San Francisco's ever-expanding cuisine scene always features a few new standouts. Here, we're profiling some of our current favorites.
More Than a Wine Bar
Sandwiched on a quiet corner between the commotion of the Mission and Valencia thoroughfares, 20 Spot has quickly become one of the city’s most buzzed about new locales. Candlelit and elegant, the space is ideal for a date, but a measure of offbeat personality shines through too—in the vinyl playing on a record player, the postwar design of the furnishings and the eccentric art on the walls. The wines, mostly Old World in disposition, pair flawlessly with the menu of small plates. The butter bean soup with leeks and bacon has a deliciously smoky flavor, and the roasted king trumpet mushrooms, served with a divine bearnaise, have a hearty, satisfying chew. Valentine’s Day date, anyone? 3565 20th St., San Francisco, 415.624.3140.
The Cool Kid of Oakland
On an unassuming block in Uptown Oakland, Hopscotch, a cozy, diner-style restaurant with checkered floors and red stools, serves a truly exceptional menu of upscale American comfort classics—with a subtle (and some would say genius) Japanese twist. The both familiar and surprising combinations have earned the chef, Kyle Itani, rising-star status. You can’t go wrong with the buttermilk fried chicken, accompanied by bean salad and mizuna greens, or the sweet potato gnocchi (pictured), which entails chanterelle, shiitake and oyster mushrooms and green onion. The cocktails are sophisticated and balanced, making it hard to stop at one. Just two blocks from the 19th Street BART Station, this is a perfect dinner spot if you’re seeing a show at the nearby Fox or Paramount theaters. 1915 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 510.788.6217.
The new La Urbana brings the culinary scene of contemporary Mexico City to lively Divisadero Street. Its upscale, cantina-style menu features inventive, modern interpretations of traditional dishes like carne asada and quesadillas prepared with seasonal Northern California ingredients. A spacious bar serves creative, refined cocktails and boasts an artisanal mescal collection of more than 50 different bottles—the biggest in the city. The Urbana Margarita is a fresh take on the classic drink, made with mescal and an optional rim of housemade bacon salt. Designed in part by Mexico-based artists, the ambience is urban cool, with salvaged furnishings from around Mexico decking out the walls. For a casual place to drink, head to El Garage Urbano. The attached watering hole has an honor bar stocked with sangria and Mexican craft beers to sip over table games like dominoes, cards and cribbage. 661 Divisadero St., San Francisco, 415.440.4500.