clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

These Are the 2020 Restaurant Closures That Broke Bay Area Food Insiders’ Hearts

In a year of sad and shocking closures, these losses hit local dining experts the hardest

The closure of clifftop cafe Louis’ was one of 2020’s saddest

We asked a group of local writers, restaurant industry voices, and other assorted, and uniformly brilliant, friends of Eater SF to weigh in on this past year in food (and what a year it was). We’ll share their answers to this, the annual “Year in Eater” survey, over the course of several articles over the next two weeks. Today, they’re sharing what permanent restaurant closures saddened them the most.

Ugh, so many. I was heartbroken when Locanda closed right out of the gate, I wanted to eat that spicy-fatty amatriciana forever, and if the Delfina group was in trouble, it spelled a hard year for everyone. I loved feasting on pork chops and calvados at Trou Normand, and likewise, it was gut wrenching to watch Bar Agricole go underground, and the rest of the group close. And I really wish I was celebrating my birthday right now at the Riddler, with a good bottle of bubbles and a tater tot waffle topped with smoked sammy and caviar. We miss you, old friend. — Eater SF reporter Becky Duffett

Los Cilantros in Berkeley was a resolutely neighborhood spot, low-key and comfortable, but/and the food was world-class. In other words: the kind of place that makes Bay Area eating so remarkable. I’m still hoping they might reopen somehow; how could I have known my last chile relleno there would truly be my last? — East Bay-based novelist Robin Sloan, the author of (among others) Sourdough and The Strange Case of the New Golden Gate

I do Eater’s weekly closings roundup, and each one erodes a little bit of my soul: I feel each dream’s dissolution so acutely that it’s hard to pick just one. It’s possible, though, that my core is most shaken by the toll this year has taken on the city’s nightlife: it seems impossible to me that the Stud won’t be there for us when this thing ends, or Lucky 13, or the Albatross Pub in Berkeley. And unrelated to the pandemic, but still gut wrenching: neither Lefty O’Doul’s nor the Gold Dust Lounge deserved to go out like they did, legacies uprooted and besmirched. I feel angry just thinking about it. — Eater SF editor Eve Batey

Prairie closing really bummed me out because chef Anthony Strong was just switching the focus to live-fire grilling and opening the Campfire Room right before everything shut down, and then he was one of the first to open a “General Store” when pantry staples and toilet paper were impossible to come by. I really admire his ability to pivot and to be creative. Honestly, though, they’re all so sad. It’s hard to watch anyone be forced to give up on a dream for reasons that are not their own. — SF food writer Daisy Barringer

There are so many. Hearing about Beachside’s closing in the Outer Sunset almost made me cry. I used to take my nephew and niece there for breakfast. — San Francisco restauranteur Rica Sunga-Kwan, the owner of Portola District ice cream shop Churn Urban Creamery

There have been so many, of course, but the one I’m sad about as I write this is DNM Hot Pot, the Inner Mongolian hot pot restaurant in the Inner Richmond, where I had one of my coziest, most soul-restorative meals of last winter. The closure of Cafe Ohlone, the Bay Area’s only Ohlone restaurant, was also devastating, but I’m heartened that its founders have started offering takeout meal kits and that they’re determined to open an even bigger and better storefront at some point in the near future. — Eater SF food editor Luke Tsai

Dopo in Oakland has long been a special place for me and my wife. Jon’s simple regional Italian cuisine and especially his charcuterie will be missed. I loved his duck scatola and their meat lasagna was the very definition of comfort food. Also loved going on weekdays for a late lunch of arancini, salad and the Dopo pizza with a glass of rose at the counter. — Chef, activist, and author Preeti Mistry

I can’t say I was a regular at either spot, but I’m very bummed about Louis’ and The Cliff House. I miss Beachside’s breakfast burritos and their fried chicken sandwich a lot (though I’m heartened to see that Java Beach down the block is holding strong). But nothing breaks my heart quite like the loss of Pittsburgh’s, the perfect neighborhood dive, and home to many late night talks, pseudo dance parties, and good/bad decisions. — San Francisco food writer Lauren Sloss

I think I’ll have to firmly answer that question once we see who doesn’t reemerge from the winter freeze. That said, I’ll miss mornings at the crowded counter at Art’s Cafe, but the fact that the owners finally got to retire and ride off into the sunset makes me happy, not sad. I’ll miss mornings at the empty booths of Louis’, but I’m holding out hope that it will be reborn, hopefully with good food. I’ll miss the uncompromising, singular spirit of Cockscomb, but I’m holding out hope that Mr. Cosentino’s cooking will return to the city in some form, at some point. — Resy editorial director (and Eater SF’s founding editor) Paolo Lucchesi

Ristorante Franchino. It was a favorite when I lived in North Beach and I celebrated many occasions there, including my engagement! — Napa food writer Jess Lander

AL’s Deli was pretty rad while it lasted, and Walzwerk was such a quirky, East German stalwart in the Mission that harkened back to a different time in San Francisco. But I really, really wanted Prairie to make it, and that was super sad. The only consolation is that chef Anthony Strong doesn’t seem like the type to stay knocked down for long, and he’s already doing that “glamping” picnic thing out of a VW van, and he’s not going anywhere. — SFist editor Jay Barmann