As we look back on the year in eating and contemplate a year-end trend roundup, it strikes us that 2012 was not an earth-shattering year for Bay Area food. Everywhere besides the Mission, which is still hitting puberty in its restaurant proliferation, the local food world's recent growth spurt was calming down and settling in to its own, reaffirming that casual is the new luxury, that San Franciscans will try pretty much anything once, and that fifty percent will Instagram it. One of the most noteworthy and critically adored new kids on the block, State Bird Provisions, opened a full year ago on New Year's Eve, and proceeded to dominate many a local and national best-of list though it's still too early to tell how much the dim-sum-style service idea is going to get copied elsewhere.
That's not to say that there wasn't a broader trend of lightening up around the dining experience in general. While the Bay Area has prided itself in the last few decades on an earnestness that borders on Portlandia-worthy comedy when it comes to farm-name-dropping, local-source-touting, and reverent ingredient worship, there are signs that restaurants are giving equal due lately to service flourishes, presentation, architecture, and plain old fun. Finally, maybe, San Francisco restaurants will be known for more than just their elocution and good breeding, which leads us to the first item on our list...BEGIN SLIDESHOW