Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Joy of Arguing with Top 100 Lists

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 7:19 AM

click to enlarge TalkPoints_thumb_560x101.jpg

Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

click to enlarge rsz_top100main.jpg
I tend to study critics' lists and guidebooks the way some people search for meaning in baseball stats ― I argue with the author in my head, rethink my own opinions, vow to visit places I haven't tried. That these lists are limited, subjective, and controversial is their selling point. The pleasure is reading them ― the Michelin guide, the Eater 38, Michael Bauer's annual Top 100 list in the San Francisco Chronicle ― as a topography of the authors' tastes as well as a map of the zeitgeist.

So of course I enjoyed checking out the Chron's 2011 Top 100, which came out on Sunday and is now online. As I read, though, something about the scope of the list, rather than Bauer's individual choices, nagged at me. So I did some counting:

Restaurants on the list: 100

Restaurants specializing in Western European/California cuisines: 82

Restaurants blending non-Western and French-based haute cuisine (Aziza, Ame, etc.): 5

Number of non-European/Californian restaurants: 13*

*Asian restaurants: 11
      *Mexican, Central American, and South American restaurants: 2

Should a critic's favorites conform to the contours of Bay Area

demographics? Hardly ― I can't think of any drearier selection scheme. But do 80+ French- and

Italian-based restaurants really represent the pinnacle of dining in the Bay Area? It makes the top seem a narrow peak indeed.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

Follow me at @JonKauffman.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

About The Author

Jonathan Kauffman


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook