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Breadbelly
Photograph: Clara Rice

Book a table at the best new restaurants in San Francisco

Ready your bellies for the hottest and best new restaurants the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer

By Virginia Miller
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A new year brings amazing new restaurants to the Bay Area. It can be hard to keep up with San Francisco's dining scene, where it seems like a new restaurant pops up on a daily basis, from upscale Chinese fare, straight-from-Japan ramen and sushi menus and impeccable rotisserie and barbecue joints. If you're ready start the new year right and embrace the best cuisine the Bay Area has to offer, head to these new restaurants in San Francisco this February 2019. 

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in San Francisco 

Best new restaurants in San Francisco

Breadbelly
Photograph: Clara Rice

1. Breadbelly

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Bakeries Inner Richmond

Clement Hsu, Katherine Campecino and James Wong met working in the kitchen at Atelier Crenn. Their new joint bakery in the Inner Richmond, Breadbelly, dabbles in Asian pastries like a Filipino ham-and-cheese ensaymada and the now Instagram-famous Malaysian kaya toast (one of our top dishes of the year). Definitley order the killer char siu sandwich on milk toast if you see it on the short, rotating menu.

Udon Time
Photograph: Dave Greer

2. Udon Time

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese SoMa

Attention fans of Dumpling Time, their sister restaurant Udon Time has officially opened down the street. Stop in for homemade, aged udon noodles served hot, cold or in salad form at the counter-service restaurant. Beware the self-serve tempura bar stocked with shrimp, curry potatoes and veggies—it's delicious but can add up quickly! 

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Siracusana Pizza and Margharita Pizza at Palio
Photograph: Kristen Loken

3. Palio

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Pizza Downtown

Palio D’Asti has been reborn as Palio. The pasta-making station and pizza oven are in full view of diners filling up on wild boar ragu and aperitivo cocktails. Save room for a dessert of classic cannoli.

Dining table at Merchant Roots
Photograph: Patricia Chang, courtesy Merchant Roots

4. Merchant Roots

5 out of 5 stars
Shopping Grocery stores Western Addition

The tasting-menu-only Table at Merchant Roots is an intimate, after-hours experience for only 8 people. Dishes on the current Elements menu (themes change quarterly) represent earth, fire, stars, and salt—the latter represented by nori-buttered octopus, fluffy squid ink bread and cured trout roe oozing dashi bubbles from a volcano opening. You haven’t seen anything like this. 

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trailblazer tavern
Photograph: Nicola R Parisi

5. Trailblazer Tavern

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Hawaiian SoMa

This massive, 7,000-square-foot space in the SalesForce East building oozes aloha spirit. Chef Michael Mina and Honolulu-based chefs Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka crafted a menu that mixes classic Hawaii with modern fare (think unagi butterfish arancini, Dungeness crab lumpia and mochi-crusted monchong fish). Murals of blue waves and green mountains surrounding a center bar where a drink menu from Brian Means' (of P.C.H.) contains cocktails that are festive and tropical.

Seafood charcuterie at Ayala inside Hotel G
Photograph: Molly DeCoudreaux

6. Ayala at Hotel G

3 out of 5 stars
Hotels Union Square

Located inside the new Hotel G, Ayala is a seafood-centric restaurant featuring a raw bar and creative, balanced cocktails. Executive chef Melissa Perfit (a Top Chef alum) crafts seafood charcuterie platters, yellowtail amberjack in Thai chili, and garlic lobster pho broth. Raw offerings include oysters, crudo and trout rillettes. Don’t miss th fantastic nori spaghettini with Dungeness crab.

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Cow Marlowe burger
Photograph: Courtesy Cow Marlowe

7. Cow Marlowe

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American Cow Hollow

Cow Marlowe (from the ever-growing Big Night Restaurant Group LLC) warms up Fillmore Street in the Marina with two cozy rooms lined with brass and marble, striped wallpaper and antique cabinets. The menu sticks to Marlowe classics like Brussels sprout chips and the ever-popular burger, while adding the likes of fava bean hummus, furikake green beans and late-night Kennebec fries (this location is open until 2am!). 

Guesthouse
Photograph: Yelp/Stephanie C.

8. Guesthouse

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants

In an area that often doesn’t see new restaurant opening, Guesthouse, from chef Jared Rogers, brings refined comfort food to the sleepy Marin County town of Kentfield. Rogers’ Virginia roots is evident in dishes like the mini Old Bay lobster rolls, crab-heavy Dungeness crab cakes and grits-and-quail filled with bacon stuffing. Don’t miss specials like the sausage ragu gnocchi and bartender Dustin Sullivan’s perfect Irish coffee. 

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Isla Vida
Photograph: Yelp/Cherylynne N

9. Isla Vida

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Western Addition

Opened by the team behind Farmerbrown and Little Skillet, Isla Vida brings breezy Caribbean vibes to the Fillmore District. The new counter-service restaurant draws inspiration from Miami, Cuba, Jamaica and across the Caribbean with dishes like tostones (green plantains), garlic shrimp, guava spareribs and wood-fired meats. The fast-casual, Black-owned business is festive with lush greenery and pink staff shirts. Stick to the heartwarming plates of jerk chicken, snapper or jackfruit.

Mauerpark
Photograph: Yelp/Matthew G.

10. Mauerpark

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Cafés The Castro

This sunny, colorful new Castro cafe has a simple, short menu of German meats, cheeses and bread platters alongside German pastries made daily in house. Chef Salome Buelow’s parents hail from Germany and the real draw here is her authentic specials, like fluffy spinach knodel dumplings with sauerkraut salad. Bonus: She also sells a few rare German groceries.

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chicken at flores, san francisco
Photograph: Yelp/ Kevin B

11. Flores

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Mexican Cow Hollow

Flores' new location in the suburban town of Corte Madera is a welcome and rare opportunity to enjoy mole and mezcal in Marin. Dine on Mexican specialities like sikil p’ak (spicy pumpkin seed salsa) and tlacoyos (masa stuffed with huitlacoche and cheese), all sopped up with house made tortillas.

Angler
Photograph: Bonjwing Lee

12. Angler

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Seafood SoMa

Expectations were high when Saison’s Michelin-starred chef announced he was opening a more casual restaurant, but Angler does not disappoint. The waterfront restaurant’s land-and-sea theme is evident in everything from the taxidermy-lined walls to the kitchen’s open flame grill, which churns out grilled rabbit and a beautiful 28oz bone-in porterhouse steak. Don’t forget to try raw bar delicacies like antelope tartar and caviar spread on Parker House rolls.

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Prairie
Photograph: Courtesy Prairie

13. PRAIRIE

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Italian Mission

Formerly at Delfina, Chef Anthony Strong’s first solo project fuses his Italian expertise with Asian-inspired flavors in stunning dishes like the guanciale-wrapped mochi in radicchio with aged balsamico. To order, use the restaurant’s dim-sum-like system that involves checking boxes on a menu card.  

Creator burger
Photograph: Courtesy Creator

14. Creator

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Hamburgers Yerba Buena

Creator’s burgers are damn good for the price ($6), but the real draw is that the burgers are made by an efficient and mesmerizing robot. In fact, this is the first hamburger robot in the world. Humanely raised, hormone-free beef is the base for the burgers—each item on the menu was created by local chefs like in-house chef David Bordow, Nick Balla (Hungarian smoked paprika, pickles, sunflower seed tahini) and Top Chef Tu David Phu (oyster aioli and shiitake mushroom sauce). 

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Luke’s Lobster
Photograph: Courtesy Luke’s Lobster

15. Luke’s Lobster

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Seafood Yerba Buena

Founding partners Ben Conniff and third-generation lobsterman Luke Holden have opened their first West Coast location, bringing sustainably-sourced, affordable lobster rolls to SoMa. Order lobster, crab or shrimp rolls or chowder and pair with a special Black Hammer Brewing collaboration beer brewed with lobster shells and kelp. Happy hour specials (daily 4-7pm) include a lobster roll and a beer for $19.

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