Although the America’s Cup Finals don’t take place until September 7, the exciting seaside competition is already bringing people to the City by the Bay. If you find yourself partaking in the festivities on Pier 27 in the next couple of weeks, you’ll want somewhere nearby and delicious to eat after the main event. However, with so many new restaurants, changing menus and rotating chefs, navigating San Francisco’s local restaurant scene can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve checked out four new restaurants — each specializing in a different type of cuisine and within close proximity to both the America’s Cup Park and the America’s Cup Village — and are sharing the inside scoop with you.
Chef and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Michael Chiarello is known for his laid-back Napa style and comforting Italian cuisine. That’s why it came as a total surprise when the cuisinier announced that he would be opening a Spanish-themed restaurant on Pier 5, his first establishment in San Francisco. After spending time extensively researching while traveling across Spain, Chiarello opened Coqueta to much fanfare in mid-April. The reservation-only restaurant has a connecting first-come-first-serve-bar that offers the entire menu. The décor is classic Chiarello: rustic reclaimed wood and low lighting but with touches of Spanish opulence. The menu is arranged like a traditional Spanish menu with a selection of cured meats and cheeses, hot and cold tapas, pintxos (bite-sized skewers) and montaditos (sandwiches), and larger portions known as raciones. At Coqueta, Chairello elevates standard dishes, such as tortilla and gambas al ajillo (sautéed shrimp with garlic and olive oil), to another level by using the best quality ingredients and innovative preparation techniques. The patatas bravas are not simply boiled potatoes topped with a pink sauce, but instead a revelation of potato mixed with jamón that is deep-fried and drizzled with a spicy red sauce and garlicky aioli.
San Francisco has quickly become a hub for high-end chain restaurants (Hakkasan,La Mar,), and the latest one to open is Roka Akor, a sleek and modern Japanese steak, seafood, and sushi house. Located on the corner of Montgomery and Jackson Streets in Jackson Square, Roka Akor is open every day for dinner. The massive restaurant (it seats 118), with a dark intimate bar downstairs, is centered around an open kitchen helmed by executive chef Roman Petry (a German native with more than 13 years of culinary experience around the world), as well as a special charcoal grill known in Japan as a robata. The best thing about Roka Akor’s menu is that there’s something for everyone. If you’re in the mood for steak, order the juicy and masterfully cooked Wagyu flat iron with maitake mushroom and rich egg yolk sauce. Want the freshest sushi imaginable? Try the elaborate deluxe sushi platter, with only the best in raw seafood. For pescaterians, you’ve got to try the yuzu miso marinated black cod wrapped in Japanese magnolia leaf — it’s mind-blowingly good.
If you’re in the mood for something more intimate, head to Nob Hill’s newest bistro, Mason Pacific, it’s less than a 10-minute drive from the sailing event. Walking into the quiet restaurant feels like you’re in a chic artistic couple’s San Francisco home. The banquettes are low and plush and the bar is intimate, but lively with high marble tables and charming miniature monster art. Nosh on contemporary French-Californian fare here: there are addictive potato skins with parmesan and herb salt that are so light and crispy they melt in your mouth; thick folds of housemade tagliatelle with a soft cooked egg and truffle butter that is both luxurious and sinful, but not heavy; and perfectly seared Alaskan halibut with grated cauliflower and pepperoncini sofrito, which is inventive and different from anything else on the menu.
The furthest from the America’s Cup (a good 10-minute drive) is The Cavalier from chef Jennifer Puccio, a bustling restaurant and bar inspired by English culture. Recently opened in Hotel Zetta, the eatery feels like a hunting lodge after a big shoot, complete with clever British details and collections such as silver teapots and horse figurines. The bar is crowded with suited gentlemen and stylish ladies, making it a great spot for post-race revelry. The red and blue walls are dotted with large deer busts and the tufted leather booths sit low, accented by marble tables. The menu is classic British, but with modern twists — think Welsh rabbit soufflé with wild arugula and cheddar crisp or steak and oyster pie with beef cheek and savory crust. Although it’s been open less than a month, it’s safe to say The Cavalier is the dinner hot spot for September.
Photo Courtesy of Mason Pacific