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.
Pacific Cocktail Haven
Lower Nob Hill
Kevin Diedrich has fingerprints all over some of the city’s best-known bars, including BDK, Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen and the Burritt Room. Pacific Cocktail Haven (we’ll obviously call it PCH) is his change to elevate his former pop-up project into a full-fledged bar of its own, with boundary-pushing cocktails like The Saffron, a grilled pineapple, saffron and mezcal-engineered concoction that deconstructs of B. Patisserie’s saffron pineapple macaroon.
Two Birds One Stone
Two Birds One Stone, hatched between shots on Top Chefs Masters, is Douglas Keane and Sang Yoon’s bet on four-star yakitori in Napa. Why head out of town? Because you like your yakitori served up on an outdoor patio with corresponding outdoor grill, with local Tucker Taylor, formerly in charge of the French Laundry garden, handling your fruit and veg.
In theory, museum restaurants should be exceptional. “If their taste in food is even half as good as their taste in art …” But the truth is museum restaurants are usually just that: about half as good as the art. In Situ, the new resto at the equally new SF MOMA, trumps that trend. Instead of a standard menu, it’ll incorporate both old favorites and custom — let’s say “site-specific” — recipes from a rotation of top chefs. On the menu now: Roi Choi’s ketchup fried rice, Isaac McHale’s buttermilk fried chicken and pine salt, and Dominique Ansel’s sage-smoked dark chocolate brownie.
Louie’s Gen-Gen Room
Lower Nob Hill
If you already like Lilolilo, you’ll love Gen-Gen, which shares an address and a team but is otherwise independent of the award-winning mothership. Think snacks and cocktails: grilled cheese, “sweet waffles” and smoked sturgeon, plus a lot of cocktails with coconut tones.
The newest property from the Absinthe Group (Comstock Saloon, Boxing Room), Bellota is worth the trip to SoMa for its paella. There are four different types; our choice is the seafood-centric Fideua, with Gulf shrimp, scallops and squid.