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Michael Bauer Names His 10 Restaurants of the Year

Plus, his take on Plaj, Peter Kane at Oro and more.

Cala, Bauer's 2015 restaurant BFF.
Cala, Bauer's 2015 restaurant BFF.
Patricia Chang

Michael Bauer has a ton to say on his picks for the top 10 new restaurants of the year. Here’s your TL;DR version: Cala is Bauer’s numero uno for chef Gabriela Cámara’s ability to take "Mexican food to a new level." Rounding out the list are AL’s Place for successfully moving "vegetables to the center of the plate," Liholiho Yacht Club for its "attention to detail," the "glamorous" Mourad, the "next star of the Napa Valley" Ninebark, Octavia and chef Melissa Perello’s "magic flavoring dust," Omakase for its "beautifully sliced and seasoned fish," the "cozy" Petit Crenn, the "worth the wait" The Progress and the "stylish" Trestle. [The Chron]

Bauer headed back to Plaj to check in on the three-year-old Scandinavian restaurant in Civic Center. What he found is food that "has become more focused" since his last review, upping itself to a restaurant that "would be prime on my list if I were grabbing a bite before a nearby performance." His favorite dishes included the Swedish meatballs, smorrebrod and pickled herring. Service, which was once "forgetful and off-putting, "has again become "welcoming and efficient." 2 ½ stars. [The Chron]

Last week Peter Kane visited Oro, which he determined is chef Jason Fox’s (Commonwealth) "fantastic sophomore effort." Some favorites included the sea urchin, almond gazpacho, grilled pork sausage and . Kane called the pumpkin "cooked in embers" a "flop." He had a great time with the post-meal amaro cart, "designed to tickle San Francisco's erogenous zone." It was a meal of excess, which made Kane slightly uncomfortable, but not uncomfortable enough to not want more. [SF Weekly]

Anna Roth has "loved a lot of sandwiches in [her] life," but perhaps none so much as the New Jersey-inspired ones at Pal’s Takeaway in Oakland, she revealed. "These don’t subscribe to any gospel or creed," she wrote. "They’re their own creations, full of bold flavors and ingredients that you don’t usually encounter in the deli counter, like sprouted broccoli, lentil chips and lemongrass." Some favorites included the tuna sandwich, the roast beef and the Lao sausage. [The Chron]

Luke Tsai found some Afghan fare at Angela’s Kitchen in Alameda, which "serves food that is tastier and more ambitious than just about anything else you'll find in its immediate vicinity." It’s not traditional Afghani food, but he loved the "stunner" duck strudel appetizer and the aushak. The lamb skewers, while "impossibly tender" were served with "bland" rice and an "even blander" side of steamed broccoli and baby carrots. Still, it was enough for Tsai to declare that Angela’s "might just be the best restaurant in Alameda." [East Bay Express]