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 was your single best meal of 2014?
Grant Marek, Thrillist: Brunch at The Cavalier, specifically the hen egg hollandaise with ham and cheese soldiers. Basically, it's little ham and cheese sandwich sticks that you dip into an eggshell that's cut in half and filled with perfect hollandaise. I could literally eat 100 of those things.
Andrew Dalton, freelance: A toss-up between: a very delicate and beautiful meal at Aubergine in Carmel, or: a to-go box of macaroni and cheese, with chicken, tater tots and extra cheese, from the hot bar at the Guerrero Whole Foods.
Rebecca Flint Marx, San Francisco Magazine: Three-way tie between Lazy Bear, Huxley, and St. Vincent.
Amy Sherman, Cooking with Amy: State Bird Provisions. The food was great, of course, but the dining experience was positively joyful.
Rose Garrett, Hoodline: I know I'm way behind the curve here, but I ate at State Bird Provisions for the first time this year, and you can believe the hype.
Virginia Miller, Zagat: Though there is no matching the meals from my recent travels in Japan, Kusakabe's exquisite omakase menu assuages Japan withdrawals, even in its reverent service. Ken Tominaga's nigiri tasting menu at Pabu—with sake master sommelier Stuart Morris' wide-ranging sake pairings—is another great Japan fix.
Sarah Sung, UrbanDaddy: Omakase at Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, and one other place that I can't name. My best bite was at Saison: a tiny rectangle of toast from Tartine with uni on top.
Paolo Lucchesi, Inside Scoop: Sqirl in Los Angeles blew me away with its simple café elegance. Salve in Helsinki was probably my favorite meal from my summer Euro travels, for reasons that go beyond the food on the plate. Oakland's Vientien was memorably delicious/enlightening. And in San Francisco, I'm convinced that Commonwealth remains the most underrated restaurant in town.
Marcia Gagliardi, Tablehopper: A late-afternoon lunch by myself at Cervejaria Ramiro in Lisbon was fricking perfect. I finally got to try percebes (barnacles), and crushed multiple plates of the freshest shellfish, like langoustines and deep-water pink shrimp, with a cold bottle of vinho verde. There was the kindest host/owner, who kept checking in on me and everyone else. Tables were packed with diners cracking crab legs with little mallets and eating warm, buttery bread. It was my idea of heaven.
Sara Deseran, San Francisco Magazine: In SF, it was the day I had the xiao long bao at Chino and they were finally really good. [Editor's note: Deseran and husband Joe Hargrave own Chino, as well as sister restaurant Tacolicious.] I've written about our trials and tribulations, and let me tell you, XLB are a bitch. I have a newfound respect.
Other than that, as for 2014 newcomer dishes, I had a lot of single best: I'm obsessed with the lamb-y, spicy, noodley everything at Terra Cotta Warrior; seafood sausage with beurre rosé at Monsieur Benjamin; the fantastic, if spendy, brisket at Smokestack (I dubbed it the chinchilla of barbecue) as well as the creamed green beans; the cocktails at Alta CA; the fried duck egg at Kin Khao; the celery Victor with fried chicken skin (love my chicken skin) at Cockscomb; the housemade plum wine at Izakaya Rintaro. God, so many more! This is an unfair question.
While traveling: It was the fried chicken and collards at Gus's Fried Chicken in Memphis; in Taipei, the egg pancake-wrapped savory donuts at Soy Milk King, the matcha soft serve everywhere, and the sushi at Addiction Aquatic Development; in Mexico Citythe octopus ceviche at MeroToro and the braised tacos at Tacos Gus; in LA, the tacos at Guisados. Oh, and my mom's shepherd's pie was a sleeper hit.
Pete Kane, SF Weekly: I had mind-blowing sex after taking my boyfriend to Beso, but Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar was so, so good. And Souvla was the best lunch.
Brock Keeling, 7x7: The beef short rib pot pie at Huxley. After mashing it all together into one beautiful pile of soft rubble, it reminded me of stuffing—yes, the world's best stuffing.
Tamara Palmer, The Bold Italic: A beautiful lunch with a favorite human at Baumé in Palo Alto was a thrilling look into the technical skill of the one-man band that is Bruno Chemel's kitchen. I've been to the restaurant many times, but particularly enjoy the option to have an epic multi-course meal like that during the day.
Lauren Sloss, Tasting Table/SFist: Tied between the Lazy Bear Experience, and a Nopalize Seasons lunch at Nopa. Ample, excellent wine at both was a big win, too.
Jay Barmann, SFist: The tasting menu at Rich Table, hands down. The place keeps getting better. Also, I think the whole snacks-as-first-course with a wave of multiple small things is trending all over, and they do this the best.
Anna Roth, SF Weekly: A close friend and I went to La Nebbia and sat at the bar. We shared a bottle of excellent, flinty, briny Pigato wine from Liguria and had some realtalk about life as we ate and ate and ate. Curls of the best prosciutto I've ever had. Ethereal meatballs. Fork-tender lasagna. Squid ink pizza. That thing they did with burrata and pancetta and black truffle. It was a lovely evening, one I cherish.