Brunching on pandan pancakes: What's trending in San Francisco's food scene?

1608 Bistro. | Photo: Patty B./Yelp

It's easy to spot lines out the door, but some underlying trends are harder to see. Curious about which San Francisco eateries have garnered uncharacteristic interest over the past month?

We took a data-driven look at the city's buzziest new and established restaurants, using Yelp to uncover which places have been most discussed this month in their respective categories, and counting how many reviews each received.

Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month. Read on for the list of top spots -- which prove the city's brunch craze is far from over.
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1608 Bistro



Photo: Patty B./Yelp

Open since April, this Filipino-French breakfast and brunch cafe really took off in the past month, especially compared to other businesses categorized as "French" on Yelp.

Citywide, French spots saw review counts increase by a median of 1 percent over the past month, but 1608 Bistro saw a 33.3 percent increase, maintaining a superior 4.5-star rating throughout.

Located at 1608 Bush St. (between Franklin and Gough streets) in the Western Addition, the family-owned bistro offers Filipino-inflected versions of classic brunch fare, like ube French toast and pandan pancakes with coconut cream, as well as housemade macarons and bottomless mimosas.

The bistro was weekends-only when it opened, but has since expanded to a Wednesday-Sunday schedule -- perhaps to meet increased demand.

It's not the only trending outlier in the French category: new bistro Cafe Boho has seen a 25 percent increase in reviews.

Ichiraku Ramen



Photo: Jade C./Yelp

The Inner Richmond's Ichiraku Ramen is also a hot topic, according to Yelp review data. The ramen joint, open since May, has maintained a positive four-star rating, even as it bagged a 62.5 percent increase in reviews over the past month. That's a convincing increase compared to the median of 2.6 percent for other restaurants in the "Noodles" category.

Located at 5336 Geary Blvd. (between 18th and 17th avenues), Ichiraku specializes in tonkotsu ramen. In addition to its hearty full-size bowls, it offers smaller "Challenger" bowls for customers who would like to taste more than one kind of soup during their meal.

Wooden Spoon



Photo: Faye L./Yelp

The Castro's Wooden Spoon is also making waves. Open since May at 2172 Market St. (between Sanchez and 15th streets), the all-day Swedish-inflected brunch spot received positive reviews in the Chronicle and SF Weekly when it opened.

The past month has been especially favorable for the cafe, with a 41.2 percent bump in reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 1.7 percent for all "Breakfast & Brunch" spots on Yelp. Throughout, it's maintained its 4.5-star rating.

Wooden Spoon, from the team behind nearby Woodhouse Fish Co., offers brunch enthusiasts an egg scramble with Dungeness crab, smoked bacon, mascarpone, and chives, as well as Swedish pancakes made with huckleberries and lemon and a house hash with short rib and pickled vegetables.

1608 Bistro and Wooden Spoon aren't alone in their brunch-focused popularity: the Marina district's Toasty, which specializes in acai bowls and toasts, has seen a 23.1 percent increase in reviews.

Che Fico



Photo: Greg G./Yelp

In the competitive San Francisco Italian restaurant scene, Divisadero's Che Fico is currently on the upswing on Yelp -- no surprise, perhaps, given the media buzz surrounding its opening, and its recent appearance on Bon Appetit's 2018 list of the best new American restaurants.

Open for business in a repurposed auto body shop at 838 Divisadero St. (between McAllister and Fulton streets) since March, the project of chefs David Nayfeld and Angela Pinkerton offers dishes like spaghetti with lobster pomodoro and chocolate budino with candied walnuts.

While businesses categorized as "Italian" on Yelp increased review counts by a median of 1.8 percent over the past month, Che Fico increased its reviews by 32.6 percent--and kept its rating consistent at four stars. (It's not alone, however: the new Hayes Valley outpost of The Meatball Bar has also seen a 26.1 percent increase in reviews.)

Besharam



Photo: Cherylynn N./Yelp

Open since May, La Cocina veteran Heena Patel's Dogpatch restaurant Besharam is trending compared to other Indian restaurants on Yelp. Its most popular dishes include fish moilee with coconut curry, and pav bhaji (toasted buns served with vegetable curry topped by a fried egg). And yes: it serves brunch.

Over the past month, Besharam saw a 55.9 percent increase in reviews, compared to a median of 3 percent for other Indian restaurants, and maintained a fair 3.5-star rating throughout. You can find the Indian spot at 1275 Minnesota St. (between 24th and 23rd streets) in the Dogpatch.
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