Instead of doing a top ten list of places I ate in the year like I usually do, I thought I’d go all out and do a decade long round up of some of my favorite posts on the blog! Bayfood has technically been around since 2010, back when it was a really casual Tumblr blog when I used to reblog other people’s content. It was a really cool way to build community, but as I started to grow, I focused more on my own content that I created (like recipes) or curated from my own photos and adventures.
Here’s the final round up! My top 10 restaurants of the decade! I’ve included places here that have either had fantastic dining experiences and/or specific dishes that have stayed with me since I’ve had them. Ironically, the majority of this list is outside of the Bay Area, but I think it’s because I’ll splurge more if I’m out of town – it’s usually because I’m on vacation! So, in the next decade, I’m going to try to venture out a little more to some of the more finer things the Bay has to offer.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to include this place at first, but I do think about this risotto from time to time. Broadway by award-winning Chef Amar Santana focuses on his interpretation of modern cuisine of the Americas. Chef Amar Santana was on Top Chef, making it to the finale, where he used inspiration from his Dominican and New York roots, which are also exhibited in the menu. This Creamy Farro Risotto with Grilled Trumpet Mushrooms, Roasted Butternut Squash, and a Citrus Butter Sauce. In fact, Risotto is what Chef Amar Santana cooked on his Top Chef finale, and broke the curse of having unsuccessful risottos on the show. SO, the man knows risotto. It was so perfectly creamy and buttery without being soupy, and it wasn’t overcooked and hard either. I’m not a big fan of mushrooms, but I ate everything I could on this plate until I got full.
The entire experience at this restaurant was great! The atmosphere, service, and food were on point. China Chilcano is a José Andrés restaurant that has a unique take on Peruvian food by celebrating its multi-cultural cuisines. South America is unique in that it’s had different ethnic groups migrate to different countries throughout the continent. The restaurant combines traditional Peruvian dishes, Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian cuisine), and Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian cuisine) together for a really fun and interesting menu. While everything is delicious, the Pegao Norteño (Chifa/Chine-Peruvian) were almost too pretty to eat! I’m really glad I did eat them though because these lamb pot stickers with aderezo norteño, crispy cumin lace, and gold flakes were delicious! The crunch makes it really interesting with the hearty lamb.
The dining experience at Sawyer is worth going for again. I can’t say enough that I appreciated how they valued every person at the table – down to the toddler! While these Patatas Bravas were delicious and pretty, two other dishes really stood out to me. The Korean short ribs with a cherry kombucha marinade, ginger dressing, cornbread muffins, and kimchi daikon, one of the larger plates, was amazing. Korean short ribs was a no brainer, but reading this unique take on it with the marinade and cornbread sounded really interesting. The meat was soft, tender, and had a great flavor thanks to the marinade. I really liked that dressing though I didn’t taste the ginger in it, but maybe I was just getting the marinade flavor instead. That cornbread tho! I think we finished that quickly than the meat itself. It had a nice flavor because it’s been soaked in the dressing meat juice and marinade but it wasn’t soggy! The Udon noodles with house pastrami, bay shrimp, Chinese broccoli, mushrooms, and scallions was also so good. Pastrami and udon noodles sounded like an interesting take, and to be honest I’ve done plenty of quick meals by just having spaghetti noodles with pastrami and putting a poached egg on it, lol. Clearly, Sawyer’s chef and I are on the same wavelength. Only this was WAY better because the pastrami was so tender and the udon was nice and soft. It’s the perfect comforting bowl on a cold day.
A Baked Joint is not only a bakery, but it’s also a cafe and hang out spot. I wasn’t sure what to think when the biscuit came out, but I’m SO glad we checked it out while in D.C. It wasn’t a giant fluffy blob like the ones I had in Louisiana. BUT, it was crunchy on the inside, soft on the inside and each nook and cranny had all of these delicious fresh herbs. It looked like a homemade biscuit and it tasted so much better than I could have anticipated! We even got extras to go for the flight – and my mouth still waters thinking about them. The breakfast sandwich is also another great way to experience them.
Ever since I saw the pretty interior of Rèpublique – and the food, of course, I kept it in mind for when I would head south. Our entire family style menu was amazing, but the Cucumber and Heirloom Tomatoes, with Tenerelli farms peaches, pistachio tahini, yogurt, and mint, is a dish I still think about. This was my favorite dish of the entire night, which is saying something. We all expected it to taste predictable because it has a lot of Mediterranean flavors, but the peaches added something so unexpected but satisfying! They were perfectly crunchy, and the sweet and tartness worked so well with the other herbier and savory flavors.
I think the best part about discovering Eggslut, was that it happened spontaneously. I knew I wanted to check out Grand Central Market, but I didn’t really research what to eat. But a restaurant all about eggs? These are my people. While each egg is made to order – probably making the wait time longer – it’s worth it. But everything tastes fresh, warm, and delectable. They use brioche buns and make their own sausages, which are made of turkey! While I ate a sandwich, the Slut: a coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar and served with a demi baguette, is the dish you need to have. While it seems like a small dish, it really fills you up between the baguette and the potato/egg mixture. It’s a comforting dish when you combine the runny egg with the warm purée. I’ve made my own version at home since this visit!
I’ve eaten a lot of food over the years, and can usually compare it to something I’ve had before. I finally had Burmese food when I went to Burma Superstar, and while the food is a blend of cultures, the Tea Leaf Salad is so unique. The salad has fermented tea leaves, romaine lettuce, fried yellow beans, fried garlic, sesame seeds, fresh tomatoes, jalapeños, and dried shrimp, or you can exclude the shrimp to make it vegetarian. I think what mostly made me love the salad, was that it was something I haven’t tasted before, which I feel like is rare. Usually food tastes familiar enough that I can compare it to something else, but this was in its own league. It was spicy, it was crunchy, it was tangy and basically packed in with a ton of flavor between the fish sauce and, I believe, tamarind and much more. It sounds like s strange combination but I loved it. Since that fateful day I’ve been obsessed, and it’s become a go-to salad option in my home!
This is a terrible iPhone picture because it’s from 7 years ago. But that’s how long I’ve been thinking about this sandwich We couldn’t make up our minds on what to eat in Reading Terminal Market when in Philly for the day, but we saw this deli had a decent line with what looked like locals, so we figured why not? BEST DECISION EVER. This is by far one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. My mouth is watering thinking about the simple Pastrami sandwich we ordered. The way the meat was sliced so thinly and the large amount they give you was so satisfying. I aim to make a sandwich like this or find an epic Jewish Deli here in the Bay (I think Wise Sons comes closest!).
Gregoire was one of the places I first ate at when I moved to Berkeley for college. I love that it’s this little house that’s been renovated to be a restaurant that serves French fast food. Their sandwiches are always delicious and regularly change, but the puffs, man. I would drive over just for them. I literally dream about these potato puffs. They’re so fluffy and full of potatoey goodness. I even feel like there’s a slight buttery feel to it that’s only enhanced by the sauce. I’ve tried to recreate them but to little avail. PLEASE TELL ME YOUR SECRETS, GREGOIRE.
I’m really sad that Homma’s closed, but I’m so glad I got to enjoy their sushi several times. It was a little restaurant tucked away off of California Avenue, with a father and son team running the place. Brown rice sushi sounded so interesting and I was even more intrigued by the mostly vegetarian menu. This is the only place that didn’t make me feel like I was missing out on fish since the transplant! Above is a special they have often, which is the avocado-asparagus-cucumber roll. It was a great combination of creamy and crunchy.. One of the most memorable rolls I had were the spinach rolls! Somehow there was so much flavor packed in there that I felt like I could’ve been eating flavorful fish. The rolls look small, but they’re so cheap ($3-4 for one order), that you could get a lot and it’s still a good value. In it’s place is another sushi spot that does have brown rice sushi options, but I’ve never checked out to see if it’s a good substitute (and tbh I kind of don’t want to).
I know… pizza? Pizza is my top choice of the decade? And Cheeseboard, at that? But a place that’s been open since 1971 with lines regularly out the door for ONE (vegetarian!) pizza option is doing something right. I first had Cheeseboard the day of my Cal orientation in 2011, and I’ll always associate it with college. I think it’s also the first time I had such a unique pizza combo, with the cheeses, corn, and arugula on top! I also love the green cilantro sauce on the side, mostly because it tastes like chutney! I’ve gone to Berkeley regularly as a kid, but we usually stayed on the Telegraph side since that’s where my dad worked, so I never experienced Cheeseboard until I was an adult. Since then, it’s a spot I take people who are visiting and they’re just as enthralled that this veggie pizza could be so amazing. And I take a whole pie to go because I know it’ll be eaten right away. The co-op aspect of it is just so Bay Area to me that I feel like Cheeseboard encapsulates quintessential Berkeley to me.