Steve Sugarman's Boalt Hall Dining Guide
In May 2013 Michael Bauer, the SF Chronicle restaurant reviewer, released his newest list of top 100 restaurants in the bay area and once more nine (so far as I can tell) are in the East Bay. See below for my comments on his 2012 list in which I complained about his ignoring prime Oakland dining areas. I am pleased to see that this year he added one from uptown Oakland (Hopscotch, a newcomer that we have enjoyed a couple of times) and one from College Avenue (Ramen Shop, which we have yet to try because of the long lines and inability to reserve a table). He also added Comal, a new Mexican place in Berkeley which is very attractive and has OK food (I much prefer Tamarindo in Old Oakland). I was disappointed, however, that he did not add Duende to his list, a terrific new Spanish place in Uptown Oakland.
These three newcomers plus his other choices suggest that, Chez Panisse and Camino aside (of course), eating in the East Bay is mainly a matter of casual, not very expensive, dining (i.e., Dopo, Pizzaiolo, O Chame, and Ippuku plus the new three -- Hopscotch, Ramen Shop, and Comal). And maybe this is a nice view of things over here.
Nonetheless, that means ignoring again more ambitious places like BayWolf, Commis, Haven, Oliveto, and Plum, to say nothing of Rivoli which Bauer dropped from his top 100 (OK by me) and Lalime’s (which many North Berkeley folks dearly love).
I am especially pleased to see both O Chame and Ippuku still on his list, great Japanese places that are very different from the usual sushi type restaurants we have (not that a good sushi place like Ichiro should be ignored, and don’t forget Ozumo with its wide range of Japanese offerings in a very attractive setting).
And while I love Dopo for lunch and Pizzaiolo for breakfast, I am still not won over by Bauer’s taste in more casual eating. For me, if you are going for dinner, Wood Tavern, A Cote, Flora, and Townhouse are all much better than many of his nine on a variety of grounds. Indeed, I could probably eat at Wood Tavern all of the time and be very happy.
The one change that Bauer made that puzzles me is dropping Corso from his list (a sister restaurant of Rivoli that I really enjoy).
Bauer also dropped Adesso (a sister of Dopo). Adesso has been fooling around with its food offerings and in an important sense is really a bar. But it has one huge advantage: it serves its good eats (especially its salumi) until very late (unlike virtually all of the rest of Oakland’s restaurant options).
Besides Hopscotch, we are getting several other new places in uptown/downtown Oakland and besides the Ramen Shop we are getting several other new places on College Avenue. So keep tuned.
As with last year, when you add Bauer’s list to mine from last year (which you will see below also includes Barlata, Bellanico, Bocanova, Fuse Box, Hawker Fare, Mua and Sidebar) you see what a feast of good dining we have over here. And for a much fuller list of east bay places, many of which are really very very good, check out the full Steve Sugarman’s Boalt Hall Dining Guide by clicking on the link(s) above.
In April 2012, San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer released his annual list of the top 100 restaurants in the bay area. He included the following nine East Bay eateries:
Chez Panisse O Chame
These are all appealing options, six of which I like a great deal. Yet, are these really the nine most enjoyable East Bay places to eat? Only three of them are on my current list of nine “good choices” in the Boalt Hall Dining Guide
So, please consider this alternative (alphabetical) list of nine options (none of which overlap with Bauer’s)?
A Cote Flora
Bay Wolf Oliveto
Or this list of yet nine others?
Barlata Fuse Box
Hawker Fare Plum
One could go on and make yet another strong list, I am sure. Perhaps the most distinctive thing about Bauer’s list is that five of his nine are in Berkeley, whereas none of my eighteen is. Also I picked two on College Avenue and several in uptown and downtown Oakland, and he has none from those places. The bottom line: this exercise makes vivid to me why we so rarely go to SF to eat anymore.
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