A YEAR OF TASTING MENUS, PORTUGUESE COMFORT FOOD AND SUSHI’S “SECOND WAVE”
two months in advance” major openings (à la State Bird Provisions in 2011 or Al’s Place in 2015), 2017 saw our restaurant scene grow in depth, rounding out our cuisine options and adding some solid go-tos to in-demand neighborhoods. Now, we have stellar spots for haute Chinese cuisine or Portuguese fare, plus several must-try spots in the previously desolate Mid-Market/Tenderloin area. The suburbs also got a dining lift, especially welcome in the year that saw the heartbreaking Northern California wildfires; perhaps it’s fitting that our top newcomer opened in Marin County, in…San Anselmo? Yes, that’s correct. Here are the year’s top openings, ranked in order — the newcomers that reminded us why we’re lucky to live and dine in the Bay Area.
China Live/ Eight Tables
Many expected George Chen’s massive, ultra-ambitious 30,000-square-foot Chinatown project to appear in our top openings list — for 2015. Well, thanks to construction delays, it’s landed on our 2017 list. Once you get away from the hype and sheer scope of China Live, you grow to appreciate it for what it is: The ground-floor market restaurant is a bustling spot for on-point renditions of Peking duck, xiao long bao and dozens of other regional Chinese standouts. On the second floor, accessed from a separate alleyway, Eight Tables is the project’s crown jewel and possibly the country’s foremost haute Chinese dining destination. Even if the food were merely mediocre, both projects would be on this list because of the eye-catching AvroKo designs. Oh, and Chen isn’t done yet. Look for a rooftop patio at China Live in 2018.
Must-order: At China Live, Peking duck; Sichuan “working hands” dumplings; Dongbei vegetarian long potstickers; at Eight Tables,10-course, $225 tasting menu and a cocktail from bar manager Anthony Keels – Zagat (12.03.17)