From innovative Asian cuisine to classic Italian eats, here are the best new restaurants to check out this season.
The Sidehack at Blue Whale Restaurant & Lounge
Expect decadent desserts at Blue Whale Restaurant & Lounge.
At Blue Whale, prepare to be transported. Chef Ho Chee Boon, best known for his fine dining destination Empress by Boon, serves inventive Asian cuisine in a happening new space. “I’m always excited and happy whenever I open a restaurant,” Boon says. “Food is a great way of creating that human-to-human exchange, and I want to contribute to society by getting people to know more about Asian cuisine.” Enjoy dishes from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai—the superb Iberico ham xiao long bao is a must-order. 2033 Union St., instagram.com/bluewhalesf
Russian Hill has a big reason to celebrate with the opening of Collina.
Russian Hill, rejoice: 1550 Hyde St. is no longer closed! The former location of the beloved eatery Seven Hills is now home to Collina. From the same team, Collina is your new destination for sensational Italian cuisine—pasta, arancini and traditional dishes like lasagna and chicken under a brick. Everything, from the bread to the sauces to the tiramisu, is made in the tiny kitchen. Owner Alexis Solomou is passionate about serving the community and says, “I’m excited about our growth and about giving people new opportunities, and I want to feed everybody.” 1550 Hyde St., 415.775.1542, collinasf.com
Chef Marc Zimmerman opened Yokai in SoMa.
At Yokai, chef Marc Zimmerman brings the Japanese hi-fi experience to SoMa. Diners can listen to jazz (the eatery has two record players) while enjoying over 75 Japanese whiskies, scrumptious sashimis and charcoal-fired cuisine. A kakigōri machine imported from Japan makes delicious shaved ice desserts, and much of the seafood is flown in fresh from Toyosu Market. It’s a departure from Zimmerman’s high-end restaurant, Gozu, and meant to be more laid back and casual. “It doesn’t have to be pretentious,” he says. “It’s this big, loud, fun party where nothing’s taken too seriously.” 545 Mission St., yokaisf.com
Gourmands can expect seasonal fare at La Connessa.
The bright dining room at La Connessa
Spruce fans looking to venture beyond Sacramento Street should head to Potrero Hill to the team’s newest destination, La Connessa. The gorgeous space has tall ceilings and a classic modern vibe. Owner Tim Stannard describes it best: “La Connessa brings together all of the things that we love in a great local neighborhood spot—simple, perfectly prepared seasonal food, great cocktails in a beautiful bar and a well-curated wine list full of well-priced gems from small family wine producers.” The hyper-seasonal menu changes often, but you can’t go wrong with the spaghettino al limone or the pizzas. 1695 Mariposa St., 628.221.0123, laconnessa.com
The jaw-dropping design of Holbrook House was created by Jeff Schlarb.
Holbrook House is another new downtown hot spot and a part of the stunning recently opened The Conservatory at One Sansome. It’s a wildly chic space from a seasoned team of San Franciscans that’s open for breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner—on weekdays only. Chef Holly Stevens, who oversees the California cuisine, says she sources the best ingredients and doesn’t mess with them too much. “Everything should taste as it is meant to,” she says. “The best food is always what’s in season.” Among our favorites? The sand dabs, burger and schnitzel. 1 Sansome St., holbrookhousesf.com
Inventive dishes, including sushi, abound at the rooftop Chotto Matte.
Rooftops are finally a thing in SF, and Chotto Matte is the biggest and best one yet. Located in the unique former Macy’s men’s shop space just off Union Square, Chotto Matte (which translates to “wait a minute” in Japanese) spotlights the Nikkei trend. “It’s a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cooking styles, bringing an added flair to the cuisine beyond simple raw fish,” owner Kurt Zdesar explains. “Some people are familiar with Nikkei while some are only just discovering it, but without a doubt, everyone is blown away.” 50 O’Farrell St., 415.234.5650, chotto-matte.com/sanfrancisco
Photography by: CAITLIN BEYER; COURTESY OF BLUE WHALE RESTAURANT & LOUNGE; CHRISTIAN GARCIA; JOSEPH WEAVER; ED ANDERSON; ED ANDERSON; MATTHEW MILLMAN; COURTESY OF BRAND