Photo: 123rf

San Francisco may not be America’s culinary capital – that ‘honour’ belongs (arguably) to New York City – but thanks to its diverse, cosmopolitan makeup, its restaurant and bar scene is incredibly diverse and dynamic with plenty of variety, concepts and places that will leave quite the impression. Here’re six new (and some about to be opened) places to check out.


1. Kaiyo

Perhaps it’s the liberal use of fresh fish but few cuisines marry better than Peruvian and Japanese. Enter Kaiyo, a 60-seater eatery situated in buzzy Cow Hollow that’s all about celebrating the Nikkei style. Come for the food (more on that in a bit) but also the décor where a 35-foot moss mall, eye-catching leopard wallpaper and chic Parisian style lanterns are all part of the mise-en-scène.

As expected, raw fish dominates the menu: sample the Hokkaido scallop tiradito laced with passionfruit leche de tigre (literally “tiger’s milk”) or the tuna ceviche with puffed quinoa and watermelon.

For meat lovers, bite into the duck breast sashimi with foie gras and corazon, a skewer of beef heart spiked with chimichurri and salsa, while uni lovers will relish its one-bite uni toast, made with sea urchin from Santa Barbara, aji amarillo butter and freshly chopped chives. Wash it all down with any of their cocktails — the Panyo Panyo with pisco, vermouth, rice milk and citrus bitters packs quite the punch.

At 1838 Union St, San Francisco,  tel: +1 415-525-4804. Visit


2. Kantine


Friday’s smørrebrod. #leverpostej #ørred #kartoffelmad #troutsalad

A post shared by Kantine (@kantinesf) on

If you generally turn up your nose at the thought of a sandwich, you’ve clearly not tried the Scandinavian-style smorrebrod delights from Kantine. Located on busy Market Street in what was once a laudromat, the beauty of these open-faced sandwiches lies in the sprouted rye bread that’s made from scratch daily and is deliciously nutty to the bite.

For toppings, pick from traditional pickled herring, citrus and herbed salmon, baby shrimp and cucumber or just order the brunch board, which lets you mix-and-match five or seven items. For non-sandwich lovers, there’s also freshly baked poppy seed pastries, rye porridge with cream and ligonberries, and cinnamon twists that tastes as good as it smells.

At 1906 Market St, San Francisco; Visit



3. Che Fico

As restaurant names go, Che Fico (it translates as “what a fig”) by chef-owner David Nayfeld is a pretty original one. Not surprisingly, the food – angled as Jewish Roman cuisine – has won over quite a few A-list fans such as Gwyneth Paltrow (she called it exceptional) and Anderson Cooper (he’s a fan of their pizzas).

Housed in what was once an old auto body shop, the space with its high ceilings and open kitchen is packed on any given day by patrons eager to put away plates of its homemade pasta – Bon Appetit raves about its spaghetti with lobster pomodoro – and slices of its sourdough pizzas where the charred edges come generously dusted with cheese.

Celeb endorsements aside, the charm lies in its homely yet elevated plates: The delicate suppli (an Italian snack of fried rice balls) looks like a mini cannoli except it’s filled with moreish arancini-style rice and their crispy fried artichokes are simply dressed with lemon aioli, herbs like za’atar and sumac and coriander blooms – proof that sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel for a good meal.

At 838 Divisadero St, San Francisco, tel: +1 415-416-6959 Visit


4. FOB Kitchen

Making a transition from pop-up to a bricks and mortar eatery in Temescal, Oakland is FOB Kitchen – it stands for ‘fresh off the boat’ – who has clearly won a fanbase with its brand of Filipino cuisine.

Yes, there is lechon on the menu – specifically thrice cooked with a Thai chilli soy and pickled red onion – and the beloved spam has not been forgotten, except theirs is housemade and served alongside an egg served sunny side up with garlic rice and fresh greens. There’re also items such as the daing, a marinated and seared mackerel and the signature handrolled lumpia (a family recipe) – spring rolls made with pork, water chestnuts and carrots – that you won’t often see served anywhere else.

Also, they’re fully licensed so sample a few tipples while you’re there. Try the Fresh Off The Boat, a rum-based cocktail with coconut, lime, red bean and pandan that’s just about everything we love about the tropics.

At 5179 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, tel: +1 510-817-4169; Visit


5. ONE65

While technically still a work in progress, this new six-floor French multi-concept on Union Street involving famed chef Claude Le Tohic is one to keep on your radar.

Here’s what we know for now: It’s housed in a transformed National Registry building that’s kept its gorgeous French Beaux Arts exterior, there’s a strong focus on sustainability, using cork flooring and paneling made from recycled porcelain and there’s plenty of unusual touches, like the hand drawn wall on its level three ONE65 Bistro & Grill for more casual lunches and dinners.

In addition, there will be a dedicated patisserie (think fresh bakes, ice cream and petit fours) on the first and second floor, a lounge for cocktails and wines, and a fine dining room based on the elements of water called O’by Claude Le Tohic on the top two floors. 

At 165 O’Farrell St, San Francisco;


6. Moon Gate Lounge


io- mezcal, montenegro, black garlic, cherry

A post shared by Moongate Lounge (@moongatelounge) on

We are suckers for a nostalgic tagline so when we read “Chinese cuisine and cocktails in an old banquet hall” we were sold. A long anticipated opening (it was meant to open in mid-2018), this upstairs party space from Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s has finally opened.

Cocktails by Danny Louie are based on the 24 solar seasons of China (who knew?) and the food will have a focus on delectable dumplings. The space is predictably very Instagrammable: Decked out in velvet with redwood beams and a large mural depicting its past as a banquet hall, and there will be a moon gate (but a modernised version) on-site inspired by the work of artist James Turrell. Don’t say we didn’t clue you in on SF’s next hotspot.

At 28 Waverly Place, San Francisco;