Restaurant & Food News Around the Bay Area & Wine Country

My highly curated, semi-monthly round-up of new restaurants, eateries and other food and drink hot spots around the Bay Area and wine country.

La Mar Bar Splashes onto the Embarcadero

a new cocktail at La Mar Bar, topped with an edible butterfly
photo courtesy of La Mar Bar

With a completely refreshed, Pacific coastal design from LA’s Magid Studio, La Mar, the San Francisco hot spot known for Peruvian cocktails and ceviche from renowned chef Gastón Acurio, makes a move into the casual dining era with La Mar Bar. Bay views and playful sculptures of sea creatures frame plentiful seating at the zinc bar and lounge areas.

Executive Chef Victoriano Lopez designed a menu of bar snacks like Dungeness crab with purple corn tortilla, salsa roja, and chalaca and chicken croquettes infused with aji Amarillo and Parmesan that are exclusively available at La Bar. Cocktails highlight pisco and agave-based spirits. That means drinks like Golden Gate Punch with pisco, spiced pineapple and lemonand a Manhattan disguised as Pasado de Moda (bourbon, pisco, spiced chocolate bitters, and hickory smoke). The spirit selection highlights South American piscos, Mexican tequilas and mezcals, Japanese whiskies and more.   

A San Francisco Seafood Restaurant

the driftwood bathroom at Aphotic
photo courtesy of Aphotic

There’s something fishy about chef Peter Hemsley’s 100% seafood-focused restaurant, Aphotic. Did you read my review yet?

West Berkeley Wine Tasting

tasting room at Hammerling Wine
photo credit Carly Hackbarth

A roll-up garage door opens onto an expansive, 4,200 sq. ft. winery at West Berkeley’s Hammerling Wines where winemaker/founder Josh Hammerling designs natural wines, including the just-released Roussanne-grenache blanc blend, 2022 Point Break, and the 100% Merlot 2022 Summer Hum. An expanded culinary program at the tasting room, which opened in February, is available Thursday to Sunday with eats from Bolita MasaTacos EverywhereXuloFish & Bonez.

Happy Hour Beer and Oysters

Oysters and fish dip and chips, on the menu during Happy Hour at Fort Point, Valencia Street.
photo credit Sarah Chorey

With everyone still dining early, Happy Hour, the imbiber’s response to the Early Bird Special, is making something of a comeback. The Valencia Street location of Fort Point Beer Co. launched a menu of beer and food specials with a San Francisco theme: choose a Fort Point draft pours (core beers, limited releases, and cider) for five bucks, then pair it with a plate of fresh-shucked oysters ($2 a pop) or fish dip  chips w/ cold-smoked sturgeon ($9). There’s even a Rice-A-Roni Arancini w/ Dungeness crab ($9) made with the San Francisco treat that originated in 1958.

Like all Happy Hours, these specials are only available from 4–6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Come 6:01, it’s back to 2023, prices and all.

The Department Store of Candy

The Oreo department at It'Sugar at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf.
Oreo department at It’Sugar, Fisherman’s Wharf

Move over, Willy Wonka! Taking over where the Candytopia, left off, It’Sugar, a veritable department store of candy, opened at the end of March at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. With nearly 30,000-square feet of display space on three floors, the candy is divided into “departments” including Peeps, 1970’s Throwback Candy and an entire wall of hazardously sour Toxic Waste (which my kids have loved for years). “It’s all part of an unbalanced diet,” says their marketing team.

New In Town

I also write the New In Town column for Marin Magazine, which includes restaurants and more. To keep up with what’s going on in Marin, please head over there.