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Four New Restaurants We're Crazy For

We check out Volta, Bird Dog, Shangri-La Vegan, and Alamo Drafthouse.

Moules "Normandes" at Volta SF


This French-Scandinavian spot from Perbacco’s Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje is a win for the Westfield San Francisco Centre, which now has an urbane, beautiful restaurant to call its own. It’s also a win for Francophiles longing for boeuf bourguignon—which here is braised to peak tenderness—or an impeccable salade niçoise. And it’s a win for underserved herring fans, who get a platter with five varieties of the fish. Really, Volta is an all-around winner. 868 Mission St.(near 5th St.), 628-400-6200
Rebecca Flint Marx

Bird Dog
Palo Alto
From its brief menu to the recording of Julia Child’s voice on its bathroom PA, it’s clear that Robbie Wilson’s handsome new spot follows its own nose. As well it should: Save for some undercooked eggplant, a recent meal here hit all the right marks. A crispy-creamy potato–butternut squash terrine resembled the world’s most elegant latke, while a grilled avocado—served with barrel-aged ponzu—could be California’s state dish. Wilson’s deceptively simple cooking is worth sniffing out. 420 Ramona St. (near Lytton Ave.), 650-656-8180

Shangri-La Vegan
Like the original Shangri-La near the Oakland-Emeryville border, the new Temescal edition deals in generous portions of deftly seasoned dishes that evoke memories of the Moosewood era. Recently, kidney bean soup gave way to a platter on which brown rice was ringed by curried chickpeas, braised turnips and daikon, and collard greens. The baked goods—like the cloying mango pie with leaden pecan-coconut crust—are a bummer. But the savory cooking is a welcome dose of hippie-dippy for our hipster age. 4905 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th St.), 510-250-9918
—Josh Sens 

Alamo Drafthouse
San Francisco’s newest cineplex is all about dinner and a movie: Each of its seats comes with a table and a menu. The latter, from Ronnie New, goes far beyond popcorn, with a roster of pizzas, sandwiches, and snacks. Some of the food is a hit—blistered shishito peppers are enjoyably flaccid—and some, like a vegetarian Reuben sandwich overwhelmed by a pile of slippery roasted beets, is not. The popcorn, for the record, is pretty good—and it comes in a bowl big enough to bathe an infant in. 2550 Mission St. (near 22nd St.), 415-549-5959

Originally published in the March issue of
San Francisco

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