As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of fellow food-writer friends. We asked the group eight questions about the highs and lows of San Francisco dining over the past year, and we'll be running two compilations of their responses (which are in no particular order) each weekday from now through New Year's Eve.
Rich Table. [Photo: Aubrie Pick]
Q: What was your single best meal of 2013?
Jay Barmann, SFist/7x7: This is really hard there were a few pretty great ones but I'll say Rich Table, April. It was the first time I tried the "Dirty Hippie" amuse, which is awesome. There were several items, including a chicken lasagna, a chicken liver and asparagus flatbread, and a rainbow trout entree, that still stick out in my memory, but also several amazing desserts, including the best twist on a creamsicle I've ever had: blood orange granita with buttermilk panna cotta.
Maggie Hoffman, Serious Eats: Drinks: We booked the 8-person table at State Bird Provisions for my birthday in November, and it was a feast to end all feasts. They're really at the top of their game, and the family-style service for the group meals is a wonderful way to share lots of dishes without having to split a scallop. So many killer dishes, amazing flavors, surprises, and fun creations.
Tamara Palmer, Zagat: A dream sequence of an omakase sushi meal at Ichimura, which is an eight-seat bar within David Bouley's Brushstroke in New York. It's hard to pick favorites otherwise, especially here at home, but that dinner was just on another intergalactic level.
Virginia Miller, The Perfect Spot: Choosing a single meal is always tough, especially in a year packed with some of the best meals of my life. It's been a crazy year for me, visiting 25 different cities and 10 countries—but I never weary of being home, with the incredible range, quality and affordability (for some of the best food in the world) we have here. Abroad, I loved the unreal, three-Michelin star Osteria Francescana and stunning Ristorante Badessa in Modena, Italy, life-changing chifa at Chez Wong in Lima, Peru, and innovative Glass Hosteria in Rome. Here at home, I was truly impressed by dinner and cocktails at Saison (trout roe custard with grilled fish bone stock! savory duck liver toffee!), deserving of its two Michelin stars and, I think, better in its new location. Likewise, Commonwealth has been among my best meals all year—sea urchin over corn and tapioca fritters? It just gets better with time.
Carolyn Alburger, Zagat and San Francisco magazine: Omakase dinner at Akiko's. Hands down.
Andrew Dalton, SFist: I finally made it to Ad Hoc in Yountville. We could only get a 10 p.m. seating at the bar, but we were tipsy already and it was raining outside and the menu included short ribs and an excellent cheese course and it was amazing and perfect and everyone should go.
Marcia Gagliardi, Tablehopper: The group dinner we had for my sister's birthday at Bar Tartine. The friends and family menu they offer is a full-court press of everything that is delicious. Our table housed it.
Amy Sherman, Cooking with Amy: Lunch at Quintonil in Mexico City was pure perfection from start to finish. Stunningly beautiful modern Mexican food with soul. Locally, a formal dinner catered by Joshua Wilder Oakley of Tango and Stache really sticks in my mind. I can't wait to see where he'll pop up next.
Brock Keeling, SFist: Eating queso cheese and hamburgers at Wesburger with Brian Boitano. I almost died. Brian said he would bring Kristi Yamaguchi next time. Can you imagine? I'd shit myself. It'd be too much. It would be that rad. Another memorable meal was at the Michelin Three-Star Dinner at the annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine when, much to my surprise and very much unprovoked, a gentleman showed me his hard cock at the urinals. At such a stuffy event, that was a fun twist. He was a redhead too. Another fun twist.
Anna Roth, SF Weekly: I had a lovely meal at Homestead in Oakland one hot September day with a few close friends. There was a lot of great wine flowing and the food details are a little fuzzy—I remember superb duck and pork and baked ricotta, but more than that, every dish that came out of the kitchen was well-composed and beautiful, the sun was streaming through the windows as we watched our meal being made in the open kitchen, and the whole experience was a little magical.
Jonathan Kauffman, Tasting Table: I wouldn't call it a meal, but I'd probably say the dishes I ate in Saison's lounge.
Mary Polizzotti, 7x7: The clams casino at Capo's—hat dish explodes with flavor, it's insane. Or the No. 19 sandwich from Wise Sons Deli. The omakase menu at Kiss Seafood was also pretty special.
Sarah Sung, UrbanDaddy: That's like being forced to choose a favorite child...Overall, I'd say The French Laundry. I know, totally unoriginal, but the overall experience (food, decor, wine, service) was everything you'd expect and then some. For more down-to-earth meals, it's a tie between one in SF and one in Oakland. In SF, Flour + Water's Dough Room. It was a seafood-focused private dining experience—it was fresh (lots of ingredients from their roof garden) and impeccable. From a fava bean salad to squid-ink pasta with calamari... and it went on! In Oakland, Commis. It's been open since '09, but I finally made it there in 2013, and I was completely blown away.
Lauren Sloss, Serious Eats: A tie between a birthday dinner at Sir & Star at the Olema Inn and a birthday dinner at the House of Prime Rib. It was a good birthday this year.
· Food Experts Talk 2013's Biggest Dining Surprises [~ ESF ~]
· Food Experts Choose 2013's Best Dining Neighborhood [~ ESF ~]
· All Year in Eater posts [~ ESF ~]