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Why the Dining Scene in San Francisco is Tastier than Ever

It’s spring in San Francisco, and the city’s always-exciting culinary scene is once again in the spotlight. From opulent, multi-course menus to street food eateries and a much-anticipated new bakery, the city’s dynamic food offerings provide many reasons to plan a West Coast trip this season. These are the San Francisco restaurants to know about now.

Indagare Escape: We have sourced some amazing deals for business class tickets combined with a three-night stay at one of SF’s best properties, the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, starting from $9,000 for two travelers. Contact Indagare to book this package and to plan a customized trip to San Francisco.

Chinatown Heats Up

San Francisco is taking a fresh look at ethnic cuisines, and Chinatown is one place to savor them. Plan ahead for a reservation at Mr. Jiu’s, named one of the country’s best new restaurants by Bon Appétit. Arriving via Chinatown’s vibrant Waverly Place, you walk inside and are quickly seized by the dining room’s sweeping views over Chinatown. You’ll be further wowed by chef and owner Brandon Jew’s creative takes on the Cantonese food of his youth, such as salt-baked trout with lotus leaf.

At Chinatown’s northern edge, China Live is a bold experiment that’s been compared to New York’s Eataly, albeit on a smaller scale. China Live has a market, teashop and bars, as well as its gleaming Market Restaurant, where the crispy-skinned Peking duck steals the show. Other dishes change with the day and seasons, reflecting the restaurant’s California sensibility.

China Live’s most ambitious project is the just-opened Eight Tables by George Chen, named for China Live’s creator. You access it through a gated alley and private elevator, and emerge into a sumptuous, wood-paneled room that feels like an elegant residence. Channeling si fang cai, a private dining style that’s popular in China and Taiwan, chef Chi-Feng Lin begins with a primer on the nine flavors of China and then brings you on a culinary journey with offerings like a seafood dumpling adorned with Ossetra caviar, trout roe and uni.

Related: San Fran Rising: 3 Neighborhoods to Visit on Your Next Trip

Mexican Is Having a Moment

Refined Mexican fare is in the spotlight with several new eateries celebrating the cuisine. In the Mission, Loló has moved into a bigger, brighter location, with vividly patterned oilcloth walls and lanterns made from bicycle parts. Don’t let the kitschy décor fool you: the Jalisco-Californian dishes here are top-quality and mouth-watering, and best enjoyed with a crisp cocktail from the agave bar.

A few blocks from Loló, Californios takes Mexican to a new level entirely. Chef Val Cantu, who was named one of America’s best new chefs of 2017 by Food & Wine, has earned the eatery two Michelin stars for its tasting menu featuring such creations as butter poached lobster served in blue corn tortillas. A meal at Californios is a revelation; take your time to savor each delicately crafted course, sourced as it is with the world’s finest ingredients.

Another south-of-the-border favorite in SF’s mid-Market area is Cala, an airy space with a vaulted ceiling and rough concrete walls. Chef Gabriela Cámara moved from Mexico City to bring her culinary expertise to San Francisco, where she serves plates of Dungeness crab tostadas and sublime tamales with mussels and leeks.

Related: The Best Hotels in San Francisco

Celebrating European Cuisines

One of SF’s most interesting newcomers is Duna, which opened in the Mission last year. Duna celebrates central European peasant food in hearty dishes like chicken paprikash, but it’s the flawless potato and rye breads with spreads like sprouted mung bean dip that enchant. For traditionalists, Che Fico, helmed by Chef David Nayfeld, who boasts an impressive culinary pedigree that includes stints at Eleven Madison Park and Nobu, will be offering up creative spins on traditional Italian favorites like house-made pastas and pizzas.

The Bakery to Know Now

The owners of the lauded Tartine, Elisabeth Pruitt and Chad Robertson, have embarked on a highly anticipated new venture: Tartine Manufactory, which occupies a massive converted industrial space. The kitchen uses locally sourced ingredients to create such plates as wild nettle tagliatelle with hackleback caviar, and excellent baked goods remain a centerpiece. (You can buy the daily breads at the counter). The Manufactory is open all day, but stop in for lunch to savor the sunlit dining room with its tall walls of windows.

Indagare Escape: We have sourced some amazing deals for business class tickets combined with a three-night stay at one of SF’s best properties, the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, starting from $9,000 for two travelers. Contact Indagare to book this package and to plan a customized trip to San Francisco.

– Noelle Salmi on March 29, 2018

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At Chinatown’s northern edge, China Live is a bold experiment that’s been compared to New York’s Eataly, albeit on a smaller scale.

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