The arrival of three new eateries from international locations in just the last six months has clinched the Bay Area's rep as a center of cultural exchange and some of the world's best food.
As homegrown favorites like Tartine, Blue Bottle, and Dandelion Chocolate head for other continents, a slow but steady wave of authentic global restaurants is also cropping up here, from Silicon Valley to San Francisco. Get ready for award-winning eats from Barcelona to Tokyo.
(Courtesy of Teleferic Barcelona)
Spain's acclaimed Teleféric Barcelona has a rustic-chic location in Palo Alto as well as a spot in Walnut Creek. The restaurants are flush with authentic flavors in an array of pintxos, paellas, and tapas such as succulent Galician grilled octopus with truffle oil and crab croquetas with ahi tuna and aioli, all of it carefully crafted under the guidance of celebrity chef Eva de Gil. Bright craft cocktails, a selection of sangrias (including a perfectly spiced version made with serrano pepper vodka and elderflower), and a wandering pourer or porrón (a Catalan spiced sherry), complement the Mediterranean vibe. At the Palo Alto restaurant's adjoining El Merkat, they sell cocas (traditional Spanish pizza) and other grab-and-go goodies, as well as all the gourmet Spanish groceries you need to escape to Catalonia without leaving home. // 11am to 10:30pm daily, 855 El Camino Real (Palo Alto), telefericbarcelona.com
Hailing from Fremantle on Australia's sun-soaked West Coast, this craft brewery new to Mission Bay comes courtesy of some beer-loving mates who launched their first brewery on a former crocodile farm back in 2000 (could you get any more Aussie?). Little Creatures started out as an homage to pale ale and now, almost 20 years later, the menu still celebrates the hop but also goes beyond with dry, aromatic Brut IPAs and triple-hop XPAs. Little Creatures serves a variety of Aussie-approved bites and sandwiches—think beer-battered crispy cauliflower and brisket burgers—as well as pizzas, large plates, and brunch in a bright, white-tiled warehouse on Third Street. // 11am to 11pm daily, 1000A 3rd St (Mission Bay), littlecreatures.com
The first American outpost of the world's first Michelin-starred ramen restaurant, SoMa's Tsuta is slanging 300 slurpable bowls of soba noodles each day. The Tokyo-based brainchild of Yuki Onishi, Tsuta serves noodles drenched in three styles of broth—shoyu, shio, and miso—all made with aged soybeans from Japan's Wakayama Prefecture. Finished with thin sliced pork and toppings like bamboo shoots, leeks and black truffles (shoyu soba), and red onion, corn, beansprouts and hot sauce (miso soba), Tsuta's rich umami flavors are a welcome addendum to the Bay's booming ramen scene. // Open 5-10pm daily, 155 4th St (SoMa), tsuta.com
Dark, moody and stylishly modern, Hakkasan first opened on the London food scene in 2001. Since then, it has exported its brand of contemporary Cantonese dining to 12 locations around the world, from Miami to Dubai. It's not hard to understand why Hakkasan has found near-universal success. Its menu is a lesson in elevated classics festooned with gourmet ingredients, like duck roasted with black truffles, silver cod roasted in Champagne and honey sauce, and a Maine lobster soup with enoki mushroom and whisky made specially for the San Francisco location. Dim sum lunches include typical har gau and siew (xiao) long bao, alongside more unexpected bites like morel crystal dumplings and roasted duck pumpkin puffs. // 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5-10pm Mon-Sat, 1 Kearny St (Union Square), hakkasan.com
Dashi ramen at Hinodeya.
(Courtesy of Flickr/Gary Stevens/CC)
There are three, count 'em, three Hinodeya locations in San Francisco. Its ramen is just that good. And it's basically the OG: Hinodeya first opened in 1885 (yes, really!) as a 15-seat eatery in Japan's Saitama Prefecture. When it first immigrated to SF's Japantown in 2016, its first location outside of Japan, the shop was so successful that it has since opened additional locations in SoMa and downtown. In addition to meat-based dashis with classic toppings like soft cooked egg, dried seaweed and sesame seeds, Hinodeya makes a mean vegan ramen, or rather two to be exact: the rich "creamy ramen" with a dashi made of sesame and soy milk and topped with acorn squash and fried kale; and "zen ramen" made with kombu, shiitake, and white soy sauce broth. Also on the menu find tasty "tapas" and bites like gyoza, crispy fried yams, and fried oysters shipped in from Hiroshima. // 11:30am to 2pm and 5-10pm Wed-Mon, 1737 Buchanan St (Japantown), hinodeyaramen.com
San Francisco is the second city to embrace Singapore's plant-based burger joint Veganburg, but it's not likely to be the last. The fast-food restaurant is on a mission to shift the world's eating habits to more sustainable choices, starting with its impressive selection of indulgent sandwiches packed with veggies and whole grains. In addition to patties made from beets or soy, Veganburg recently began offering their signature styles made with Impossible burger meat. Complete your meal with seaweed, white truffle, or creamy garlic fries, all of which are dairy- and GMO-free. // 11am to 9pm Sun-Thu, 11am to 10pm Fri-Sat, 1466 Haight St (Haight), veganburg.com
Bratwurst at Mikkeller Bar.
(Courtesy of Flickr/Yuichi Sakuraba/CC)
In just 13 years, the humble home brew project of Danish math and physics teacher Mikkel Borg Bjergsø has grown into one of the world's most innovative craft breweries. There are more than 40 beers on tap at Mikkeler's San Francisco location, a welcoming brick-walled space with a massive central bar, including a selection of the sour brews for which the operation is best known. In the great brewpub tradition, Mikkeler's seasonal menus are heavy with classic European drinking foods like brats and sausages, and Copenhagen-inspired dishes like salt cod cakes and mixed greens with beets, fennel, goat cheese and white anchovy or smoked salmon. // Noon to midnight Sun-Wed, noon to 2am Thu-Sat, 34 Mason St (Tenderloin), mikkellerbar.com
Founded in Tokyo in 1951, Taishoken is known for its signature style of tsukemen, in which cold noodles are dipped in a separate bowl of hot broth. In January, the tastemaking restaurant opened its first U.S. location, a minimalist, bamboo-laden space in San Mateo. Owned by the son and grandson of Taishoken's original owner, Masayasu Sakaguchi, the restaurant's tsukemen is made with pork, chicken, dried anchovy and bonito and topped with pork chashu, menma, and green onion. If you're looking for more traditional ramen, they've got that too, including spicy and vegan versions. But don't let the unfamiliar etiquette of tsukemen scare you: The menu's illustrated diagram eliminates the possibility of noodle-based embarrassment. // 11:30am to 2pm and 5-9:30pm Mon-Fri, 11am to 2pm and 5-9:30pm Sat-Sun, 47 E. 4th Ave (San Mateo), taishokenusa.com
This chicken joint from Seoul has captured Bay Area foodies' imaginations with locations in South San Francisco, San Leandro, and San Jose. While the service can often leave much to be desired, the restaurant's fried chicken, made with spicy, soy garlic or sweet crunch sauce, is on point. Other Korean specialties show up here too, including bulgogi (marinated thin-sliced ribeye with mushrooms, scallions, onions and rice), bibimbap (rice and quinoa with seasonal veggies, egg and meat or tofu), and kimchi. Is it the best Korean food around? No. But Bonchon's got what you're craving no matter where in the Bay Area you roam. //11:30am to 9pm Wed-Mon, 2276 Westborough Blvd (South San Francisco), bonchon.com