The Bay Area is now the nation’s region with the highest number of three-starred restaurants with seven―Benu, Coi, The French Laundry, Manresa, Quince, The Restaurant at Meadowood and Saison―and 55 starred restaurants in total. In our 2018 guide, seafood-centric North Beach restaurant Coi gained a third star, the Mission’s Californios, Healdsburg’s SingleThread and popup dinner club Lazy Bear (among others) gained second stars, and four restaurants―including Corey Lee’s In Situ and Kenzo in Napa Valley―gained their first.
With so many restaurants upping the ante, it comes as no surprise that the San Francisco Bay Area has seen its fair share of openings this summer. From Tokyo ramen sensations to butcher shop hybrids, these seven eateries are emerging from the area’s culinary wellspring.
Next month, the team behind Alexander’s Steakhouse (which has locations in San Francisco, Pasadena and Palo Alto) will open a new casual restaurant, ALX Gastropub, on Folsom Street. The 80-person space is designed by D-Scheme Studio, the team behind Réveille Coffee Co. and members-only cocktail bar Modernist. Chef Jessie Lugo (former mentee of chef Suzette Gresham of two-Michelin-starred Acquerello) will serve hearty, casual pub fare like chicharrones, beer can chicken with dirty rice, pickles and yogurt, and a “foie-gyu burger”—a mix of foie gras and wagyu beef served with sun-dried tomato jam. Expect a wide range of Bay Area beers, seasonal craft cocktails and Napa wines.
680 Folsom Street, Suite 125., (415)-266-1111
San Francisco-native chef Geoffrey Lee and business partner Tan Truong―owners of the one-Michelin-starred 12-seat omakase sushi restaurant jū-ni on Fulton Street―will join chef Tommy Cleary (alum of Berkeley’s Michelin-recognized Ippuku) to launch a new omakase restaurant, Hina Yakitori. Cleary previously ran a restaurant of the same name in Temescal, Oakland, which closed after receiving Michelin recognition in 2017, citing plans to relocate elsewhere. While Lee will continue to run culinary operations at jū-ni, Cleary will helm the 16-course yakitori omakase menu, featuring wagyu and uni, as well Emmer & Co. pasture-raised heritage chickens halved and broken down into 12 distinct courses. Leading beverages is Justin Chin, also beverage director at jū-ni, who will focus on wine, sake and shochu pairings.
808 Divisadero St.
This month, the quiet neighborhood of Duboce Square welcomed a new “Polynesian noir” bar from Horsefeather owners Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo. Barwoman Susan Eggette (of Alameda’s Forbidden Island) serves strong, thoughtful updates on Tiki classics—like The Last Rites Mai Tai made of aged rhum agricole, Jamaican rum, dry curaçao and lime cashew orgeat, and stocks over 150 rums. Nopa designer James Lagoc equipped the space with nine-foot skulls, a bar built out of an airplane fuselage and bar stools made from airplane seats.
718 14th St., (415)-801-5989
In late June, chef Brett Halfpap and Anya Fernald (co-founder and CEO of the growing sustainable farming California empire of the same name) revealed a new 230-seat (100 of which are outdoors on a patio) restaurant, bar and butcher shop in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Belcampo has outposts in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Palo Alto and Larkspur—and its own supply chain on 25,000 acres of farmland at the base of Mount Shasta. The new Oakland restaurant features beef empanadas and 100-day dry-aged beef, duck confit poutine and lamb burgers sourced from the team’s farms.
55 Webster St., (510)-281-0998
The popular Tokyo-bred ramen chain finally opened its first U.S. outpost in Palo Alto featuring its signature, richly-colored black squid ink and red pork broths, which stew for over 20 hours before being served. The chain has over 35 outposts abroad and has gained fandom for its varied flavor profiles and highly customizable bowls, allowing visitors to choose among factors like spiciness, “strength of flavor,” desired “richness in oil,” cut of pork (loin or belly), and noodle thickness and firmness. Diners can also elect for chef’s choice dishes like the Red King (Akao) bowl—a velvety broth made of garlic, chile oil and cayenne pepper, which is then topped with a ball of miso-infused minced pork, select Nagi cayenne and tender chashu (sliced pork loin). Diners can expect a second California location in San José to open later this summer.
541 Bryant St.
This fall, Japan’s master chef Onishi Yuki will debut the first American outpost of his Tokyo-based ramen restaurant Tsuta in San Francisco’s downtown shopping mall, The Metreon (as of last week, the Metreon said no lease has yet been signed). Chef Yuki first served his signature truffle-oil-infused shoyu soba noodles and dashi-shoyu broths in a Tokyo suburb in 2012. In 2015, the Tokyo outpost received one Michelin star, which led the team to open two new locations in Singapore and now one in the United States. The team has its eyes set on additional locations, including in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and a possible second location in San Francisco (set to debut in Stonestown Galleria).
135 4th St., (415) 369-6000
In June, The Mission District’s dedicated live music venue, The Chapel, welcomed a new bar and restaurant called Curio. San Francisco-native chef Mario Tolentino, culinary director at The Market who trained under chef Michael Mina, helms the kitchen. Tolentino’s menu features dishes like whole-smoked beer can chicken and Little Neck clams, along with a cocktail menu with drinks named after mythical creatures like Phoenix—which features rye, mezcal, Jamaican rum, Curaçao, green Chartreuse, vanilla, ghost pepper, and mole bitters—from Darren Crawford.
775 Valencia St., (415) 551-7306
Hero image courtesy of Nicola Parisi.