This month brings us a stunning new restaurant inside of a super cool boutique hotel, a cider taproom that’s a bit of a trek (but well worth the drive), your new favorite fried chicken sandwich, a pop-up restaurant that won’t be around long, and a refresh from one of our favorite SF restaurants of all time. These new San Francisco restaurants all all worth a visit, so better start making those reservations!
Looking for your favorite new date spot? Look no further than Rambler, a new restaurant in the Hotel Zeppelin (in the space where Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio used to be) from the team behind Sabrosa, Redford, and The Brixton. The front “brasserie” is where you’ll go for a first date. Maybe you’ll grab a seat at the 18-foot bar with views of the Postrio’s original wood-burning pizza oven, or perhaps you’ll sit at one of the leather banquettes. For a second date or third, move to the back dining room filled with vintage photographs, travel-inspired curios, and books; the Mid Century vibe is sexy and intimate and will definitely help set the mood. Start with Zeppelin Martini (Monkey 47 gin, Alessio Vermouth Bianco, cucumber bitters)) at the Zinc Bar, a four-seat bar with a zinc bar top (but only if money’s no object; it’s $25).
The food at Rambler from Chef Robert Leva (Salt House, Redd, Auberge du Soleil, Calistoga Ranch) is California fare and definitely a little on the heartier side (in a good way), which is why we recommend sharing everything. Don’t miss the Crispy Fried Sunchokes, Charred Little Gems and Broccoli Salad, Foie Gras Torchon, or any of the wood-fired pizzas. The Rambler Burger with red onion-bacon jam and white cheddar is sure to become a favorite, but it’s on the heavier side (yes, even for a burger), so your best bet is to split it. That way you can also order the Wood Grilled Octopus with Fresh Chorizo. Win win.
Though we are huge fans of wine, we have to admit we were pretty stoked when we learned that one of our favorite craft cider companies was opening a taproom in downtown Healdsburg. One that, we promise, is well worth the drive from SF. The taproom has 22 taps, which are pouring classics, limited runs, micro-releases, and a few guest beers. There’s also a food menu inspired by cider-producing regions around the world, like France and the Basque region with dishes designed to be paired with the ciders. Think: crab bisque, charcuterie and cheeseboards, flavorful salads, Deviled duck egg, smoked baby back ribs, a savory crepe, and oysters every way you like them (raw, baked, or smoked). The space is huge, but there are only 60 seats inside, which leaves plenty of room for cornhole and giant Jenga in case you’re feeling a little competitive. There’s also a dog-friendly outdoor patio with a fire pit, perfect for cozying up with your pup on a fall evening. The taproom is also an event space, so check the website for upcoming concerts and comedy shows… or rent it out for a party of your own.
Steve Jobs once said, “Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” And it appears the folks behind The Bird took that advice very seriously because the only thing you’ll be getting at this new fried chicken sandwich lunchtime spot in SoMa is… a fried chicken sandwich. It’s a super tasty fried chicken sandwich though, made with free-range chicken, loaded with a crunchy apple slaw, Super Duper pickles, and served on a freshly baked bun. Just the kind of sandwich you want for lunch when you’re slightly hungover, have a case of the Mondays, or are just sick and tired of the same old salad you eat every day.
Also, if we’re being technical about it, you can get the $8 fried chicken sandwich regular or spicy, so maybe that’s two things. And there are housemade curly fries available plain or fully loaded. So… four. And eventually there will be a grilled chicken sandwich, a salad, and beer. So, like five things, more or less since that’s how math works. But basically, The Bird is giving The Bird to anything that’s not The Bird. And we have to say, we’re totally okay with that.
LOWER PACIFIC HEIGHTS
The Elite Café as you know it has been around since 1981, which probably has you asking yourself why it’s on this list. Well, that’s because after closing down for renovations earlier this year, it recently reopened with a sexy, updated look and a brand-new chef, New Orleans native Chris Borges. When you walk in, it will feel familiar (that’s a good thing), but also improved. The famous mahogany booths have been refinished, custom art deco pendants hang from the 20-foot ceilings, three brass-topped communal tables center the space, and portraits of historic San Francisco figures decorate the wall above the stunning new marble bar.
The food also feels familiar, but it’s been updated in a way that really works. The famous Meetinghouse biscuits are still available, but now also come as three different fork-and-knife appetizer sandwiches (ham hock, fried chicken, and blackened catfish). Many of the NOLA-inspired mains, like Stewed Okra, Duck Gumbo, Chicken Jambalaya, and Crawfish Etoufee, are available by the half or full portion, so you don’t have to pick just one dish in which to indulge. The bar program also has a very New Orleans feel with cocktails like a French 75 with cognac, a Froze Hurricane, Clarified Milk Punch, and, of course, a Sazerac. And thanks to the sexy bar area and creative cocktails, The Elite Café is no longer just a place to go for brunch or dinner; it’s also the perfect place to stop in for a pre-dinner or late night cocktails.
Don’t dawdle when it comes to making your reservation for Motze because this new pop-up from the folks behind Bar Tartine is only going to be around for 18 months since that’s as long as they have the space. The restaurant is named after a 5th Century BCE philosopher who promoted transparency, simplicity, and universal love. That philosophy translates into the way co-chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns are running the restaurant by prioritizing delicious and innovative food, while also being as efficient as possible (see: no paper menus, a nearly zero waste program, and a tip-free policy).
Full disclosure: We haven’t had a chance to try Motze yet, but sometime you just know a restaurant is going to be amazing and this is one of those times. The menu is Japanese fusion and all of the produce is sourced exclusively from Full Table Farms in Yountville. The curated dining experience is an all inclusive, three-course, family style meal, with dishes like a traditional form of sushi where the fish is preserved in the rice, mushroom dumplings, and charred beef and sausage with Brussels sprouts. It’s $58 per person (excluding beverages). The vibe is casual and there’s no need to worry if you have dietary restrictions, as the chefs promise every guest will be exceptionally taken care of.