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.
Jack London Square
Why now: If you love meat, this is your place: the new 7,000-square-foot flagship retail spot from Oakland-based meat artisans Belcampo. You’ll find it all here: a butchery, restaurant (with patio seating) and bar.
Eat this: The 21-day-aged steak frites — but see if they’ll let you swap out the Kennebec fries (which are fine) for the tallow fries (which are epic).
Why now: The famous-in-Japan ramen joint with an exceptionally customizable menu opens its first stateside location in Palo Alto.
Eat this: You’re free to choose among a variety of broths (including original, squid ink, basil and more), plus your anticipated strength of flavoring, “richness in oil,” firmness and thickness of noodle, the vegetables involved, pork cut and level of spice. Or — our choice — just go with the chef’s recommendations.
Farmhouse Kitchen (2 images)
Jack London Square
Why now: Keeping Belcampo company on Jack London Square is the latest iteration of this Thai restaurant that expanded from the Mission to Portland, and now swings back to the East Bay. The Mission original earned a Bib Gourmand from Michelin, so expect great things.
Eat this: They just opened last week, and will stay on a limited menu for the time being. So grab whatever they’re offering, and be prepared for the spice. At the Mission spot, we’ll make a detour for the mok salmon, which is grilled wild salmon served in a banana leaf with blue rice.
The Argentum Project
Why now: You simply can’t have enough solid lunch options in SoMa, and this one makes a killer baklava. If you’re looking for something to take back to the office, consider the wide range of Greek sodas (and beers).
Eat this: Spanakopita, bougatsa and a soft-serve vanilla ice cream with sour cherries — it’s as much as we could hope for from lunch.
Why now: The Marina’s favorite DIY mac ‘n’ cheese place comes to Russian Hill, bringing with it the brand’s signature system of pairing cheese sauce (to be fair, they’re diverse) with pasta base plus mix-ins (like ranging from hot dogs to roasted broccoli, and what a flavor pairing that would make).
Eat this: Keep it straightforward: we’ll have the #basic sauce (“Two types of cheddar, a secret spice mix, and a sprinkle of asiago”), plus elbows, plus truffle oil.