Michael Bauer - SF Chronicle


Widely regarded, and supremely influential, food critic Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle has released his annual edition of the top 100 Bay Area restaurants. Now in its 17 year, the compilation is a must read for all us foodies. As soon as it was released over the weekend, I poured over the list to see how my favorites fared.

Eight restaurants received a perfect 4-star rating – equivalent to a famed Michelin three-star: Benu (Corey Lee, San Francisco), Chez Panisse (Alice Waters, Berkeley),  Coi  (Daniel Patterson, SF), Cyrus (Douglas Keane, Healdsburg), French Laundry (Thomas Keller, Yountville), La Folie (Roland Passot, San Francisco), Manresa (David Kinch, Los Gatos), and Restaurant at Meadowood (Christopher Kostow, St. Helena).

By my count the SF Bay Area still leads Napa (who’s coming on strong) by a score of 5 to 3. But who’s keeping score anyways?! This is all about sharing and exploring the culinary treasure that is dining in this region.

Other favorites making the list, each with three stars, include Michael Chiarello’s relatively new Bottega in Napa, Nancy Oakes’ Boulevard in San Francisco.

Morimoto Napa also made the list. It turns out you should go there for more than just the sushi, as I demonstrate in this on location “yellow chair experience” vid:

Okay, who said dining out can’t be jocund as well?

Other notables include Oenotri (3-star). They’re on a bit of a streak, after being named top Italian restaurant in the US by Food and Wine magazine. I also shot a segment for SI TV, and interviewed Chef Curtis Di Fede. Find out his favorite part of the pig (and how to pronounce it…. hint: not like I did).

Trend Spotting

Bauer notes some trends in the piece that accompanies the top 100 reveal:

  • High-end restaurants are back in vogue, and fixed-price menus are increasing (e.g. $198 for 10 courses at Saison).
  • 3-5% surcharges are becoming more common in San Francisco, where taxes are higher than other cities across the region.
  • Foie gras protests are on the rise as the July ban approaches.
  • 15 new restaurants — including Baume in Palo Alto, Sons & Daughters in San Francisco, El Paseo in Mill Valley — were added to this year’s top 100 list.
Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.