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.
Why now: Looking for a strong play for happy hour or a martini-soaked lunch? The Vault is perfect for dining on an expense account — everyone else here probably is, given that building’s tenants include Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. The fact that you’re eating in a literal formal bank vault (note the vault door, left in situ since it was too expensive to move) is less irony than scene-setting.
Eat this: The Parker House rolls with baked Red Hawk cheese, “house-made cultured butter” ($6), and Tsar Nicoulai Ostera caviar, obvs — followed by the Mt. Lassen trout (with asparagus) and the Vault burger, with Fiscalini cheddar.
555 California St. (map)
Why now: You may already be a fan of Jennifer Colliau from her widely admired work as bartender and beverage director at spots like at the Slanted Door and The Interval. Now, she’s setting up her own shop — and wonderfully, it’s right across from the Fox Theatre.
Eat (and drink) this: We’re definitely starting off with the kobe beef bavette and herbed French fries before moving on to the main (er, liquid) course: Colliau’s inventive (and inexpensive) cocktails, both freshly made and canned — an innovation meant to handle crowds after the Fox shows let out.
1780 Telegraph Ave., Oakland (map)
Why now: You know those bizarrely fluffy pancakes all your would-be food influencer friends keep posting? The Japanese original that kickstarted the trend is newly licensed in California, and they’ve just arrived at Stonestown Galleria.
Eat this: Obviously the souffle pancakes, which are made by piping batter into paper molds over a griddle. Of course, actually getting them — a set of three is $16 — is more complicated than you’d want it to be: 30 orders will be taken daily at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., and only then.
Stonestown Galleria (map)
Why now: Because if you have that thing you’ve been having for lunch one more time you might just lose your mind. Better option: this new Nepalese spot in SoMa. It’s the brainchild of an Off the Grid and La Cocina grad with extremely limited hours that nonetheless fit perfectly into your lunch break.
Eat this: Clearly the momos (why aren’t these Nepalese dumplings more famous?), maybe the lamb, maybe the turkey. Then the intriguing Nepalese burrito, with the options of chicken, pork or kwati, a Nepaleses sprouted-bean chili.
1001 Howard St. (map)
Why now: You want exactly the right lunch after Sandra’s 10:45 Soulcycle class, and don’t feel like going all the way down to Hayes Valley to get it.
Eat this: The marinated beef short rib bowl, with cauliflower and stewed onions — or the mimosas and quinoa-flour pancakes (brunch is available until 3 p.m.)
2184 Union St. (map)
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