served with a heaping helping of vibes. Offerings may include the orange-glazed double-fried boneless chicken wings or the hodo yuba salad with sweet-and-savory black bean sesame miso dressing. For dessert, don’t miss the Halo Ha-Lao, a play on Halo Halo with ube sorbet, hosui pears and coconut foam.
Modern French fare is on the menu at La Société Bar & Café, located inside the recently expanded Hyatt Regency. Partner and executive chef Alexandre Viriot has taken a local, contemporary approach to French classics, with offerings like “Dutch Crunch” gougères with comté cheese and black truffle, saffron-spiked mussels with duck fat-fried frites, sole almondine with vanilla-cauliflower purée and brown butter sauce, and a baguette topped with smoked salmon rillettes with everything bagel spice. When it comes to sourcing, a marriage of the best of both France and California sees bread from Firebrand Bakery, Sonoma County Liberty Duck or San Francisco’s own Humphry Slocombe ice cream appearing alongside French Picholine olives, Valrhona milk chocolate and mustard from Edmond Fallot, the only producer to still make the condiment in Dijon with exclusively Burgundian mustard seeds. If a trip to France isn’t in the cards for the new year, this spot should definitely skyrocket to the top of your list.
Birdbox is the fast-casual fried chicken concept developed by the team behind two-Michelin-starred Birdsong. (If you love Birdsong, you’ll want to check in on chef Chris Bleidorn’s top off-duty restaurant picks.) From its origins in March 2020 as a pop-up, the new brick-and-mortar restaurant concretizes the team’s love of excellent fried chicken, with a menu of free-range, organic and pasture-raised chicken choices. Half- or quarter-chickens, drumettes, flats or tenders can be done up with your choice of seasoning and sauce, accompanied by sides like cornbread with honey butter or fries with schmaltz. If sandwiches are more your speed, the signature Claude the Claw sees a deboned thigh and drum (claw attached!) served on a potato bun with house-made sauce and pickles.
Korean BBQ joint San Ho Won technically opened in fall of 2021, but with its convivial ambiance and fine-dining roots (all courtesy of co-owners Corey Lee and Jeong-In Hwang), it more than merits our attention. The central grill is the true heart(h) of the establishment, where double-cut galbi, center-cut beef tongue and more are grilled over solid lychee wood charcoal produced specifically for the restaurant. Specialty banchan like mustard-spiked jellyfish or baechu kimchi fermented with shrimp, seaweed and 1000-day sea salt are welcome accompaniments, while dalgona cheesecake with honeycomb and coffee makes the perfect finishing touch.
After a soft opening peddling hand-rolled bagels from the duo behind Holey Roller Bagels in November 2021, The Laundromat has quickly become one of our go-tos for excellent square-cut pies, locally roasted coffee and natural wine. The short list of pizzas includes classic cheese and pepperoni, as well as cheffier choices like a white pie topped with mushrooms and fontina or a broccoli rabe pizza with shaved fennel and Calabrian chili sauce.
This eclectic, all-day spot from former Lazy Bear sous chef Matt Kirk has quickly become a NoPa staple. A nostalgia-driven dinner menu might feature Frankie’s fries with pickle spice and house-made sauce or pan-roasted chicken with citrus, followed by a sourdough chocolate chip cookie for dessert. During the day, freshly baked breads are the star of the menu, serving as the base for sandwiches like the bulgogi Big Mac, veggie dip, or the namesake breakfast sandwich with pimento cheese, breakfast sausage and egg. Pastry possibilities include banana bread, miso-spiked blondies or a brioche doughnut coated in sumac-spiced sugar.
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