The 5 Best Restaurants That Opened in SF This Fall
From a new Korean barbecue joint to a steakhouse made for a Wolf of Wall Street reboot
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). Let’s eat.
If “the wonder of the season” means, to you, a new Korean barbecue joint from a guy with three more Michelin stars than he knows what to do with, a gorgeous, luxurious, pre-Fall steakhouse made for a Wolf of Wall Street reboot, or just an exceptionally cheerful tamales spot in the Mission, you are in luck. We’re all in luck, that we even have new restaurants at all, so get out there and order something delicious.
Miller & Lux
Why now: After a year of takeout, delivery, curbside, the exhausted depths of NYT Cooking salmon recipes, the occasionally Goldbelly splurge on cookies from the suddenly faraway East Coast, and other pandemic-related half measures, Miller & Lux — aesthetically true to the second half of its name — is here to assure us that high-end, pre-2020 dining will be back. Is back. Never left?
Order this: Can you order an idea? A vibe? A gorgeous half-moon, leather banquette? We’ll take all of Miller & Lux, please, including the Humboldt Bay oysters, the Louisiana shrimp cocktail, the “plateau de mer” that includes both of the above and more, the tableside Caesar, any one of the steaks (choose from filet mignon, New York strip, Tomahawk ribeye, and porterhouse, in roughly ascending cost), and tickets to a Warriors game, just ’round the corner.
700 Terry A Francois Blvd (map)
Why now: if there’s a place for expense-account spots like Miller & Lux in S.F., there should be equal room for Donaji, where a $15 plate of enchiladas will serve you in just as good stead as that $160 porterhouse. Chef/owner Isai Cuevas started out as a dishwasher when he first came to S.F. from his native Oaxaca in 2004; after nearly two decades, and working his way up to executive chef at Liverpool Lils (RIP), Donaji is his brainchild, and a worthy debut.
Order this: We mentioned the enchiladas — but how about the tacos birria? The salmon with guajillo broth? Chicken or pork pozole? Keep an eye on their Insta for what’s showing up on the menu — and know that they’re offering a wide range of tamales to-go, along with horchata by the half-gallon, both from the restaurant and at farmer’s markets across town.
3161 24th Street (map)
San Ho Wan
Why now: Magic seems to follow Corey Lee wherever he goes — from head chef at French Laundry to his three Michelin stars for Benu to his underappreciated-if-still-Michelin-starred In Situ (in our eyes you are perfect) to right here, at this barbecue-centric collab with Jeong-In Hwang, a Benu confrère, in the former Blowfish Sushi space.
Order this: The “large-format dishes” like Spicy Chicken Tteokbokk and Gamjatang — pork-back stew with dried radish greens and perilla seed sauce — will work for 2-4 — but if you’re ordering for the table, just go for the house menu, with savory egg soufflé, griddled beef dumplings, jebi churi and house double-cut galbi (beef short ribs), plus more.
2170 Bryant St. (map)
Why now: Because you just tried out our recipe from Penny Roma’s leaders, Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow, for “a classic tagliatelle Bolognese” and want to see how your version compares with the pros’.
Order this: The tagliatelle alla Bolognese, depending on how well you were able to make it at home. After that, the question is: What sort of simple-yet-sophisticated pasta does your heart desire? The cacio e pepe with hearty tonnarelli? The tortellini with roasted autumn squash, brown butter, sage, and aceto balsamico? Or maybe a hearty Agnolotti Dal Plin, with beef, pork, sugo d’arrosto, and Parmigiano Reggiano?
3000 20th St. (map)
Estiatorio Ornos (A Michael Mina Restaurant)
Why now: In our opinion, which is an opinion not at all a product of a series of disappointing summer vacations that (a) did not actually really involve vacation at all and (b) definitely did not involve two weeks in on island overlooking the Aegean Sea, except in our most desperate daydreams: Greek cuisine is where it’s at! Especially when a culinary powerhouse like Michael Mina puts his energy behind Estiatorio Ornos, with Jerry Goumroian, chef Nikolaos Georgousis, and executive chef Daniela Vergara.
Order this: Unfortunately, “Mykonos summer vibes” is not on the menu — but what is is tasty, light, and lovely, like a raw bar with big-eye tuna, scallop crudo, and sea urchin. Obviously there’s a Greek salad, but you may well prefer the heartier options, like a wild-mushroom moussaka, roasted lemon chicken, or filet mignon souvlaki.
252 California Street (map)
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