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A pizza topped with burrata.
A pizza from Rose Pizzeria in Berkeley.
Lauren Saria

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These Were Bay Area Food Insiders’ Go-To Restaurants During 2022

Old standbys and new favorites from across the Bay Area

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Welcome to Year in Eater 2022, Eater’s annual tradition of celebrating the past 12 months with help from some of the Bay Area’s top food and restaurant industry experts. Between now and the end of the year, Eater SF will post daily questions about the Bay Area restaurant scene with answers from those who know it best.

Imagine all my answers to these questions were just something hilarious like Raising Cane’s, which I have been to — but I kid. I spent a lot of time in people’s houses, visiting home restaurants, and eating home-cooked meals at places like El Tacostao and Tacos Osuna (RIP), both in Oakland, and at Carnitas El Canelo in Richmond.

— Cesar Hernandez, associate restaurant critic at the San Francisco Chronicle

Aurum in Palo Alto is a reliable place with tried and true recipes that don’t feel overdone, and Puran Poli in Sunnyvale for a taste of home.

Nandita Godbole, writer at Curry Cravings

As soon as Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe was brought back by longtime employees after closing in August, I stopped taking it for granted: It became my go-to weekend brunch destination for fluffy omelets and hashbrowns. I also couldn’t stay away from Daytrip’s miso butter pasta and orange wine, or Rose Pizzeria’s spicy caesar salad. Prubechu remained my go-to for festive birthday celebrations (I think about their garlicky shrimp and grits constantly), but even more often, I found myself at Porno Palace, a.k.a. Dan Sung Sa. There’s really no better way to kick off a fun night out in Oakland with a big group of friends than with pitchers of soju cocktails and kimchi pancakes.

— Madeline Wells, SFGATE food reporter

A bagel sandwich with ham and cheese cut in half from Schlok’s.
A bagel sandwich with ham and cheese cut in half from Schlok’s.
Patricia Chang

The vast majority of my eating for fun (as opposed to for work) happens during the day, so Schlok’s is one of my breakfast staples. It’s always a luxury to start the day with a walk down the Panhandle that ends with a fat, stacked bagel sandwich. I also love taking out-of-town visitors to brunch at Abaca for a taste of modern Filipino cuisine. I’m absolutely enamored with the truffle cheese ensaymada and bibingka with salted egg and brie. Finally, in the Inner Richmond Aziza delivers so much more than it needs to, in the best way, and twice this year I went all-in with a big group of friends on all-you-can-eat hot pot and karaoke at Grand Hot Pot Lounge. It’s a truly wild time.

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

El Mezcal Taqueria is a small, local-chain taqueria throughout the East Bay. There’s one in San Pablo near my house, and they have good specials on Mondays. They were also recognized by Chester Cheetah — the official social media account of Cheetos — for their Flamin’ Hot Cheetos burrito with carne asada, french fries, and nacho cheese.

— Alan Chazaro, food reporter at KQED

For restaurants, there’s always my Inner Sunset loves Marnee Thai and Ebisu, but Om Sabor and Baia in Hayes Valley, and Beachside in the Outer Sunset joined the list. For nightlife, I found myself at the Black Cat in the Tenderloin and Red Tail, which is also in the Inner Sunset, if you notice a theme. Regarding the cafe lifestyle, Cafe Reveille in Duboce, Andytown in the Outer Sunset, and Wholesome Bakery on Divisadero were my mainstays.

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

This year I spent more time than usual at Wildhawk, Casements, and Red Window for drinks and hanging out.

— Camper English, cocktails and spirits writer and author

A sandwich from Ok’s Deli.
Hoang Le

Ok’s Deli became my go-to for sandwiches, especially if I was seeking out one of the shop’s specials, such as the ebi katsu sandwich I’ve been thinking about since their pandemic pop-up days at Mago in Oakland. I also couldn’t stop thinking about Rose Pizzeria in Berkeley, with its excellent pies and that spicy Caesar salad. Meanwhile, I’ve been lurking at Provecho’s pop-ups this year, not only because Eder Ramirez’s food is damn good, but also because the menus change and there’s always something new that reminds me of the last great dish I had there, whether the seasonal crudo or smoked brisket tacos.

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Yo Tambien Cantina, where Isa [Isabella Bertorelli] and Kenzie [Benesh] make delicious seasonal vegetarian tamales, excellent salsas, and the very best michelada in the city; Yummy Yummy (currently addicted to their #8 sate beef noodle soup); and Primavera’s stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for chilaquiles or one of their rotating specials like ceviche tostadas or crispy fish taco to fuel my early Saturday morning market shopping. Also, Original Joe’s bar dining room is people-watching magic. I love to go around 4 p.m. before it fills up and split a burger or a Cobb salad and shrimp cocktail with my husband and observe the mixture of North Beach locals, tourists, groups of coworkers getting loose, and the early bird special crowd sipping martinis. A stop at Vesuvio on the way home is non-negotiable — there’s a table upstairs that overlooks the entire bar with its candle-lit chandeliers, a happy reminder of everything I love about San Francisco.

— Sarah Henkin, manager at Omnivore Books

Yarsa, Base Camp, and Dancing Yak. I was craving Nepalese food a lot this year and found myself popping into those three spots quite often to get my kale chaat and momo fix.

— Patricia Chang, freelance editorial and commercial photographer

Bi-Rite for their tofu banh mi and Ragazza for their New York, New York pizza.

— Nick Bastone, reporter at Axios SF

The renovated dining room at Boulevard. Patricia Chang

Nopa, Angler, and Boulevard.

— Tonya Pitts, sommelier and wine director at One Market Restaurant

What do you call a habit that’s almost a rut but you never tire of? For me, that’s the chilaquiles plate from Primavera at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. The combo of crunchy salsa-covered tortillas, creamy black beans, and scrambled eggs with chopped onions and avocado never lets me down and fuels me for a market day ahead. Plus, the views of the Bay waters, bridge, and your fellow shoppers are excellent people-watching.

Also, because I live in North Beach and work at the Ferry Building, a stop at Comstock Saloon on my way home for a classic cocktail and a bite is always a pleasure. When live music is playing I’m especially grateful. These are the moments I missed so much in the early years of the pandemic, and I’m grateful they’re back.

— Christine Farren, Executive Director at Foodwise

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