San Francisco James Beard Nominees 2018

Get a meal in now before the finalists are announced

Whether it's showing up right when the doors open at 5 p.m. or keeping tabs on OpenTable as religiously as you would Coachella presale tickets, getting a table at SF's hottest restaurants has always been a challenge. And thanks to the number of James Beard nominations the city's chefs and restaurants have earned this year, unfortunately it won't be getting easier anytime soon. So do your best to visit these five spots before the foundation's final short list is revealed—and the real fight to get a table begins.

Evan & Sarah Rich: Best Chef, West

This recently Michelin-starred restaurant has always been a Hayes Valley hot spot, with even Dominique Crenn calling herself a fan. Chalk up Rich Table's popularity to this husband-and-wife team's approach to food that sticks to tradition as little as possible: Cacio e pepe gets an extra-golden hue from sea urchin, while potato chips are fried cradling an entire sardine.

Belinda Leong & Michel Suas: Outstanding Baker

Elegant French pastries get a homegrown touch at B. Patisserie in the form of black sesame kouign-amann, tarts filled with milk-tea pastry cream and brightly colored strawberry banana macarons.

Quince: Outstanding Restaurant

This three-Michelin-star restaurant is a classic for a reason. Go for the ultimate tasting menu experience—we know you'll be having a birthday sometime this year.

Swan Oyster Depot: Outstanding Restaurant

If the line outside the door is any indication, the seafood at this perennially packed institution is always worth the wait. Order a plate of oysters on the half shell if you must, but don't give up your coveted spot at the counter before trying at least one of the items from the not-so-secret list of off-menu dishes.

Michelle Polzine: Outstanding Pastry Chef

When you've grown tired of sugar-dusted cruffins and all the other trending desserts beginning with the word salted, head to 20th Century Cafe, where Polzine is stocking the display table with Eastern European classics like Russian coffee cake, faschingkrapfen doughnuts and the Krasinski torte, a Russian honey cake.