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San Francisco’s Top Restaurant Standbys of 2016

The places SF’s food writers returned to time and again

Una Pizza Napoletana
Una Pizza Napoletana
Patricia Chang

Welcome to Year in Eater 2016, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the past 12 months through input from the city’s top food writers. For 2016’s final week, we’ll be posting questions daily about the Bay Area’s restaurant scene in the past year, with answers from those who know it best. Today’s topic: What were your top restaurant standbys of 2016?

Jonathan Kauffman, The Chronicle food reporter

Ragazza, Josey Baker’s pizza night, Bar Tartine (soon to be RIP), the El Castillito on Mission and 17th.

Luke Tsai, East Bay Express food critic

I did a lot of takeout this year: Burgers from Locol, tortas and one-day-a-month pozole from Aztecali (before it closed), and shawarma plates from Oasis Kitchen.

Carolyn Alburger, Eater cities director

When I don’t want to think too much, I always fall back on Mexican food: Padrecito and Nopalito are the go-tos. Also of note: We did an Eater SF team dinner at Kokkari this year and it was as solid as ever. The menu staples (moussaka, fire-cooked pita, hummus) haven’t skipped a beat after 16 years in service. Plus the cushy booths, perfect lighting, and familial service take you back to an era of dining when restaurants could afford to prioritize comfort.

Jay Barmann, SFist editor

Tacorgasmico (on Market in the Castro). It’s a seriously terrible name but the food is seriously great, and one of the only taquerias in the city that I know of that has good cochinita pibil.

Paolo Lucchesi, The Chronicle food editor

La Ciccia, Bistro Aix, Golden Boy, Kin Khao, Tommy's Joynt, Una Pizza, Old Mandarin.

A Wesburger with melted American cheese and a potato bun.
Wes Rowe

Pete Kane, SF Weekly food critic

With the caveat that I don’t have a lot of surplus meals to be much of a regular anywhere except for lunch, the places I went to the most (and not necessarily because I was writing about them) were Starbelly, Wes Burger ‘N’ More, Dabba, Tú Lan, Leo’s Oyster Bar, ARIA Korean Snack Bar, PizzaHacker, Loló, Katana-Ya Ramen, and Good Mong Kok Bakery.

The Dapper Diner, local blogger

Chili House (now with more duck), Mandalay (to-go when it’s packed), Rich Table (just gets better each year), Absinthe (a burger paired with the new bar manager’s cocktails is ideal for a late dinner), Aster, and the remodeled Laszlo for brunch since you can get the Foreign Cinema menu without the hassle of a reservation.

Ellen Fort, Eater SF editor

Mister Jiu's quickly became my go-to, with great cocktails and pork and squid wontons available at the bar. Now that it’s a la carte, it’s a no-brainer. Tartine Manufactory is also a major repeat for me, despite its late summer opening.

Anna Roth, Eater contributor

I went to Yummy Yummy at least once a week this whole year and never regretted it.

Rebecca Flint Marx, San Francisco magazine food editor

Thanks to the nature of my job I don’t really have any, but I did go to Cala at least three times this year, which is saying something.

Stefanie Tuder, Eater SF senior editor

Souvla, Mission Chinese, Popsons, Mixt Greens

El Buen Comer
El Buen Comer tacos
El Buen Comer/Facebook

Marcia Gagliardi, Tablehopper

My neighborhood spots Souvla, 4505 Burgers and BBQ, and Green Chile Kitchen (Heartland Taco Salad FTW) are in heavy rotation. I have also hit El Buen Comer, Udon Mugizo (always before the movies), Popsons, La Taqueria, Mission Chinese, and Shanghai Dumpling King a fair amount. And then there’s the El Tonayense truck.

Andrew Dalton, Eater contributor

I started the year with a goal to eat one burger at Sam’s for every year of my life. I think I made it about halfway. And if you’re a lush with a high credit limit, Leo’s Oyster Bar is the best date spot in town.

Hillary Dixler, Eater National senior reports editor

Una Pizza Napoletana, Souvla, Little Gem​​, Rintaro​​, 4505 Burgers & BBQ

Trevor Felch, Zagat SF editor

Ok, look, the $4 toast at The Mill is now more than $4 but it's still a killer deal if you love great (no, extraordinary) bread with terrific spreads. Do we complain about $10 sandwiches? No. This is way better than most sandwiches, so let’s all be quiet about the $4 stuff.

I regularly re-visit the popular kids like Al’s Place, Zuni and Nopa. Hey, they’re just really good at so many things. Tacos Cala for lunch and Limu & Shoyu for poke (I admit to loving poke and avocado toast as much as all the trend followers). I used to live in Paris and Union Square’s Bouche is the one “bistro” that hits the real tone you’d find in residential arrondissements with casual, seasonal cooking and smartly-selected wines (no generic croque monsieurs or steak frites, but yes to serving until 1 a.m.!) In my neighborhood, you can’t beat Lord Stanley or Stones Throw. If you want to see me working, hit up Saint Frank or Contraband. Drinks-wise, I still visit Trick Dog about ten times more often than any other bar.