After a year in which it seemed like there were a lot more restaurants closing or just hanging on than opening, Bon Appetit has published its annual Restaurant Issue — and rather than the traditional "Hot 10" list of the country's best new restaurants, they're expanding things to a list of the best 50 new restaurants.
Were there really 50 great new restaurants that popped up in the last year? Bon Appetit's editors say there were — and the timeline likely extends beyond 12 months ago, since last year they jettisoned the Hot 10 in order to recognize the impacts of the pandemic and highlight, instead, people and businesses that are "changing the industry for the better."
And in an era when traditionally elitist magazines like Bon Appetit are trying to be more inclusive, expanding the list to 50 makes some sense. It allows the editors to be more wide-ranging in terms of geography and restaurant caliber, including bagel shops and wine bars alongside the more splashy, upscale places — and including cities outside the traditional food capitals of New York, San Francisco, LA, Chicago, and sometimes D.C., Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Denver, Philly, and Houston.
In several years of the past two decades, San Francisco has seen two new restaurants appear on Bon App's Hot 10 in the same year, taking away spots from smaller cities and upstart food spots. But the past few years have seen the magazine's editors start to gush a bit less about SF's food scene, instead looking to Atlanta, D.C., Austin, and other cities that have gotten short shrift in the past. And out of 50 spots, San Francisco only nabbed one in this issue, with Oakland getting another — so, not a terrific showing, but there hasn't exactly been a parade of new openings, and the editors may have somehow neglected to make it to Ernest, Osito, Handroll Project, Sorella, Routier, or San Ho Won, to name a few standout places to debut in the past 12 to 18 months.
Only Good Good Culture Club, the spinoff of Liholiho Yacht Club that opened at the new year on 18th Street in the former Dear Inga / Farina space, makes it on Bon App's list as far as San Francisco goes. The editors rave about the stuffed chicken wings but also about "the vibes (and the staff-first philosophy)."
The magazine's editors were bigger fans of the square, sheet-pan pizzas at Los Angeles's Quarter Sheets Pizza than at the bevy of new square-pie spots in SF, like Square Pie Guys or Sunset Squares. (Or they didn't make it there in time.)
And the other Bay Area entry on the list is Oakland's DAYTRIP, the self-described "fermentation-driven shared plates party restaurant" that opened last year in the Temescal District, and is one of many natural wine bars with food that have been all the rage in the last couple years here and elsewhere.
"On our visit standouts included charred favas with candied sesame brittle and white-jasmine ricotta, and hand-cut pasta with honeynut squash miso and pearls of kelp," the editors write of DAYTRIP. "But you’ll also want to order most of the inventive small plates, made for eating alongside a second or third glass of funky natural wine, or unfiltered sake."
Photo of Good Good Culture Club via April D. Storm