Just like birthdays in 2020 didn't count, planned restaurant debuts that were either put on hold or scaled back are all being given do-overs now that we're in a new year that will hopefully be less dominated by the spread of a virus.
Dining out feels like the dearest and most indulgent of luxuries these days, and it's something that most of us are salivating about doing again ASAP. In San Francisco, some of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2020 have now become the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2021, which means you have plenty to look forward to besides your tried-and-true favorite spots. And in the case of a couple of spots that have already opened in some capacity, it's likely that you haven't tried their takeout yet and they may not have tried outdoor seating just yet, so they still count as new in our book.
Below, SFist's picks for ten spots you can look forward to eating at soon — either this week, next month, or whenever you feel comfortable dining out in public with others or whenever they open or indoor dining becomes a thing again, whichever comes first.
Chef Matthew Kirk, formerly a sous chef at Lazy Bear, has had this project in the works for a couple of years now, having launched a popular Automat pop-up back in 2017. The brick-and-mortar restaurant, which was slated to open in the fall in the former Green Chile Kitchen space at McAllister and Baker (though it was obviously delayed by the pandemic) landed on a list of the most anticipated restaurants of the year last January in Vogue. As SFist noted at the time, some anticipated dishes that were popular in Automat's pop-up days include a California "hot" fried chicken sandwich with seaweed and green goddess dressing; dill-pickle-flavored bagels; and barbecue pork belly with pineapple kombucha and fermented pepper glaze. But, obviously, we won't know what's on the opening menu until things come together — and you can sign up for updates here. Also in these pre-opening days, via Automat's Instagram, Kirk regularly announces batches of his fantastic breads for sale, like pretzel focaccia slabs and seeds-and-seaweed sourdough loaves. 1801 McAllister Street
Less of an opening than a re-opening, two-Michelin-starred Californios should get a boost of new energy and attention in 2021 as it debuts in bigger, grander digs in the former Bar Agricole space on 11th Street. Chef Val Cantu and his team had arguably outgrown their small but swanky space in the Mission District by last year, and with the pandemic downturn came an opportunity to relocate and expand — as Bar Agricole itself remains in limbo with plans to reopen a few blocks away in the ground floor of the new 1550 Mission tower. Cantu told Eater last fall that there were significant remodeling plans to make the space feel like their own. "This is a space that really meshes with our food and our service,” Cantu said. “We can’t wait to show people this new version of us." And, luckily, there's that huge front patio space where they can start with outdoor dining as soon as they're ready. 355 11th Street
The Sunset's newest pizzeria just debuted two weeks ago, and it's the project of Laura Seymour, who wanted to open a restaurant devoted to her favorite "damn fine" things: pizza, wine, and coffee. Thus, Damnfine will be open for breakfast eventually, but for now it's a dinner-only affair, with pizza and to-go beverages (including a Negroni) available for pickup from 4:30 to 9 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. The pizzas are made with specially made, long-rise dough that Seymour says is easier to digest, and for shellfish fans, this is one of the only spots in town to boast a clam pie. Also check out the Mushroom Dream, which is a white pie with mozzarella and fontina cheeses, garlic butter, and a mix of baby bellas, enoki, king oyster, beech, and bunapi mushrooms, topped with fresh thyme. 3410 Judah Street
Now open, as of last week, in the former Bistro Aix space in the Marina is Jaranita, a new casual Peruvian comfort food concept from the restaurant group behind La Mer Cebicheria on the Embarcadero. The focus here is on Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, grilled meats, and tacos — all of which work well for delivery and takeout, but there's also a 24-seat parklet that's ready to go as well for outdoor seating. Once indoor dining is allowed, diners will be treated to an airy space with a front bar and open-fire kitchen with a live tree growing under a big skylight. Check out the menu here, and follow Jaranita on Instagram. 3340 Steiner Street
Little Original Joe's
West Portal has a new Italian comfort-food spot to be excited about, and it's the latest expansion from the family behind Original Joe's in North Beach, and Original Joe's Westlake. As Hoodline reported, Little Original Joe's opened for takeout in mid-December, in the former Paradise Pizza space — offering a menu of Original Joe's classics as well as new pizzas with excellently chewy-crispy crusts (using Sal Alioto's recipe from Paradise), coming out of some brand new ovens. East Coast transplants will flip for the parmesan garlic knots, served with marinara and ranch for dipping. And along with classic meatball and chicken parm sandwiches and pasta entrees, there's some killer lasagna with a heavenly browned-cheese top like only an expert grandmother could make. For your late-stage pandemic cooking needs, Little Original Joe's also boasts a deli and market, with frozen pre-prepared stuff like house meat sauce and ravioli, and Italian specialty pantry items like prosciutto, nuts, and pesto. Food is available now for pickup (415-759-1155), or for delivery via Uber Eats and Doordash — menus here. 393 West Portal Avenue
Opened for takeout way back in August, Routier remains one of the most exciting prospects for new food in SF as it anticipates becoming a real, sit-down restaurant sometime in the not-too-distant future. It's the project of two stellar chefs with resumes that intersected at Michelin three-star Manresa, John Paul Carmona and pastry chef Belinda Leong — who owns the acclaimed b. patisserie next door. And as the name suggests (for those familiar with the French term), it's modeled after the cozy but often fantastic roadside bistros that dot the French countryside, known as routiers. Carmona and Leong have called their concept more "Franco-American" than completely French, but they have dabbled in some classic bistro fare so far, like a lobster grand aioli, and sole meuniere. Right now, you can order some high-end takeout for the Super Bowl, including bacon and sauerkraut beignets, and for Valentine's Day, with a menu that features scallops atop lobster risotto. 2801 California Street at Divisadero
San Ho Won
Born out of the pandemic project he launched while keeping his cooks employed at Benu, Michelin three-star chef Corey Lee is opening a brick-and-mortar version of his San Ho Won test kitchen pop-up later this year. It will be Lee's first ever Korean restaurant, in collaboration with JeongIn Hwang, and as the Chronicle first reported in September 2019, it's still coming to the former Blowfish Sushi space on Bryant in the Mission, hopefully sooner rather than later. In the meantime, preview dishes can be sampled via the ongoing San Ho Won takeout operation at Benu. 2170 Bryant Street
The newest restaurant arriving in Castro, which just debuted over the weekend, is Santeria — a Mexican sister concept of Tacorgasmico, from owner Eduardo Sandoval. As Hoodline reports, it is still very much in soft-opening mode in the former Finn Town Tavern space next door to Hi Tops, serving cocktails and food provided by a vendor-partner, the Tex-Mex pop-up Tejas Forever. But there is a Santeria brunch menu already taking shape for weekends, and the rest of the menu should be debuting soon. For now, you can stop in for outdoor drinks and a snack, with signatures that include the Relentless Sinner (spiced hibiscus, tequila, cynar, campari, agave, lemon, bitters, $13), and Mexican Gringo (tamarino-chile tequila, mango cordial, lime, $12). 2251 Market Street
Shuggie's Trash Pie & Natural Wine
News of this new North Beach spot from Ugly Pickle Co. founders Kayla Abe and David Murphy just arrived in November, and it's both a pizzeria and an experiment in sustainable cuisine. The restaurant, which is planning a spring opening in the space formerly occupied by The House at 1230 Grant Avenue, will feature pizzas, salads, and more that make use of often discarded ingredients, including sauce made from blemished tomatoes, and pesto made from carrot tops, as well as uncommon meat products like pork jowl and smelt. Also, there will be an emphasis on natural wines, which are all the rage, as the business name states. The pair well exceeded a Kickstarter goal last fall, getting over $58,000 pledged toward a goal of $45,000, and hopefully that will make the opening process easier — though getting a restaurant open in SF is never easy, nor quick. 1230 Grant Avenue
Reopening sometime soon, Tosca Cafe's 3.0 version — a reinvention that was meant to be open last March, just as the pandemic hit — is certainly still something to be excited about. With a remodel by designer and partner Ken Fulk, and a revamped Italian concept by star chef Nancy Oakes and restaurateur Anna Weinberg, Tosca has been doing mostly only delivery and takeout for the past six months. They opened very briefly for outdoor dining in mid-November, and they should be ramping up to reopen soon. For now, there's family-style meals for pickup and delivery Thursday through Saturday, including some amazing looking Tuscan fried chicken. 242 Columbus Avenue