Appetite: 2012's top new restaurants brought surprise tastes, culinary depth
9. MISSION BOWLING CLUB
Mission Bowling Club (MBC) is significant: until now no bowling alley served food this good. Hipster, even upscale for a bowling alley, the open, industrial space, large front patio, and downstairs and upstairs dining rooms (the latter oversees the action) add up to a striking setting for Anthony Myint — he of Mission Chinese Food and Mission St. Food, no less — to unleash his beloved Mission Burger, a rich, granulated patty, lathered in caper aioli. Entrees like blackened salmon on a potato latke marked by salmon roe, cucumber, and horseradish are listed alongside a juicy sausage corn dog dipped in habanero crema. Bowling never tasted this sublime.
3176 17th St., SF. (415) 863-2695, www.missionbowlingclub.com
Despite being open only three days a week for lunch, with just-added Saturday night dinner service (reserve ahead!), FuseBOX is my favorite East Bay addition this year because of its unique approach to Asian cuisine. Such limited hours in a remote West Oakland block makes it a meal you have to work to get to, but the fusion of Korean and izakaya-style Japanese from Sunhui and Ellen Sebastian Chang is a welcoming, tiny haven (with large front patio) for creative Asian fare often in bite-size format allowing ample tasting. There are rotating robata bites or kimchee from bok choy to kale, interesting panchan/banchan (mini-dishes often accompanying a Korean meal), hamachi tartare topped with lime caviar, Tokyo po boys, and an unforgettable bacon mochi. And who else offers kimchee and coffee service with Korean beignets?
2311A Magnolia, Oakl., (510) 444-3100, www.fuseboxoakland.com
Gioia Pizzeria (2240 Polk, SF. (415) 359-0971, www.gioiapizzeria.com) for bringing Berkeley's best NY pizza to SF; CatHead's BBQ (1665 Folsom, SF. (415) 861-4242, www.catheadbbq.com) for some of the better BBQ in our city ("real deal" Southern BBQ being difficult to come by outside of the South); Abbott's Cellar (742 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-8700, www.abbotscellar.com) for one of the best beer menus anywhere and elevated food to accompany it in a sleek-rustic dining room; Orexi (243 West Portal, SF. (415) 664-6739, www.orexisf.com) for daring to bring satisfying Greek food to our Greek-deficient dining scene; St. Vincent (1270 Valencia, SF. (415) 285-1200, www.stvincentsf.com) for a wine and beer geek's dream menu partnered with forward-thinking interpretations of regional American dishes; Machka (584 Washington, SF. (415) 391-8228, www.machkasf.com) for a chic take on Turkish food.
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