As 2012 winds down, we’re looking back at the year’s top 10 new restaurants, pop-ups, and food trucks that got San Francisco Chowhounds talking. Behold, 2012’s hound hall of fame, in alphabetical order:
1. BAR TARTINE SANDWICH SHOP
561 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Bar Tartine chef Nicolaus Balla had already clinched a loyal following with his fresh take on Hungarian cuisine; then he hit a home run this year with amazing lunch-only sandwiches on Chad Robertson’s unbeatable bread.
2. BARON BAKING
Multiple locations; check website for details
It was a hell of a year for bagel-lovers in the East Bay. Among several contenders new to the scene in 2012 was Baron Baking, arguably the best in a distinguished field.
3. BORGO ITALIA — CLOSED
499 Ninth Street, Oakland
Chowhounds went for the homemade sausage, and stayed for the whipped cream–filled desserts.
4. CRAFTSMAN & WOLVES
746 Valencia Street, San Francisco
In 2012, Valencia Street’s overdevelopment started to feel like the punch line to a joke, but when William Werner’s Craftsman & Wolves appeared on the scene, we realized what we’d been missing: spectacular baked goods.
5. DEL POPOLO
Mobile; check Twitter for location details
Is this the first time a food truck has become art instead of a mere conveyance? We were awestruck by the Italian wood-fired grill behind the glass wall of the massive Del Popolo truck, then pleasantly surprised to find exceptional mozzarella coating a chewy crust (pictured above).
6. DOUGHNUT DOLLY
482-B 49th Street, Oakland
In Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, Doughnut Dolly owner Hannah Hoffman charmed us with filled-to-order pastries with spectacular flavors, like the Naughty Cream made with crème fraiche and vanilla bean pastry cream.
7. GAJALEE — CLOSED
525 Valencia Street, San Francisco
We happily washed down West Coast Indian seafood with coconut drinks at this Valencia Street restaurant.
8. MISS OLLIE’S
901 Washington Street, Oakland
Chef Sarah Kirnon’s fried chicken is famous for good reason, so we all rejoiced when her nouveau Caribbean cuisine finally landed in comfortable surroundings in Old Oakland.
9. RICH TABLE
199 Gough Street, San Francisco
Evan and Sarah Rich’s elegant yet rustic approach to dishes so impressed one New York Chowhound that he visited three times during an eight-day visit, naming it his best new restaurant of 2012.
Del Popolo pizza photo by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com
This list was updated on November 30, 2017 to reflect restaurant closures.