Let's kick off the last review party of 2011 with Patty Unterman's best bites of the year, shall we? Her list of 10 includes steamed pork buns at SoMa's Spice Kit, the Irish breakfast sandwich at Beachside in the Outer Sunset, a pound of Cajun crawfish at Inner Sunset's Craw Station, a cheeseburger at Locavore, and a Texas toast sandwich at Excelsior's The Broken Record. Her picks are all budget-friendly, and you can read the full list here. [Examiner]
Josh Sens tells the admirable story of Yucatan-born chef Mateo Granados rise to glory, giving his new modern Mexican Healdsburg restaurant Mateo's Cocina Latina 2.5 stars. Granados food speaks for itself: "The slow-cooked meats and long-simmered sauces that anchor so much Yucatecan cooking lend themselves nicely to elevated treatment; pedigreed ingredients and deft preparation help underscore the nuances of the layered flavors, the contrasting textures, the interplay of sweet and heat." [San Francisco]
Mikalicious has 2.5 stars for Cypress in Walnut Creek, even though the baked Alaska "was rock hard," and the steak Diane, "lackluster." Chef Rick Delamain carries on the tradition of his "venerable French" alma mater Le Virage, but "The food...is stylish and sincere, with an air of playfulness...Delamain has done much to revive the spirit of Le Virage, and I'm grateful and mildly astonished to find what's old is new again." [Chron]
THE ELSEWHERE: The Merc has 3.5 stars for Dublin Sri Lankan restaurant Kadupul, the Marin IJ feels rested and refreshed after a meal at Novato Argentine steakhouse Boca, and the EBX 's Jesse Hirsch isn't wowed by Rumbo al Sur in Oakland, but he does like the hot sauce.