When it comes to new restaurants in the Bay Area, the year 2016 has been one for the books. The Bywater in Los Gatos, Single Thread in Healdsburg and Napa's Miminashi have shown that unique restaurant concepts can thrive all across the region. In Situ's restaurant as an art exhibit is one of the most innovative risks the city has seen, and tasting menu spots like Nightbird and Mosu are proving that prix fixe fine dining isn't leaving anytime soon. As the new year approaches, here's a look at the dozen restaurant openings we'll remember from 2016.
At the heart of the emerging Dogpatch neighborhood is this modern Hawaiian restaurant, which symbolizes the determined spirit needed to open a restaurant without big money. Chef-owner and Big Island–native Jordan Keao, one of our most under-the-radar chefs this fall, started the concept as a brunch pop-up. Then he opened Aina in the spring for brunch only, and now it serves dinner. Both meals are outstanding and bring crowds from beyond the isolated Bayfront neighborhood. Keao's brunch malasadas are bursting with guava jam and his evening ti-leaf smoked trout both show a delicate chef's touch, bright flavors and a wholesome embrace of the "aloha" spirit.
Must-order: Lomi lomi arctic char, ahi poke, ti leaf-steamed trout and Portuguese butter bean cassoulet at dinner; and malasadas and the pork belly rice bowl at brunch
900 22nd St.; 415-814-3815