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The Best Bay Area Dining Neighborhood of 2019

These are the restaurant-dense neighborhoods that took the crown

The outdoor patio at Nyum Bai.
The outdoor patio at Nyum Bai
Patricia Chang

We asked a group of local restaurant critics, journalists, and other assorted, and uniformly brilliant, friends of Eater SF to weigh in on this past year in food. We’ll share their answers to the annual “Year in Eater” survey over the course of several posts during this next week. Now we tackle the question of which Bay Area neighborhood offers the best dining options.

Luke Tsai, editor at Eater SF: Even if there weren’t as many big openings this year, I maintain the Fruitvale can go toe to toe with any other neighborhood in the Bay — if not for fine-dining razzle dazzle, then certainly for its concentration of searingly delicious affordable and mid-priced restaurants that exist to serve everyday folks in the local community. That said, I never get tired of exploring the Asian restaurant scene in the Richmond, where I discover something exciting and new every time I go.

Soleil Ho, restaurant critic at SF Chronicle: The Richmond District seems like it’s constantly in a state of flux — I can’t keep up with all the new dessert places that have opened up this year on Geary and Clement alone. It’s so alive!

Paolo Lucchesi, editorial director at Resy: Every year I say the Mission, because I believe that its pure quantity and diversity of superlative restaurants is unsurpassed. That’s still true, but this year, I really, really enjoyed eating and drinking my way through the avenues,

Becky Duffett, reporter at Eater SF: The Mission. Is it ever not the Mission?

Katherine Hamilton, restaurant critic at East Bay Express: My answer has been the same for the last decade or so: the Fruitvale district. I’ve always loved the Churros Mexicanos cart in front of the Fruitvale Public Market, where you can get freshly fried churros stuffed with cajeta, chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla filling. Accompany that with a scoop of rompope ice cream from Nieves Cinco de Mayo and you’re golden. The pozole verde at Obelisco is a perennial favorite of mine, and there’s a reason why Nyum Bai draws consistent crowds. Red Bay Coffee and Ale Industries are great places to grab coffee and beer, respectively. And newcomer La Guerrera’s Kitchen, owned by a mother-daughter duo, makes some of the best calabacitas tamales I’ve tried.

Sarah Han, editor at Berkeleyside Nosh: I’ve been excited to see interesting stuff opening up across the East Bay in areas that haven’t historically been considered dining hot spots. San Leandro, El Cerrito and Richmond, in particular, seem to be having a moment.

Elena Kadvany, food reporter at Palo Alto Weekly: It’s less of a neighborhood and more of a mini-region made up of the cities of Millbrae, San Bruno and Daly City. I told everyone I could this year that the under-the-radar food in this part of the Peninsula is well worth the drive from anywhere in the Bay Area. I had some of the most memorable bites and sips of 2019 here: the tacos dorados from Mariscos El Pariente, dim sum at Red Circle Dumplings, Portuguese egg tarts from Suzanne’s Cake & Pastry, and the bottle of Domaine Bobinet saumur blanc from natural wine shop Vineyard Gate Selections.

Eve Batey, senior editor at Eater SF: The Inner Sunset, specifically, Ninth Avenue between Irving and Lincoln. You’ve got newcomers like Nopalito,, and Tartine on one side of the block, and standbys like Gordo Taqueria, Marnee Thai, and Ebisu on the other. With Fiorella headed into the former Chow space, Hometown Creamery up the block, and the variety of reasonably-priced options at Jenny’s Burgers, I challenge you to find a better dining block in SF.