In a ridiculously rich year of new restaurant openings, the most prolific I’ve seen yet, it is harder than ever to name the top ones. There are many noteworthy places, from the "Mad Men"-esque vibe of Thermidor, to the stratospheric prices and fabulous snapping turtle veloute at Benu. Some of our best cafes (Ma’velous) and cocktail bars (Burritt Room) were added to the SF scene. Gourmet comfort food is a worn-out trend but places like Citizens Band and Grub infused it with new life.
As ever, my goal is to include cheaper and upscale openings, making it trickier to list every worthy candidate within the limits of 2010. The good news is, our already incredible dining scene only continues to explode, despite trying economic times. We have some of the most affordable, high-caliber food in the world, as Michelin Guide’s director noted. Here’s to more creativity, diversity and fine meals with good friends in 2011.
**The first 10 restaurants are in San Francisco proper -- a part two highlighting the Bay Area can be found here. Restaurants are in alphabetical order.**
COMMONWEALTH. Photo by Virginia Miller
>>BAKER AND BANKER Baker and Banker technically is a 2009 opening (11/09), but I include it as an exemplary destination neighborhood restaurant. With dark brown walls and booths, the space exudes a modern, warm elegance. Husband-and-wife team, Jeff Banker and Lori Baker, get it right from start to finish with his dishes, like vadouvan curry cauliflower soup or brioche-stuffed quail in a bourbon-maple glaze, and her memorable desserts, like famed XXX triple dark chocolate layer cake (awarded a 2010 Guardian Best of the Bay) or warm pumpkin cobbler with candied pumpkin seed ice cream. Since the debut of their bakery next door, you can get Baker’s goods all day long.
>>BARBACCO Yes, Barbacco is usually obnoxiously noisy and crowded. But it improves upon its parent restaurant, Perbacco, with gourmet quality at a great value ($3-14 per dish). Reminiscent of enotecas I’ve dined in throughout Italy, heartwarming food and a thoughtful wine list make it an ideal urban trattoria. Order a glass of Lambrusco, fried brussels sprouts, and raisin/pine nut-accented pork meatballs in a tomato sugo, then marvel at the minimal bill.