To keep tabs on every San Francisco 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.
The Caviar Co.
Why now: If you've eaten caviar at a good restaurant in S.F., chances are it came from Caviar Co. Here, they debut their new space — complete with a BYOB tasting space.
Order this: We reached out to co-founder Petra Bergstein with a brief: a tasting table for four to six friends: "My favorite line up of products would be: California White Sturgeon, Hackleback, and Siberian Sturgeon. This flight offers a good range and variety of products. It allows people to experience a farmed domestic product, next to a wild domestic product, and then a farmed imported product." There you have it.
Why now: The Cuban influence gives this gleaming-new fast-casual space a welcome tropical feel — though do not let your attention to the interiors detract from the real star: sandwiches that we'd bet will be on some best-of lists by the end of the year.
Order this: El Cubano (with roasted pork shoulder, smoked ham, Swiss, and house pickles) plus a carafe of the Wildhawk sangria.
Why now: Hayes Valley's favorite ice cream emporium sets up an outlet on Valencia Street —bringing its innovative menu with it.
Order this: Undoubtedly, you've gotta go with (or at least try) the three limited-edition flavors developed in collaboration with Mission-specific vendors: Turmeric Gold Latte (made with Samovar Tea Lounge); Chevre & Apricots (made with Mission Cheese, our personal obsession); and Mission Hot Chocolate (made with the folks at Dandelion Chocolate.)
Golden Gate Park
Why now: A newly "enhanced" happy hour menu ensures that the "seaside sliders" come out of the kitchen from 3 p.m. to 6 at $3.50 a piece. (Don't let the name fool you — there are actually three options: buttermilk fried chicken, ground chuck, and blackened salmon.) We'll take ... a lot?
Order this: In addition to the sliders, as many as the buck-fifty oysters as we can swallow and then maybe a $10 burger-beer combo.
The Camper at Hotel Zephyr
Why now: We recently detailed the benefits of drinking at a hotel bar. (Spoiler: Because other restaurants don't have beds upstairs.) Now imagine that pot sweetened significantly with the arrival of this 18-foot Shasta sleeper, bringing crafts beers and snacks. Meet right after work (it closes at 7 p.m.) for a quick dinner in front of the firepit before your activity of choice: movie, kayak, concert.
Order this: Whatever beer looks best plus the mango shrimp bowl.