Bay Area restaurants made some major moves this winter. One of San Francisco’s original omakase joints unveiled a stunning new SoMa location. A hotly anticipated Caribbean Iranian marketplace opened in Oakland. And a modern Roman spot with a downtown San Francsico address expanded to Walnut Creek.
Read on to meet the half-dozen newcomers and revamps dazzling the Bay Area right now.
Cassava (North Beach)
After a decade of business in the Outer Richmond, this modern Californian gem moved to a bigger North Beach address in October 2022. The chic corner restaurant stands out for its large windows and colorful abstract murals, plus seasonal and ingredient-driven dishes by chef Kris Toliao. Enjoy them in three-course prixe-fixe or five-course tasting menu form, featuring creations such as Dungeness crab and Asian pear salad, slow-braised lamb belly with buttered daikons, and black sesame panna cotta.
Akikos at Avery Lane (SoMa)
One of San Francisco’s OG omakase experiences scored a stunning new home this January. The sushi show at Akikos at Avery Lane unfolds on the ground floor of a new East Cut highrise. Warm woods and golden lights deck out the tall, triangular space where the sushi counter takes center stage. Chef and owner Ray Lee and team drop bites featuring fish from the Toyosu fish market in Tokyo directly on the counter and encourage diners to pick them up with their hands.
In early December 2022, chefs Nigel Jones (Kingston 11) and Hanif Sadr (Komaaj Kitchen) finally opened a passion project that’s been in the works since 2019. Calabash, an all-day Caribbean Iranian market, restaurant, and bar hybrid, is committed to showcasing underrepresented cuisines. That means Jamaican-spiced short ribs and curried crab from Jones, Iranian dips and flatbreads from Sadir, and plenty of treats made in the East Bay. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Calabash is equally suited for grabbing a smoked duck to-go as it is for a cross-cultural sit-down experience.
Reimagining a classic is a tall order, but co-owners Dirk Tolsma and Pete Sittnick bravely fired up the hearth in the former Oliveto space. Acre, the duo’s new Mediterranean spot, sits on top of Rockridge Market Hall and opened in December. Tolsma and Sittnick worked together for years at the waterfront stunner Epic Steak and have the hospitality game down. They’re now spinning crispy chickens, blistered pizza, and fresh salads in a warm and cozy space.
Tacos El Último Baile (Oakland)
An al pastor legend has permanently parked in Fruitvale. Tacos El Último Baile was a locally loved food truck since 2017 before launching its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in October. Chef Dominic Prado tosses carne asada and pollo on the charcoal grill, lets the pastor spin on the trompo (a vertical rotating spit), and makes his cult-favorite flour tortillas in-house. No reservations are necessary—walk right in for a salty-sweet feast.
Montesacro Walnut Creek (Walnut Creek)
Montesacro, a modern Roman spot in downtown San Francisco, added a Walnut Creek outpost in November. The restaurant specializes in Roman-style pinsa, a flatbread made with soy, rice, and wheat flour dough. At its latest outpost, tear into pies topped with rosemary potatoes, artichokes, and lamb sausage, all drizzled with Calabrian chile oil. For the extra ravenous, there’s a lineup of classic pastas including carbonara, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe.
Becky Duffett is a food writer living and eating in San Francisco. Follow her on Instagram at @beckyduffett.
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