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Hottest New Restaurants to Hit over the Holidays

Eat, Drink and be Merry

San Francisco is a barrel full of fish -- fabulous, restaurant-shaped fish -- and there's no letting up on the spawning. Come shoot the latest with us! It's holiday time.

This haven of eyedropper-precision cocktails and taaaaaasty thin crust pizza is making the fave list of just about everyone I know. Late dinner service and a casually glam bar scene don't hurt one bit! Personally, I'll go back over and over for the zucchini parmesan with smoked mozzarella and the panna gelato drenched in haute olive oil and crunchy sea salt. Bonus: it's heavily vegetarian-friendly!

Domo Sushi
"Domo arigato" isn't nearly enough thanks to match what this hip little sushi counter has brought to Hayes Valley.
A. You can pop in for sushi, whether you like stupid fried things or elegant crudos, in Hayes Valley of all places -- which after the departure of Gerard Dumuk's adorable Midori Mushi was a sushi wasteland prior to 2007/2008.
B. It won't cost you your first-born Shiba Inu puppy.

Chez Papa Resto
If you consider yourself to be the least bit glamorous and you have not been here yet, get yourself on over to Fifth and Mint. Oh, and the swankerific food is delicious. Is it a restaurant with an identity crisis? Kind of. Sure. But it works. Put it on your credit card, bust out the Louboutins, and live a little. Savvy spot for holiday lunch, too -- it's literally stumbling distance to the retail therapy zone at Powell and Market!

Anchor and Hope
Whenever a new San Francisco restaurant makes itself out to be an East Coast seafood shack, we all roll our eyes: even on the East Coast, it's hard to find anything resembling a shack these days. Luckily, Anchor and Hope is backed by the muscle of wildly popular SOMA restaurants Town Hall and Salt House (and therefore Postrio, historically). That ship should weather the storm just fine.

Uva Wine Bar
The new darling of the Lower Haight. Ask anybody! Amen.

The Moss Room
Quiet, stately, modern -- and it just happens to be located in the hottest piece of LEED-certified property in the Bay Area: The California Academy of Sciences. Andrew Wolf (Village Pub, Town Hall, Ame, etc.) is GMing with grace, the check totals are on the high side as expected, and like her bavette steak, Chef Loretta Keller's grand (yet elegantly understated!) moss wall is truly something to behold. (Here's to keeping that sucker alive!)

Zare at Fly Trap
Hoss Zare's done a nice job updating the old-school Fly Trap restaurant. The celery Victor may have left the building, but in its place (on Mondays) there's a 2 lb. veal and lamb meatball stuffed with a rack of lamb, or a quail, or whatever Zare's feeling. Factor in excellent cocktails by Conduit's Reza Esmaili, like my new favorite drink: a Pimm's cocktail sassed up with a Persian mainstay: minted vinegar syrup. It's genius. A real bar. A downtown feel. A great menu peppered with Persian kicks! I love.

Crown & Crumpet Tea Room
Um, could this spanking new British tea room-with-a-view in Ghirardelli Square be any cuter? No. Actually, there's no way that it could be cuter, decked out in bubblegum pink checkerboard floors and Cath Kidston florals with adorable Brit-American owners and a lovely little brunch menu. Helllllllooooo holiday lunches. (Yes! They have bubbly too.) Oh, wait, there's one way it could be cuter. Put a half-dozen Shiba Inu puppies up in there with a webcam.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Don't even think about trying to seat a party of nine for dinner (eight is okay, but nine is verboten?) at this hot new Peruvian spot on the Bay, but do go for drinks and noshies. Everybody's doing it.

It may have opened in 2007, but this hip little resto serves dependable, exciting Turkish-Mexican dishes at reasonable prices, and the inventive, playful interior is hugely intoxicating to the modern eye. I love this place. And guess what? When I refer friends there, they invariably mention to me later on, "Dude, that place was AWESOME!" And I'm like, "I KNOW! I love that place!" And then we high five.

Holy Goya. Has there been a lusher, sexier, more highly concepted restaurant design than Gitane in -- oh, I don't know -- years? Not surprisingly, designer Charles Doell is behind the look. You might recall him from the dot com design splashes of his onetime company, Fun Display. Remember Backflip? Snowdrift? Mercury? The Red Room? Exactly. We've moved from the minimalist Alpine neo-bar to the disco-dipped, debaucherous Barcelona speakeasy. Why not? Bonus: they have not only bacon bon bons, but also wood-oven pizza. The jury's still out on Dominic Venegas' sherry cocktails, however.

With new ownership and a promotion from within, Baraka has emerged from the muddled Moroccan cloud of its Bulow empire beginnings. Chad Newton is killing it up there on Potrero Hill! I love his menu. Fresh, super local, inventive (pickled grapes and chive flowers with hamachi tartare? why not!?), reasonably priced and supremely neighborhoody, I'm a fan.

Mission Street Food
Gourmet, the best kind of greasy, and gosh darn good. Here's hoping these guys find a permanent home beyond a rented taco truck at 21st and Mission or a bootleg kitchen at Lung Shan Chinese.

I fully expect that Specchio is going to blow up! 'Nuff said.

Honorable Mentions for Hottest New Steez (in no particular order):

Monk's Kettle
Fish & Farm
Umi Sushi
Magnolia Gastropub overhaul
Pisco Latin Lounge
Press Club
Taverna Aventine
Café at Café du Nord
Urban Tavern
Murray Circle at Cavallo Point
Terroir Wine Bar
Dynamo Doughnuts
Good Pizza

Most Questionable Newbie of the Year:

Will this swank hotel resto in the InterContinental be able to overcome the hotel's showy, Disney-meets-Dubai carpets and icy, 1980s Mid-Wilshire look? (Zahid Sardar, the Chron's design critic, absolutely skewered the hotel's design and architecture in a somewhat recent review. Zing!) As the equally questionable 80s band Asia so aptly put it: Only Time Will Tell.

Happy dining!