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These Were the Most Exciting Bay Area Neighborhoods for Dining in 2022

From Uptown Oakland to San Francisco’s North Beach, here’s where Bay Area dining experts returned again and again

North Beach’s 2022 restaurant boom it a top pick for the most exciting neighborhoods to explore this year.
| Getty

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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.

That has to be the Tenderloin. No, I’m not trying to be cute. Bodega SF is arguably the best restaurant in the city (it’s certainly up there for me), and I love to catch a show at the Black Cat. Between those contenders, Fluid Coffee Cooperative and the whole La Cocina marketplace, Arsicault’s much-chiller second outpost, Chao Pescao, and Liholiho Yacht Club, I don’t think there’s much of an argument to be made.

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

ESSJ aka Eastside San Jose.

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

Thee Stork Club in Uptown Oakland.
Patricia Chang

I’m biased because I live nearby, but as usual, I’m loving Uptown Oakland. This year, there’s so much that’s new and exciting, from “vulgar fine dining” restaurant Hi Felicia to the revival of Thee Stork Club to the trendy new Yonsei Handrolls and natural wine bar Slug. There’s really no reason to cross the bridge for a perfect night out.

— Madeline Wells, SFGATE food reporter

Palo Alto. It seems to have a great mix of exciting restaurants.

— Nandita Godbole, writer at Curry Cravings

I ate my way up and down the N Judah line in the Inner and Outer Sunset — such a great mix of old and new: Yummy Yummy, Queens, DamnFine, Outerlands, Sunset Cantina, Palm City Wines, Lavash, and Yo Tambien Cantina.

Sarah Henkin, manager at Omnivore Books

I’m an East Bay person at heart, so it’s been exciting to see the new bars and restaurants in downtown Oakland. I’ve taken countless trips into downtown Oakland this year, and there are such good food and drink options available, it’s easy to hop from place to place and have a good meal at every turn. Some could argue that it’s partly due to gentrification happening here — and perhaps, in some cases, it is — but there have also been locals putting down roots in the downtown scene, including Kinfolx, Calabash, Thee Stork Club, Hi Felicia, Viridian, and more. Meanwhile, I’ve also been rediscovering San Francisco neighborhoods again and am re-impressed (if there is such a word) by North Beach and its offerings, by which I can say I’ve gone too long without strolling the neighborhood casually and learning again why it remains such an impressively festive and close-knit part of the city.

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

I wish I got out of my neighborhood more, the East Bay has so much to explore. Looking back I guess my excitement for 2022 was returning to comfy favorites after the worst of the pandemic, seeing full dining rooms in North Beach, the Mission, and Hayes Valley was nice.

— Patricia Chang, freelance editorial and commercial photographer

Scenes, House of Shields
House of Shields continues to hold it down downtown.
Patricia Chang

This year I learned to love the convenience of riding the N Judah, which meant spending way more time downtown than in 2021 — and being delighted to start exploring old standards and new favorites. I threw back a few at House of Shields and Kona’s Street Market, ate crispy-edged pizza at Pie Punks, celebrated a few nights out in Boulevard’s stunning dining room, and explored the ever-growing list of great options at the Ferry Building.

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

FiDi. It’s made of larger business restaurants, which are classic and have the best views of the city.

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

I keep finding myself in the Marina/Cow Hollow, to my great surprise.

— Camper English, cocktails and spirits writer and author

I’m biased, but I feel like Richmond’s 23rd Street is as flavorful as any food corridor in the entire Bay. It reminds me of what the Mission used to feel like before it was gentrified.

— Alan Chazaro, food reporter at KQED

If you need content on North Beach let me know. After years of mostly Italian American cuisine, I’m so pleased that more variety has opened up. And when Flour + Water [Pizzeria] opens next year, yes, it will be more pasta and pizza on top of everything else, but it will be less tourist driven and more locally focused.

— Christine Farren, Executive Director at Foodwise

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