When Bon Appetit publishes their top ten picks for the year's hottest new restaurants, it's a big deal. Also when said list is published, you check for a restaurant in your vicinity and make plans to visit ASAP (bonus if they offer reservations). That's exactly what our editor, Heather Ash, did. When serendipity had her upcoming move to San Francisco align with Che Fico's only reservation within a month's span available, it was dining destiny. For reference, Che Fico opened in the Nopa neighborhood of San Francisco (near the Painted Ladies) mid-2018 to much anticipation. Serving an elevated take on classic Italian fare as well as seasonal offerings led by Chef David Nayfeld, Che Fico may sound good on paper but wait until you see the design by DLC Interior Design and of course, the beautifully prepared food. Print mixing is done right at Che Fico with complementary tile and wallpaper colliding as you enter the space that gives way to an industrial, minimal dining room. Exposed beams, concrete walls and floors, and metal and wood accents fill the top floor restaurant.
We sat down with Heather about her experience at the coveted restaurant and got her thoughts on the menu, ambiance and plans for a repeat visit after joining Che Fico alum that include Anderson Cooper and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Photography by Douglas Friedman
First impressions of Che Fico?
This place must be good because the only reservation I could snag is a month away at 10pm.
At the restaurant, you enter at street level and walk up a fun and beautifully tiled and wallpapered stairwell. Once inside, it is busy with a capital B. We are early for our reservation, arriving around 9:30pm because we're hungry! We stake out a spot at the bar, order a drink and take in the chic, bustling atmosphere around us.
Give us a rundown of the menu? Any standouts?
The menu has a good balance of appetizers, pizza and entrees along with an approachable drink list. Che Fico is known for their pizza and as a vegetarian, we order the margherita, a seasonal squash starter and wine. It definitely is not your traditional Italian pizza so if you are expecting a Neapolitan style pie, this is not your spot. We found our pizza pretty heavy on the salt and coupled with the long wait time for food, Che Fico lost a proverbial star for this review's purposes.
The seasonal squash starter however, was fantastic – our server recommended it so definitely go with their team's suggestions. Also, if you are a meat eater, they make their salumi in house which I'm sure is delightful on the pizza. Other diner's ordered pasta dishes which looked amazing as well – like I said, the menu is balanced!
Time to dive into design - give us the inside scoop.
Che Fico has already won several design awards and with good reason. The vaulted, exposed beam ceiling is accented by really beautiful wallpaper and tiling alongside industrial accents – a nice balance. The overall moody yet buzzing scene is worth a visit of it's own – you really feel like you're at the coolest spot in the city.
Profile the perfect diner.
If you are going to stop in on the fly, keep your party small. Like two people small and be prepared to wait. Don't worry, the bar will craft a cocktail for you that makes the wait almost speed by.
If you are making a reservation (recommended), definitely bring your friends! This is one of SF's hottest restaurants of the year and the lively atmosphere is perfect for larger parties. Of course, sticking to pizza when ordering will make sharing a breeze. Lucky for you, Che Fico considers a group 7 or more – easy! Submit an inquiry here and their team will be in contact about group and private dining opportunities.
Final thoughts on this new restaurant?
It is a must try in SF! From the buzz in the air to the stunning surrounds, it's quite the experience. Try a bit of everything by sharing with your group and don't forget to get a photo in front of the wallpaper. After you're finished at Che Fico, walk down Divisadero for ice cream or another drink at one of the cool spots around.