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: Ever wonder what it would look like if someone spent $8 million on a palace of tacos?
Eat this: You may already have your Puesto favorites, given the brand’s popularity in its San Diego home — if not, try the filet mignon tacos with guac and melted cheese, or the soft-shell crab with Fresno salsa. And wash it down, of course, with the mezcal flight.
2752 Augustine Dr., Santa Clara (map)
pearl (2 images)
Why now: Pearl is the new project from the team behind your other favorite neighborhood spot (Pizzetta 211), and you are absolutely going to want to hang out in the relaxed leather booths.
Eat this: Bring a friend because it’s the only way to get the family-sized octopus for two, served with German potato salad, haricot vert, olive-almond relish, and black garlic aioli.
6101 California St. (map)
Besharam at the Minnesota Street Project
Why now: Welcome Besharam (the name is Urdu for “shameless”) to the space once occupied by Alta — it’s Alta chef Daniel Patterson’s second collaboration with graduates of incubator program La Cocina.
Eat this: At the moment, chef Heena Patel is only serving lunch, but it’s a full plate, anyway: Gujarati-style dry snacks (we’ll be ordering the blue cheese naan), followed by the grilled asparagus salad with mango pickle and pickled shiitakes, and then caramelized carrots(!) with pistachio and nutmeg for dessert.
1275 Minnesota Street (map)
Seven Stills Nob Hill
Why now: You may already know Seven Stills from its distillery and brewery in Bayview — or the taproom-and-tacos place in the Outer Sunset. Everything gets spiffied up for the brand’s newest location: within the Stanford Court Hotel, the recent beneficiary of a $16 million reno.
Drink this: Even if you’re already a fan, you haven’t tried their cocktails yet — because the Nob Hill location marks their debut. They’re kicking things off with two permanent additions to the cocktail menu: an old fashioned made with Seven Stills’ Chocasmoke Whiskey and a Moscow mule prepared with their own vodka.
905 California St. (map)
Why now: Another Atelier Crenn alum hangs his own shingle — this time, it’s former chef de cuisine (and Saison vet) Chris Bleidorn.
Eat this: The preview menu hinted at Bleidorn’s interests, which mixes his New England roots with interests that look northward from the Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska: Think wild boar with elderberries, cedar-warmed trout, and a giant clam with buttermilk whey and pork fat on a Parker House roll.
1085 Mission St. (map)