What a year. On the downside, normal is still far more of a concept than a reality. But on a bright note, my favorite eats this year are not comprised solely of takeout foods. I actually was able to dine outside at restaurants, and a couple times even indoors when the situation felt especially safe. So, there is that.
Whether you are comfortable dining indoors, only outdoors or just through delivery or takeout orders, please continue to support your local restaurants, which still need you more than ever.
To stoke your appetite to do so, here are my Top 10 eats of this year, in no particular order:
For more than 15 years, food writers like myself have predicted that Filipino cuisine would be the next big thing.
After all, Filipinos have been immigrating to California for more than a century, and Filipino Americans make up one of the largest Asian-American ethnic groups in the state. Certainly, the time was nigh that its cuisine get the attention and due that Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and other Asian cuisines have long had here.
While there have been plenty of mom-and-pop Filipino eateries over the years, however, there had never been an upscale restaurant to take Filipino cuisine to new heights.
Until this August, when the groundbreaking Abaca opened its doors at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
Housed in the new Kimpton Alton Hotel, Abaca is the creation of Chef-Owner Francis Ang, his wife, co-owner and director of operations, Dian Ang, and Chef de Cuisine Danica Alves.
Ang may be best known for his star turn as pastry chef at the Fifth Floor in San Francisco, which earned him a “People’s Best New Pastry Chef” honor from Food & Wine magazine. But his talent on the savory side began to shine brightly with his pop-up Pinoy Heritage, and only escalated during the pandemic with his beautiful, multi-course feasts packed immaculately for takeout.
Abaca, named for a native Philippine banana species, takes the soulful, homey, yet bold tastes of traditional Filipino cuisine and infuses it with California flair and freshness. That’s what I found when I dined last week. While my husband and I paid our own tab, Chef Ang added some of his signature dishes on the house.