As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types and bloggers to get a feel for the highlights and lowlights of the last year in eating in San Francisco. We asked the group eight questions, from Meal of the Year to 2012 Headline Predictions. The answers to our first question here are in no particular order; all responses cut, pasted and unedited, below:
Comstock Saloon, a recurring top standby among the experts. [Photo: Flickr/Matthew Rothenberg]
Q: Name your top restaurant standbys of 2011 -- the restaurants you returned to most.
Josh Sens, restaurant critic, San Francisco magazine: Hawker Fare. Finally, good Thai food in the neighborhood. I don't wanna go to rehab but might have to in order to break addiction to the poached chicken with mung bean sauce. Ditto the green beans with pork parts and shrimp paste.
Paolo Lucchesi, San Francisco Chronicle Inside Scoop: Gio's, Range, Pizzeria Delfina, Comstock Saloon, Park Tavern and
Txoko. Mission Chinese Food and Wing Wings for delivery/takeout.
Sara Deseran, senior editor 7x7: I think Contigo has to be one of the most under-the-radar restaurants in SF. It's just so great. I've been going there regularly. Their squid with black rice is outstanding.
Stuart Schuffman, Broke-Ass Stuart: I probably go to Cafe La Taza on Mission St. more than any other place in the city. It's super well priced and the food is always great. I'm there like once or twice a week for lunch.
Virginia Miller, food and drink correspondent, SF Bay Guardian: Stand-bys in my 'hood continue to be cocktails and bites at Alembic, brunch, beers and burger at Magnolia, and the underrated pizza from Giovanni's in the back of Club Deluxe. Take-out go-tos remain Curry Village and Chabaa Thai (Thai vs. English menu) in the Sunset, but my new pick is a mix of chicken wings (from peanut sauce to tequila habanero) at Hot Sauce & Panko in the Richmond. I've beaten a path to Jasper's Corner Tap more than I can count with its gourmet pub food, killer bar staff, high quality cocktails (plus Negronis on draft) and beer list. Merely a couple blocks from Union Square, it's all too easy a downtown meet-up. I'm crazy about the changes at Bar Tartine this year with Nick Balla on board and get there whenever I can (not enough).
Jonathan Kauffman, restaurant critic, SF Weekly: I don't eat out much off-duty, and when I do I indulge my partner's tastes since he doesn't get to pick during the rest of the week. Nopalito, Mandalay, Una Pizza Napoletana (yeah, I wait), Il Cane Rosso, and Lers Ros all get regular visits. Plus brunch at Local: Mission.
Brock Keeling, editor SFist: Darwin Cafe, Fifth Floor, Zero Zero, Ironside, Comstock, HRD Coffee Shop
Carolyn Jung, Food Gal: All Spice in San Mateo because its charming ambiance and contemporary Indian dishes are so unique; One Market in San Francisco because its large menu is created with such care that there's bound to be something that appeals to just about anyone in your group; Gather in Berkeley for its eclectic cuisine that's all about nose-to-tail and head-to-shoot cooking.
GraceAnn Walden, The Yummy Report and SF tour guide: Southern Pacific Smokehouse, Novato; La Ciccia
Grant Marek, San Francisco Editor, Thrillist: Easy: Suppenkuche (Jägerschnitzel! Steins! German!), Marlowe (Brussels sprout chips!), Park Tavern (Brussels sprout chips again!!), Comstock Saloon (Curly mustaches!), Super Duper (Exclamation points!), and Wayfare Tavern (Steak tartare!).
Jane Goldman, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, Chow: Piccino. Even though it's got top-drawer food, it's casual enough to want to go back to. Plus the menu's got stuff I could eat every day - namely, pizza. And their vegetables and salads are amazingly good.
Amy Sherman, Cooking with Amy: Mission Chinese Food, Chotto, Helmand Palace, Okoze