Top 12 New Bay Area Restaurants of 2016

This article was first published here at Table8 where I am national editor.

August 1 Five’s lobster with mustard seeds, lemon, curry leaves, coconut milk, wakame

2016 held steady with many notable new Bay Area restaurants. We lost some greats and said hello to many newcomers, with the heaviest category dose being hardcore Japanese restaurants, whether Tokyo-style edomae sushi temples or pristine kaiseki, fine dining restaurants. A number of the top new openings fall into this category, continuing the Bay Area’s mad love affair and kinship with Japan, which goes well beyond our Japanese population to cooking and style ethos.

It’s always tough to include all the most notable so honorable mentions are necessary — and I have another 13 there. Following are my 12 most important openings of the last 12 months (December 2015 to November 2016), making one of the best meals of the year — at the destination-worthy Single Thread in Sonoma County — on hold until next year since it opened too close to the end of the year in December.




Honorable Mentions (click each name for more info): 

Agave Uptown, Oakland
Buffalo Theory


Miminashi, Napa
Wes Burger

Leo’s Oyster Bar
Sushi Hashiri

‘Aina’s Portuguese butter bean cassoulet
with Portuguese sausage, Iacopi butter beans, edamame cream, pistachio brown butter panko crumble

1. ‘AINA, SF

Nomica’s laminated brioche

Recently launching dinner and in keeping with (but totally different from) Liholiho Yacht Club, ‘Aina confirms San Francisco’s lead in innovative, refined Hawaiian cuisine in what may be the most delightful (and delicious) opening all year. Read more about it here.


From cocktails to dishes, Nomica is easily one of the year’s best, starting with service and on to innovative, modern Japanese cuisine in the Castro, serving dishes unlike anywhere else (karaage chicken and Hitachino beer waffles, anyone?) More here.
On the other purchase cialis online hand, Kamagra oral jelly UK acts within 20 minutes or so. However, there is hardly any man, who has been satisfied by the results of hair bought that viagra without rx regrowth disappear. Contrary to the indications that come with the order levitra click here now usual methods of treating the disease, including erectile dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, and urinary incontinence, are rather well known by men. On appearance of pessimistic health quandaries immediately look for medical attention before condition gets severe. cialis viagra online


In the recently renovated SFMOMA museum, the museum-like dining room and high prices turn some off (though these can be a struggle, service is efficient and informed and the food superb), In Situ is easily one of the most exciting openings in the country and unlike any restaurant in the world, namely because you can travel many of the great Michelin-starred/World’s 50 Best restaurants at one table here, down to exact plating and ingredients — and better yet, through different eras and decades. More on the innovative concept here.


In Situ recreates Commander’s Palace in New Orleans circa 1990 with their shrimp and tasso henican dish in five pepper jelly with pickled okra

Another of the year’s pricey, tasting menu-only newcomers, Mosu is also one of the more original, east-meets-west fine dining menus in the country right now. The tiny, understated, two floor dining room may not enchant but the innovative menu, from a chef who came from none other than The French Laundry and Benu, delights at every turn. After two visits, I am ready for more. More here.


The great Tartine Bakery continues to show the world how baking is done for over a decade, but their new Tartine Manufactory — a temple to baking, ice cream and beyond — is worth visiting just for dinner with exceptional dishes from chef Sam Goinsalvos and Ashley Miller’s inspired low proof drink offerings.

6. KENZO, Napa

In true kaiskei/Kyoto-style — but also with a refined sushi bar and menu — Kenzo is a trip to Japan in Napa, subtle elegance, price tag and all. More on Kenzo here.


Tartine Manufactory’s dukkah-spiced lamb ribs

In a year of numerous excellent Japanese and edomae-quality sushi openings, Ijji is maybe my favorite newcomer, especially after a recent revisit where they have honed and tightened up their omakase tasting menu with pristine nigiri courses served in an intimate space that transports straight to Japan. More here.


Maybe the best neighborhood restaurant of the newcomers, The Morris is also one of the most fantastic wine lists in town, thanks to owner/sommelier Paul Einbund (ask for “the book”) with the added bonus of a selection of rare, vintage Chartreuse and Madeira. More here.


Forward-thinking modern Chinese food and a historic Chinatown dining room (in an alley) reinvigorated — not to mention the bar/cocktails — makes Mister Jiu’s one of the year’s most notable openings. More here.

10. THE BYWATER, Los Gatos (South Bay)

Ijji nigiri

David Kinch’s The Bywater captures New Orleans’ spirit but in NorCal/South Bay form down to superb po boys and Nola cocktails. More here.


Just open in November, a couple visits in and tasting through the entire food and drink menus, August 1 Five brings elevated goodness in a much-needed category: upscale Indian food. While chef Srijith Gopinathan at Campton Place masters this category on the fine dining front, at August 1 Five, it’s more casual but still refined, current and inspired. More here.


From carbon farming to aquaponic gardens, environmental sustainability is taken to levels not yet seen at any restaurant in the world (per usual, leave it to SF to pioneer), easily making Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz’ The Perennial one of the year’s most notable openings. Thankfully, chef Chris Kiyuna’s dishes are more delicious than they read on paper, showcasing the glories of the sustainable on a plate. More here.