Photo courtesy of Hilda and Jesse

The Hit ListSan Francisco

The Resy Hit List: Where In San Francisco You’ll Want to Eat Right Now

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There’s no question we hear more often: Where should I go eat? And while we at Resy know it’s an honor to be the friend who everyone asks for restaurant advice, we also know it’s a complicated task. That’s where the Resy Hit List comes in. 

We’ve designed it to be your essential resource for dining in San Francisco and around the Bay Area: a monthly-updated (and newly expanded!) guide to the restaurants in that you won’t want to miss — tonight or any night.

Four Things In the Bay Area Not to Miss This Month

  • AYCE Crawfish Boil: That’s All-You-Can-Eat, if you don’t speak abbreviation, and it’s happening at Shuggie’s May 5th. This is their 3rd annual boil and it’s going to be a party. In addition to the bright-red sea creatures, each ticket comes with boudin balls, Texas Twinkies, and funnel cakes for dessert. There’ll also be a ping pong table, and Beef the bulldog might make an appearance if we’re lucky. Get tickets here.
  • Hit the road for a long weekend: If you need a little break during your long Memorial Day Weekend, consider heading up to Napa or Sonoma, where you’ll find a slew of wonderful restaurants to explore, like the Cal-Ital charmer Ciccio or La Calenda, which offers Mexican fare with flair. Here are some other ideas.
  • Pasta Party: Flour + Water, the pasta palace that once famously turned away Steve Jobs is turning 15 this year (!), and to celebrate they’re making a tasting menu of greatest hits this month. We’re particularly excited for the morel tortellini in brodo with nettles, mushroom broth, and pine oil — a dish from 2012 that screams spring. Book here, and if you’re more in the mood for pizza and can’t commit to a tasting menu, maybe head to their pizzeria any time of day.
  • Treat Yo’self. And Your Mom: For Mother’s Day, go somewhere nice for brunch — here are some ideas, or check Resy’s Events page for special offerings.  Or consider taking her to an awesome and affordable tasting menu restaurant — you don’t have to break the bank to spoil her, but even if you do, she deserves it.

New to the Hit List (May 2024)
Alora, Daytrip, Hilda and Jesse, Minnie Bell’s.

1. Kin Khao Union Square

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Photo courtesy of Kin Khao

Chef Pim Techamuanvivit’s wonderful Thai fare at her Michelin-starred Kin Khao never misses. The restaurant’s current chef de cuisine, Chef Adam Sproat, has been with the restaurant for most of its existence and is currently guiding the ship, making sure the Pretty Hot Wings live up to their fiery name,  and the khao soi is creamy, coconutty and consistent. There’s really no wrong way to go here—this is one of those restaurants where you’re guaranteed a good time and a good meal no matter what you order. The only thing you’ll need to think about is if you want to go cocktails or wine to pair.

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Photo courtesy of Kin Khao

2. Hilda and Jesse North Beach

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A 2024 James Beard Semifinalist for Best Chefs in California, and a Bib Gourmand in the 2023 Michelin guide, Hilda and Jesse in North Beach is on fire. This fun restaurant, run by co-owners Richel Sillcocks and chef Kristina Liedags Compton, is rethinking the idea of luxury and fine dining with their colorful space. Check out the seasonally changing Chef’s Adventure Menu: this abbreviated tasting menu comes with 5+ courses that start with bites (hello shrimp toastie!) before moving onto a small plate like hamachi with a bright citrus gelee, followed by a big meaty main like a pork schnitzel with mushroom curry. Consider finishing with a fat stack of pancakes as a supplement — they’re some of the best in the city.

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3. Burdell Temescal

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There’s no question Burdell was the restaurant opening of 2023 — Geoff Davis’s critically acclaimed comforting California soul-food restaurant received wide accolades, landing a spot on Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America list. Davis is going strong into 2024: The recent addition of rich rib-sticking braised oxtails with bone marrow will keep you warm through the winter, while you’ll want to quickly revisit the bar-only fried chicken sandwich, dusted with an umami powder and served on a seeded croissant. If general manager Omar White is there, ask him for his pairing of choice — he doubles as the restaurant’s beverage director.

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4. DAYTRIP Temescal

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A party restaurant? Sign us up. Stella Dennig and chef Finn Stern’s colorful and high energy space is rad, and their ever-changing menu of fermentation-driven fare is unique and unlike anything you’ve ever had. Gnocchi made is with parnsips in lieu of potatoes and is served with an oyster and ouzo cream topped with bright shiny pearls of trout roe that pop. Steak frites au poivre tartare? Clever. Don’t forget the celebrated celery salad and the miso butter pasta, of course. Unique. Interesting. Delicious. Daytrip is everything and more. Don’t forget to stock up on wine — the restaurant doubles as a bottle shop that specializes in low-intervention, minimal intervention, small producer wines, and sakes too.

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5. Ernest Mission

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Photo courtesy of Ernest

Rich Table alum Chef Brandon Rice just might be a culinary genius. The globally-inspired food at his Mission restaurant consistently makes you say, “Wow I want to eat that.” (We promise we won’t judge if you’re talking to yourself at the table.) Whether it’s soft, pillowy mini-donuts dusted with seaweed powder to go with the caviar set, or luscious little cuts of bluefin tuna paired with a sukiyaki egg yolk to dip, or the ever changing seasonally topped fried rice set, his food just hits hard, dropping flavor bombs all night long.  Go with the “let the kitchen cook for you” option, which is unreasonably good deal for the amount of food—you’ll be rolling home, happy and full.

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Photo courtesy of Ernest

6. Outerlands Outer Sunset

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Have you really lived in San Francisco if you haven’t braved the Outerlands weekend brunch line for dutch pancakes and cast-iron grilled cheese? It’s a right of passage, really. After you’ve done that, the next move is to make a Resy for dinner, where the menu changes with the seasons but the warm and wooden cozy cool vibe remains the same year-round. Chicken bone broth for the soul. Lamb meatballs, housemade tagliatelle with pork ragu, and roasted chicken. This is California comfort at its best.

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7. Bar Gemini Mission District

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There’s so much to love about Bar Gemini, the charming intimate little wine bar deep in the heart of The Mission. First: the vibe. They get the lighting right, especially at night, where it’s dark but not too dark. This makes for a real nice date night. Pull up to the counter or nab a wooden booth, order a glass or a carafe or a bottle, and grab some snacks prepared by the wonderful and talented chef Brandon Rice from nearby Ernest Restaurant (We LOVE the cacio e pepe deviled eggs — do not miss). Lately, they’ve been hosting a lot of different and interesting pop-ups, so keep an eye on their Instagram where they post their calendar to find the right one for you.

 

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8. Izakaya Rintaro The Mission

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Sure, you could book a ticket to Japan and eat at every izakaya you find. (You actually should do that — it’s a very fun time.) But you also could visit Sylvan Mishima Brackett’s lovely Rintaro. There’s no other restaurant quite like Rintaro, because there’s no other chef quite like Brackett, born in Kyoto, raised in Northern California and the former creative director at Chez Panisse. Sit at the counter closest to the yakitori station and watch his team dance between each other as their twist and turn charred smoky chicken skewers and slowly slice sashimi. All the chefs seem to eat here on their days off, and we can see why.

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9. Quince Jackson Square

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The three-Michelin-starred restaurant from the wife-and-husband duo Lindsay and Michael Tusk, has reopened after a long redesign and is, dare we say it, better than ever. The dining area has been completely transformed into a gentler and warmer space compared to its previous dark and dimlit incarnation, while the food maintains the same level of quality and finesse without being precious throughout the ten course tasting menu. Crab farfalle features more crab than bow-ties, and beetroot spaghetti comes topped with a generous mound of caviar for you to mix in—the ratios are just right. If you’re crunched on time, you can always sit at the bar. and go à la carte.

Call 415-775-8500 for more info.

10. Buddy The Mission

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The former Californios has been transformed into a beautiful neighborhood bar, with the drinks and food to match. Photo courtesy Buddy.

One of Esquire’s Best Bars in America in 2023 also happens to be a stunner. Sit at the counter and start with a fun vermouth-based cocktail—we’re partial to the House Campari Soda, a quaffable low-abv cocktail and nod to the legendary Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store in North Beach. Buddy’s version adds a bit of bitter amaro for balance. Order some snacks (those mushrooms!) or come on a Tuesday and grab some creatively topped pies from pizza pop-up-in-residence Jules. Order a glass or bottle of something that suits your fancy—we’re partial to something bubbly to pair with pizza, like pét nat or Lambrusco—but you do you.

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The former Californios has been transformed into a beautiful neighborhood bar, with the drinks and food to match. Photo courtesy Buddy.

11. State Bird Provisions Fillmore

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State Bird Provisions is a perennial favorite, as are its owners, husband-and-wife duo Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski. It’s hard not to order everything that rolls past our tables from the carts, this being one of the places that pioneered dim sum-style service for Western food. But we’ll never not order the menu mainstays at the now 12-year-old restaurant: the insanely delicious fried garlic bread with seven pepper spice and burrata; the tangy herby pork belly “salad”; everything from the pancakes and toasts section, and the “state bird with provisions,” of course: a crispy fried quail over a bed of sweet buttery stewed onions.

Find more info here.

12. Liholiho Yacht Club Lower Nob Hill

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It can be difficult to define Liholiho Yacht Club, but luckily we don’t need to. The food transcends labels, and no one puts chef Ravi Kapur in a box. You’ll find influences from various cultures and cuisines, but especially Kapur’s native Hawaii. There’s the tuna poke on nori cracker; poppyseed steam buns with tender beef tongue, kimchi, and miso aioli; swordfish katsu with a creamy umami caper sauce, and so much more. Pro tip: You can now book out the recently reopened Gen-Gen Room downstairs for  a private family-style dining experience.

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13. Minnie Bell’s Fillmore District

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Words can’t describe how excited we are for the opening of Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement. Chef Fernay McPherson is a third-generation of the Fillmore, and she makes some of — no scratch that — the best fried chicken in The Bay Area, full stop. It’s crispy, crunchy, juicy, and studded with little flecks of fried rosemary in that golden brown and delicious crust. For the last few years, we’ve had to trek to Emeryville’s Public Market to find her fare, but now that she’s opening a restaurant in her hometown in her own neighborhood at 1375 Fillmore. Trust that there’ll be a slew of new items to look forward to in her shiny new restaurant, which opened just two weeks ago.

No reservations. More info here.

14. Popoca Oakland

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Chef Anthony Salguero, who worked at some of the best fine-dining restaurants in the city, offers his contemporary spin on Salvadoran fare. He combines top Bay Area produce with a giant wood-fired hearth in the back outdoor patio. The results are delicious. And trust us when we say, you’ve likely never had pupusas quite like his before — masa made from beautiful, colorful heirloom corn, ground and nixtamalized in house, then stuffed with braised beef or sweet potato and cheese before being griddled on the plancha outdoors. It’s served with salsas and a requisite crunchy curtido that helps cut and cool it all.

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15. Trick Dog Mission

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Trick Dog, one of the best cocktail bars in San Francisco and arguably well beyond, is in its 11th year and on its 20th menu. For this latest, the bar has transformed into The Salty Dog, featuring whimsical tropical vibes and drinks — namely 17 brand new cocktails, each named after a famous pirate ship. Consider the Royal Fortune, a fruity riff on a clarified milk punch made with vodka, clarified passion fruit, orange, and guava juice. An extra twist with this menu? It’s the first time they’ve redone the interior décor and vibe, creating a transportive nautically themed vibe to match the tropical cocktails.

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16. Flour + Water Mission Gulch

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It’s hard to believe that this Mission District mainstay is a teenager. The restaurant opened back in 2009 and still hits hard. It’s dark and intimate, yet manages to remain its high energy. Come as you are, and get the pasta tasting menu: It gives you a good well-rounded tasting of both the ever-changing pastas on the menu, as well mainstays like the tortellini en brodo and creamy buttery taleggio scarpinocc. Ordering a wood-fired pizza supplement is a highly recommended pro move that you won’t regret.

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17. The Morris The Mission

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When we think of duck dishes in San Francisco, the gloriously smoky crispy-skinned version at The Morris is the first that comes to mind. The birds are brined, aged, smoked, then roasted, and come with root vegetables, smashed fingerling potatoes, and a jus fortified with espresso, honey, and Sichuan peppercorns. Starting with chef Gavin Schmidt’s charcuterie would be a wise move, as would asking for wine pairings from owner Paul Einbund and his sommelier team. Don’t forget to save room for donuts with a whiskey maple crème anglaise to finish. Pro tip: The Saturday Poulet et Frites lunch series is a wonderful way to start the weekend.

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18. Alora Embarcadero

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California Coastal Mediterranean is the name of the game at Alora, the few-month-old restaurant on the Embarcadero. At the kitchen’s helm is the talented chef Ryan McIlwraith, former executive chef of The Absinthe Group. He draws inspiration from Italy, Spain, the Middle East, and more. Earthy dolmas are fortified with mushrooms and topped with a buttery trout roe sauce. Fried salt cod fritters get topped with jamon Iberico which gets topped with caviar. Multi-layered ‘nduja lasagnas stand side-by-side juicy Adana kebabs: a little bit of Italy, a little bit of Turkey, and a whole lot of deliciousness.

Call 415-738-6004 for reservations.

19. Zuni Café Hayes Valley

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Often imitated, never duplicated, Zuni is timeless, a San Franciscan institution. We could eat at Zuni every single day and be perfectly happy — its current chef, Anne Alvero, makes multiple runs to the farmers market and changes the menu daily with specials, which are nice to have while you wait for your iconic chicken to be roasted to order. (Yes, even if you think you’re not going to get the chicken, you’ll do so anyway.) Add some crispy shoestring French fries, some oysters, and a bottle of Burgundy, and take your time.

Find more info here.

20. Pearl 6101 Richmond District

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Photo courtesy of Pearl 6101

Pearl is one of those local haunts that make San Francisco special. The intimate seafood-centric charmer is one part Californian, one part Mediterranean and all parts delicious. Chef Mel Lopez sections the menu into snacks, starters, pastas, and entrees — ordering a little bit from each section is a smart way to experience it all. Selections are ever-changing, but a mainstay is the handkerchief pasta with a white Bolognese sauce — one of the few non-seafood dishes and not to be missed, as is starting the meal off with the Pearl Martini. It comes with pickled onion and sea beans to garnish, like taking a sip of the (boozy) sea.

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Photo courtesy of Pearl 6101