File under: Divisadero Street is fast becoming one of San Francisco’s top culinary destinations.
Whether you still call it Western Addition or prefer the modern, restaurant-inspired name of NoPa, this ever-changing neighborhood began its foodie evolution with a few lonely destination eateries (NoPa, Bar Crudo) and has, over the last few years, transformed into a restaurant row with industry heavy hitters including 4505 Meats, Brenda’s Meat and Three, Namu Stonepot, Sightglass Coffee and, of course, The Mill, with their sinfully good toast.
North of Panhandlers now welcome the addition of Barvale, the Spanish-style tapas bar from restauranteur Adriano Paganini, and the spot is teeming with energy. Just walking past, you’ll feel the tug to peek inside and join in the fun—a couple connecting over a pair of grapefruit gin and tonics; a large group of friends eating all the pintoxs at the bar; a group of gals gabbing over gambas and Spanish red wine.
While there are certainly other restaurants in SF that do tapas, the small bites are the focus of things at Barvale. On the cold menu, try the pan con tomate; the tortilla de patata; or piquillos relleno stuffed with blood sausage. Want something hot? Go for the patatas bravas or the garlicky head-on gambas with preserved lemon.
If you’re waiting for a table at NOPA, pop in for an aperitif and snack—but you may find yourself staying for a full meal. This spot is also great post-show at The Independent.
The bite-sized pintxos are only offered at the bar, just as they would be in Spain. But, there is also a pintxo room for large groups and private parties.
The cocktail offering has been designed to complement the dishes, with five fantastic renditions of the gin and tonic (the result of an epic in-house tasting of more than 40 different gins). Not a gin drinker? Try the Spanish favorite Kalimotxo, a concotion of red wine and cola; housemade sangria; or something yummy with sherry.
Chef Patricio “Pato” Duffoo’s tapas menu is divided into two sections—hot and cold. The latter includes a fresh tuna crudo that plays well with fruity slivers of kumquats, almond crumbles, and romesco sauce.
There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe: The traditional pan con tomate is a hunk of crusty bread topped with a slather of crushed tomatoes.
Hello, jamon! Croquetas de jamon are lightly breaded and crisped, filled with a creamy béchamel sauce and small cubes of ham.
Like upscale Spanish fries, the patatas bravas are topped with salsa brava and creamy white aioli.
The rock cod is roasted to flaky perfection and accompanied by a liberal serving of salsa verde.
One of the heartier dishes, the braised oxtail is a balance of rich and fatty flavors that team nicely with a serving of mashed potatoes to soak up all the meaty juices.
Start or end your meal with a Spanish cheese board including a bold Valdeon blue, a hard Mahon, and a slightly creamy Caña de Oveja, all enhanced by fruity preserves and buttery Marcona almonds.
Snag a seat at the bar if you can—this is the spot to get your pintxos, Spanish sherry, and cava.