There’s nothing more exciting than traveling around the world and eating amazing food. But with SF rents the way they are, a holiday across the pond or country may not be in the cards.
That’s why we’re extra excited about these new bar and restaurant openings, because now we can eat tasty Cajun food, inventive Indian cuisine, secret Korean fried chicken, and hearty British fare… all without leaving the 7×7. Even better: most of these new spots also offer creative cocktails as part of the experience. Read on to discover the five places we’re obsessed with right now and then get eatin’!
You know how you pretty much die for the burger at Popsons and all of the comfort food on the menu at Causwells? Well, get stoked because the team from those amazing restaurants just opened a new “Cajun Soul x California Love” restaurant in the Mission. It’s everything you love about NOLA and SF under one roof, all with the promise of “good food, good drinks, and good times.”
The menu will instantly transport you to New Orleans with flavorful dishes like Creole BBQ Shrimp, Grilled Rabbit Sausage, Blue Crab Stuffed Flounder, two kinds of Jambalaya, and Shrimp & Grits… Oh, and be sure to save room for dessert because: beignets! Pralines! Cinnamon bread pudding!
The drink menu also has a very NOLA-vibe, which is not surprising since one can’t really have a Cajun-inspired restaurant without boozy bevvies that transport you to Bourbon Street. Choose from favorites like a Sazerac, Hurricane, or Ramos Gin Fizz, or, if cocktails aren’t your thing, order an Abita beer (on draft and in bottles) from Louisiana, or any of the wines from California and France.
And while we’re definitely obsessed with all of that, we are most elated that Alba Ray’s serves its bar menu—now one of our favorite bar menus in the city—until midnight during the week and 1 AM on the weekend.
The bar menu is somewhat limited with just eight options, but that’s fine because it has everything you could ever want, including pimento cheese, char-broiled gulf oysters, fried pickles, and mac n’ cheese. A French 75, tasty Southern snacks, and jazz piping through the speakers… We can definitely drink to that.
East meets west at this progressive Indian-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar that’s absolutely on its way to becoming one of SF’s newest hot spots. The vibe is sexy and luxe with plush velvet banquettes, gold mesh curtains for a little privacy, a bar that’s lit up in blue, and pops of color on the pillows, bar stools, and curtains.
And though we love all of the attention to detail, the design is really a supporting character to the glorious food coming out of the kitchen and cocktails being poured behind the bar.
The menu is available à la carte or as an $80 seven-course tasting menu. You know which one we’re going to recommend (the tasting menu), at least for your first dining experience. It’s the perfect way to sample a range of flavors in the way the chef feels is best (especially because, since there are two options for each course, you and your dining partner can get separate dishes and share). It will likely change with time, but right now highlights include the Liquid Egg Bhurji, Crispy Lamb Ribs, Asparagus a l Plancha, Short Ribs Vindaloo, and Carrot Halwa Cake.
The drink menu is also incredibly interesting and colorful and features 12 cocktails that use a blend of Indian ingredients, homemade shrubs, and spices, and is based on the six rasas (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) that according to ancient Ayurvedic wisdom help achieve a balance of body, mind, and spirit. Which, silly us, we always thought was the point of every cocktail…
There’s been a lot of hype around this Korean fried chicken joint that opened a few weeks ago and it’s all for (five) good reason(s):
- It’s famed NYC chef Deuki Hong’s first restaurant in San Francisco. Not familiar with him? Well, he’s the chef behind Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong and Momofuku who has received accolades from peeps like Anthony Bourdain, Corey Lee, and Tyler Florence.
- The fried chicken is brined 24 hours and then twice fried Korean style and served with soy garlic sauce or spicy chili sauce, both of which are infused with roasted chicken feet.
- The chicken is limited. Hong is only making about 50 a day. It opens at noon and stays open until it’s sold out.
- Sides include a homemade honey butter bao-scuit, perilla slaw, schmaltz roasted cauliflower, and three kinds of pickles.
- Oh, and it’s kind of in a secret spot in the back of a Boba guys, and you know how much we love secret things in SF.
Okay, so yes, The Cavalier has been open since 2013, which you probably think makes it an odd addition to this list, but what you may not realize is that last month this British-inspired brasserie got a makeover in the food and design department.
We’ll start with the design, only because we’re in love with the new one-of-a-kind red plaid wallpaper, which we’re told is a mix of traditional Scottish tartan and Manchester Tattersall, and which will actually be available for purchase at some point. There’s also a ton of new art, including portraits and a bison mounted on oak paneling, all of which gives you something interesting to look at in case your date isn’t doing it for you. Or, you know, if you just appreciate interesting art. Either way!
The additions to the food menu are where things get really good though. Don’t fret: the Marlowe Burger is still available, but there are also a bunch of hearty British classics, including The Cavalier Pie, made with braised beef short rib, seared hanger steak, poached oysters and gremolata.
There’s also an entire section of the menu dedicated to hearty proteins, including a Braised Lamb Shank with fresh horseradish and salsa verde, Roasted Black Cod with sunchoke and truffle cream, and Sunday Roast Chicken with bacon-mustard jus. They all come with a choice of side dish, but if you don’t get the Beef Dripping Chips with horseradish and red wine jus, you’re making a huge mistake.
The Douglas Room
We haven’t had a chance to check out this cocktail bar in The Tilden Hotel from Mo Hodges and Brian Felley, the guys behind the incredibly popular Benjamin Cooper, but… it’s a cocktail bar from the guys behind Benjamin Cooper, so we feel 100 percent comfortable telling you to go check it out just as soon as you have a chance. Much like Benjamin Cooper, it may take you a few minutes to find the entrance, but once you walk in, you’ll be happy to know there’s double the seating.
The cocktail program is, of course, complex and interesting with a focus on craft spirits and liquors from around the world. The intention is to please anyone, from the most discerning drinker to a cocktail novice.
The latter may want to start with something like the La Di Da Di (vodka, grapefruit cordial, lime, ginger beer, and black lava salt in a metal mug), while the former may lean more towards The Death Star (Macallan 12, Cognac, Montenegro Amaro, Lacuesta Sweet Vermouth, Salted Chili Oil, served in a rocks glassed).
There is also a food menu that is much more extensive than what you’ll find at Benjamin Cooper. Dishes include Sweetbread Nuggets, Lamb Tartare Pies, Italian Hoagie, and a 6 oz. burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and “fancy sauce.” And while the cocktails are sure to be the star at this hotel bar, the fact that the food is served until 1 a.m. will surely mean it’s packed until late (for SF).