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The Bay Area’s Top Restaurant Newcomers of 2018

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These are the new restaurants that defined the year in dining

The fruit presentation at Angler
Patricia Chang

As we continue eulogizing the past year through input from the city’s top food writers, we turn our focus to the new restaurants that quickly made their mark on SF dining in 2018. These are places like Angler, the Saison spinoff that hit the ground running. Earlier we shared responses on the top restaurant standbys of 2018. Now, it’s time to identify this year’s most stunning newcomers.


Peter Kane, editor-in-chief of SF Weekly: Gonna try to narrow it down to seven, at a range of price points: Dyafa, Angler, Sorrel (as a brick-and-mortar, anyway), Nyum Bai, Bon Voyage (primarily a bar, but with awesome food), Isla Vida, and Bardo Lounge & Supper Club.

Caleb Pershan, senior editor at Eater SF: Nite Yun’s Fruitvale Cambodian restaurant Nyum Bai is a breath of fresh air — and anyone who’s tried her fragrant, flavor-packed prahok ktiss and steamed fish amok is likely to agree. Che Fico was the restaurant on the tip of everyone’s tongue this year, arriving with a sense of purpose and polish after a very long buildup. And Angler, Josh Skene’s new restaurant on the Embarcadero, is shaping up to be one we’ll talk about for years to come.

Janelle Bitker, Eater SF reporter: Nyum Bai, of course, and along those lines, it’s been an awesome year for La Cocina alums. Am I allowed to admit I still haven’t been to Che Fico?

Rachel Levin, former Eater SF critic and author of upcoming Wise Sons cookbook: Che Fico (for the total package) and Nyum Bai (for the true love), and I might add Kantine (for the refreshing sf brunch innovation)

Greg Morabito, pop culture editor for Eater National: I am definitely not the authority on this subject because I rarely find myself at one of the Heatmap restaurants I read about on Eater SF. But I did love every bite of my meal at Nyum Bai during a Team Eater dinner there last summer. It’s clearly worth every ounce of the hype, IMO.

Paolo Lucchesi, food editor at SF Chronicle: I’m going to guess that everyone else will say some (awesome) usual suspects, so I will give a round of applause to Smokebread/Duna 2.0 (RIP) and Yuanbao Jiaozi.

Ellen Fort, editor of Eater SF: God I love Nyum Bai, cannot overstate that. Angler, unsurprisingly, came out of the gate at a full gallop with dishes that are creative and fun to eat, and cocktails to match. Avery is turning out some exceptional food after its transition from pop-up to permanent. Pearl 6101 makes me want to move to the Outer Richmond, which says a lot.

Esther Mobley, wine and spirits critic at SF Chronicle: Dyafa, Nyum Bai, Angler (the latter of which I heaped lots of praise upon in a recent column).

Marcia Gagliardi, founder of Tablehopper and columnist for KQED’s Table Talk: Of course, Che Fico (which is rarely pronounced correctly, LOL), I’m digging on Prairie, Angler is off to the races, and Ayala is bringing some gorgeous seafood to downtown. Nyum Bai, so damn good (and what an inspiring story). Sorrel, Kantine, Besharam, Birdsong, Stonemill Matcha, Maum, and Bar Crenn, all welcome additions. The Outer Richmond is so stoked with Violet’s and Pearl 6101. Really happy for the mother and daughters behind El Pípila. Welcome back, Alfred’s Steakhouse. Love the new Nico! I wish we had Dosa by Dosa in SF. The cheeseburger from The Board is so durrrty. I’ve also been having so much fun going to a bunch of cannabis underground dinners, like Big Bad Wolf and TSO Sonoma with The Herb Somm.

Virginia Miller, freelance writer and editor at Liquor.com: On the mid-range and the upscale side, Angler, Sorrel, Che Fico, Pearl 6101, Avery, Dyafa (Oakland) and Besharam are all fantastic newcomers. On the more casual side, Spice of America, Nyum Bai (Oakland), Stonemill Matcha, Radhaus, Mauerpark, Kantine, are new neighborhood gems that nail their respective cuisines.

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