HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


What would you add or subtract from the Chron Top 100 List?


Over on MB's blog he posted about his work on the upcoming Chron Top 100 list to be published April 5th. He's soliciting input on that post, but I figure it might be fun to open up the discussion here.

His blog post is here:

Last year's Top 100 is here:

So what restaurants do you think deserve to be added to the list?
And for each one you add, which would you eliminate?

  1. Perhaps subtracting MB would help? (j/k...sorta) Seriously, the list or editing needs some refreshing. It's getting a little stale and is as predictable as MB's taste (cute waiter, full bar, mid-range, continential palette, new twist, slab of meat option). It will be interesting to see how the list approaches things in a very down year.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ML8000

      You just made my morning.

    2. Rubicon closed and Silks' chef left, so that's two down. He wants to cut a total of 20.

      Bo's, Jai Yun, Swan Oyster Depot, and Vik's can go, since they don't serve cocktails or have good wine lists.

      BarbersQ's an easy cull, the barbecue's really disappointing. The lard-fried chicken is worth the drive to Napa, but that's only one day a week.

      Bauer's pretty much obliged to give the first opening to the Dining Room at the Ritz, since he dropped it from the top 100 by mistake based on the presumption that Ron Siegel and most of his team would leave to take over the Myth space.

      He pretty much has to add Dry Creek Kitchen, Erna's Elderberry House, Madrona Manor, and the Restaurant at Meadowood, too, since they're the only 3.5-star places not already on the list.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I don't think he has to add Erna's, since it's not in the San Francisco region.

        How about dropping One Market? Yeah, it's not bad, but I think of it as basically an expense-account FiDi restaurant without much soul or personality. Very 15 years ago.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I'd have to agree on One Market--funny cause I don't think I've been there in 15 years--I actually didn't even realize it was still around...

      2. I'd add Fish in Sausalito and Corso in Berkeley.

        I don't recall either having particularly hot waiters
        though so the chances of displacing Chow are maybe
        not so good.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          I find the food at Fish good, but not destination worthy, and on a price adjusted basis it isn't worth it. On top of that, the wine list is both bad and ridiculously overpriced, for example a bottle of Vinho Verde that retails for $6 is on the list for $26.

          Other general comments on the list:
          Ton Kiang: I just don't see the point. The food is not that good. The obligatory nod to SF Dim Sum is already filled in by Yank Sing, and Koi Palace is also on the list, so Ton Kiang could really be dropped.

          The Matterhorn: this hasn't been on my radar for years. Is it any good? Is this a pity nod to fondue?

          Chow: it gets two slots for Lafayette and San Francisco. Are they different enough to each deserve a spot? Does this model of food (freshly prepared, generally organic, adequately tasty, easy, fairly cheap, NOT earth shaking) really need a place in a top 100 restaurants list? I love Chow for mornings when I want to have breakfast/lunch and read a newspaper somewhere where it doesn't involve me cooking, and I can't make up my mind what I want, since it has a vast menu of generally well-prepared food. But it's not a destination restaurant by any stretch.

          1. re: SteveG

            MB gave himself some wiggle room by counting Chow and Chez Panisse only once each in 2008. Here's the list of all 100: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/food/to...

            1. re: SteveG

              Hmmm, good point, re Fish. I only eat there towards the end of 40-50 mile bike
              rides so
              1. technically, at least for me, it is a destination
              2. I'm hungry enough to eat shoeleather and pay anything for it
              3. even thinking about looking at the wine list is not on the menu
              But crazy wine markup really grates me the wrong way. OK, I
              withdraw that suggestion.

          2. I see Camino and The Moss Room added with Coco500 leaving.

            1. It's time to make space for new blood in that Top 100 list, so I'd drop the following places because their food is not up to par: Betelnut, Cafe Majestic, Chow (Lafayette & SF), Cucina, Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Fonda, Jai Yun, Nick's Cove, O Chame, Pesce, Poleng Lounge, Pizzaiolo, Swan Oyster Depot, Shanghai 1930, Silks, Terzo, The Matterhorn Swiss Restaurant, and Vik's Chaat Corner.

              1 Reply
              1. re: L C

                Pizzaiolo must remain in there if the love for the A16 family continues. It's way better.

              2. I would add Gitane. As for Chow - I think they do a great job for delivery quality at that price point.. If this was a quality price ratio listing I'd give them high marks and add Small She Flat Breads in Mill Valley to the list. But for a straight top 100, don't think they belong on the same list as places like Coi.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Trevallon

                  But Bauer has said that it's not a straight top 100 -- that he goes for a mix of styles and price points. Which I think is appropriate.

                2. Don't they basically have to add their top 10 openings for 2008? It's problematic, since you get places like Poleng in 2007 which was fresh but maybe in retrospect not in the same league as more consistent, higher end offerings.

                  They have gotten better about squeezing in the top Bargain Bites, not just La Taqueria. But it's not like they can afford to go re-review everything in the Bay Area in six weeks--it's drawn primarily from the previous year of reviews, plus a few new places (Zinnia, etc.).

                  Erna's has never been on the Chron list. Madrona's more likely because it was reviewed this past year.

                  Chow has hot waiters?

                  1. Bauer claims he tries "to assemble restaurants that reflect the region's diversity and includes a wide range of prices, cuisines and locations ... to create a list you can use for all of your dining needs."

                    If he seriously wanted to do that, he'd need to expand the list to 200 and include many of the places on the Bargain Bites list.

                    In reality, last year he included only a token handful of less expensive places on the 2008 list: BarbersQ, Bo's, Chow, Swan Oyster Depot, Tartine Bakery (expensive for a cafe), and Vik's ... did I miss any?

                    No Mexican ((he dropped La Taqueria from last year's list), no Thai, no Ethiopian, no Korean, no Chinese or Vietnamese except the expense-account places.

                    Rationalizing some of that, he said, "some cuisines, such as Thai, are not represented. That's because the once-breakout Asian cuisine has been homogenized, with most places serving safe, interchangeable collections of dishes." True, but that's no excuse for ignoring Thai House Express. Moreover, the same is true about American, California, Italian, and Japanese places, which account for more than half his 100.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      > did I miss any?

                      Dosa. More or less.

                      Is Vik's still scheduled for an April move? That could be enough confusion to drop it for a year.

                      No reason I can think of, except "it's always been there", for La Taqueria to return. Taco trucks are a moving target, so to speak, so it's impossible to pick out a single one; but it might be interesting to collectively include the entire International Blvd lonchera scene.

                    2. Add: Bar Tartine and TWO.
                      Replacing: One Market, Range, Firefly, or Foreign Cinema

                      Not that there's anything wrong with the latter set, but the former
                      are at least the equal of all of them.

                      And Yoshi's really shouldn't be on the list. It's good. It's a great surprise
                      to find a decent meal at a music venue. But it's not top-100 great and
                      sortof seems like putting it on the list is pandering to redevelopment

                      1. Call me psychic, but I'm guessing Bistro Jeanty will be off the list.

                        Because he is going for diversity and Matterhorn is the only Swiss game, it will stay there by default because it looks interesting on paper.

                        However, that list really needs to reflect the true Bay area dining scene and it is badly skewered. Seriously one Vietnamese restaurant and it is upscale, Californiazied at that. Come on, let's throw Saigon Sandwich on that list and give the tourists an experience.

                        There not even a category for Mexican and the entire Latin American scene is represented by Fonda? What about Poc Chuc ...it would be nice to keep a worthy little business by mentioning it in a list so the slaves to that list would walk in ... and maybe open eyes that Mexican is more than burritos.

                        Didn't the Chronicle drop covering South Bay Places? Which would take Plumed Horse off the list ... and Manressa if they want to stick to their guns about it.

                        My guess is Va di Vi is just there so that area isn't neglected and sadly that might be the best of the area in terms of upscale.

                        Hasn't Bay Wolfe's day come and gone?

                        I'd replace One Market with 1500 Hyde. Better and not a chain.

                        Flora ... seriously?

                        Does Town Hall need to be on that list?

                        Greens? Cafe Gratitude would be better ... and kill a number of list requirements since it is located in the North and East Bay as well.

                        I'd put Woodhouse in the seafood category and remove Hog Island.

                        No Canteen? What about that Italian joint that susaninsf and other hounds like so much La something that begins with C.

                        As much as I like Murray Circle, I hope it doesn't make the list due to constant reports of service issues. They need to get it together. It is long past time and the mismangement is ruining it for some excellent talent in the kitchen.

                        I agree though with the idea of a top 200 list. Or open it up Top 100 SF only and Top 100 in the rest of the Bay Area.

                        As a 100 list it is too ambitious and squeezes out some good restaurants and even cuisines and puts some average at best categories in there.

                        With the bad economy it would be nice to expand the list and throw a little business to very good restaurants that might fall under the radar ... then again, with this economy, maybe the list in 2010 won't be so hard to put together ... finding 100 might be a challenge

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: rworange

                          The Italian (Sardinian, actually) place is La Ciccia, and yes, I"ve thought for several years that it should be on the list....heck, even if the food and service weren't great, which I think they are (it is my favorite restaurant in SF for a reason) I think it would deserve a spot for the wine list. I totally agree with your comments on Bay Wolf, and Flora, though I may have to give Flora another chance one of these days ( will probably never go back to Bay Wolf)...and while I happen to like One Market (maybe I am the only hound who does, but I've always had a weak spot for Bradley Ogen) and don't think it is in any way comparable to 1550 Hyde (totally different styles, vibe, price range, etc), after my recent excellent meal at 1550 Hyde I definitely agree that it deserves a spot on the list.

                          La Ciccia
                          291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                          One Market Restaurant
                          1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

                          1550 Hyde
                          1550 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                          1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

                          Bay Wolf Restaurant
                          3853 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            Why won't you go back to Bay Wolf?

                            1. re: sydthekyd

                              My two most recent meals there consisted of boring, so-so, and in some cases, poorly execued food, that was far from cheap .Too many other better places to eat....

                              1. re: susancinsf

                                My last two meals at Bay Wolf were disappointing, too - sad, because that place holds a lot of memories for me.

                            2. re: susancinsf

                              Has La Ciccia never been on the Top 100?

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  It's funny, because you wouldn't know he didn't like it from the review. He seemed to love the food, except for desserts. He loved the "passion" and the warmth of the chef/owners. He didn't like the room, and he gave it 1.5 stars for "atmosphere" -- that, and the lack of cocktails (nevermind the great, reasonably priced wine list) and cute gay waiters, seems to have been what doomed La Ciccia. Which explains why it's beloved of chowhounds, who don't care (much) about such things. Maybe if La Ciccia got a signature cocktail and some Jonathan Adler plates it would zoom up the rankings.

                            3. re: rworange

                              > Hasn't Bay Wolfe's day come and gone?

                              Definitely. The good chef left years ago, opened another place, ran it,
                              closed it, and vanished.

                              > Flora ... seriously?

                              Pandering to redevelopment interests. Though the real Pioneer Award
                              over there should go to Luka's. Even though you can't reliably go there
                              and expect it to not be a cover-charge-hip-hop-nightspot. At least on

                              1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                Michael Wild's been chef of Bay Wolf for at least 20 years. Who was chef before that?

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Maybe I'm confused. Who was the guy running Olivia?

                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                    The guy at Olivia was *a* chef at Bay Wolf (as is the guy who runs Pappo in Alameda) but not *the* chef.

                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I believe he celebrated 30 years in 2005.

                                    Has anyone eaten there recently? I never see it mentioned. Or if it is, it's just in passing.

                                    1. re: Glencora

                                      My last dinner at BayWolf (maybe 3-4 years ago?) was good, there are just at least 20 other places in the same price range with food I like better, e.g. in that neighborhood Cesar and Dopo. Beyond that, my main complaints were the limited selection of French wines and the lack of a cheese course, both of which seemed wrong for a place with such a Frenchy menu.


                                2. re: rworange

                                  "Flora . . . seriously?"

                                  Are you kidding? We ate there for the first time last night and it was fantastic. Everything we had was delicious. It's a bit loud, but not racketish.

                                  Why is Flora a joke, rwo?

                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    I like Flora a lot, but Wood Tavern has a similar concept but with more exciting food and consistently excellent service.


                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Dear RL: We tried to get a res at Wood Tavern for 4 at 8 p.m. This was a month before the date. Nothing 'til 9. Do they have a communal table? I usually boycott restaurants that don't have reservations available for weeks and weeks.

                                      I thought the food at Flora was terrific, but I have no idea if they ever change the menu. The service at Flora was also great,but then I've only been there one time.

                                      Maybe we starstruck because we saw Willie Brown there. He was complaining about the rain because he had to get across the street. He came over to our table and said he'd decided to stay inside Flora until the rain stopped. I told him the last time I'd seen him was at Le Central at lunch about 6 years ago. I'm sure he was impressed.

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        Wood Tavern is very small (probably 1/3 of the size of Flora), which is why they book up so far in advance. But I've never had to wait that long for a table, I think they're just busier on weekend nights (and whenever Bauer sings their praises, a table gets harder to get). Keep trying, though, it's a great place.

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          No communal table, no room for one in that space. There's full service at the bar. Did you phone? I suspect they black out peak hours on opentable.

                                          I usually walk in for a late lunch. The only time I've gone for dinner was a winemaker event they did with Farmstead Cheeses & Wines in Alameda.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            From what I can tell, dinner walkins are only seated at the bar. At least, that's
                                            the policy as related by the hostessperson when we walked in and waited
                                            for 90 minutes before getting a bar seat. The bar stools are not terribly comfortable
                                            so calling first is recommended.

                                            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                              Dinner walk-ins aren't only seated at the bar, just most of the time. I've walked in and gotten lucky and gotten a table, but most of the time all of the tables are reserved, so I think that only happens when they have a cancellation or no show, or just a happy accident.

                                    2. re: rworange

                                      Canteen's still on the top 100.

                                      Manresa's the only restaurant south of Mountain View, but Bauer gives it four stars, it is arguably the best restaurant in the area, if you can afford the tab it's worth a drive and a night in a hotel, and it's closer to SF than the French Laundry.

                                      Bauer relegates places like Saigon Sandwich and Poc-Chuc to staff reviewers and puts them on the paper's Bargain Bites list:


                                      I think that list is considerably more authoritative and comprehensive at the low end than Bauer's top 100 is at the high end. That's partly because the reviewers have better palates, more Chowhound-type sensibilities, and don't get distracted by drapes, cocktails, and service, and partly because they don't cut the list down to an arbitrary number (currently it has 112).

                                    3. i would drop greens in a heartbeat. cafe majestic is on the bubble.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: steve h.

                                        I think Cafe Majestic is safe -- Bauer gave it a very positive review in January and included the chef in the recent list of "rising star" chefs.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Cafe Majestic closed suddenly. Too late for Bauer to drop it from the Top 100, assuming he included it.


                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Wow. That's shocking since I just had a great meal at Cafe Majestic this weekend. I guess I should be glad I got in under the wire!

                                      2. On this rainy Sunday I had a bit of time to look at this issue at some length.

                                        These are the restaurants I think will be dropped from the top 100:

                                        Bistro Jeanty
                                        Buckeye Roadhouse
                                        Foreign Cinema
                                        Hog Island Oyster Co.
                                        Jai Yun
                                        Matterhorn Swiss
                                        Nick's Cove
                                        O Izakaya
                                        Swan Oyster Depot
                                        Tartine Bakery
                                        Town Hall

                                        These will be added:
                                        Auberge du Soliel
                                        Chez Papa Restro
                                        Chez T.J.
                                        Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton
                                        Jack Falstaff
                                        Madrona Manor
                                        Moss Room
                                        Murray Circle
                                        Nettie's Crab Shack
                                        Restaurant at Meadowood
                                        Willi's Wine Bar (Santa Rosa)
                                        Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar (Healdsburg) (probably not, but should be added)

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Paul H

                                          I completely disagree on Camino. Underseasoned salad and main course. When you're only offering 3 choices per course, they should be special. None of ours (there were 3 of us so we tasted most of the menu) was worth writing up. The desserts were terrific. But I am put off by the too-precious attitude (c'mon, church chairs? not comfortable. My guest couldn't order a diet soda. What does it take to keep some beverage selection.) If this makes the top 100 I will be seriously shocked.

                                            1. re: goingoutagain

                                              I won't be surprised if Camino doesn't make the list, since Bauer liked the food and atmosphere but said the service didn't quite measure up.

                                              Foodish industrial products like diet soda and decaffeinated coffee are contrary to their slow-food vision. People who find that sort of thing pretentious should probably skip it.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                I'll accept pretension happily if the food is terrific. It wasn't.

                                                1. re: goingoutagain

                                                  Different strokes.

                                                  Bauer highlighted the divisiveness of the restaurant's style in his review ("... the type of restaurant that will elicit strong reactions, both negative and positive ... I have friends who love Camino, and others who complain about the small portions, the prices and the limited selections."), and followed up with a blog post, "A restaurant that's not for everyone," specifically on that issue.


                                              2. re: goingoutagain

                                                Camino will definitely make the list, MB loved it. I thought the food was bad and expensive, but I remarked to my dining companions when I left that I was sure that Bauer would love it, and lo, he did.

                                              3. re: Paul H

                                                Without trying to get exact, I suspect you are the prediction "winner". In a quick scoring, out of 21 total changes, you predicted 5 of the drops and 13 of the adds. And you were the only one predicting Tartine bakery's defenestration!

                                                Congratulations! Unless someone wants to contest the award...

                                                1. re: BernalKC

                                                  Thank you, I accept the award! I was about to check how I did, but you beat me to it!

                                              4. 1300 On Fillmore...both for the food and the atmosphere

                                                1. Replace an A with a Z. A Cote is tired after my last experience there last week. Nothing stellar after about 5 different plates. Replace with Zuzu in Napa. It used to be on the list and fell off a few years back. Always a new surprise on the menu and better than when they first opened.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      pity. it was a lot of fun but things change and that's the way it goes. greens should be on the chopping block and cafe majestic on the bubble.
                                                      just my $0.02.

                                                    2. I truly hope that Camino in Oakland will NOT be included.I think I read that is on the James Beard award list - nominated that is.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: zinfanatic

                                                        It's one of two local (if you count Yountville) nominees for best new restaurant. Seems well-deserved to me, though I can understand how some people don't like it.


                                                        1. re: zinfanatic

                                                          Oh, I completely agree with you, because I had an awful meal there, but MB loves the place, and put it on his best new restaurant list, so I'm sure it will be included.

                                                        2. beretta needs to be added for sure. and how kiss seafood is not on the japanese section of the list is beyond me as well.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              Wow, A Cote, Gary Danko, and Oliveto all out, those all surprise me. I'm glad Marzano made it in, I like that place.

                                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                                Having done selections like that in other contexts, I think the deal is that the first 70-80 are easy and solid, and the last 20-30 are relatively arbitrary. The last 5-10, you're looking for any excuse to make a cut.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  Any insight as to how Greens is STILL on the list? I don't even really like Gary Danko, but I'm pretty sure it belongs there over Greens.

                                                                  1. re: daveena

                                                                    And why oh why does Matterhorn continue to be included???

                                                                    1. re: srr

                                                                      And it's under the "German" heading. There is a "Swiss" heading and it is blank.

                                                                      1. re: bdl

                                                                        Like I mentioned earlier, it looks good for an additional cuisine category. It is the only game in the Bay Area as far as Swiss food. Here's Bauer's 1997 review ... though there are supposedly revisits each yeqr.

                                                                        Frankly, it seems like one of those places that don't require a revisit ... same chef/owner ... same menu.

                                                                        We get occasional good reports about the place from tourists. At this point, though I've never had any desire to go, I'm thinking of trying it out just to see if it is any good. Besides ... where else can you get in the Bay Area ... (from Bauer's review)

                                                                        "three versions of beef fondue, including the most popular, Fondue Bourguignonne ($40 for two). The tender cubes of beef come with great sauteed potatoes and six sauces: paprika, tartar, mustard, horseradish, peppercorn and curry. They also come with seven condiments: cornichons, pickled onions, marinated mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spicy chopped olives, kiwi and pineapple."

                                                                        For all the people wondering why it is on the list ... have you ever been?

                                                                        P.S. the online version is currently correct. Danko is on it and Mattahorn is under Swiss

                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                          I've been to Matterhorn. It was fine, but I have no real desire to go again, and no, I don't get why it's on the list. The food is perfectly pleasant and pretty unmemorable, but it's a fun place for a group of people.

                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                            I ate at Matterhorn years ago. It was fun but I'd rather do fondue at home (we have a real Swiss caquelon and all). If I went back I'd try some of the other dishes.

                                                                            Bauer's right to go back every year. Restaurants often go downhill despite no change of owner, chef, and menu. House of Prime Rib, for example.

                                                                            It's too big a job for one person, though.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              I'd like to go back to HOPR to see if I think it has gone downhill since my last visit, which was years ago and very enjoyable. Sometimes though with places like that I wonder if it is the restaurant that has changed, or me.

                                                                              House of Prime Rib
                                                                              1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                I was at HOPR last November. Bad Idea. I had great memories of the place from 25-30 years ago, but what I will remember from now on are the 45-minute wait past our reservation time, the pallid columns of prime rib steaming on the Flash Gordon era carts with their crusts trimmed off, and the utterly tasteless beef. The salad was not bad, in a retro kind of way, but if it's true you can't go home again, HOPR is a good reason not to even want to try.

                                                                      1. re: wolfe

                                                                        I'd say it's definitely asian influenced.

                                                                    2. re: JasmineG

                                                                      On the linked Ronn Owens show...both Ronn and Michael imply that Danko IS on the list.

                                                                  2. Just got the print edition. Gary Danko is still on the list. Terzo is gone.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                      Weird. Gary Danko's not on the online list.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        Maybe it's like one of those spy movies where they put out several false leads to see who is leaking the information.

                                                                    2. Here are updated in and out lists I compiled from the info on the Web site. 22 out, 21 in. Picco and Pizzeria Picco have two places on this year's list vs. one shared last year so that brings the total to 100. I'm going to get a print edition and see how it differs.

                                                                      A Cote (Oakland)
                                                                      Bar Crudo
                                                                      Bistro Jeanty (Yountville)
                                                                      Bo's Barbecue (Lafayette)
                                                                      Cafe Majestic (closed)
                                                                      Cucina (San Anselmo)
                                                                      Gary Danko (not in the online list; reportedly on the list in the print edition)
                                                                      Jai Yun
                                                                      Junnoon (Palo Alto)
                                                                      O Izakaya
                                                                      Oliveto (Oakland)
                                                                      Plumed Horse (Saratoga)
                                                                      Poleng Lounge
                                                                      Rubicon (closed)
                                                                      Shanghai 1930
                                                                      Slow Club
                                                                      Tartine Bakery

                                                                      Bar Jules
                                                                      Bottega Napa Valley (Yountville)
                                                                      Camino (Oakland)
                                                                      Chez Papa Resto
                                                                      Corso Trattoria
                                                                      House of Prime Rib
                                                                      Jack Falstaff
                                                                      Madrona Manor (Healdsburg)
                                                                      Marzano (Oakland)
                                                                      Moss Room
                                                                      Murray Circle (Sausalito)
                                                                      Nettie's Crab Shack
                                                                      Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena)
                                                                      Sea Salt
                                                                      The Dining Room at the Ritz (left off last year's list by mistake)
                                                                      Willi's Wine Bar (Santa Rosa)

                                                                      18 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        Gary Danko's in the print edition but currently missing from the online edition.

                                                                        The online list still totals 100 restaurants because Picco and Pizzeria Picco are split into two entries.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Is Cafe Majestic in the print edition? It closed after the edition went to press, I'd imagine, and it's surprising if he hadn't included it to begin with, given how much he (and others) have liked the work of the chef.

                                                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                                                            Cafe Majestic is not in the print edition.

                                                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                                                              No. He only gave it three stars overall, and two for service, which is bad for a restaurant in that price range.

                                                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                The chef left quite some time ago, and the Cafe eventually closed.

                                                                                1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                                                                                  The chef didn't leave quite some time ago, he was still there as of last week when it abruptly closed.

                                                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                    Not the Rising Star chef who got them the good reviews originally.

                                                                                      1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                                                                                        Cafe Majestic closed around 2003 and reopened in 2007 under Ian Begg, who was named a 2008 "Rising Star" chef in 2008. He left, but it didn't close. They hired a new chef, Louis Maldonado, who was also named a 2009 "Rising Star" three weeks ago.

                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                          Plus, Bauer gave Cafe Majestic under Maldonado an excellent review back in January.

                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                            I stand corrected -- hadn't really followed what was going on there after Ian Begg left. Odd that they would close so soon after having their chef receive that type of notoriety.

                                                                                            1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                                                                                              Per Ruth's recent report (apparently removed), they were still pretty empty.

                                                                                              The timing of the closing suggests the owners might have learned they'd been dropped from Bauer's top 100 and decided to give up.

                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                Actually, that's not what I said in my report. When we were there, they were pretty full. But it was Saturday night.

                                                                                                We were discussing the repeated failure of this restaurant, despite the generally positive reviews. I think there are a couple of factors. It's a bad location: a residential neighborhood, so there's no foot traffic. The parking is fairly difficult. And the decor, while lovely, is formal, and thus not conducive to young urban diners who like places with a livelier vibe where they can casually drop in.

                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                  My bad. I must have been confusing it with a previous report.

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    You're excused, since, as you noted, my report was removed (for reasons I understand).

                                                                                                    To get back to the food, I hope Louis Maldonado gets a new gig soon, and I'd love to know where the pastry chef (anyone got a name?) ends up.

                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                      Louis Maldonado was the pastry chef and executive chef

                                                                                                      1. re: youngone

                                                                                                        The January review in the Chron said Cafe Majestic's pastry chef was Zoe Derring.

                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                          Who left after the review and the chef assumed the position

                                                                            2. Dropping Oliveto seems like a really bad call to me.

                                                                              By Bauer's own star ratings, it's better than 18 of the 21 places he added to this year's list. Its prices are lower than those at Acquerello, the only other Italian place he gives 3.5 stars.

                                                                              For the four other 3.5-star places that didn't make the list, I can see some rationale. Erna's Elderberry House is not in the Bay Area. Chez Panisse is on the list, so maybe Chez Panisse Cafe doesn't need to be on there, too. Silks and Dry Creek Kitchen (Healdsburg) got new chefs de cuisine late last year, and Bauer hasn't published updates since. And none of those places were on last year's list, either.

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                Maybe there's a soon-to-be-published re-visit review.

                                                                                1. re: Paul H

                                                                                  Could be, though I don't think anything has changed.

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    sf.eater.com points out that the last detailed Bauer review of Olivetto was in January 1996. Possibly, things have changed since then.

                                                                                    1. re: Paul H

                                                                                      The last full review was 1996, but it's been on the top 100 every year since. Bauer says he revisits every restaurant on the top 100 when updating the list, so he thought they still merited 3.5 stars last year.

                                                                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                  That's why dropping Oliveto surprised me so much, it doesn't seem like the quality has dropped at all there, and it's certainly the kind of place that Bauer loves. Maybe he just wanted to add a few East Bay restaurants, and thought he needed to drop some too.

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    I suspect Bauer's decision was about the price / value, given his blog post about his meal there in January:


                                                                                    But if he feels that way, he should publish an update, and knock off half a star from the overall rating.

                                                                                    And he should update the price rating. He currently has it at $$$, which is "Expensive - $18 - $24." A non-vegetarian entree alone will set you back more than that.

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                      Perhaps it should be bumped up to the next category, but the Chronicle dollar ratings are based on average entree prices, not on meals.

                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                        Their average entree price is around $28-29.

                                                                                        I wonder how Bauer rates prices at places without entrees?

                                                                                  2. Two stars and on the list:

                                                                                    Vik's - one of the two remaining token cheap places along with Chow
                                                                                    Swan Oyster Depot - niche place, a perennial
                                                                                    House of Prime Rib - this I don't get. Bauer knocked it off the list in 2007 after a 2-star review. He's had reasonably warm words for the place since, but no full re-review, so it's a shock to see it back. (Never been, so I have no real opinion about how good the place is.)

                                                                                    2.5 stars, expensive and on the list:

                                                                                    Town Hall - still clinging on
                                                                                    Bar Jules - a surprise. Bauer gave it a decent but not great review last year (complaining about portion sizes, which from him is usually the kiss of death in terms of making the 100).

                                                                                    A horrible year for Asian food on the list, down from 17 to 12, with no new additions. 3 Chinese (Jai Yun and Shanghai 1930 cut), 4 Japanese counting O Chame (O Izakaya cut), 1 Southeast Asian = Slanted Door, 3 Indian (Junnoon cut), 1 "Asian" = Betelnut (Poleng Lounge got the chop). I thought Heaven's Dog might've had half a chance (cocktails, cocktails, cocktails...)

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: bradluen

                                                                                      Bauer says in his top 100 blurb on HOPR (not online yet, I guess) that the owner "redoubled his efforts" and redecorated, and implies that the service and food have improved.

                                                                                      1. re: bradluen

                                                                                        I agree with your last point, especially in regards to Japanese and sushi in particular. I suppose O Chame deserves it but I'm on the fence with them. Sushi Ran, probably, but what about Sakae in Burlingame or Sushi Sam's (San Mateo) and possible even Sebo. Bauer rarely writes about strictly sushi places, so I'm not all that surprised.

                                                                                        1. re: bradluen

                                                                                          Even though Vik's is cheap, it really needs to get the boot. Just ate there a few weeks ago and it was sadly disappointing. The people we were with said that there are much better places in Fremont and Sunnyvale for cheap chaat.

                                                                                          And Green's also needs to be off. I just ate there yesterday for brunch and it was also underwhelming, and overpriced for the quality of the food.

                                                                                        2. I'm kind of surprised Aqua is still on the list -- I find it to be somewhat old and tired nowadays...

                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                                                                                            Aqua old and tired??? How about Bay Wolf, Swan Oyster Depot, Zuni, Greens, Viks Chaat Corner, Matterhorn Swiss, and Chez Panisse?

                                                                                            1. re: Paul H

                                                                                              Aqua was old and tired years ago. It would take A LOT to make me go back. Zuni at least has tasty food and no attitude and is not a sort of chain. Yeah, it is part of a restaurant group, but Aqua makes me think that my meals are being planned by someone in a board room.

                                                                                              I'm sorry, they have been so nasty to me on two visits, I hope they go down. I won't miss them.

                                                                                              Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. There won't be a thrid time unless I see overwhelming enthusiastic reports.

                                                                                              I don't appreciate ass-kissing in a restaurant. However, I do expect respect as a customer. Neither happened on two visits to Aqua.

                                                                                              The food on both visits was not so wonderful to make up for attitude.

                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  Ba.dly worded sentence. I was talking about Aqua.

                                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                                    Chez Panisse is part of a group, no?

                                                                                                    1. re: Paul H

                                                                                                      Yes if you count Chez Panisse Upstairs, Chez Panisse Downstairs and Cafe Fanny as a group.

                                                                                                      1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                        Legally, despite two kitchens and mostly separate staff, Chez Panisse is a single restaurant, owned by Pagnol et Cie Inc., of which Alice Waters is the CEO and president.

                                                                                                        Cafe Fanny is owned by Le Barbocce Inc. I believe the principal is her brother-in-law, Jim Maser, of Picante.

                                                                                                        I'm not sure if anyone besides Alice Waters has an interest in both.

                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                          It was a joke Robert but thanks for the illumination.

                                                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    Zuni + Hotel Biron = mini group ;-)
                                                                                                    Edited to correct the mistake: Hotel Biron has no connection to Zuni. I thought it was an expansion to make wine & cheese sourcing more efficient, but it's just owned by a former Zuni cook/chef.

                                                                                                2. re: Paul H

                                                                                                  Yes, those too. Although Swan and Viks are what they are -- nobody expects them to keep up with the times. Bauer really needs to make way on the list for younger blood. On the other hand, maybe he gives these places brownie points for their staying power...

                                                                                                  1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                                                                                                    I must say I don't have much confidence in an evaluation that includes Swan as one of 100 best "restaurants". I lived in Polk gulch years ago and enjoyed Swan 3-4 times a week. It has great cold seafood, lukewarm soup...but it is a retail seafood market that serves food uncomfortably. The are many good restaurants in the City that have fresh seafood, and serve it comfortably. People who think Swan is the only place...sad.

                                                                                              1. They keep revising the "By Cuisine" list. They've got The Matterhorn under Swiss and Aziza under Moroccan, and deleted the German and African headings.

                                                                                                Picco / Pizzeria Picco are now under a California-Italian heading, which would as reasonably apply to at least half the restaurants under Italian.

                                                                                                1. Drop Betelnut, add Lers Ros.

                                                                                                  Drop Ton Kiang, add Great China.

                                                                                                  Drop Marzano, add Oliveto.

                                                                                                  Drop Bar Bambino, add the Oakland branch of Cesar.

                                                                                                  Drop Va de Vi, add A Cote.

                                                                                                  Drop BarbersQ, add Ohgane. (Though BarbersQ is still worth the Sunday drive to Napa for lard-fried chicken.)

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    I agree with this assessment. I cannot believe Marzano made this list over Oliveto. . .the pizza dough at Marzano borders on inedible and the "ambiance" is non-existent.

                                                                                                    Ah, well. . next years list will be quite interesting with all the new restaurants that have either already opened or are slated to open. I am thinking things will change quite a bit.

                                                                                                  2. This year's list is out.

                                                                                                    New: Adesso, Baker & Banker, Chapeau, Etoile, Flour + Water, Frances, Frascati, Limon, Neela's, Nombe, Osteria Stellina, Press, RN74, Sante, Scopa, Solbar, Tipsy Pig, and Wexler's. In addition Babacco was included in the Perbacco entry and Boot and Shoe Service in the one for Pizzaiolo.

                                                                                                    Gone: Aqua, BarBersQ, Bistro Aix, Buckeye Roadhouse, Cortez, Fonda, Gitane, Jack Falstaff, Kokkari, Martini House, Marzano, Matterhorn, Moss Room, Nettie's Crab Shack, Nick's Cove, Sea Salt, Ton Kiang, and Ubuntu.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                      The Matterhorn was been removed!?!?

                                                                                                    2. The main beef I have with the list is that it doesn't seem to cover the whole bay area on an equal footing. He tends to put a couple of peninsula and south bay restaurants on the list to qualify his survey as bay area wide. However, those choices are pretty thin and ignore a lot of quality choices. I understand that the list is in part designed to map to the chronicle's reader base. But it does seem a little misleading as a top 100 in the bay area list.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                                        Some places that could knock a few SF restaurants off the list:

                                                                                                        Gorilla BBQ in Pacifica
                                                                                                        Himawari in San Mateo
                                                                                                        Joy Restaurant in Foster City
                                                                                                        Refuge in San Carlos
                                                                                                        Martin's West in Redwood City

                                                                                                        202 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                                                                                        1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                                          Bauer commented about the Peninsula / South Bay issue a couple of years ago on his blog:


                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                            What he writes there is interesting. His filter for the peninsula and south bay is places that are "worth a drive." That assumes that the readers of the list are not located in the pen or sb. I get that the Chronicle is an SF paper, but they do have readers outside of the city. Seems naive of him to assume that anywhere south of the city would be a drive for anyone reading the list. But as they say, it's his story and he can tell it any way he wants. I'm sure thier ad sales department would be first to tout the paper's presence down here.

                                                                                                            1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                                              Good point.

                                                                                                              If any of the peninsula papers had a restaurant reviewer, we'd read them. San Mateo Times? Palo Alto Weekly (or whatever it is)? or even the SJ Merc? Like or dislike Bauer, at least he covers SF!

                                                                                                        2. I'll never undersand how Bauer can consider Swan and Hog Island "top" restaurants, and consistently ignore Tadich and Sam's Grill. The food at Swan and Hog is delicious, but top restaurants? c'mon.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: OldTimer

                                                                                                            The Chron Top 100 for 2010 is active, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6991... and we're locking this one now. Thanks.