A couple of weeks earlier than usual, Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer has unveiled his Top 100 Restaurants in the Bay Area a longstanding Chron tradition that serves as a kind of locally sourced Michelin Guide, albeit with Bauer bias. Unlike in previous years when the list has been hidden behind the paper's dumb paywall for a few days, and/or teased out and released in print only at first, they finally just decided to drop the entire thing online on Wednesday, ahead of the Sunday print edition that will go to subscribers. And given what a stellar year 2015 was for new restaurant openings with a record-setting seven brand new spots earning Michelin stars in their first few months of business it stands to reason that Mr. Bauer had to make some serious room and cull some fat on the new ranking. In total, 19 new additions were made, a few of which are not new restaurants but are newly excellent in Bauer's eyes, and 19 spots had to drop off, including a few that were newly added last year.
As he puts it, while 100 "seems like a lot of restaurants... in San Francisco that number barely covers the creme de la creme."
The restaurants that hit the list in 2015 and already lost their spots for reasons Bauer may elaborate on later are Monsieur Benjamin, Molina (in Mill Valley), and The Dock at Linden Street (in Oakland).
More notably, perhaps, Bauer's longstanding passion for pizza finally takes a backseat for some more ambitious cuisine. A couple of longtime Top 100 mainstays, Bauer fave Gialina and Oakland's Boot and Shoe Service both got the axe, as did Piccino in Dogpatch where pizzas are a centerpiece of the menu. While Boot and Shoe's sister spot, Pizzaiolo, remains on the list because he says the menu often features more ambitious fare, and they take reservations. And, apparently stealing Gialina's spot, the newly open Del Popolo on Nob Hill gets the add.
Six of the seven new Michelin star earners all have spots on the list, with two already having been added in 2015 (AL's Place and Mourad); Octavia, Lord Stanley, Omakase, and Californios all were obvious adds. And restaurants Bauer raved about as soon as they opened like Petit Crenn, Trestle, Cala, and Ninebark were all predictably included as well as well as Rasa in Burlingame, which he recently proclaimed "the Bay Area's best Indian restaurant."
And returning to the list after a significant absence is downtown speakeasy-tavern Bix, where Bauer writes, "The food masterminded by Bruce Hill has taken a huge leap forward with the addition of [chef] Emmanuel Eng."
Among the surprise cuts are longtime favorites like Chez Panisse Cafe though he seems to have just rolled it under the Chez Panisse umbrella, praising both restaurants in one listing AQ and Barbacco, which were all high in Mr. Bauer's praise in years' past.
Below, the full list of additions and subtractions. See the entire list, alphabetical and with photos, right here.
The New Additions
Boot and Shoe Service
Cafe at Chez Panisse
The Dock at Linden Street
* Changed hands in 2015 and became a ramen spot.