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It’s the End of the SF Chronicle’s ‘Top 100 Restaurants’ List as we Know It

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Also: Heating an SF outdoor dining space costs $3,500 a month, and more news to know today

A hand rests on top of a brisket sandwich, the meat piled high on a round bun, with pink pickled onions and golden honey mustard on top
Horn BBQ (this is its brisket sandwich) has yet to open its doors, but it’s already on the SF Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurants list
Horn BBQ

Welcome to p.m. Intel, your midday roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news from publications near and far. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

  • The SF Chronicle’s “Top 100 Restaurants” list is a long-hallowed assembly of local restaurants that — at the list’s inception almost 25 years ago — met the exacting standards of then-critic Michael Bauer (for better or for worse). When critic Soleil Ho took up Bauer’s mantle in 2019, the list got a new methodology and became more collaborative; and this year, with the pandemic in full swing, the list only contained 87 entries, as the other 13 were (temporarily, one assumes) still closed when it was published. On this week’s episode of the Chron’s Extra Spicy podcast (one of several local food shows launched in recent months), the Chron’s new food section head (and former Eater NY editor) Serena Dai says that the “Top 100 is a great honor for a restaurant to be on” but says that there are “actually a lot of big changes coming to the Top 100.” For example, “coming forward, the number is going to get real tight,” Dai says, and “it’s going to be a little more curated ... So this is kinda going to be the last version of this list as it exists right now.”
  • SF-based grocery delivery startup Instacart has (with other apps like DoorDash, Uber, and and Postmates) put $185 million into its support of Prop 22, a California ballot measure intended to deny its delivery drivers employee protections. Now it’s asking its (per California officials, misclassified) workers to encourage customers to vote for the measure, CNN reports, telling its shoppers to add stickers and fliers promoting the prop into grocery deliveries. “The whole thing is just very, very dystopian and absurd and alarming,” says Vanessa Bain, an Instacart shopper who opposes Prop 22. San Francisco labor and employment attorney Beth Ross says the move might also be illegal, as state laws “prohibit CA employers from controlling their employees’ political activities and requiring employees to adhere to the employer’s political views,” Ross says, and “it seems to me that is exactly what Instacart is doing here.”
  • Vanessa Garcia, the owner of 162-year-old San Francisco/Brisbane border spot Seven Mile House, says that indoor dining isn’t safe enough to resume at her restaurant. “People who want to sit at bars just want to keep on drinking. And they spend a lot,” Garcia tells SF Weekly. “But the problem with that is, once you drink a lot, you get really loose, and you don’t care about the rules.”
  • Aaron London, the chef at Michelin-starred Mission restaurant AL’s Place, tells SF Gate that the heat dishes you’re seeing at outdoor dining installations don’t come cheap. Those heaters cost “an extra $3,500 a month to run,” and that’s on top of what places spend to build out an outdoor seating setup, which London says “may be as low as $5,000, or may be as high as $25,000 or $30,000.”
  • Smuin Ballet put on a show in front of Union Square restaurant John’s Grill Sunday, NBC Bay Area reports, with dancers performing three shows on a stage outside the restaurant’s outdoor dining “oasis.”
  • ABC 7 got permission from Cal Fire to send a drone above the wreckage left by the Glass Incident Fire, and what it shows is both shocking and expected: blackened vineyards, leveled wineries, and tasting rooms reduced to rubble.
  • House of Prime Rib has already racked up 3,000 reservations, in advance of its Thursday reopening. [SF Gate]
  • Benicia’s One House Bakery made a Mandalorian and a Baby Yoda out of bread. [ABC 7]