The Year of the Dragon arrives on February 10, and with it comes a bevy of celebrations with family and friends. There are several events, pop-ups, and fairs leading up to the big day, and it’s also a great opportunity to make time for a special meal in San Francisco’s Chinatown or to pick up a special dessert to enjoy. Here are some of the best Lunar New Year events around San Francisco.
Things to do around San Francisco
The San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is a much-anticipated event for the city’s residents, and this year the parade is set to kick off on Saturday, February 24. But the parade is just one of many activities put on by organizers. Others include the Flower Market Fair set for February 3 and 4, during which visitors can buy flowers, fruits, and candies for the new year; the Community Street Fair, set to coincide with the parade weekend on February 24 and 25 with vendors, folk dancing, and more; then, after the confetti has been swept up from the parade, there is a 10K and 5K Chinatown YMCA Run set for Sunday, March 3.
Elsewhere in the city, the San Francisco Botanical Garden hosts its Lunar New Year Celebration on Sunday, February 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This kid-friendly event features dance performances, calligraphy activities, and more. The event takes place at the County Fair Building Auditorium located at 1199 Ninth Avenue and is free to attend; tickets can be found here.
The San Francisco Symphony will hold a Lunar New Year concert at Davies Symphony Hall conducted by Mei-Ann Chen, with artists performing music to celebrate the holiday on Saturday, February 17. Tickets are available on the San Francisco Symphony website.
Make reservations at these restaurants
San Francisco is filled with restaurants offering special meals and menus in the leadup to the Lunar New Year, and that includes the popular China Live, which will offer a special menu from February 10 through 24. Available for pick-up, delivery, and dine-in, the menu includes Double Happiness ‘Shiu Jiao’ Water Dumplings made with shrimp and chives, Shanghai trap lobster, plus local Dungeness crab with salt and pepper or ginger and scallion. For a more high-end experience, Eight Tables will serve a six-course meal featuring luxe items such as XO rice claypot with black truffle, foie gras, and Iberico ham, plus Very Special Smoked Garlic Chicken with foraged mushrooms, gai lan, and a sauce made with Hennessy V.S. Tables are available February 10 through 24 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and the menu costs $300 per person. Reservations can be made via Tock.
Z&Y Restaurant in Chinatown is celebrating the holiday with a special menu featuring dishes such as Szechuan-style chicken, salt and pepper crab, and fish filet with flaming chile oil. But there’s another reason for celebration for the Z&Y family, as the restaurant expands to include Z&Y Peking Duck, located across the street from the original restaurant. The duck-centric restaurant will offer a feast of “contemporary Beijing-inspired dishes” feeding 8-10 people for $680. The dinner will of course include duck, as well as other items such as miso sea bass and clay pot braised lamb ribs.
Bodega SF is offering a two-day-only tasting menu in honor of the Lunar New Year on February 9 and 10, featuring eight courses for $118. Diners can expect dishes such as lobster and vegetable tempura with tamale bisque; Chilean sea bass beurre blanc with root vegetables; and roasted Cornish hen with pickled cabbage and garlic relish. Reservations are available via Resy.
A special kamayan menu is in the works at Abacá in Fisherman’s Wharf. The menu will run from February 9 through 17 for $95 per person. Expect a feast of dishes including pork bone broth mahkhut theng, chasio ribs, double-fried fish, and more. A couple of new cocktails will also be in the mix, including the Manila Envelope, made with jujube bourbon, Montenegro, pomegranate molasses, creme de “Ngohiong,” and jujube tincture, as well as a longan martini made with longan vodka, longan blanc vermouth, and longan juice.
Those looking to find a restaurant where they can partake in a prosperity toss for the new year can head to Damansara. The prosperity salad serves up to six people and comes with raw salmon sashimi or vegan glass noodles, pomelo, fried wonton, pickled ginger, seaweed salad, daikon, plum and sesame dressing, and more. The salad is also available for pre-order the day before for pick-up and delivery.
Dumpling Club sadly shuttered last year, but owner Cathay Bi is back for a one-day-only Lunar New Year celebration on Sunday, January 29. The event will run from noon to 6 p.m. at the Wave Collective in the Haight with Bay Area Asian American artists and food, too, of course. Pastry chef Jessica Fu and pop-ups Oramasama Dumplings and Astranda Bakery will all be serving treats, and there will be kid-friendly activities as well.
Over at Dragon Horse in SoMa, owner Derrick Li and his bar team will celebrate Lunar New Year with a special baijiu cocktail menu that will be available from Monday, January 29 through Thursday, February 9. Expect one-of-a-kind cocktails like the Hong Bao Na Lai drink — which translates to “Bring on the red envelopes!” — made with Xi Feng baijiu, rose baijiu, walnut, honey, pineapple juice, lime, and coconut oil.
Make the year sweet with these treats
B. Patisserie’s special Lunar New Year menu is a must for pastry enthusiasts in San Francisco. The bakery released its lengthy menu via Instagram, which includes a black sesame and lotus white sesame kouignoú amann; peanut butter and condensed milk bostock; and coconut mango tapioca pudding with pomelo parfait, among others. There are also a few weekend-only treats with limited availability, including a black sesame kumquat panettone and an orange, caramel, and hazelnut cake. B. Patisserie is accepting online preorders now and the special pastries will be available from February 9 through 18.
For those who prefer a vegan treat, Annie’s T Cakes is back with tangyuan soup kits, and there will be two new flavors in the mix. Along with black sesame and red bean flavors, there will now also be vegan egg custard and lotus paste, plus a packet of ginger, sugar, and goji berries to make the soup. Orders can be placed through the Annie’s T Cakes website, with pick-up locations in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Cupertino.