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SF’s “Al’s Place” named Top New U.S. Restaurant by Bon Apétit Magazine!

Mission Dolores, Mission District, San Francisco

One individual can make a big difference. Aaron London is one of those individuals.

Bon Apétit Magazine had named “Al’s Place” in San Francisco’s Mission District, the Top New Restaurant in the United States! Since the magazine has ALSO named San Francisco the Top Food City in the U.S., those of you who appreciate fine cuisine just might want to plan a trip to San Francisco, SOON!

The six-month-old restaurant on the often-bypassed corner of 26th and Valencia takes its name from the initials of the owner, Aaron London. We suspect that “Al’s Place” may be seeing an increase in popularity, as the word spreads! 😉 says:

The last time a Bay Area restaurant made such headlines was 2011, when State Bird Provisions won that same honor. Almost overnight, the Fillmore Street restaurant exploded into a viral sensation. Lines snaked down the block; computer hackers even created programs just to procure reservations.

There has been a been a restaurant boom in San Francisco, making the business increasingly competitive. “Al’s Place” has been an anomaly, built on a shoestring budget amidst multiplying big-budget competitors. Owner Al London said in an interview with

“Suddenly in the last year, things have really, really blown up here,” said London. “We’ve always had an unfair advantage with the amazing products, but we just always weren’t taking advantage. Nothing has changed; we’re just cooking harder and better now.”

“It’s made cooking in San Francisco super-competitive,” continued London. “There’s an oversaturation of restaurants. It’s forcing everyone to be at their absolute A game. There’s plenty of money to open restaurants in San Francisco right now, but there are not unlimited staff and guests.”

The menu at “Al’s Place” focuses on seasonal vegetables and seafood, with meat billed as a side dish and appetizers touted as “snackles.” The article details the wonderful items on the menu! Andrew Knowlton, the Deputy Editor at Bon Apétit, had this to tell

“It’s a fun place to dine. That’s a big thing for me,” said Andrew Knowlton, the deputy editor at Bon Appetit who spearheaded the list. “There’s something about every dish that you realize that there’s something going on here. Someone is smart and excited about what he’s doing. I feel like (London) is on 26th and Valencia doing his own, weird thing.

“It’s literally his place. He built it himself. He runs it himself.”

“San Francisco knows it has good food, and I’m not telling them anything they don’t know, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited about a city and its restaurants all at once,” said Knowlton, rattling off the local chefs who have opened restaurants in the last 12 months: Ravi Kapur, Melissa Perello, Mourad Lahlou, Chris Cosentino, Ryan Pollnow, Thomas McNaughton, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski.

The SFGate article discusses the history of 31-year-old London and the restaurant, and tips us to a SECOND San Francisco Mission restaurant that made Bon Appetit’s top 10 list as well: Japanese Izakaya Rintaro!

-Bill at

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