Great reason to live in the bay area--the food scene!

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Browse From Michael Bauer: Welcome to the Top 100 The Bay Area loves to eat. Our lust — and respect — for food are centuries old. Maybe it’s a legacy of the Gold Rush, when “free lunch” was offered at the brothels that dotted just about every street corner of San Francisco. Because of this link, there’s always been a strong connection between food and carnal pleasure. Dining is more than sustenance — it’s pure, unadulterated joy. San Francisco has been a gold mine of originality for more than 160 years: the creation of Boudin sourdough bread in 1849; the first air-dried salami in 1896 from Molinari; the establishment of Ghirardelli chocolate in 1852 and Guittard in 1868. All these built a foundation of innovation that is clearly evident in the food scene today. I’ve been producing the Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants guide for 20 years, but with each edition I marvel anew at the quality of what we have. Chefs continue to start trends that then sweep the country — small plates, open kitchens, communal tables and organic produce. We have such a powerful restaurant scene that the list could swell to 150 or 200 and still exclude many excellent places. That’s what makes the task of creating this guide so wonderful, yet so challenging. Each year I return to the restaurants on the previous year’s list and then fold in the reviews and Updates I write weekly in The Chronicle. Keeping up with this dynamic scene means I dine out every night — sometimes consuming several meals in an evening. I’ve visited each restaurant at least three times, and in most cases many more. This year, 17 new restaurants earned a place in the Top 100. The newcomers are a mix of recently opened places, such as the Hawaiian-themed Liholiho Yacht Club, and reinvigorated establishments like Kokkari, which was on the list several years ago but fell off because of kitchen ennui. In such a competitive region, chefs must — and do — rejuvenate. Four restaurants on the 2014 list closed. It’s more than usual, even though a 4 percent attrition rate would be considered great in most business circles. We said goodbye to Abbot’s Cellar, Local’s Corner, Etoile in the Domaine Chandon winery in Yountville, and Coco500 (which became the home of the Top 100 Marlowe). With the thousands of restaurants that have opened since my first guide two decades ago, it’s amazing that 10 restaurants have bested the competition and still make the list: Acquerello, Boulevard, Chez Panisse, French Laundry, La Folie, Swan Oyster Depot, Terra, Yank Sing, Zarzuela and Zuni Cafe. The determining factor for what makes it and what doesn’t is when I can answer the following question in the affirmative: Is this restaurant a destination, a place I would travel to just for the pleasure of dining there? The 2015 list is designed to be a living document. You’ll find a new, improved and easily searchable version online at I’ll also update the list periodically, adding new places that will probably have a spot on next year’s list. In the meantime, check out this year’s Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants. I hope it will lead you to the best dining experiences in the best food region in America. Michael Bauer is The San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic. Find his blog at and his reviews on E-mail: Twitter: @michaelbauer1 Presented by • RECIPE VIDEOS • Watch: Top 100 chefs create star dishes Neapolitan pizza with artichoke and green olives at A16 in Oakland. A16 This is the Acquerello risotto with nasturtium, spring onion, almond, and coriander honey at Acquerello in San Francisco Calif., Tuesday March 24, 2015. Acquerello Huckleberry-apple pie with creme fraiche ice cream at Ad Hoc in Yountville. Ad Hoc Madagascar blue shrimp with fried fish heads at Akiko’s in S.F. Akiko’s The Sunchoke Curry with black lime cod and grapefruit at Al's Place in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015. Al’s Place Dark chocolate chibouste at AQ in S.F. AQ Shima aji with snow at Atelier Crenn in S.F. Atelier Crenn The Pork Belly Confit served at Trou Normand, the new restaurant from the Bar Agricole folks, in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, March 17, 2014. Bar Agricole Sea cucumber stuffed with shrimp at Benu in S.F. Benu The Bistro Don Giavanni Burger as seen in San Francisco, California, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Food styled by Sarah Fritsche. Bistro Don Giovanni This is the hamachi ceviche, lime, Thai chili, escarole, pear dish at Bocadillos in San Francisco Calif., Monday March 23, 2015. Bocadillos The bar at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega in Yountville. Bottega 1. Bouchon 6534 Washington St.: For the best seat at Thomas Keller's French-style bistro, settle in on the petite patio out front, back dropped by Bouchon's crimson exterior and arched windows accented with white lace cafe curtains. Delve into French onion soup, a perfectly made croque madame or other fare from the seasonal menu. (707) 944-8037, Bouchon Dressing being poured on the Dungeness Crab salad at Boulevard in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on March 26th , 2015. Boulevard The Crispy Skin Chicken Thighs at Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg, Calif. is seen on Thursday, February 7th, 2013 Bravas Bar de Tapas Bar manager, Tamir Benshalom, of Bull Valley Roadhouse mixes up his pre-prohibition inspired drink, the Lost Costa cocktail in Port Costa, Calif., on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Bull Valley Roadhouse Presented by • NEW IN 2015 • Discover the newcomers to this year's Top 100 • SINGULAR STANDOUTS • Unique restaurants that capture the Bay Area spirit Wood-oven baked eggs for brunch at Camino in Oakland. Camino The highly anticipated Cavalier restaurant is now open, on Jessie Street off 5th, offering a verity of dinner items as Steak and Oyster Pie, Wednesday, July 31, 2013, in San Francisco Calif. The Cavalier Salmon with eggplant at Central Kitchen in San Francisco. Central Kitchen Zuppa di frutta with Clementine sherbet at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Chez Panisse / Cafe at Chez Panisse Pizzas in the wood-burning oven at Ciccio in Yountville. Ciccio Coi Egg poached in a smoked oil, California Sturgeon caviar, creme fraiche at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on March 26th, 2015. Coi Bok choy being grilled at Comal Restaurant in Berkeley. Comal The Commissary, Traci Des Jardins’ restaurant in the Presidio. The Commissary A pork dish adorned in mustard greens, turnips, onion soubise, mustard caviar and juniper jus at Commonwealth. Commonwealth The Manchego Cheesecake dessert at Coqueta in San Francisco. Coqueta Duck confit hash with baked eggs at Cotogna in San Francisco. Cotogna Purgatorio pizza at Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco. Delfina Grilled Monterey Bay squid at the Dock at Linden Street in Oakland. The Dock at Linden Street The Mezze Maniche Pasta at Farm Shop in Larkspur, Calif., is seen on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013. Farmshop Roasted pork leg and belly with nectarines, fresh borlotti beans and spinach at Flour + Water in San Francisco. Flour + Water Gayle Pirie and John Clark (Foreign Cinema): Balsamic Fried Eggs Foreign Cinema • GREAT PIZZA • Restaurants where the perfect crust is an obsession • TOP BURGERS • The basic burger is anything but at these top spots Petaluma chicken at Frances in San Francisco. Frances Sweet butter poached Maine lobster with garden nasturtiums at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., is seen on April 17th, 2015. French Laundry The Dungeness Crab salad at Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on March 26th , 2015. Gary Danko Pizza Atomica is photographed at Gialina in San Francisco Calif., Monday March 23, 2015. Gialina The dining room at Greens, a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. Greens Hawker Fare’s head-on shrimp. Hawker Fare Diners have Dim Sum at Hong Kong Lounge 2 is San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. Hong Kong Lounge II Chips and dip at Hopscotch. Hopscotch Proprietor Joe Betz and the silver beef cart at House of Prime Rib. House of Prime Rib Tai nigiri made with Japanese sea bream. Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar Diners at Ippuku in Berkeley. Ippuku Beet-cured ocean trout at Iyasare. Iyasare Octapodaki tou Yiorgou, grilled octopus with lemon, oregano and olive oil served at Kokkari in San Francisco Calif., Sunday March 29, 2015. Kokkari Estiatorio Chef Mitsunori Kusakabe at Kusakabe in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on Saturday, July 19th, 2014. Kusakabe This is the saffron ricotta cake at La Ciccia in San Francisco Calif., Tuesday March 24, 2015. La Ciccia The Edam Cheese Souffle at La Follie in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on Saturday, March 21st, 2015. La Folie • OPEN LATE • Where to dine deliciously, well past the dinner hour • EXCEPTIONAL BARS • Inventive cocktails and great people-watching Chef-owner David Barzelay talks with diners at Lazy Bear. Lazy Bear The spiced Tuna Belly at Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on March 30th, 2015. Liholiho Yacht Club Japanese Wagyu with turnips at Madrona Manor Restaurant in Healdsburg, Calif., on Wednesday, October 23, 2013. Madrona Manor Diners pack Mamacita on Chestnut Street in the Marina. Mamacita Black cod with clams, cabbage and celeriac. Manresa The smoked Black Cod at Marlowe in San Francisco, Calif. is seen on November 20th, 2014. Marlowe Broccoli agnolotti at Maven, where every dish is matched to a drink. Maven Pork chop with Manila clams, gypsy peppers and new potatoes at Molina. Molina Sea bass at Monsieur Benjamin. Monsieur Benjamin Caviar with smoked brioche at Mourad. Mourad / Aziza Pork belly with lentils, Brussels sprouts and hedgehog mushrooms, at Nico, a new restaurant on Sacramento St. in San Francisco, CA, Wednesday, January 15, 2014. Nico Diners enjoy dinner at Nido in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, May 18th, 2013. Nido Greg Dunmore's chicken-skin-wrapped zucchini with miso butter.. Nojo Goat cheese bread pudding served at brunch at Nopa2011. Nopa Barbacoa de borrego at Nopalito. Nopalito Chef Tyler Rodde tosses pizza dough toat Oenotri. Oenotri • BEST OF BRUNCH • The favorite weekend meal, reimagined by great chefs • BEST OUTDOOR DINING • Exceptional dining spots that let in the sun and sky Syrah-braised short ribs. Oso The "Tasting of Robata" at Pabu. Pabu Park Tavern’s smoked deviled eggs. Park Tavern Caponata sandwich at Barbacco. Perbacco / Barbacco Nectarine crostata at Piccino. Piccino Risotto with Asparagus and English Peas at Picco in Corte Madera, Calif., is seen on Wednesday, March 25th, 2015. Picco Diners eat at Piperade in San Francisco Calif., Thursday March 26, 2015. Piperade This is the yellowfinn tuna crudo with yara beans, meyer lemon and flowering cilantro photographed at Pizzaiolo in Oakland, Calif., Saturday March 28, 2015. Pizzaiolo / Boot & Shoe Service Ruben Santos, sous chef at Poggio restaurant, placing a small pig stuffed with herbed sausage into the wood burning rotisserie in Sausalito, Calif., on March 9, 2009. Poggio Nicolas Cadavid pours wine for a group of women on the patio at Press in St. Helena, Calif., on March 22nd, 2015. Press Pecorino roti with black truffle buttermilk at The Progress restaurant in San Francisco, Calif., Wednesday, February 4, 2015. Progress Beans in creamy Green Goddess dressing from Prospect. Prospect The interior of Quince in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015. Quince Chef Jerry Jaksich pulls a noodle to check for doneness at the Ramen Shop in Oakland. Ramen Shop This is the buckwheat profiteroles with vanilla frozen yogurt, roasted strawberries and black sesame photographed at Range in San Francisco Calif., Friday March 27, 2015. Range Caramelized diver scallops with cauliflower, toasted barley and wild mushrooms. Redd • BEST SATURDAY LUNCH • A relaxed way to try a top-tier restaurant • TOP 100 CLASSICS • These stars have made the Top 100 list for 20 years Wood-fired asparagus pizza with a farm egg at Redd Wood in Yountville. Redd Wood Abalone, Beans and wild onion at Meadowood restaurant in St. Helena, Calif. is seen on Tuesday, March 31st, 2015. Restaurant at Meadowood Evan Rich’s spaghetti with abalone and broccolini. Rich Table Diners at Saison in San Francisco. Saison Sonoma “Liberty” duck at Sante at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Sante Campo Fina, Healdsburg Scopa / Campo Fina The Ice Cream at Sir and Star in Olema, Calif., is seen on Friday, May 31st, 2013. Sir and Star Cellophane noodles with crab at the Slanted Door in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on March 26th, 2015. Slanted Door Albacore with Scapece Sauce at SPQR in S.F. SPQR Sourdough pancakes at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. State Bird Provisions The seasonal Vegetable Tempura at Sushi Ran in Sausalito, Calif., is seen on Saturday, March 28th, 2015. Sushi Ran An order of oysters at Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco. Swan Oyster Depot Dry-aged New York strip steak at Bar Terra in St. Helena. Terra / Bar Terra Roasted chicken at Tosca Cafe on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco. Tosca Cafe The Trick Dog burger with fries and the Milk Punch cocktail. Trick Dog Roasted pork loin at Trou Normand on New Montgomery Street in S.F. Trou Normand Steak tartare with a Pimm’s Cup cocktail at the Wayfare Tavern. Wayfare Tavern Dim sum at Yank Sing on Spear Street in San Francisco. Yank Sing This is the Paella a La Valencia photographed at Zarzuela in San Francisco Calif., Wednesday March 25, 2015. Zarzuela Guests enjoy dinner in the upstairs dining room at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Zuni is an icon in the San Francisco dining scene, and has stayed much the same for the past 35 years, including through the death of its chef/owner Judy Rogers in late 2013. Zuni Cafe

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