This is a list completely unto itself. It does not include any restaurants from my other lists (Best New Restaurants, Most Underrated Restaurants). From longtime favorites to fairly new spots, these are some of the places I hope to revisit soon.
Aziza – One of my all-time favorites, I finally made it back to Aziza this year for a belated birthday dinner. From the warm greeting at the door to the wonderful drinks, great service and wonderful food (including desserts), it’s always been a top spot for me. Excited to see what’s in store at the new location, hopefully open sometime in 2013. Aziza is located at 5800 Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.
Bouche – I will be interested to see what Bouche has in store for 2013 with a new chef in tow. I love the feel of the restaurant and the food and wine list are both terrific. Had wonderful dish after dish. The best part is that the restaurant is open late night, something that San Francisco really needs more of. Bouche is located at 603 Bush Street in San Francisco.
Cassava Bakery & Café – This is like “The Little Engine That Could.” A tiny little café out on Balboa Street serving up amazing breakfast/lunch and dinners every so often as well. I got the chance to stop in for breakfast and munched on an amazing quiche and the Japanese Breakfast, which is normally only available for weekend brunch. Everything was so simple, yet wonderful and delicious at the same time. Owners Kris and Yuka are equally friendly and make this a stealth neighborhood spot. Cassava Bakery & Café is located at 3519 Balboa Street in San Francisco.
Copita – A new spot in Downtown Sausalito, Copita offers a fresh take on Mexican cuisine. Chef Joanne Weir and her team present a seasonal menu filled with small and large plates, all with fresh ingredients from their own garden and local producers. The food is terrific and it’s a beautiful environment down near the water. Copita is located at 739 Bridgeway in Sausalito.
Haven – Daniel Patterson is building quite the restaurant empire in the East Bay. First it was Plum, then Plum Bar next door and late last year, Haven opened its doors in Jack London Square. Chef Kim Alter presents a fairly eclectic menu. Like his other restaurants, I truly think the vegetable dishes standout. It’s a big space but the best seats are in front of the open kitchen. Great drinks as well. Haven is located at 44 Webster Street in Oakland.
Ippuku – Hard to explain the joy I experienced while eating at Ippuku (sorry no pictures, heeded the warning on the wall). The restaurant is a traditional izakaya, meaning tons of skewered items. Dishes are just far more authentic than other “unnamed” izakaya restaurants I have been to. A great list of shochu and sake as well. Love the environment and each dish was pretty much spot-on. A great find in Downtown Berkeley. Ippuku is located at 2130 Center Street in Berkeley.
Mission Bowling Club – I have not tried dinner here, but did stop in for brunch one weekend. What a fun menu! Loved the fact that they had Loco Moco, which I had to try. It was by far one of my favorite dishes of 2012. A hamburger patty, fried egg, gravy, rice and onions – just amazingly delicious. Great Bloody Mary too. Mission Bowling Club is located at 3176 17th Street in San Francisco.
Miss Ollie’s – Old Oakland’s newest spot is serving up some pretty amazing Caribbean soul food from chef and owner Sarah Kirnon, formerly of Hibiscus. Open only for lunch until the New Year, Miss Ollie’s, named after her grandmother, offers a lunch special each day with other items that mix Caribbean with Southern accents. The food is warm and comforting and I can’t wait to see what they offer for dinner service. Miss Ollie’s is located at 901 Washington Street in Oakland.
Pig and Pie – Been to this Mission District spot a few times and have always come away impressed. While the overall decor may be rather “Plain Jane,” I admire what the owner has tried to do, making sausages and almost all the other menu items in-house. On my first visit, I was completely wowed by the Fried Okra. I haven’t been in since the chef change, but am excited for what they have in store for 2013. Pig and Pie is located at 2962 24th Street in San Francisco.
Zuni Café – Sad but true that I have never been to Zuni Café before this year. But I finally made a lunchtime visit and came away thoroughly impressed. The Fried Chicken is mouthwatering goodness as is the presentation of oysters and Caesar Salad. Classic setting, great service, terrific food – it met all my lofty expectations. Zuni Café is located at 1658 Market Street in San Francisco.
A pretty great year of eating – hoping for more of the same in 2013.