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These Neighborhoods Dominated the Bay Area Food Scene in 2021

From Sacramento to the Inner Richmond, these ‘hoods have the goods

La Palma Mexica-tessen, 2884 24th St. in San Francisco, California, on Tuesday, September 6, 2011. Photo By Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Welcome to Year in Eater 2021, Eater’s annual tradition of celebrating the past 12 months with help from some of the Bay Area’s top food writers. Between now and end of the year, Eater SF will post daily questions about the Bay Area restaurant scene with answers from those who know it best.

The Mission forever. I’ve lived here for almost 15 years and still haven’t explored it all—I’m always finding something new (and new-to-me). Beyond that, exploring Inner and Outer Richmond is always fun — Clement Street might be the best eating street in the city. Also, love exploring the full-on cities south of San Francisco — Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Fremont, etc… there’s just so much there to uncover and cover. — Omar Mamoon, writer, Esquire

It’s always the Mission for me: I’m digging new spots like Donaji, Komaaj, La Vaca Birria, and Buddy (so fab). I’m always picking up tacos depending upon where I’m parked along 24th Street, and tortillas from La Palma. But I gotta give a shout-out to Abacá for getting people to Fisherman’s Wharf, and the mood-boosting Estiatorio Ornos a Michael Mina is adding some much-needed energy (and bright color) to downtown. And it seems every neighborhood in Oakland has something tasty and fun happening right now, from Daytrip to Bombera, plus Snail Bar, La Santa Torta, Shawarmaji, Daughter’s Diner, Friends & Family, and so many more spots. Busy-buzzy! — Marcia Gagliardi, founder/editor of

Filled pasta with sage
Pasta at Penny Roma
Patricia Chang
Terrine with minced chives
Terrine with minced chives at Buddy
Albert Law
Beef tartare at Ernest
Beef tartare at Ernest

I’m always excited to dine in the Mission, but especially this year, as the crossroads of 20th and Bryant are tearing it up as a restaurant destination: Cocktails at the recently reopened Trick Dog! Cacio e pepe at the new Penny Roma! Double-cut galbi at San Ho Won! And within a few blocks, mortadella sandwiches at Buddy and beef tartare at Ernest. — Becky Duffett, deputy editor, Eater SF

YD Tofu House, a Korean spot in south Sacramento and the Rosemont neighborhood. I got it to go a few times in 2020, but scalding-hot soups and crispy bibimbap just really didn’t transfer well into Styrofoam containers. The real dine-in draw was YD’s generous banchan, though: fried fish cakes and dried anchovies and all kinds of fermented veggies and even a soft-shell crab dish called ganjang gejang on occasion. — Benjy Egel, food and drink reporter, The Sacramento Bee

It’s a tie between Fruitvale and Rockridge in Oakland. Fruitvale because of the return of Nyum Bai and Reem’s California and the opening of Wahpepah’s Kitchen, the Native American restaurant from Crystal Wahpepah. Rockridge because of the openings of Sunday Bakeshop and Casa Barotti and because I can never have too many Boichik Bagels. — Jessica Yadegaran, food and dining writer, The Mercury News and East Bay Times

A plate of snail shells filled with escargot and kumquat.
Escargot at Snail Bar
Lauren Saria

I’m embarrassingly into funky natural wines so I often found myself glaring enviously across the bridge, specifically at Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. Honestly, how dare they have an awesome plant shop and not one but two cool new natural wine bars? — Lauren Saria, editor, Eater SF

I maintain that my neighborhood, the Richmond District, is the most exciting place to eat in San Francisco. But Uptown Oakland might be the Bay Area’s best place to drink right now. There are so many amazing new bars there — Viridian, Low Bar, Friends & Family and Sandbar among them. — Esther Mobley, senior wine critic, San Francisco Chronicle

Eastside San Jose is where it’s at. (If only I lived closer.) — Luke Tsai, food editor, KQED

I don’t get to visit Sacramento often, but I hope that I can get out there more in 2022 to visit many of the wonderful restaurants I’ve been reading about this year. I’ve been dying to try Persian restaurant, Maydoon. — Susana Guerrero, reporter, SFGATE

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