For foodies, visiting San Francisco can feel like navigating one big moveable feast. And with new restaurants opening all the time—and constantly outdoing each other—the menu is always changing. From a contemporary Chinese food hall, to a Hawaiian-inspired bistro, and retro-yet-modern California supper party, there are no shortage of options. Read on for our nine favorite restaurants of the moment.
Leo’s Oyster Bar
Beloved Leo’s offers a refreshingly sophisticated spin on San Francisco’s trendy tiki obsession. Sure, there’s tropical palm tree wallpaper lining the walls and Polynesian décor, but it’s somehow pulled of with tasteful restraint. The well-done seafood-faring menu further proves the point that it’s not all show: the golden trout roe with miso-broiled trout and mache as well as the Leo’s Louie little gem salad with king crab and rock shrimp are constant hits.
This shiny new Chinese marketplace has all the glamour of a contemporary food hall, with all of the flavors of traditional Chinese cooking. The emporium has several dining options. The main one, Market Restaurant, is comprised of eight specialized stations serving fare like stone oven-roasted Peking duck with seasonal fruit glazes, Taipei-braised beef noodle soup, and chrysanthemum salad with starfruit vinegar.
At SFMoMa’s restaurant, In Situ, the food is treated as works of art...literally. The concept came to chef Corey Lee when the museum was renovating and opening the new restaurant: why not treat the menu like a collection? So he teamed up with notable chefs from around the world, perfecting one of each of their dishes and featuring it on the menu at his restaurant. Taste the cuttlefish cappuccino from in Rubano, Italy, lamb shank manti from Istanbul, or jokbal ssam (lettuce wraps with pig’s trotter) from Seoul—and pair it with a trip to the main part of the museum.
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Liholiho Yacht Club
Another tropical restaurant for the win—Liholiho Yacht Club opened to much buzz in 2015, and its popularity hasn’t ceased since. Chef Ravi Kapur cooks up an inventive menu of Hawaiian, Indian, and Chinese dishes in an urban brick space. The spectrum spans from tame (roasted octopus with curried raisins and coriander) to adventurous (duck hearts with kumquats and pistachios). Book well in advance, or lineup up before dinner service for one of the few coveted walk-in tables. If all else fails, you might find a seat at the bar.
In 2016 chef Brandon Jew helped breathe new life into San Francisco’s Chinatown when he opened Mister Jiu’s, a high-end homage Chinese cuisine. Since then it’s won countless accolades, including making Bon Appetit’s list as one of the best new restaurants in the country. Favorite dishes include the potstickers stuffed with pork and butternut squash, sizzled black cod in oyster broth, and roast duck with peanut butter hoisin. Even putting the menu aside, the historic yet modern space is a sight to behold.
The inside of this darling French bistro feels straight out of Le Marais, even if the neighborhood is actually gritty SoMa. French music, a checkered floor, and rose-y color palette bring the brasserie to life, while a menu featuring fromage, foie gras toast, and, of course, escargot lure patrons from across the city.
Lazy Bear gives the term dinner-and-a-show new meaning: Here, dinner is the show. The supper club is inspired by your parents’ 1950s dinner parties, with cocktail hour beginning in the living room-style lounge, followed by dinner at two communal tables. The set up encourages diners to be social, and since the meal is purchased via Lazy Bear’s website in advance, there is no check at the end of the meal. Sound fun? It is, but it’s also a commitment—time, money, and hunger-wise—with the fifteen-course menu starting at $165 per person.
San Francisco’s world-famous Tartine Bakery has a new, Instagram-worthy offshoot on the east end of the Mission District: Tartine Manufactory. The bright industrial-chic space has factory windows, white walls, and wooden tables, which offer an unequivocally cool aesthetic. Different food stations serve up various delights: single-origin pour-over at the coffee counter, flaky frangipane croissants at the pastry case, seasonal buffalo milk soft serve at the ice cream window, and crisp California rosé at the wine bar. Our advice? You can’t go wrong at any of them.
This chic modern French bistro is one part Paris, one part San Fran. The urban interior boasts concrete walls, live edge wood benches, and exposed lightbulbs. Highlights on the menu include the seafood sausage with pine nuts and a beurre rose sauce, the perfectly-crisped quail a la chasseur with vin jaune, and classic steak frites with ribeye, sauce charon, and herb jus. For dessert, don’t miss the chestnut pot de crème with salted caramel. JS tip: Its proximity to the nearby performing arts district, makes in an ideal dinner-and-a-show option.