Let’s be real: Hot restaurant openings are a dime a dozen in San Francisco, and it can be tough to sort through the hype and determine which new spot is worth your precious time and money. No worries here: Barcino is one of the best restaurants we’ve tried so far in 2017.
Brought to us by the Absinthe Group (most recently, the makers of the also-wonderful Bellota), Barcino dishes a taste of Barcelona in the form of elevated, memorable tapas. The various small plates deliver both elegance and comfort; the service is friendly; and the space is warm and simple with floor-to-ceiling windows and cascading plants.
Nobody says no to carbs. Start with Barcino’s version of pan con tomate—pieces of toasted Catalan bread with a side of savory tomato spread and sea salt. If you’re looking to do one better, pair it with the Jamon Iberico de Bellota, perfect salty slices of Cinco Jotas ham from a very small, select group of purebred Iberian pigs that deliver an unrivaled flavor.
Barcino pulls together a thoughtful raw bar menu of fish, carpaccio, and octopus. The yellowfin tuna is a well-balanced bite with a smooth whip of avocado, shavings of fennel escabeche, and a sprinkling of esplette pepper.
Of course, we can’t say no to a good kale salad. Finely shredded leaves of Tuscan kale create a pleasant, approachable salad that’s a welcome contrast to some of the aggressive, gnarly kale salads you might see elsewhere. Add stone fruit, candied hazelnuts, garbanzo beans, and dollops of creamy goat cheese in a diosa verde (aka green goddess dressing), and you’ll find yourself sitting happy.
The Ou tapa is an elevated, impressive version of the Spanish dish huevos rotos, or broken eggs. A striking sunny-side-up egg is graced with a mound of caviar and placed atop coins of sliced, fried potatoes, rich slices of Iberian ham and cream made from Idiazabal cheese. We’re officially obsessed.
There are no ordinary patatas bravas here. Barcino creates clever crispy potato cups accentuated by a creamy charred-scallion aioli and dust.
Another worthwhile pick: Bite-size cauliflower fritters are pickled, fried, and served with a sweet caper-raisin puree for a vivid balance of salty and sweet. Pairing with a glass of cava is all but required.
Among the larger tapas is a luxurious dry-aged beef short rib that has been smoked and braised, and plays well with a warm choricero pepper broth.
Barcino is serving a spin on classic churros we’ve never seen before: Swirled cookie-like pastries sandwich a toasted vanilla marshmallow and a creamy bit of chocolate ganache. Think Spanish s’mores, but with dipping sauce!
If you’re feeling adventurous, ask for a porron of wine to share amongst your table. This traditional Catalan glass pitcher allows you to pour steady streams of wine right into your mouth. Because, why not?
A welcome addition to Hayes Valley, Barcino replaces the Absinthe Group’s New Orleans-inspired restaurant, the Boxing Room.
Expect an open space with exposed wood beams and warm light.
Walk-ins are welcome, but the current wait for dinner is upwards of an hour. So make a reservation—Barcino is hot. // 399 Grove St. (Hayes Valley) barcinosf.com
This article was orginally written and photographed by me for 7×7 and can be viewed here.