The 12 most delicious new restaurants in the Bay Area

The San Francisco Chronicle August 2, 2023

Restaurants

The 12 most delicious new restaurants in the Bay Area
Summer is here, and so are the boozy slushies, all-you-can-eat tacos and double cheeseburgers. Here are The Chronicle Food+Wine team's picks for 12 of the region’s best new restaurants, listed in alphabetical order.
 

alaMar Dominican Kitchen

The summertime Dominican salad at alaMar Dominican Kitchen in Oakland.
The summertime Dominican salad at alaMar Dominican Kitchen in Oakland.
Matt Yan/The Chronicle

While seafood was previously the star at “Top Chef” alum Nelson German’s restaurant, he has since turned his attention to his roots at this Oakland spot that German believes is the Bay Area’s only Dominican restaurant, after reopening in late June. His inspiration comes from family recipes and Washington Heights, a hub for the Dominican diaspora in New York City. The summertime Dominican salad ($12) is crunchy and bright, with heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, charred Brentwood corn, and toasted hazelnuts on top of an avocado mousse that’s doused with an aromatic sofrito vinaigrette. For larger plates, there’s the braised oxtail “encendido” ($29) from the old menu, and the tender and fatty slow roasted pork called pernil ($21), with a cilantro lime aioli on the bottom and topped with savory pickled onions. Ask for a side of the yellow Caribbean rice ($4) with turmeric, garlic, onion and oregano, too. Boozy slushies ($14-$15) and rum cocktails are also on the menu, like the puerto claro ($14): a clarified milk cocktail with two types of rum, Carpano vermouth, papaya and pineapple juices and lime. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. With tunes from Dominican rapper El Alfa playing along with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind,” it’s like you’re lounging along the beach in the Dominican Republic or in the Heights. — M.Y.
 
100 Grand Ave., #111Oakland
 

Bar Gemini

Bar Gemini's grilled cheese with pickled onions.
Bar Gemini's grilled cheese with pickled onions.
Amaya Edwards/The Chronicle

Wine bars, or a particular variety of them, with natural wines, light food and a studied insouciance, are achingly hip right nowBar Gemini is a great example of why. From a couple of established wine pros — Dominique Henderson and Alex Pomerantz run the nearby Gemini Bottle Shop, and he owns the winery Subject to Change — the new, beautifully designed bar in an industrial stretch of the Mission District serves 11 wines by the glass and more by the bottle, mostly from California and Europe. The emphasis goes beyond natural wine to “zero-zero,” that more extreme category made with no additions whatsoever. Slip into one of the dark, undulating redwood booths or tuck in at the terra-cotta bar, order a glass of luminous, ruby red chilled California Syrah ($14) and see what you think. Accompany it with trendy food (prepared by nearby restaurant Ernest) like Parmesan-showered cacio e pepe deviled eggs ($5 each) and plump, marinated Rancho Gordo gigante beans ($13) bursting with sweet roasted garlic flavor. For something more substantial, there are grilled cheese sandwiches ($18) on Rize Up bread, with options to add ham or mortadella — the cool meat of the moment. — C.P.
 
2845 18th St., San Francisco
 

Bar Sardine

Celery salad with anchovies and Parmesan from Bar Sardine, the wine bar within Bartavelle Cafe in Berkeley.
Celery salad with anchovies and Parmesan from Bar Sardine, the wine bar within Bartavelle Cafe in Berkeley.
Janelle Bitker/The Chronicle

The comebacks keep coming for Berkeley’s Bartavelle Cafe. The daytime favorite opened in a splashy new location in June after operating as a takeout window during the pandemic. More recently, it brought back Bar Sardine, its nighttime alter ego that first emerged in 2018 and lasted about two years. In the new space — with more seating, shining teal tile and pale wood — Bar Sardine feels more fully realized than ever. There’s natural wine, available by the glass, carafe or bottle, and the staff is ready to make a well-informed recommendation. And there’s a slew of salty snacks: creamy salt cod brandade with crostini ($18); a punchy celery salad teeming with shaved Parmesan and oily anchovies ($16); platters of wispy prosciutto with juicy stone fruit and Acme bread ($20). For now, Bar Sardine is only open Thursday and Friday nights, but the plan is to eventually extend to Tuesday through Saturday.  — J.B.
 
1621 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley
 

Copas

A fish taco from San Francisco's Copas.
A fish taco from San Francisco's Copas.
Cesar Hernandez / The Chronicle

After debuting as a Spanish restaurant, Copas recently pivoted to San Francisco’s first Tijuana-style taqueria. The Castro district restaurant’s relaxed atmosphere, with pop art placed throughout, suits a frosty cheve (beer) or shaken carajillo ($10), a Mexican coffee cocktail. Tacos ($6) come on yellow corn tortillas and are served with a generous scoop of guacamole and a fire-roasted salsa — all wrapped in yellow paper. Asada is the strongest filling and actually tastes of a charcoal flame, followed by the  crunchy seasonal veggies, a sleeper hit. The fish taco ($8), while a little pricey, has an airy, crunchy shell, and is among the Bay Area’s best. Astonishingly, the taqueria offers an all-you-can-eat taco option for $29, an unbelievable bargain for a San Francisco restaurant in a bustling part of town. For dessert, the strawberry raspado ($11) puts a spin on the classic Mexican dessert with a shaving of lemon zest and ice cream hidden in the syrup-enriched shaved ice. — C.H.
 
2223 Market St., San Francisco
 

Dalida

Dalida's "breaking bread" plate with fresh-baked pita and dips.
Dalida's "breaking bread" plate with fresh-baked pita and dips.
Jessica Christian/The Chronicle

If you order one thing at Dalida, a snazzy new restaurant in the Presidio, make it the pita. It is as large as a plate and tender to the touch, a delight to tear apart and smear through the bountiful dips it comes with as part of the “breaking bread” dish ($18), from luscious yogurt to nutty muhammara. Owners Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz were known for their chubby pita at their previous San Francisco Mediterranean restaurant, Noosh. But at Dalida, they’ve reached beyond bread and dips into dishes from Istanbul, Greece, Israel and, of course, California. The large menu can feel overwhelming, but don’t miss the octopus and sujuk ($26), a stunning plate of paper-thin shaved octopus topped with dollops of the salty fermented sausage. The bar turns out fun, thoughtful cocktails, including a top-notch coffee martini ($14) and nonalcoholic tahini horchata ($11). End the meal with Turkish ice cream ($8) and the wild pistachio coffee ($9), which is made from neither pistachio nor coffee but the roasted berries of the leafy Mediterranean turpentine tree. The non-caffeinated drink’s creamy, toasted flavor is reminiscent of a hojicha latte. — E.K.
 
101 Montgomery St., Suite 101, San Francisco, 94129
 

Day Moon

A strawberry scone and broccolini baguette sandwich from Day Moon, a new San Francisco bakery.
A strawberry scone and broccolini baguette sandwich from Day Moon, a new San Francisco bakery.
Elena Kadvany/The Chronicle

After years of selling bread at the Clement Street Farmers’ Market in San Francisco, Day Moon finally has its own home. The sweet Outer Sunset space is a working bakery, so customers can munch on sweet or savory scones ($5) — recently, a standout strawberry or corn-padron pepper — with a coffee while watching bakers pull bread out of the oven. Grab a fresh, crusty loaf, or appreciate Day Moon’s excellent, naturally leavened baguette in sandwich form ($13). Depending on the day, it may feature roasted broccolini, preserved lemon aioli and pecorino, or another seasonal combination. (Heads up: Sandwiches are usually ready around 11:30 a.m.) Sometimes simple is best, like the heavily seeded, soft sesame bun stuffed with butter and cheese ($6). Post up next to one of the big, open windows that give Day Moon a lived-in, indoor-outdoor feel that’s right at home in the outer avenues. Day Moon’s stand lives on at the Clement Street Farmers’ Market on Sundays. — E.K.
 
3928 Irving St., San Francisco
 

Flour + Water Pizzeria

The Hawaiian pizza at Flour + Water Pizzeria is topped with chili crisp.
The Hawaiian pizza at Flour + Water Pizzeria is topped with chili crisp.Matt Yan/The Chronicle

After closing its popular location in the Mission District last year, this pizzeria from the team behind one of the Bay Area’s best Italian restaurants reopened at the end of June in the former Rose Pistola space in North Beach. The sprawling, 4,000 square-foot space is located near Washington Square Park and includes nods to retro pizza culture like pendant lights on the walls made from corrugated cardboard. Start with one of the rotating seasonal appetizers like the cherry tomatoes ($11) served with horseradish and crunchy garlic breadcrumbs, or try the mozzarella sticks with marinara ($10), a returning favorite from the old restaurant. The pizzas — both red and white pies — are still the stars, like the shatteringly crisp and cheesy cacio e pepe ($20) and a Hawaiian ($22) dotted with Fly by Jing’s chili crisp. Wash it all down with the orangey, Tequila-based boozy slushie ($15) or a glass of Flour + Water’s house wine ($14-$15 per glass). For something sweet to round out the meal, try the buffalo milk soft serve ($7), either the creamy fior di latte, a rotating flavor, which was salted caramel during a recent visit, or a swirl of the two. Want your pizza to go? The pizza shop has a separate entrance on Stockton Street, where they serve the  Big Slice, a thicker, Sicilian-esque square slice that’s available only at the slice shop. — M.Y.
 
532 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
 

Gumbo Social

Gumbo Social, known for its farmers' market stand, is finally serving gumbo in a new home in the Bayview.
Gumbo Social, known for its farmers' market stand, is finally serving gumbo in a new home in the Bayview.
Stephen Lam/The Chronicle

Pop-up and farmers’ market sensation Gumbo Social is now serving bowls of rich, dark-hued gumbo at its permanent restaurant in the Bayview. Chef-owner Dontaye Ball deploys the powerful “holy trinity” of onion, celery and bell pepper, blessing his gumbo with a complex, earthy-sweet flavor. The restaurant is currently offering a partial menu, with gumbo options like smoked turkey and chicken with sausage ($13 for a small and $18 for a large), plus add-ons like pork belly, jackfruit and shrimp. The red beans and rice ($12) are slightly sweet with roasted duck shreds mixed in to enhance the already rich blend. — M.C.
 
5176 Third St., San Francisco
 

La Gastronomia

Fairfax newcomer La Gastronomia serves house-made pasta, including the above papardelle.
Fairfax newcomer La Gastronomia serves house-made pasta, including the above papardelle.
Cesar Hernandez / The Chronicle

La Gastronomia, a new Italian restaurant stowed away in the sleepy city of Fairfax, makes for an ideal sunny-day meal, with white marble decor and beautiful wood benches outdoors facing the street. During the day, the menu is easygoing, with pastas and sandwiches like a succulent porchetta ($19) on toasted focaccia that’s bound to drip onto the plate. The pastas at lunch ($22), which are all made in-house, are more choose-your-own adventures: you pick a shape and a sauce base — I was enamored with the pappardelle in a garlicky San Marzano tomato sauce. Dinner service unlocks the restaurant’s extended pasta menu and entrees.  I’m already planning a return to this exciting Marin County newcomer. — C.H.
 
123 Bolinas Road, Fairfax
 

Matty’s Old Fashioned

The burger from Matty's Old Fashioned, newly open in Oakland.
The burger from Matty's Old Fashioned, newly open in Oakland.
Cesar Hernandez / The Chronicle

The latest from Matt Horn, the chef behind the popular Texas-style Horn Barbecue, takes classic Americana fare from the diner into an upscale environment, decked out with black leather booths and exposed brick, in the heart of Old Oakland. The menu at Matty’s Old Fashioned is brief, with just four entrees and a few starters, but the Matty Burger ($26) is the thing to get. It’s a double cheeseburger with gooey American cheese and lightly caramelized onions inside a brioche bun freckled with black sesame seeds. Each bite is rich and gooey. The fried Bologna sandwich ($19) is lip-smackingly salty. The house-cured meat’s fried edges concentrate the fatty-salty flavor, while a dab of tallow on the bun adds extra richness to each bite. — M.C.
 
464 Eighth St., Oakland
 

Molti Amici

Bucatini from Molti Amici in Healdsburg.
Bucatini from Molti Amici in Healdsburg.
Cesar Hernandez / The Chronicle

Contemporary Italian restaurant Molti Amici has replaced Healdsburg’s beloved Campo Fino, though former Campo fans will find several points of familiarity, like the iconic bocce court. Owner Jonny Barr (formerly of SingleThread) tapped local bread stars Sean McGaughey and Melissa Yanc  of Troubadour and Quail & Condor  to run the kitchen, which pumps out a wide range of pizzas (with white, red or green sauce), house-made pastas, crudos and vegetables. Start with the focaccia ($10), served alongside a spring-inspired garlic-herb butter, and the perfectly balanced chicories salad ($16) to share. For the main course, pasta is where this team truly shines: You can’t go wrong with the simple and chewy bucatini ($25), but the raviolo al’ uovo ($26) topped with truffle and sage butter is arguably the menu standout. Pair the meal with the Import/Export cocktail ($15) made with Pisco, mezcal and a strawberry-balsamic shrub. Note: The majority of seating is outside, but there are a handful of tables inside by the bar.  — J.L.
 
330 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. 
 

3 Bottled Fish

The farmers' porridge served with sprouts, mint and lemon at 3 Bottled Fish, a new Vietnamese cafe in Oakland.
The farmers' porridge served with sprouts, mint and lemon at 3 Bottled Fish, a new Vietnamese cafe in Oakland.
Amaya Edwards/The Chronicle
 
Stonestown Farmers Market fixture 3 Bottled Fish opened a permanent cafe in Oakland’s Fruitvale, offering Vietnamese coffee drinks and bowls of chef-owner Paulette Tran’s homestyle dishes. Those include the farmers’ porridge ($10), rich with bits of ground beef adding heft, its steam carrying with the scents of fried garlic, shredded ginger and scallions. A few comforting spoonfuls will leave you smiling. The ever-changing banh mi ($12) fills a crunchy baguette with pickled vegetables, cucumber and jalapeños. In recent weeks, Tran has offered chicken, house-cured sausage and steak with egg. The menu rotates fresh tofu rolls, rice noodles tossed in a fish sauce and a grilled chicken plate. Find the most recent offerings on Instagram. — M.C.
 
1924 35th Ave., Oakland. 
 
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