Pop quiz: are you a sexy lounge and creative cocktails kinda person… or the kind of guy or gal who craves a cold craft beer at the end of a hard day? Well, good news! No matter which one you are (and, if you’re anything like us, you’re probably a bit of both), there are several new bars and restaurants that are sure to please your palate. These are the five newest spots you should really make time check out this month.
When you walk into the Black Cat, a new restaurant and bar in the Tenderloin, the first thing you’ll notice is how stunning the space is: floor-to-ceiling windows veiled with gold mesh that let light in as you watch passerbys (who can’t really see you) matched with exposed brick and black painted Venetian plaster walls that rise up to meet high ceilings, which boast dramatic iron chandeliers. But, it’s the killer cocktail list that really makes this the perfect place to meet friends, co-workers, or even a first date. Try Forgotten Classics, like a Widow’s Kiss and Invisible Gin (as well as many of the classics you love).
It doesn’t stop there, though. Friend dates and first dates are fun and all, but when it’s time to turn up the sex appeal, Black Cat’s basement is where you want to be. Rumor has it that once-upon-a-time, the basement was a brothel/gambling den—a myth we can neither confirm nor deny. What we can confirm is that now, it’s a super sexy, dramatic space with a bronze clad bar at the center, velvet and leather banquettes, quirky art, and cabaret tables with faux-fur lined chairs, all circled around a revue stage at the far end of the space . This is where you’ll go for your third date to get dinner (make a reservation) and snack on dishes like TBOC “Golden Nugget” oysters (the only place you’ll find them in SF), swordfish and octopus meatballs with parmesan in arribiatta, country pork and chicken terrine, and a local oyster and smoked pork tongue pot pie.
If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a performance that may include live jazz or a cabaret revue, but even without live entertainment, Black Cat will leave you feline just fine.
We’ll let you read the explanation on the back of the menu when you go, but Buffalo Theory, the new craft beer-focused restaurant and bar on Polk Street, is built on the idea that “Theoretically, drinking beer makes you smarter.” Obviously, this is a concept we can get behind, which is why we were so excited to immediately fall in love with this space, the food, and the 30 beers on tap.
The industrial space is big (116 seats), but don’t think that means you’ll just be able to walk in and get a seat… because it was packed even on a Tuesday, with big groups, couples, and people grabbing a beer after work. Buffalo Theory is not a sports bar per-se, but there are several large flat screen TVs throughout, so it inevitably will be a place that people end up going to watch the game, as it has a naturally boisterous vibe already.
The food is New American fare with a lot of global influences, and is meant to be paired with the beer, so ask your server what he or she recommends when you order. Our favorite dishes were the summer tai crudo, the sisig and grits (a pork medley with chili, onion, and a poached egg over cheesy grits), the mushroom fettucine, and the clear winner, especially if you like ‘em a bit on the sweet side: the crispy adobo wings. Wings, beer, and the game on TV? We’re all in.
It used to be that if you wanted to get into Marianne’s, a dark, sexy lounge next to The Cavalier, you had to be a member. But, the owners soon grew bored of the whole private club trend in San Francisco and have opened it up to the public, as well as given the space an edgy rock n’ roll makeover—we wholly approve.
The name (for style icon and former Mick Jagger flame, Marianne Faithfull) remains, but the space is now less English parlor and more ’70s den of inequity with the glamor of Studio 54. Will it be as debaucherous at the latter? That, we suppose, is up to you, but good luck not being turned on by the allure of the low lighting, royal purple walls, and zebra banquettes. Not to mention the drinks, which include updated twists on “classics” like the Long Island Iced Tea, as well as drinks that are (only) slightly more delicate… like the Indian Summer: a gin drink served with jalapeno, cucumber, lemon cordial, soda, and a basil salt rim. Oh, and all of the cocktails can also be served as large format Commune Cocktails, which serve up to six people.
Marianne’s also serves bar snacks until 9:30 PM, including options like baked oysters, oysters on the half shell, ham and cheese finger sandwiches, and pickled octopus.
Marianne’s is attached to The Cavalier, but has its own entrance (manned by a doorman) at the end of the alley. If it’s your first time going, you can always check in at the The Cavalier and the host will direct you accordingly.
Even though it seems like there’s a new brewpub opening in SF every other week, there’s pretty much nothing on earth we love more than beer, so we’re totally okay with the influx of people making good beer and creating great spaces in which to drink it. Enter: Standard Deviant Brewing, a new brewpub that lives in a former auto-body shop in the Mission. Which means, yes, the space is industrial with high ceilings and communal picnic tables, and a 26-foot bar made from a single slab of redwood. And yes, there are often food trucks outside. There’s a formula for these places because that formula works.
Right now, there are four beers on tap, including a Belgian blonde, a porter, and an extra pale ale. There’s also a couple of pinball machines, and plans to add more lighting, TVs, and barstools (as well as more beers on tap).
Standard Deviant Brewing is only softly opened right now—the official grand opeing will happen sometime in September—so check the Facebook page, or call ahead to make sure it’s open.
Nightbird was probably one of the most anticipated SF restaurants opening this summer… and even though we haven’t had a chance to dine at Chef Kim Alter’s new concept yet, from what we hear, it’s living up to the hype.
The 38-seat restaurant (only) offers a five-course tasting menu ($125), including little bites and amuses in-between courses. The menu is, of course, seasonally-focused and dishes will be very much inspired by the way we eat in California: simple, colorful, and light. The menu will change weekly, but the opening menu featured dishes like lobster, heart of palm, chanterelle, and truffle, as well as rabbit with peach, summer squash, and vadouvan.
Next door is a teeny tiny six-seat bar, Linden Room, which feels very art deco. Cocktails are also seasonally-driven, and are meant to be playful and fun. This is one that’s going to be hard to get into, but if you can get a reservation, it seems like it will be well-worth the price of admission.