4 Delicious New Restaurants To Check Out In 2019

The facade of Angler on the Embarcadero
The facade of Angler on the Embarcadero

Photo Credit: Bonjwing Lee

New restaurants open in San Francisco all year long, but this fall it’s been an exhilarating time for the culinary arts. Several of the city’s most acclaimed chefs—think Joshua Skenes of three-Michelin-starred Saison—have debuted secondary acts. Plus, one of New York City’s favorite hangouts among the ladies who lunch has finally opened up shop in SF. Here’s the 411 on the hottest new spots in town; these are the places where you need to book reservations now.

Angler's unique take on tartare with big eye tuna and crackling made from rice and seaweeds
Angler’s unique take on tartare with big eye tuna and crackling made from rice and seaweeds

Photo Credit: Bonjwing Lee

Rarely do restaurants have grand-opening ribbon-cutting ceremonies, but for an eatery as hyped as Angler it was a fitting celebration and one that drew many noteworthy locals like chef Mourad Lahlou and former mayor Willie Brown. The much-anticipated second restaurant from the team behind Saison (chef Skenes and wine director Mark Bright), is located on the Embarcadero with stunning views of the Bay Bridge. With 116 seats, two dining rooms, and two bars, it is a massive project. Like its name suggests, Angler is a seafood-focused restaurant and grill that follows the same culinary philosophy as Saison. Most of the food is cooked on a 32-foot, wood-burning fireplace, a centerpiece of the main room at the restaurant. Watching the chef who handles the fire masterfully cooking everything—from abalone to rabbit—is captivating.

Angler's open kitchen
Angler’s open kitchen

Photo Credit: Bonjwing Lee

Angler’s team works with a small group of local farmers, hunters, fisherman, gatherers, and ranchers to source super seasonal produce and protein. Pantry items, like the XO sauce that’s drizzled liberally over charred radicchio, are made in-house. Although everything is uber fresh and high quality, Angler is not for the faint of heart. The family-style menu features antelope tartare, sea urchin, and giant octopus. Succulent, finger-licking-good, sweet spot prawns come with their heads intact. The moist whole chicken—with crackly caramelized skin—has claws.

Angler’s whole fish is deboned tableside
Angler’s whole fish is deboned tableside

Photo Credit: Bonjwing Lee

All of this earthy campfire-inspired cookery adds to Angler’s charm—it goes with the cabin and wildlife decor. Taxidermy, exposed bricks, industrial beams, mounted fish, and polished wood feature throughout the space. With dried herbs hanging from the rafters, baskets overflowing with citrus, and urns filled with wildflowers, the open kitchen is a focal point in the main dining room. The second smaller dining room has a club-like atmosphere. A growling black bear greets diners and game heads, including a stag with large antlers that Skenes hunted, fill the walls. Despite the masculine vibe, Angler somehow works. It’s welcoming and cozy with delicious, indulgent food, stellar wine—Bright’s list includes a wide selection of Burgundy and benchmark producers from Northern California—and craft cocktails. If you come for just one item, make it the caviar, which is served in an old-fashioned candy bowl and paired with plantain waffles and house-made butter. It’s wildly decadent but insanely good.

Chef Anthony Strong
Chef Anthony Strong

Photo Credit: Aubrie Pick

Another restaurant that has been generating a lot of attention is Prairie in the Mission District. Prairie is the first eatery from Anthony Strong, who spent 11 years as executive chef of the Delfina Group. Strong excels at Italian cuisine and at Prairie he’s giving it a personal spin—creating what he calls “new school” Italian food. Prairie’s pantry is stocked with international ingredients that Strong incorporates into traditional Italian dishes. For example, instead of wrapping dried fruit, like figs or dates, with prosciutto, as is common in Italian restaurants, Strong wraps mochi—Japanese rice cakes—with guanciale then drizzles it with aged balsamic vinegar. The mochi takes on a surprisingly mozzarella-like texture, and the resulting appetizer is thought-provoking and interesting. The housemade buttered tagliatelle is toothsome and addictive especially once tossed with the juicy chicken sugo. Strong imported a charcoal grill from Spain and uses this to char red peppers, flame grill anchovy-rubbed lamb chops, and sear octopus.

Prairie's dining room
Prairie’s dining room

Photo Credit: Aubrie Pick

The food is meant to be shared and Strong hopes to encourage a party-like vibe. The waiters don’t take diner’s orders. Instead, guests fill out a form noting what dishes they would like to try. With kombucha bellinis, a rose gold statue of Jesus’ mother Mary, a fiddle leaf fig tree, and a flamethrower on a shelf above the kitchen, there is a hipster vibe to Prairie. The wooden walls received a Japanese Aizome treatment, an indigo-dyeing technique that gives them a unique blue hue. Throw in the modern white furniture, and you’ve got a space that is eclectic and contemporary, yet inviting and fun.

Freds at Barneys
Freds at Barneys

Photo Credit: Freds

For a more elegant and refined experience, head to Freds at Barneys. The restaurant, which is on the 6th floor of the upscale department store, is set to give Neiman Marcus’ Rotunda a run for its money. Upon exiting the elevators, diners are met by a sleek and polished bar area. Beyond this is the dining room that has grey velvet booths and four-tops with 1950s-inspired olive green chairs. Windows provide ample light and look down on the bustling streets below—a far cry from the relaxed and intimate chatter that takes place at the eatery.

Cheeseburger deluxe
Cheeseburger deluxe

Photo Credit: Freds

Champagne bottles pop, glasses clink, and enticing aromas waft from the kitchen, which serves an all-day menu from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. The food is comforting, crowd-pleasing classics: pasta, pizza, salads, and sandwiches. Start with a bowl of Estelle’s chicken soup, a fragrant and soothing grandma-style soup that is meant to “cure colds” and make one “stay thin.” Move onto Freds ultimate chopped salad, a mixture of greens topped with imported tuna. Finish with the SF Club, a hearty sandwich with chunks of Dungeness crab and baby shrimp with bacon, lettuce, and sliced tomato. It’s served on seven-grain bread with garlic mayo and Belgian pommes frites—delightful! Freds is the perfect place to fill up after a long afternoon of shopping. It also has an assortment of appetizers, so if you’re in need of a quick snack as a pick-you-up, pop into the bar and order the ceviche with corn chips, the roasted mushrooms with coppa and parmesan cheese, or the avocado toast with pico de gallo.

Bon Voyage
Bon Voyage

Photo Credit: Sonya Yu

Fans of the Mission District’s Trick Dog will be excited to know that the team’s second project, Bon Voyage, is now open. From Josh Harris and Morgan Schick, the star duo behind BVHospitality and The Bon Vivants, the bar is inspired by travel and all the adventure that it ensues. Harris and Schick invented a narrative of a world traveler who explored Southeast Asia and Africa in the 1950s. When he returned to California in the 1970s, he filled his home with exotic finds and invited all his friends over for killer disco parties and Chinese food. Bon Voyage is inspired by this story with the bar standing in as the traveler’s home.

Cocktails are served in festive glassware
Cocktails are served in festive glassware

Photo Credit: Sonya Yu

Naturally, there is a disco ball and Chinese food along with a selection of tantalizing cocktails: slings, Collins, and housemade specialties. Harris and Schick don’t mess around. All drinks consist of homemade ingredients and upscale spirits. Beverage names are creative and fun. The Blue Caterpillar consists of Bulleit bourbon, Tempus Fugit Kina l’Avion d’Or, lychee wood-aged “Midori,” and lemon, while the Bananarac is a mixture of Old Overholt Bonded Rye, Brandy Sainte Louise, banana, bananisette, and bitters. A short but sweet selection of beer and wine features all natural wines and light, tropical-style beers including a unique brew commissioned by Ale Industries, the Kolsch-style Bon Voyage Sling Beer. Chef Wilder Marroquin is behind the menu of Chinese fare including dumplings, pork buns, spring rolls, and wok items like explosive kung pao chicken and salt and pepper gulf prawns. Any of Harris’ 9,100 Instagram followers know that he is a treasure hunter who frequents antique fairs and the Alameda Flea Market. He filled the interior with a diverse mix of artwork and curiosities.

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