ACTUALLY THE BEST—San Francisco, Right Now

ACTUALLY THE BEST—San Francisco, Right Now

As chosen by guest editors Shannon Waters and Liz Subauste.

December 3, 2015
● 3 min read
ACTUALLY THE BEST—San Francisco, Right Now

ACTUALLY THE BEST—San Francisco, Right Now

As chosen by guest editors Shannon Waters and Liz Subauste.

December 3, 2015
● 3 min read

Award lists are a crapshoot. 

Everyone knows this, but we shut up about it because it still feels good to win one. The point is, sometimes the recognition is merited, and sometimes the truly talented are passed over—which is why, in an effort to balance the scales a bit, we're just gonna ask some industry folks what's they consider actually the best in town. Sometimes they're familiar faces, and sometimes they're diamonds in the rough. 

New Restaurant

Shannon Waters: Rintaro! Ugh. So good. I've always wished Ippuku was closer to the city, but now we have this izakaya in our hood that only started to pick up speed once they got their star. I love their food philosophy and their appreciation for the finest ingredients in a super casual izakaya environment. 

ALSO! WHY ISN'T ANYONE TALKING ABOUT LORD STANLEY? Holy shit their food is good. They are putting out the best food I've tasted in a long time. Also, Del Popolo. It's time that someone came in and crushed Una Pizzeria's pretentiousness. These pizzas are bad ass and are so friggen' amazing.

Liz SubausteLiho! I love that place! The offering is so different than anything else in the city. And most importantly, it's fun!

Established Restaurant

SWRich Table. Hands down. It actually keeps getting better and better. I love that space, the vibe, the food, the staff, the hood. Everything about it. Love it.

LSZuni! Nothing beats a long lunch there, with friends or even solo. Solid wine list and consistent simple food.

Creative vision

SWAl's Place. Aaron's mind is unreal.

LS: Aaron London. He's food is like no one else. It's just him. He's not afraid to create his own flavors. He's a mad scientist. There's no waste in that restaurant. The dishes and the flavors may be familiar, but if you know each and every little component that it took to make it and the way it was made, it would blow your mind.


SW: Trick Dog. Why is service only talked about at restaurants? Trick Dog does all the things a fine dining restaurant does when it comes to service, without all the frills. They know their guests by name, anticipate their needs, accommodate every request, even down to the ridiculous ones, and try to make sure every single guest walks out of there happier than when they arrived. From food and beverage knowledge, to downright kindness and hospitality, they nail it. And they are a bar. That rules.

LSDelfina. Maybe I'm biased because I trained under Annie, but I just love casual friendly service, but technically perfect. Everyone at Delfina is welcoming and warm and casual and fun, but they know their shit and they're pros.


SW: Aster, fo' sho.

LS: To buy, there's nothing like Tartine. At a restaurant? Probably Aster or Lord Stanley. 

Tasting Menu 

SW: Aubergine. INNNNNNCREDDDDDDIBBBLLLEEEEE! Best meal I've ever had in the States. It's a hike down to Carmel, but nothing else compares. 

LS: Casual: Lord Stanley, Fancy: Meadowood

Pastry Program

SW: Mourad. Melissa Chou rocks.

LS: Aster.

Leadership Philosophy

SW: Aatxe. :) I've worked my entire sous-chefdom trying to emulate all the great leaders I've worked with, and rid my kitchen of all the bad leadership habits I'd encountered. Support and leading by example are the two most important things Aatxe establishes in the kitchen. Leading doesn't just come from the top, but from the ground level. If the youngest cooks feel supported and empowered, it will "trickle-up" not just "trickle-down" from management.  Instead of reserving some tasks for just sous chef's or just the prep guys, teaching the entire team as much as they possible can learn only makes the group stronger. There's no such thing as too old, too inexperienced, not-my-job, when it comes to learning. 

LS: I've found mentors in Annie Stoll (Delfina) and David White (Ne Timeas Restaurant Group). They both care about this business and making people happy from their employees to their guests. I've never worked with two other people who care so much about finding out their employees strengths and take the time to teach them and make them better. Amazing teachers!

Collage by ChefsFeed | Original lineart of food by fourdasherette