Trip Ideas

10 Hottest Spots in San Francisco Now

Jetsetter contributor and SF native Kristina Ensminger tells us where to sip, eat, relax and sleep in the city this summer. Dive in.

See recent posts by Kristina Ensminger

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Photo by Leila Seppa



This Willy Wonka–inspired sweets boutique carries more than 150 varieties of candy from around the world. (Fancy some champagne gummy bears from Germany? How about licorice cubes from Holland?) It also has a private label created exclusively for Sugarfina. Tiffany turquoise boxes line the walls, and you can fill them with a treat in every imaginable color of the rainbow. Even Charlie didn’t have it this good.

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Forgery Bar

Set in a former glass-blowing studio with 15-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, Forgery is SF’s newest hot spot for drinks. Behind the mahogany bar, spirit masters Jacques Bezuidenhout and Ken Luciano whip up innovative cocktails like the Cadiz (cumin-infused Ketel One vodka, Manzanilla sherry and passion fruit) and the Coffee Cup, which is made of coffee-infused Bombay gin, Pimm’s, Thai chili and ginger ale — the perfect pick-me-up.

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Photo by Wes Rowe


Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio

One of the coolest new spaces to hit the mid-Market district — a combination music venue, restaurant and bar — Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio was conceived by the ever crafty team behind Maven, in the Lower Haight. There’s no Mr. Tipple, or recording studio, but there is a hidden back entrance on a quiet side street that’s reminiscent of Prohibition-era speakeasies. Expect live jazz nightly, updated bar fare like confit chicken wings with green tobacco butter and fish sauce ranch, and an inventive lineup of craft cocktails (we love the Equator, which is made of rum, coffee, honey, lime and Hellfire bitters).

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Photo by Laure Joliet


Buchanan Hotel

In Japantown, the soon-to-open Buchanan Hotel feels like a cozy pied-à-terre, with a gorgeous private courtyard, outdoor patios and bikes available for guests. The large guestrooms draw inspiration from the surrounding neighborhood, with subtle accents like shibori-print pillows and silk kimonos in lieu of standard bathrobes.

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Chef Gabriela Cámara, of Mexico City’s beloved Contramar and MeroToro, is bringing her flair north with her first U.S. restaurant, Cala. Opening in the mid-Market in July, Cala will specialize in seasonal, locally produced seafood dishes and housemade corn tortillas. Swing by for lunch on a weekday and you’ll find a taco stand near the rear entrance on Hickory Street serving tacos de guisado — stewed and shredded meat packed into fresh corn tortillas.

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Mensho Tokyo

There’s no shortage of ramen in SF, but Mensho Ramen (a.k.a. Menya Shono), in Tenderloin, is guaranteed to be one of the best. The chain’s first U.S. outpost (Tokyo has five already) is set to open its doors in July, offering crowd-pleasers like tonkatsu ramen and gentei bowls, along with a handful of small plates exclusive to this location.

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True Cup

The team behind the True Sake shop is taking its retail concept one step further with True Cup, a slick sake bar at Octavia and Market. On offer is the country’s largest sake selection, curated by sake sommelier (yes, that’s a thing) Beau Timken, who plans to pair sake with more than just Japanese cuisine. In that spirit, chef Michael Black will serve small dishes with an “experimental Western” focus (sake-brined and -fried chicken, summer melon salad with Thai basil), all presented in sake cups.

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Photo by Matthias Jordan


Method Brewing

This new brewpub and beer garden debuting in August was founded by a group of scientists and techies — and it shows. Just like software and hardware designs, the beer recipes will be “open source,” meaning you can learn about your pint’s journey from field to glass. Sign up for a tour of the brewery, take a class or just kick back on the vine-covered rooftop with a Jalapeño Imperial IPA and admire the Rincon Hill skyline.

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Alamo Drafthouse

After a comprehensive renovation, the historic New Mission Theater will reemerge this fall as the Alamo Drafthouse, introducing Austin’s signature dinner-at-the-movies concept to San Francisco. You can have anything from the multicourse menu delivered right to your seat, as well as a wide selection of craft beers, wines and specialty cocktails. Film buffs can choose among five screens showing everything from Hollywood blockbusters to obscure indie flicks, but the best feature will be the hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.

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Fat Noodle

The “fine casual” concept behind the most highly anticipated restaurant opening this fall comes from Joshua Skenes, of California’s three-Michelin-starred Saison, and Adam Fleischman, of Umami Burger fame. What to expect? A simple chef’s counter serving made-to-order Chinese noodle bowls that has the feel of an authentic back alley Beijing operation. Choose from a variety of hand-pulled noodles, as well as proteins and veggies, that will change daily — all made with Skenes’s delicate touch. And, at about $10 a pop, don’t expect a fat price tag.



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