6 Must-Book Restaurants in the Bay Area Right Now

The Matheson | Credit: Michael Woolsey

It’s no secret that the tech hub of the country is also home to one of the best and most diverse restaurant scenes. With the city’s reopening, new additions to the scene are gearing up for launch and welcoming diners back through their doors.

On your way back to your favorite old haunts, don’t miss these six hot and new openings debuting in the Bay Area. Make the most out of the rest of summer with sushi omakase, farm-to-table local creations, and reenvisioned Chinese cuisine — you’ll be back in the know on the Bay Area’s best restaurants in no time.

Open now

Empress by Boon (San Francisco)

Empress by Boon

Credit: Jean Bai

Expect the unexpected at Empress by Boon’s modern Cantonese restaurant by chef Ho Chee Boon, formerly an executive chef at Hakkasan with over 25 years of experience. Refined elegance is served on a plate in the form of Iberico ham Shanghainese xiao long bao, zucchini prawn dumplings with black truffle, and grilled black cod with soy and shacha sauce — all part of a $78 prix fixe menu. The space was redesigned with traditional Chinese craftsmanship in mind, from the carved panels to the restored pergola, complete with city views of San Francisco. The ever-changing menu makes this new opening one to keep an eye on. 

Sushi Hakko (San Francisco)

Sushi Hakko

Credit: Yeondong Choi

From the people who brought you some of San Francisco’s best Japanese restaurants, including Sushi Hon, Izakaya Hon, Sushi Shio, and more, Mins Group introduces Sushi Hakko in casual, brightly lit quarters. As the name suggests, Hakko (the Japanese word for “fermentation”) takes fermentation seriously, from soy sauce and miso to sake and its signature edomae-style sushi. Go for the sushi bar experience ($175) for the full spread with decadent slices of fatty tuna, A5 wagyu beef, and sea urchin. The table menu ($110) sees similar offerings of scallop crudo, amberjack, and ocean trout. The menu changes based on the season’s catch for the freshest cuts. 

Da Boccery (Livermore) 

A place all ages are bound to have a blast at, Da Boccery is an activity-filled venue with games such as bocce ball, axe throwing, footpool, cornhole, and shuffle bar. When the games are over, grab a seat at the bar and dive into a plate of hands-on bar fare such as smoked wings, boozy chili cheese nachos, build-your-own pizzas, and wagyu beef burgers. Da Boccery is ideal for making up for all those missed team building events, birthday parties, and group happy hours. 

iChina (Santa Clara) 

iChina is out to change the perception of American Chinese cuisine from takeout to upscale dining with a nod to China’s eight regional cuisines. Think dishes such as a classic Cantonese barbecue trio from the South, alongside Northern Peking duck with smoked cherry hoisin and foie gras, and numbing Sichuan peppercorn-marinated chicken, served cold, from Southwest China. The inventive cocktail selection will complement the meal in concoctions such as the “Lost in Shanghai” with pandan-infused whiskey, vermouth, amaro, and sherry. The interior emanates luxury with jade tones sprawled across the space comprised of the main dining room, cocktail lounge, and four private dining rooms. Currently, iChina is serving a trimmed-down menu at the bar, but the main dining room will be open for dinner service starting August 20.

The Matheson (Healdsburg)

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Credit: Michael Woolsey

Those who love Californian restaurant Valette will be excited to hear that chef Dustin Valette has teamed up with business partner Craig Ramsey to present The Matheson, a farm-to-table restaurant opening in early August that celebrates Sonoma County’s local produce, winemakers, and artisans. An ode to the culture of Healdsburg, the vast tri-level space boasts a sushi bar, rooftop cocktail bar, garden lounge, and more areas to explore. An impressive 88 wines are on tap from the wine wall, including the chef’s own Valette Wines, while the cocktails present a modern take on the classic martini and old fashioned, plus a sake selection to pair with sushi. Menu spotlights include heirloom tomato salad with burrata, lovage, agretti powder, and rye as well as yellowtail with charred avocado, agua chile, pluot, lime, puffed rice, cucumber, and togarashi. 

Opening September

Shepherd & Sims (Los Gatos)

From the duo behind The Table, Forthright, and The Vesper, husband and wife Jim and Angelique Stump’s latest installment of Shepherd & Sims is slated to open its doors in September. The highly anticipated farm-to-table restaurant will feature creations such as potato beignets with romesco sauce, mushroom tartine with whipped ricotta, and char siu pork chop with sticky rice and mustard greens. Appetizers and sharing plates will be the way to go here, with such an extensive selection that you’ll want to try a lot of them. The interior design takes cues from Los Gatos’s roots with natural wood elements and a wall mural to tie it all together.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.