Today, the process of choosing this year’s stars in the Bay Area restaurant world — the Eater Awards winners for 2019 — continues apace. After soliciting many solid ideas from readers during the course of our month-long nomination period, it’s time to narrow the playing field. There are four finalists in three categories: Restaurant of the Year, Design of the Year, and Pop-Up of the Year.
Restaurant of the Year
Verjus, the grand, European-style wine bar where Michael and Lindsay Tusk transport guests with a deftly executed menu of French and Spanish classics and a well-curated list of natural wines.
Besharam, Heena Patel’s Dogpatch restaurant, which has reinvented itself with a renewed focus on bold, soulful Gujarati cooking after relaunching as a solo restaurant earlier this year.
Nari, Pim Techamuanvivit’s elegant Japantown restaurant where chef de cuisine Meghan Clark fuses California ingredients with bright, aromatic Thai flavors.
Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup, a Japantown phenomenon where throngs of customers routinely wait an hour and a half for spicy-sweet beef short rib stew and other Korean comfort food dishes.
Design of the Year
Moongate Lounge, the swanky, impeccably stylish upstairs cocktail bar — a stunning facelift for the old Four Seas banquet hall.
Nari, a beautiful two-story space attached to Japantown’s Hotel Kabuki, full of lush greenery and Thai-inspired fabrics.
AL’s Deli, a contemporary spin on a Jewish deli that owes its fun, tropical vibe to the pops of pink and blue that fill the casual space — including an amazing flamingo wallpaper in the bathroom.
Matterhorn, the reopened fondue restaurant whose design is an updated take on an alpine ski lodge, complete with cuckoo clocks and a real gondola that can be reserved for booth seating.
Pop-Up of the Year
Xingones at Fort Green, the popular Laney Flea Market pozole vendor whose tacos and fried chicken have been crowdpleasers since the business settled into a permanent pop-up arrangement at the Fort Green sports bar.
El Garage, the roving East Bay birria taco pop-up, which has amassed a cult following since it launched out of its founders’ driveway in Richmond.
S+M Vegan, the longstanding vegan caterer, which has been running a regular pop-up at Eli’s Mile High Club, serving bold, veganized versions of Singaporean and Italian dishes.
Hilda and Jesse, a duo of SF fine-dining chefs who have been winning customers over with their internationally inspired takes on the breakfast-for-dinner theme.
All of these finalists have either opened or come into their own in a new way since we declared the winners last year. All of them were key contributors to making 2019 a great year of eating in the San Francisco Bay Area. So please, take a moment to give these brave finalists a round of applause. Winners will be crowned, with much fanfare, on December 10, 2019.