Best Restaurant Dining Reviewers List for Bay Area

By Laiko Bahrs, Epicuring co-founder

As a food professional, I eat out at a lot of restaurants for a number of reasons. To support the industry and friends/colleagues, for meetings, as well as to boost my professional knowledge (and because eating is a hobby, right?). My dining budget is not large, but I do like to try most of the new restaurants whenever I can.

How do I hear about the best local restaurants? Word of mouth from colleagues is key for me, as well as a few must-read professional restaurant reviewers whom I trust.  Then for fun, there’s the non professional eaters reviews too.

If I have a lot of options or it’s a special night, I really do my homework to weigh where I want to be both for the food and the atmosphere. Then there is the tricky question of whether a reservation is hard or easy to get. Dining in San Francisco is a sport, so you have to be ready for that.

This list is by no means exhaustive, though you could be after reading all of these reviewers on a regular basis!

SF Chronicle Weekly Restaurant Reviews and Top 100 Restaurants of the Year and Bargain Bites

The Chronicle’s Restaurant Critic Michael Bauer’s is the dominant voice for starred restaurant reviews in the Bay Area. His weekly critiques can make or break a restaurant, and his annual Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants is a valued source for high-end dining.

7×7 Magazine

Marcia Gagliardi aka The Tablehopper, is the new contributing editor of 7×7 magazines food coverage. Her perspective is as a hip-insider, focusing on hot-spots, restaurants, events, dishes, drinks and a weekly “Best Things I Ate” as well as a ton of useful “Best of” lists ranging from burritos to pho.  / On Mar. 6th: They just added a fantastic map on the bountiful Valencia Corridor with the 18 new restaurants in the hood. Click here for the story: Valencia Restaurant Map.

Patricia Unterman is a chef and restaurant owner as well as a terrific food writer. (She’s my fave). Her weekly reviews are where I go to find her under the radar ethnic restaurant finds and her enjoyable to read reviews. Now that she is no longer at the Examiner, you’ll need to subscribe to her newsletter, Unterman on Food.

Eater 38 Essential Restaurants

A list of in the moment restaurants compiled by editor Allie Pape.  I refer to this often when I get that dreaded question, “which hot restaurant should I go to?” It helps me remember a place I have been or one I want to go to and have heard good things about.

San Francisco Magazine

Restaurant reviewer Josh Sen’s monthly reviews of newly opened restaurants (I love his prose) and updates of older spots; plus food editor Sara Deseran’s stories on new, chefs and food makers.

The Tablehopper and Tablehopper Guide to Dining and Drinking and Deep Dish.

Marcia Gagliardi has the must-read twice weekly newsletter for diners and industry insiders who want a tasty read from passionate food writer. I literally hear her talking to me (are you talking to me?) when I read her column. Her new printed Guide is perfect for when you need the right spot for a special occasion. And Deep Dish is her newest site for user generated recommendations on restaurant and dishes to try.

SF Weekly

Anna Roth’s reviews are a great read, and her picks range from the newly opened restaurants to where to go for seasonal dishes.

SF Bay Guardian

Virginia Miller’s reviews of mostly new restaurants. She’s a passionate cocktailer too.

Diablo magazine

Restaurant reviews and cheap eats for the East Bay.

Wall Street Journal

The WSJ’s guide to eating and tasting in the San Francisco Bay Area.



One of the first user generated sites for die-hard food lover’s to share their musings and lists of under the radar and well-known restaurants and dishes. Warning: Do not post a question unless you have really searched to see if there is an open tread on the topic.

Open Table

The restaurant dining reservation sites’ diner written reviews.

Zagat Reviews and Blog

A paid subscription site for dining reviews from restaurant diners. I like the free weekly newsletter and blog for news, and lists of who is open for a particular holiday or seasonal time.


User generated reviews from the Yelp community. I mostly use Yelp to get an overall perspective on what number of stars a restaurant may have based on a large number of reviews. Reliability: If a reviewer has a very low number of reviews, I disregard anything they say. However, when an Elite reviewer has a bad experience, I do weigh this in my considerations. The Iphone app is also super useful for locating restaurants based on the neighborhood you are in when you are hungry and looking for an open restaurant, or in a particular price range.

Food Spotting

Photography and recommendations of food lovers favorite dish and taste picks.

Chefs Feed

A new ipod app and site featuring notable chefs favorite places to eat and dishes to try. National, with a fair amount of Bay Area picks.

Food Trucks and Carts

While this is not a review site per se, it does show where all of the various food vehicles are gathering.

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