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Food Experts On Their Top Restaurant Standbys of 2014

From BBQ to sushi to donuts, here's where friends of Eater keep coming back.

Kin Khao.
Kin Khao.
Patricia Chang

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 day.

Q: What were your restaurant standbys in 2014?

Jay Barmann, SFist: I went back to Kin Khao a bunch of times and will keep going back. The food is so interesting, perfectly spicy, and constantly changing, and it's the kind of Thai restaurant we've needed for a long time. And Frances remains a place I always want to go back to, whenever I can grab a seat.

Lauren Sloss, Tasting Table/SFist: This was a year for solidifying go-to spots. La Ciccia, Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, and of course, Nopa. Oh, and I'd eat on the 4505 Burgers & BBQ patio daily if it wouldn't lead to death by meat sweats.

Anna Roth, SF Weekly: So much depends on neighborhood, doesn't it? For me in Hayes Valley/Lower Haight, it was Souvla, Nopa, Wing Wings, Ragazza, Suppenküche for brunch and afternoon beers. I found myself at Chino and ABV a lot once they opened; clearly they filled a niche. And I ate a lot of Shanghai Dumpling King.

Sarah Sung, UrbanDaddy: The bar at Stones Throw for the friendly service and squid ink conchiglie. Fish in Sausalito is worth the super long wait for the crab roll or Saigon salmon sandwich. And Out the Door (still).

Amy Sherman, Cooking with Amy20th Century Cafe, Stones Throw, Dim Sum Club, Udon Mugizo.

Virginia Miller, Zagat: In my ‘hood, I often grab Brittany-style crepes at Crepe La Vie or Burmese BBQ at Burma Bear. At Alembic, Ted Fleury is cooking their best menu yet in their brand new, expanded kitchen. I am ever drawn to Capo's and Little Star for stellar deep dish. When I need to eat healthier, I go to the new Seed + Salt or get a cold-pressed smoothie at Project Juice in the Mission. In the East Bay, I've been loving Mama Papa Lithuania in Alameda and alaMar in Oakland for cocktails & bites.

Sara Deseran, San Francisco Magazine: Standbys aren't my strength-because of my job, I'm always trying out new spots. However, there are a few neighborhood favorites that I return to when I just need an easy night out because they're consistent and good and friendly and near my house. Falling under that category: Kiji for sushi (the whole family is addicted to their salmon skin roll, but I also always get the hamachi kama and aji nigiri); Contigo for great wine and fantastic Cal-Spanish food and great service; Firefly just because they're like the nicest people and it's got a vaguely crunchy hippie warm vibe and solid food; and Pizzeria Delfina for pretty much everything.

Grant Marek, Thrillist: Proposition Chicken, Suppenkuche, Darwin Cafe, Super Duper Burger, Bartlett Hall, Marlowe, Tacolicious, Sam's Hamburgers and Pizza, Hakkasan, Brenda's.

Andrew Dalton, freelancePanchitas #2, anywhere with a taco, 4505 Burgers & BBQ, Jasmine Garden, and a surprising number of afternoons spent eating ramen and drinking in San Mateo.

Marcia Gagliardi, Tablehopper: For me, it's all about casual spots I can easily swing by on the fly, since most of my nights are scheduled in advance. Souvla, Merigan continues to be a bad habit, ABV (love those late kitchen hours), Los Shucos, slices from Presidio Pizza Company, Ramen Underground and Ramen Yamadaya in Japantown, M.Y. China, and Brenda's Meat & Three is gonna be on heavy rotation (it's dangerously located just a block from where I live).

Tamara Palmer, The Bold ItalicThe Fly Trap has been my Cheers since Hoss Zaré took it over in 2008, but it was particularly cool this year to see the restaurant celebrate its past history while simultaneously pushing the food forward into the future.

Brock Keeling, 7x7TrueBurger, Doughnut Saturdays at Pinkie's Bakery, and Spruce.

Paolo Lucchesi, Inside ScoopEl Tonayense, Liverpool Lil's, Pizzeria Delfina, Fremont Diner, Viva Goa, Two Sisters, Delarosa, Burr-Eatery, SPQR.

Rose Garrett, Hoodline: As more and more high-end restaurants seem to be opening up, I'm finding my favorites to be mid-level new neighborhood spots, like Brenda's Meat and Three, 4505 Burgers and BBQ, Souvla, and Il Casaro.

Pete Kane, SF Weekly: I took out-of-town friends to Chino three or four times, and it was great on every visit. Aria, a tiny Korean place on Larkin in the TL, remains my favorite hole-in-the-wall anywhere. Please don't tell anyone! It's mine.

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