San Francisco is no stranger to the izakaya, a casual Japanese-style pub for tasty bites and stiff drinks. But the latest wave of izakayas opening in the Bay Area are getting a boost of chic with elevated dishes and Instagram-worthy decor. Here's where we'll be eating this month.
Shinmai has been drawing crowds to its modern, minimalist spot in Uptown Oakland. For food, choose between ramen and shared bar bites like fried potato salad smothered in tobiko (fish roe) and truffle aioli and a crudo of ocean trout with piquillo peppers. Cocktails feature house blends of shochu, Japanese whisky and even mescal mixed with toasted brown rice syrup and yuzu soda.
Fresh off of major remodeling, Japantown’s Joie de Vivre hotel unveils a sleek new izakaya and cocktail lounge. Head here to sip highballs, tea cocktails and creamy drinks like the Ichigo (rum agricole, lemon, strawberry, Calpico and St. Germain) over braised short-rib wraps and okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes).
This intimate space takes Asian fusion to the next level, serving Korean kimchi and Chinese dumplings alongside Japanese treats like chicken karaage, takoyaki (ball-shaped breaded octopus) and tiger prawn shrimp toast. Don’t miss the fennel-shiso-bacon potato salad, best enjoyed over rounds of sake with friends.