TABLEHOPPING: Take a bite out of summer with hot restaurant openings, a plethora of brand new patios, and some delicious things to look forward to
TABLEHOPPING Ahhh, the much-maligned San Francisco "summer," the 62-degree, socked-deeply-in-the-fog days we love to hate on — but secretly cherish when the rest of the country is melting in 98-degree temps with sauna-like levels of humidity. But we are a hardy bunch. We proudly don our scarves with a flourish as we sit on patios drinking pitchers of beer, our stripy sweaters like badges of honor as we attend windy picnics in the park, eating corn on the cob (that was grown somewhere warm, definitely not here) while wearing fingerless gloves.
Since the calendar says it's summer — even though some days almost require a parka — we have a restaurant summer salute for you: your cheat sheet of new restaurants with patios and sidewalk seating, plus recently opened spots that are just plain hawt, no matter what the temperature is. Oh, and a sneak peek at a couple places opening in time for Indian summer. Sunblock optional.
Due to reopen this week is a revamped Ziryab (528 Divisadero. SF. www.ziryabgrill.com ), with a brand-new look, and there will now be both the popular front terrace and a new back patio with greenery. Add in a fresh Mediterranean menu from chef Khalid al Morabet (think vegetable tagine, merguez flatbread), plus a new liquor license with cocktails from Zach Taylor, previously at Hog and Rocks. Dive into drinks like the Ziryab Manhattan, with date-infused Bulleit rye, lapsang souchong tea, and a touch of arak — yeah, it'll keep you warm.
In the Castro, the owner of Italian hotspot Poesia recently opened Dante's Table (544 Castro, SF. www.dantestable.com ), which has a back patio and garden area fittingly called "Paradiso." You can swing by for a menu of casual Italian dishes (pasta, Neapolitan pizza), plus summery classics like bruschetta with tomato or burrata and tomatoes. Bonus: full liquor! There's a happy hour from 5pm–6:30pm, with $7 cocktails, and $5 bites (suppli al telefono, fried and cheesy risotto balls...) that you can enjoy before the fog rolls in.
On the waterfront, Michael Chiarello's Spanish Coqueta (Pier 5, SF. www.coquetasf.com ) has a few outdoor tables where you can watch joggers go by as you swill your gin and tonic and eat jamón iberico (we recommend you do this at lunch for maximum sun). If the wind picks up, there is the Bar5 space that flanks the restaurant, with a communal bar table, high leather chairs, and tiled floors. And it's full of windows that open and let in fresh air and light, so it's almost like being outside.
We have mentioned these other new patio-bedecked places in our weekly Tablehopping column, but here's your reminder: in North Beach, there's the latest location of Tacolicious (1548 Stockton, SF. www.tacolicious.com ), serving tacos and margaritas — available by the pitcher, oh yeah — all day to put you in a Mexico frame of mind as you kick it in your sidewalk seats. Meanwhile, over in the Upper Haight (a.k.a. fog-bank city), there's Sparrow Bar and Kitchen (1640 Haight, SF. sparrowbarandkitchen.com) with its spacious heated beer garden in the back. Order one of the burgers to pair with the 14 beers on tap. Lastly, the very-soon-to-open (and heated!) back patio at Rustic (3331 24th St., SF. www.rusticsf.com ) in the Mission will help you pretend you're a well-seasoned Italian man, or reaffirm your official status as one, playing on the two bocce ball courts while eating pizza.
With a name like Waiheke Island Yacht Club (Pier 29, SF. www.waihekeislandyachtclub.com ), you practically assume your drink is going to be a Cape Cod, served by someone in a navy blazer with gold buttons. Far from it. This higher-end, pop-up restaurant in a Pier 29 shed is a New Zealand import, open until the end of the year. It sports an airy and spacious look, with low-slung leather chairs and a gleaming open kitchen. It's unlike anything in the city. The modern cuisine features New Zealand ingredients, like lamb (of course) and a smashing venison dish. You'll find inventive cocktails at the bar, such as the Red Snapper, a spin on a Bloody Mary that totally rocks. Or refresh with some beers from Kiwi import MOA.
Also on the waterfront, the Boulette's Larder team just opened the minimalist and contemporary Bouli Bar (Ferry Building, SF. www.bouletteslarder.com ) in the former Culinaire space, with a wood-burning hearth, more than six kinds of pizzas, a variety of meze and salads, and lunch to go. Of course you can expect organic and very carefully sourced ingredients galore, with interesting seasoning and spices. Yup, it's all so bougie. And in case you're wondering, Boulette's is due to reopen in August.
Over in Jackson Square, the business crowd has a new spot to power lunch at Roka Akor (801 Montgomery, SF. www.rokaakor.com ), while the after-work scene can take over the downstairs lounge. The focal point of the dining room is the robata grill encircled by a hypertrendy shou-sugi-ban counter made of charred birch wood finished by hand. The menu, by chef Roman Petry, has a wide range of Japanese-inspired dishes, from lobster and abalone miso soup to Wagyu beef and kimchi dumplings, plus nigiri sushi, steaks, and more.
The Divisadero Corridor, so foodie-hot, and with the August 14th opening of La Urbana (661 Divisadero, SF. www.laurbanasf.com ), it's going to really be en fuego. This stylish restaurant and bar will be giving us a taste of Mexico City, with an eclectic design highlighting so many custom touches — mucho contemporary cantina. The cutting-edge cuisine from chef Benjamin Klein will offer modern takes on traditional regional Mexican dishes; the bar is going to be all about mezcal, and there will even be a Mezcaleria, with over 30 mezcals for sale (soon).
Anyone who is a fan of the elegant Acquerello is getting excited to see what owner Giancarlo Paterlini's son Gianpaolo is putting together for his new 1760 (1760 Polk, SF. www.1760sf.com ) project on Polk and Washington. It's going to be a chic yet comfortable 80-seat spot (read: no tablecloths), with a rocking wine program (of course), a full bar, and a modern, ingredient-driven menu by chef Adam Tortosa. Stand by for an opening in late summer.