Fast on the heels of Bon Appetit's 50 Best New Restaurants list, we have another national best-of that picked out two SF restaurants that Bon Appetit's editors passed over.
Listicles and restaurant openings are slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels of frequency, though this has, for obvious reasons, not been the greatest 12 to 18 months in which to debut a new restaurant.
As we noted last week, Bon Appetit appears to want to be more inclusive and show a broader scope with its annual Restaurants Issue, forgoing its longstanding tradition of crowning 10 best new restaurants, formerly known as The Hot 10, and instead recognizing 50 recent openings around the country. This broadening of scope is a boon for second-tier cities and places that haven't had high-profile restaurant scenes, however it didn't prove to garner much love for the Bay Area, which had generally been able to count on one or two slots on the Hot 10.
Enter the New York Times, which did not previously have a tradition of covering restaurant openings in all 50 states. They installed Tejal Rao as their first California restaurant critic in 2018, and she has not done a ton of reviews in recent months — though she did write a rave for San Ho Won, the new Mission District Korean restaurant from acclaimed Benu chef Corey Lee, back in July.
This week we get the Times' take on the country's best new eateries — technically, they're not all new, and they called the list The Restaurant List 2022, with the subhed "50 places in America we're most excited about right now." They honor some pretty longstanding favorites in several cities — like Neptune Oyster in Boston, which opened in 2004, and Brennan's in New Orleans, which dates back to 1946 but reopened under chef Ryan Hacker in 2014.
But for California, the picks are pretty fresh, like Here's Looking at You, which just opened in January in Los Angeles.
In the Bay Area, the Times' critics call out Little Saint in Healdsburg, the new vegan and cocktail-centric spot from the SingleThread team; as well as San Ho Won, which is too good to have been snubbed by Bon Appetit, and they should know better.
"A hulking charcoal grill is at the heart of Jeong-In Hwang and Corey Lee’s Korean barbecue restaurant, which turns out dark, glossy pieces of thickly cut galbi, beef tongue and fatty rib-eye cap that are gently smoky and impossibly juicy," Rao writes. "Unlike many Korean barbecue restaurants, it’s not a communal cooking experience, but that means you can relax and leave the grilling to the restaurant’s virtuosic cooks."
Also, the Times gives props to Abacá, the Filipino restaurant inside a Fisherman's Wharf hotel that chef Francis Ang and his wife Dian opened last summer.
"In a soaring, sunlit dining room framed with hanging plants, Francis and Dian Ang and the team behind the Filipino pop-up Pinoy Heritage make every dinner feel like a party, complete with pancit and lumpia, habit-forming barbecue sticks of beef tongue and homemade longanisa, and a series of platitos that change in step with Northern California’s seasonal seafood and produce," Rao writes.
And for the brave-hearted, or those already enamored with the troubling delicacy, Rao points to the "secret" menu that includes balut — you can click on that to find out what it is, or not.
It's unfortunate that all the terrific new SF restaurants that have managed to make debuts this past year — including Ernest, Sorella, Osito / Liliana, Routier, Nisei, and Automat — aren't getting this national recognition. But you should check them out anyway.