Winter delivers some of our favorite culinary surprises in recent memory, including the revival of a Union Square hot spot.
The Bungalow Kitchen
The Bungalow Kitchen’s wild mushroom agnolotti
Settled on the Tiburon waterfront only a short ferry ride from San Francisco, The Bungalow Kitchen from award-winning chef Michael Mina and hospitality guru Brent Bolthouse is a new social dining experience and vivacious community clubhouse. The luxe bohemian interiors by designer Martin Brudnizki are complemented by unobstructed Bay views, making this two-story hideaway an ideal spot to mingle over weekend brunch, late-night drinks or a weeknight bite. Guests can lounge in the comfortable indoor-outdoor space, enjoy inventive California cuisine, such as the garden crudite bowl served with three delightful dipping sauces and Mina’s signature lobster pot pie, and sip eclectic craft cocktails such as City Lights, made with chamomile-infused vodka, lemon, honey, elderflower, agave and faba. 5 Main St., Belvedere Tiburon, 415.366.4088
Black pearl caviar is part of the opening menu at Ula.
As San Francisco restaurant veteran Krishan Miglani greeted guests to his latest venture, Ula, in December, he knew the stakes were a little higher. After all, his new Mediterranean concept fills the space once occupied by the legendary Farallon, which shuttered during COVID. The space received a refresh, but the visual impact—including those glowing, handblown jellyfish light fixtures—remains. Miglani tapped chef Ryan Simas, formerly of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Los Angeles and Farallon, to helm the kitchen. He devised a menu that includes appetizers like oysters, ceviche and Maine lobster, along with standout entrees—Alaskan halibut, Atlantic diver scallops and housemade fettuccine with prawns—that remind guests why Simas has legions of fans. In addition to the sleek bar that greets guests upon entering the space (don’t miss the Ketel One spritzers or the Energizer with Nolet’s gin), the 120-seat restaurant also features a private dining room. The night we visited, a four-piece jazz band offered an ebullient soundtrack to the evening. In the months ahead, Miglani says live piano music will grace this legendary property. 450 Post St., 415.999.4950
A starter from Nisei
Helmed by Michelin-starred chef David Yoshimura, Nisei, a newcomer to the Russian Hill neighborhood, is a testament to the chef’s Japanese American heritage. Yoshimura brings West Coast influence to Japanese flavors with a tasting menu influenced by California washoku cuisine, which means “harmony of food” or “home cooking” in Japan, emphasizing the balance of color, taste preparations, sense and respect to food. Along with Nisei, Yoshimura also opened a sister bar dubbed Iris. Located in the former La Folie space, the sumptuous bar serves luxury Japanese-inspired cocktails by bar manager Ilya Romanov, formerly of Niku Steakhouse and The Dorian, and a small menu of izakaya-style snacks crafted by Yoshimura. Featuring drink ingredients such as Okinawa yam, Japanese gin and elderberry shochu, and small plates like smoked eel and chips, Iris offers a relaxed setting to cap off the night after several delicious courses at Nisei. Nisei: 2316 Polk St.; Bar Iris: 2310 Polk St.
Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO BY ANGELO CLINTON/COURTESY OF THE BUNGALOW KITCHEN; PHOTO COURTESY OF RESTAURANTS; PHOTO COURTESY OF NISEI