After nearly a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.
Here now are the establishments — from roasted chicken and wine bars to Chinese restaurants and sushi places — that have taken the San Francisco food world by storm. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editor’s choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.
Restaurant of the Year
China Live, Chinatown
San Francisco’s Chinatown is a deep well of culture and food from all regions of China. Now there’s a new way to experience it at China Live, the massive food emporium, restaurant, bar, and cafe from veteran restaurateur George Chen. This award is specifically aimed at the downstairs restaurant, which serves an extensive menu of well-executed dishes including handmade dumplings, barbecue, noodles and more. Much of the production is visible to the bustling dining room, including the dumpling bar where each delectable type — from xiao long bao to shen jian — are filled, steamed or pan-fried, and served hot. Eat as much as possible, then head upstairs to Cold Drinks, the Scotch bar, for a nightcap.
Restaurant of the Year Reader’s Choice Winner: Villon
Chef of the Year
Robin, Hayes Valley
This year was Tortosa’s comeback in the SF dining scene, as he opened his laid-back sushi restaurant in Hayes Valley, Robin. His mix of traditional Japanese and California ingredients has earned him high marks from critics and diners, bringing a relaxed vibe to the world of high-end sushi. He’s also been vocal about his own battle with depression, and the importance of offering good health care to his (and all) restaurant employees. More than anything, Tortosa delivers a dedication to his craft unrestrained by what everyone else is doing. Go to eat local and Japanese fish that have been treated with care, while listening to the chef’s playlist of hip hop in an environment of Tortosa’s imagining — one that matches San Francisco’s current mood.
Chef of the Year Reader’s Choice Award: Traci Des Jardins
SF’s Most Gorgeous Restaurant of the Year
Proper Hotels’ takeover of the 100-year-old historic property in the epicenter of mid-Market has revealed a stylish aesthetic from LA designer Kelly Wearstler (also behind Proper’s other hotel properties). Villon, the hotel’s main eatery, is a rich mix of textures, patterns, and inspirations. Wearstler says she and her team took a cue from “a range of early pre-modernist European styles,” while “the deep colors, rich textures and natural materials complement the patina of the original building.” Since Villon is in the lobby on the ground floor, it’s on display to guests immediately with three distinct areas: the European-styled lobby salon, the dining room, and a private dining room with seating for up to 14. And, don’t miss Charmaine’s, the complementary (and gorgeous) rooftop bar overlooking Market street.
Most Gorgeous Restaurant of the Year Reader’s Choice Award: Villon
Fast Casual Restaurant of the Year
RT Rotisserie, Hayes Valley
From the chef/owners of Michelin-starred Rich Table, RT Rotisserie is Evan and Sarah Rich’s ode to busy parents (like themselves), and the chronically on-the-go people of San Francisco. It channels the unpretentious, cozy vibes of Rich Table with a simpler menu of rotisserie-roasted Rocky’s Jr. chicken, porchetta, and cauliflower. Each of those options are brined and slathered with a smoked, roasted garlic oil, and finished with fresh herbs like shiso and mint, and lemon. An attractive selection of sauces seal the deal, with options like avocado ranch, Douglas Fir sour cream, chimichurri, and barbecue sauce. Sarah Rich’s soft serves and cookies are a must-consume, as are the sneakily fantastic sides and salads. Basically: eat it all there in the comfortable dining room, take it to go, or have it delivered by Caviar any night of the week.
Disclosure: Carolyn Alburger, the Cities Director for Eater, is the author of Rich Table's forthcoming cookbook. She has recused herself from involvement in any Rich Table or RT Rotisserie coverage on Eater.
Fast Casual Restaurant of the Year Reader’s Choice: Split
Wine Bar of the Year
The Riddler, Hayes Valley
Since it debuted with a no-holds-barred Champagne part last New Year’s Eve, The Riddler has been a constant celebration of the bubbly stuff. Owner Jen Pelka made her first restaurant a lady-forward collaboration, from all-female investors to chef Zoe Deeg to female-driven purveyors like California Caviar and and Guittard Chocolate. A menu of tater tot waffles, caviar, cheese, and charcuterie pairs well with the thoughtful selections of still and sparkling wines. There’s also the option of a bucket of Miller High Life ponies, a chambong (exactly what you think it is), and a “bump and a shot” of caviar and wine, making it an easy choice for celebrations or blowing off steam after work. An exceptionally Instagrammable aesthetic welcomes Champagne-lovers of all types.
Wine Bar of the Year Reader’s Choice: Birba