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The Best Restaurant Meals of 2018

What meals really stood out for food writers and editors this year

Squid at Mourad
Ellen Fort

Jonathan Kauffman, food reporter at SF Chronicle: Can I just mention here the two I will miss the most? Brunch at the now-closed SHED in Healdsburg –the prettiest egg dishes in the entire Bay Area, which seem to float up out of a flower garden – and my last piece of pizza at Pauline’s, which also doubled as an elegy for my 20s and left me melancholy for days afterward.

Caleb Pershan, senior editor at Eater SF: Call me sentimental but, I had such a perfect and memorable meal at Delfina on their 20th anniversary. All the hits — the spaghetti, the chicken — and some new items were absolutely on point. So satisfying.

Janelle Bitker, Eater SF reporter: It was probably a celebratory dinner toward the start of the year at Tartine Manufactory, which was just perfect from start to finish. A stinging nettle tagliatelle with brandy and caviar blew away all of my high expectations.

Greg Morabito, pop culture editor for Eater National: Sometime last April, I enjoyed a midweek tasting at Scribe in Sonoma that was accompanied by an incredible spread: crispy cod, roasted new potatoes, fresh peas with mint, nuts, olives, and salad. A perfect light meal to enjoy on the patio of the hacienda, and it was just cool enough that they were passing out blankets to anyone who wanted them.

Peter Kane, editor-in-chief of SF Weekly: Eight Tables was just dazzling from start to finish. It’s the definition of luxury. I also ate a solo outdoor lunch consisting of a burger, fries, and a beer at Belcampo Meats in Jack London Square that took me from hangry to deliriously satiated.

Ellen Fort, editor of Eater SF: This one is always tough so I’m going to name a few of the very best dishes I ate all year. Prahok ktiss at Nyum Bai. Uni in spicy lobster broth at Avery. Squid noodles in almond milk at Mourad. Wagyu bo ssam at Maum (enhanced by the fact that I was seated next to Cecilia Chang). Cheeseboys at Henry’s at the Graduate Hotel. Final crab feast at Camino.

Paolo Lucchesi, food editor at SF Chronicle: Omakase at the counter at Akiko’s. Lunch at Rintaro. I also really, really enjoyed this sandwich from Liza Shaw during her residency at Marla.

Rachel Levin, former Eater SF critic and author of upcoming Wise Sons cookbook: Tough call. Can I take the chopped liver from Che Fico, and the kuy teav cha from Nyum Bai, and the labneh from Dyafa and the pink scallop from Bar Crenn and the wagyu snow beef from Avery—even tho it was an absurd $78 supplement on a $189 menu (thank you, Eater), and the sea gin martini from Pearl?

Esther Mobley, wine and spirits critic at SF Chronicle: I always love dinner at Tartine Manufactory and wine director Vinny Eng’s list, but one meal this year stands out in particular for the wines I drank: an insanely pretty Morgon from Mee Godard, a very talented South Korean-French female winemaker in Beaujolais; Ageno, a polemical (and therefore exciting) orange Malvasia from La Stoppa; Kikelet’s Origo, a rich, expressive and, yes, dry Tokaji. I could go on but that would require to me to admit how much I drink.

Marcia Gagliardi, founder of Tablehopper and columnist for KQED’s Table Talk: Dining at White Rabbit in Moscow with my father during our trip to Russia for World Cup. Our server was a master storyteller about the history behind the dishes and the local Russian ingredients (and spirits) we tried. And what an epic sunset from that rooftop location.

Virginia Miller, founder of The Perfect Spot, freelance food/drink writer and editor: It’s tough calling out the best meal of the year out of over 600 but one of the first that comes to mind is returning to Lazy Bear. The gorgeous, two-floored space and dinner party feel, chef David Barzelay’s relaxed vibe and interactive kitchen — and most importantly, spectacular food and drink. It remains one of our country’s greats.

On the casual side? Braving the line once a year for a weekday breakfast of crab, clams and oysters at Swan Oyster Depot feels like coming home, thanks to the Sancimino family. It’s one our greatest treasures.