The days of going out to new restaurants are back, even if you yourself haven't been out to eat in a while. And there's a bunch of new spots to check out in San Francisco if and when you have the inclination or want to celebrate the city dropping the indoor mask rule.
Here are a few new places you should check out in the coming weeks and months.
They had a bit of an aborted launch back in December, but chef Matthew Kirk's Automat is now fully up and running and open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in NoPa. Dinner (Wednesday to Saturday only) is all a la carte — a switch from the original plan to offer a prix fixe based on a few rotating entrees. But the dishes are inventive, flavorful, and craveable — like an excellent smoked sturgeon dip with squid-ink rice chips; a double smashburger; a Nashville hot chicken sandwich; an excellent beef and cheese taco; and a pastrami-style short rib, cut off the bone and served with a kicky horseradish-chive sauce. The breakfast sandwich game here is also strong. And don't miss the boat on the bread — in-house baker Casey Wentworth, a Tartine alum, is turning out some terrific loaves, with the garlic pretzel focaccia currently available to try on the dinner menu.
1801 McAllister at Baker - reserve here
The new SoMa outpost for the team behind Clement Street Turkish spot Lokma just opened in the former Cockscomb space on Fourth Street, and things are a bit more upscale here. Like Lokma, Taksim serves made-to-order fresh pita bread baked in a wood oven — and the more leavened, fluffy bread known as bazlama — to go with their superior array of Middle Eastern dips (don't miss out on the whipped and delicious muhammara, the tomato, pepper, and walnut spread that usually is not as light and refined as this version). There are also some excellent starters and salads to share, and entrees include a roasted branzino served with anchovy rice pilaf; and a tender braised lamb shank served with richly sauced white beans. 564 4th Street - reserve here
Open at the Ferry Building since December, Quanisha Johnson's popular pudding business began as a farmers' market stand in 2018. It all started with her take on banana pudding, but she offers multiple flavors at the stand including caramel-apple bread pudding, and peach cobbler. "I always said I want Yes Pudding to be a San Francisco staple... some place that you need to stop by when you visit San Francisco, and the locals love it,” she told the Chronicle. “What better place to do that than the Ferry Building?” Ferry Building near Gott's Roadside
It's been open since August, but in the world we've been in that still counts as new and you likely didn't catch the news. Abacá is a new, contemporary Filipino restaurant from the talented chef Francis Ang — who previously worked as a pastry chef at Fifth Floor and Dirty Habit before launching his popular Filipino pop-up Pinoy Heritage. His plant-filled new restaurant near Fisherman's Wharf (in the new Kimpton Alton Hotel) traditional Filipino BBQ skewers, as well as noodle and rice dishes like smoked-chicken palabok and sisig fried rice. 2700 Jones Street - reserve here
Chef Robbie Wilson, who opened Bird Dog in Palo Alto a few years ago, just blessed Hayes Valley with this new wine bar and restaurant in the fall. It promises to be a chill spot to have a glass of wine at the standing bar up front, and it also has a cool, mod dining room and a cozy front "library room" that can also be reserved. The wine selections are largely French — a refreshing change for those who are down on California wine. The sashimi is excellent. And the fresh-baked milk bread needs to be ordered the mussels-and-tomato dip with whipped butter. 22 Franklin Street - reserve here
Good Good Culture Club
The new restaurant from a team of young chefs at Liholiho Yacht Club let's go of Hawaiian influences — though they may still pop-up — and exchanges them for a pan-Asian menu of dishes like catfish red curry, and Lao sausage with fermented cabbage. The cocktails are also a new vibe, and the prix-fixe Ohana Menu deal for parties of 8 to 16 is a good deal. 3560 18th Street - reserve here
Open since last year in the former La Folie space on Polk, Chef David Yoshimura's Japanese tasting-menu restaurant is going to be a special-occasion and date-night spot for many once they've discovered it. Yoshimura, a former chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Californios, is a master of subtle flavors and the traditions of Japan's Washoku cuisine. There's also a next-door cocktail bar called Iris that is connected but can be enjoyed on its own. 2316 Polk Street - reserve here