The 10 Best Bay Area Restaurant Openings of 2016

One full calendar year, in things that taste good

December 23, 2016 9:00 am

2016: the best thing you can say about it is that it’s almost over. 

But consider it from the very narrowest lens — eating well in the Bay Area — and it was actually a pretty good time. 

So let’s think of 2016 as the year we tied New York for the number of three-star Michelin joints. 

Let’s also consider it the last year we do so, since we’re blowing past them in 2017. 

Here, our picks for the best of the best new restaurants — from superlative sushi to the most ambitious museum restaurant we’ve ever laid eyes on.

In Situ

You’re here for: A museum restaurant with a concept-driven menu as ambitious as the work (and, in this case, the building) that surrounds it. 
You’re dining on: Roi Choi’s ketchup fried rice, Isaac McHale’s buttermilk fried chicken and pine salt, and Dominique Ansel’s sage-smoked dark chocolate brownie.

151 Third St. (map)


You’re here for: The newest property from the Absinthe Group (Comstock Saloon, Boxing Room), Bellota is worth the trip to SoMa for its paella alone.
You’re dining on: Paella, obviously. Our choice is the seafood-centric Fideua, with Gulf shrimp, scallops and squid.

888 Brannan St. (map)

Mister Jiu

You’re here for: Chinese feasts of olden days: less takeout standby, more cause for celebration, sharing and commingling with its banquet-style menu.
You’re dining on: Salt-baked McFarland Springs trout and Heart Arrow Ranch barbecued pork. Of particular note: The dessert menu, designed by fellow Quince star Melissa Chou — we want the black sesame cake, with rosebud mousse, strawberry confit and ginger.

28 Waverly Pl. (map)


You’re here for:
 Japanese that somehow feels completely reinvented — in a year of super-high-end luxury sushi places, this feels like an event. 
You’re dining on (and drinking): Foie gras ice cream and libations made with the Okinawan drink awamori.

2223 Market Street (map)

The Mission

You’re here for:
Mediterranean food at its finest: sun-drenched, light and hugely flavorful. 
You’re dining on: The warm meze (charred cauliflower, horta, duck leg and meatballs) plus the Persian Royale, with vermouth infused with strawberry and spicy golpar.

206 Valencia Street (map)

Tartine Manufactory
The Mission

You’re here for: An expansion of the Tartine dream, rendered in Technicolor, all set in a spectacular space. 
You’re dining on: Salt-baked whole sole with preserved lemon and pickled onion — followed by pavlova. 

595 Alabama Street (map)


You’re here for: Michelin-starred fish in an incredibly intimate (12-seat) space.
You’re dining on: Whatever the chef feels like making — in the form of a 17-course omakase menu. 

1335 Fulton St. (map)

Leo’s Oyster Bar

You’re here for:Mad Men-style dining room serving fresh fish. If you like a festive dining (and drinking) environment, try the Hideaway lounge.  
You’re dining on: The raw bar — as many oysters as you can eat, plus a shrimp cocktail. 

568 Sacramento St. (map)


You’re here for: The 10- to 12-course kaiseki-style meals, which mine not just Japanese tradition but Korean and Chinese as well.
You’re dining on: Oyster, potato, pork belly, shiso and kelp juice — followed by a dessert of toasted rice ice cream with sesame and Grand Marnier.

1552 Fillmore St. (map)

Outer Richmond

You’re here for: The sort of local Italian place every neighborhood dreams of but few deserve.
You’re dining on: A Burrata Pie, with cherry tomatoes, “A Whole Ball of Di Stefano Burrata” and fresh basil.

2339 Clement St. (map)

For the rest of our year-end content …


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.