Restaurant of the Year: Liholiho Yacht Club
Liholiho Yacht Club has been making waves since the moment it came onto the SF dining scene. Continuously packed and super buzzy, chef Ravi Kapur's hot spot has lived up to the hype, serving inventive fare, creative cocktails and a particularly excellent housemade Spam.
Empire Builder of the Year: Adriano Paganini
Adriano Paganini continues to grow his stable of restaurants, which ranges from fast-casual burgers to high-end Belgian fare. Paganini's Super Duper Burgers is on the path to Shake Shake ubiquity in San Francisco, while pizza-based Delarosa is bringing up the rear with the opening of a second location in the FiDi; the announcement of a new project in Hayes Valley is the latest in Paganini's growing empire.
Stone Cold Stunner: Bon Marché
Glossy, marbled surfaces abound in this multi-faceted, French-inspired restaurant, brewery, wine bar, and flower shop. A unique division of the space has created a lively atmosphere, incorporating a sunny yellow awning and replicas of Paris' distinctive street lamps as chandeliers.
Chef of the Year: Jason Halverson
In a city brimming with high rents and over-the-top dining options, the advent of Jason Halverson's $35 three-course prix fixe has proved a savior for diners suffering from tasting menu fatigue. The chef has crafted a cost-effective menu that doesn't skimp on flavor and skillful execution— something industry veterans (and now diners) know is no small feat.
Bartender of the Year: Bryan Hamann
Bryan Hamann's cocktails hold their own at State Bird's polished sister restaurant, The Progress. His takes on classic drinks stand out next to the restaurant's banquet-style service, including a martini with smoked olive juice and rosemary oil and a mai tai made with peanut milk.
So Hot Right Now: AL's Place
AL's Place quickly took top honors in SF's dining scene this year, with chef Aaron London's artistic, veggie-focused approach at the forefront. In a world saturated with bacon, London has successfully turned meat into a side dish, offering a carefully curated menu that has diners flocking to its minimalist Mission dining room. And after taking the #1 spot on Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurants, it's a dining room that's extra-hard to infiltrate.
Shitshow of the Year: Hapa Ramen
It was a tumultuous few months for Richie Nakano's brick-and-mortar location of Hapa Ramen, ending with the chef's departure from the kitchen. The story has all the intrigue of modern SF chicanery, complete with venture capitalists and a social media shitstorm, complete with accompanying hashtag (#freehapa).