No big summer plans? No worries. Make this June all about eating and drinking at these awesome news spots in SF that you didn’t even know you needed, but totally did. Like a killer hamburger joint, a restaurant that’s all about mac and cheese, and a fancy new ping pong club where you can battle with the best of ’em. Read on to learn more about the five spots you need to check out immediately.
The first time we tasted Chef Adam Rosenblum’s cheeseburger at Causwells in the Marina, we knew we’d just discovered what may very well be SF’s best burger. And we weren’t alone. Which is why we are so stoked he and partner Alvin Garcia recently opened Popsons, a burger joint dedicated to serving that same delicious burger (plus lots of variations, hot dogs, chili cheese fries, shakes, wine, and beer) right next to the Warfield in the Mid-Market area. It’s tempting to call the original cheeseburger classic because in many ways that’s exactly what it is. American cheese, onion, lettuce, pickle, and special sauce all sit atop a burger that’s mixed with dry-aged fat and griddled to perfection. But there’s more to it than just that. The secret sauce is a combo of house-made Worcestershire and house-made Thousand Island and house-made other stuff that’s secret, but is clearly made with love. And the bun is made exclusively for Popsons by Petit Pains bakery. And everything is sustainable and local. And… oh screw it. Just go eat the damn burger. It’ll change your whole life.
If you want to play ping pong in SF, your best bet is to find a dive bar with an old beat-up table (Finnegan’s Wake, Tee Off, El Rio) and wait in line. Well, until now, that is. SPiN, a “ping pong social club” just opened up in SoMa and it doesn’t just have a couple of rickety old tables that have been exposed to the elements for years and years—no, it has 19 pristine tables in prime condition. Yup, 19 perfect ping pong tables! Plus, lots of comfy seating, cool street art, a house DJ… oh, and last but definitely not least: two full bars serving up tasty cocktails. Prices for table times range from $29-$49 for an hour (depending on when you’re there), which is definitely not too much to pay to get your ping-pong-rally-on in comfort and style.
The place to eat (and be seen) in SF right now is definitely Bellota, the new Spanish-influenced restaurant from the people behind Absinthe and Boxing Room. In a seemingly impossible feat, the 5,400 square-foot (former) warehouse has been transformed into a space that is both utterly chic and completely cozy at the same time. The massive open kitchen with brass counter is the hero of the space, but be sure to take in all of the thoughtful details, like tufted leather walls, oil lamps (with actual flames), and stunning jamón and wine displays. Of course, none of that matters unless the food delivers—and oh does it. Start with tasty snacks like olives and marcona almonds from the pintxos cart making its way around the room before moving on to the “Mar Y Montana” Tower, an elevated take on a seafood tower. The paella is also a must and don’t worry if you can’t choose, the “Dividida” allows you to try two types that are cooked in one pan. (Each one feeds two to four people and takes forty minutes to cook.) Not in the mood for a full dinner? Grab a seat in the lounge area and snack on charcuterie and cheese imported from Spain while listening to live music on the baby grand.
The first thing you should know is that ‘āina is a Hawaiian word meaning “that which feeds us,” a word which perfectly represents the homey vibe of SF’s hottest new SF brunch. All of the dishes are meant to be a love letter to the islands and focus on traditional island flavors with options like a French toast dish made with taro Portuguese bread (flown in overnight from Hawaii) and topped with macadamia nut crumble, coconut caramel, strawberries, vanilla whipped cream, and mint and Kalua Pork Belly with slow poached eggs, short grain rice, kimchi, and asparagus. There’s also a tasty take on Spam, of course, which is a perfect couple of bites to start the meal. ‘āina also has plenty of low ABV cocktails, perfect for daytime drinking, as well as some really interesting wine and sake options. The space is small, but if you can’t get a reservation, don’t stress: half of the seats are reserved for walk-ins.
If there’s one food pretty much every single American craves on a consistent basis, it’s mac n’ cheese. Which is why we are super stoked that a new restaurant dedicated solely to our favorite comfort food (no offense fried chicken!) just opened up in Potrero Hill. There are 12 different mac n’ cheese dishes ranging from the classic with panko bread crumbs to mac n’ cheese with blue cheese. Or goat cheese. Or garlic and gouda. There’s also a carbonara version, a spicy version (with jalapenos, hot links, corn, and habanero jack), and maybe our fave: Short Rib Mac. And yes, all of the macs can be made gluten free because this is San Francisco and it’s 2016. There are also five salads to choose from (not to sound super basic, but the kale salad with edamame, shaved carrots, toasted sunflower seeds, and a peanut vinaigrette is delish) because you can’t only eat mac n’ cheese. Just kidding! You’re a grown-up! You can do whatever the hell you want! Which means you’ll wanna save room for dessert. Three words: Banana. Cream. Pie.