Creative Commons photo by Naoto Sato is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The list of 2019 James Beard Award nominees is out, and some of the San Francisco Bay Area options are surprisingly affordable

Alyssa Pereira  – March 1, 2019 | Updated March 12, 2019

Food prepared by restaurants and chefs deemed extraordinary by critics tends to be … pricy.

Such fine dining options in San Francisco and its surrounding areas certainly offer what may be some of the best fare anywhere in the world, but as Wednesday’s list of James Beard Award semifinalists reveals, not all recognized chefs and establishments are necessarily a strain on the wallet.

Altogether, 30 chefs, bar professionals, and restaurants from around the Bay Area are still in the running for James Beard Awards. Most, like Saison, Benu, and Atelier Crenn, are cost-prohibitive for people who spend half their salary on rent. Those options can cost diners between $300$400 or more per person.

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But some are relatively affordable, including classics like Swan Oyster Depot and newcomers like Reem’s California.

Bay Area nominations run across more than a dozen categories, including best new restaurant, outstanding baker, and outstanding bar program, with the most local semifinalists in the categories of outstanding chef (3 semifinalists); outstanding wine, spirits, or beer professional (4 semifinalists); and best chef in the West (9 semifinalists).

Now, while there’s no guarantee about wait times and snatched reservations, it is possible to enjoy excellent food at one of these establishments without blowing your savings account. Below is a list of this year’s affordable San Francisco Bay Area James Beard semifinalists, all of which offer meals priced between $11 and $30, according to Yelp. (Or, read more analysis on the Bay Area picks from The Chronicle.)

  • Nyum Bai, Oakland 
  • Neighbor Bakehouse, San Francisco 
  • Manresa Bread, Los Gatos
  • 20th Century Cafe, San Francisco
  • Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco
  • Reem’s California, Oakland
  • Cosecha Cafe, Oakland
  • El Molino Central, Sonoma
  • Kin Khao, San Francisco

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