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San Francisco's Dining Experts Name The Top Newcomers of 2014

From stellar Thai to outstanding cocktails, our panel picks the best new spots in town.

Trou Normand.
Trou Normand.
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 the top restaurant newcomers of 2014?

Andrew Dalton, freelanceOrenchi Beyond lived up to the hype and is right by my apartment. Also, as Editor-at-large of Corn Dog Aficionado Magazine, I am contractually obligated to plug the falafel lamb dog at ABV.

Rebecca Flint Marx, San Francisco MagazineLazy Bear, Trou Normand, Huxley, Marla Bakery.

Anna Roth, SF WeeklyTrou Normand, 4505 Burgers & BBQ, Lazy Bear, Brenda's Meat & Three, Kin Khao, the new Ichi Sushi. Haven't been to The Progress yet but I'm sure it deserves to be here.

Sarah Sung, UrbanDaddyMonsieur Benjamin, Kin Khao, Smokestack, The Commissary and The Progress.

Rose Garrett, HoodlineTrou Normand is a definite favorite, and I've never had trouble getting a seat at the bar.

Virginia Miller, ZagatThe Progress, Lazy Bear, Cockscomb, Kusakabe and The Commissary all stood out, and it was definitely a year of casual perfection at ABV, Chubby Noodle Marina, Kin Khao, Urchin Bistrot, Les Clos, Plin and Trou Normand. I'm grateful for quality food in untapped categories like Guam cuisine at the new Prubechu. And La Taberna is just what Napa needed: delicious tapas under $7 and a beautiful drink list of sherry, port, vermouth, Madeira.

Paolo Lucchesi, Inside Scoop: Since I'm guessing the rest of this list will have many of the usual suspects—and probably rightfully so—I'll go with a place that technically opened in December 2013 but doesn't get enough media love: Great China in Berkeley.

Marcia Gagliardi, Tablehopper: I am digging all these fun and mid-priced places that over-deliver on flava (Kin Khao, Chubby Noodle Marina, Chino), quality Japanese and sushi (Orenchi, Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, Pabu, Izakaya Rintaro, the sushi bar at Pink Zebra), kickass wine bars (Union Larder, Les Clos), bakery-restaurants (Marla Bakery, Le Marais Bistro & Bakery), damn good American (Causwells, 4505 Burgers & BBQ), PizzaHacker rules, and we're finishing the year strong with The Progress and Cockscomb.

Sara Deseran, San Francisco Magazine: Though I had a ton of great food in great spaces, I'm not ready to pick favorites. It's taken me a long time to realize that restaurants need a good six months or more to really find themselves. I wrote an article about it, and I'm trying hard to keep my word!

Pete Kane, SF Weekly: I no longer care at all about nutrition, my personal appearance, or what I look like as I eat now that Brenda's Meat & Three is here. And it's not a restaurant, but The Interval is incredible.

Brock Keeling, 7x7Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar and Huxley.

Tamara Palmer, The Bold ItalicThe Progress came in all stealth like sexy-azz D'Angelo to steal the show at the end of the year, but I was also quite taken with the soulful Thai cooking at Kin Khao. On the more casual end, Souvla and Brenda's Meat & Three are welcome newcomers that feel like they've always been here.

Lauren Sloss, Tasting Table/SFistKin Khao, Lazy Bear, The Whole Beast, 4505 Burgers & BBQ, Trou Normand.

Jay Barmann, SFist: I'm a big fan of new bar/restaurants Trou Normand and ABV, both of which have great drinks and food you can make a meal of that feels fun, and is good drinking food. Les Clos is also pretty awesome, and beats out any wine bar in terms of food and wine selection. Lazy Bear was pretty impressive, and more ambitious than I expected — also their cocktails are great. I'm happy Hapa Ramen finally has a home. And The Progress is going to be at the top of everyone's lists going into the new year—and deservedly so, the food is fantastic and the space feels really festive and cool.

Grant Marek, Thrillist: The new and full-bar-improved Marlowe (mmm... Marlowe Burger...), Bartlett Hall (mmmMmMMMmmMmm...Butter Burger...), and 4505 Burgers & BBQ (are you sensing a theme?) I didn't think Marlowe could honestly get any better; I was frankly a little disappointed when I found out they were moving, afraid it would lose its small restaurant charm, but that fear was pretty quickly dispelled by a couple bourbon cocktails and the fact that all of their menu standbys are still, uh, standing by (Brussels sprout chips, bacon-topped deviled eggs, the burger). Bartlett Hall was sort of a surprise for me -- it sounded like a winning combination, but also a kind of tired one, a sort of upscale-ish brewpub (yawwwwwn). Thing is, though, it added something the neighborhood actually really needed: a place to get a burger made of, like, 50% butter after drinking infinity drinks at Tradition and/or High Tide. And 4505, I mean, obviously, right?

Editor's note: For those of you playing at home, that ties Trou Normand, The Progress, and Kin Khao for the lead with six votes, trailed closely by Lazy Bear with five and 4505 Burgers & BBQ with four.