"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Restaurant review -- CONTIGO (San Francisco)

Address: 1320 Castro Street (at 24th)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Bus: 24 Divisadero
Telephone 415.285.0250
Hours: Closed Mondays
Website: Contigo

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30$ and under; $$ = Moderate: 31€-49€; $$$ = Expensive: $50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than $76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  4 - Star...............................................................$$$.................................................................3 - Bell

I’ve been concentrating my reviews in France, and in particular the Paris area. However, I had an opportunity to go to my old neighborhood in San Francisco’s Noe Valley where I once lived and came across a restaurant called, “Contigo”, a Spanish restaurant focusing on tapas.  Co-owned by Brett and Elan Emerson it’s been open awhile, but I just never had an opportunity to go there before last month.

The restaurant appears very modern. As you enter you immediately see the kitchen to your left. As most trendy places in US, and especially California, restaurants can be very “lively”, this was no exception. It was noisy, but fun.  We were fortunate because we got seated in the back which is a covered outdoor patio, so it was less noisy and actually quite pleasant.

There were 4 of us so we started ordering raciones (large plates of tapas to share).  We started with a small plate of marinated Spanish olives.  Then something caught our eyes, chili peppers that looked like they were roasted in oil. There was a warning sign that some of them would be spicy, others not. So, basically it was the luck of the draw. We ordered them, and we loved them.  The first batches we had were extremely potent, and as we continued eating them they became milder, either that or our mouths went numb. None-the-less, in it’s simplicity it was a winner.

The second raciones we shared was Jamón serrano with wood oven roasted peaches, black pepper syrup, mint and anchocress.  The jamón itself was delicious, but I personally don’t like sweet on my salty jamón; however, the others liked the juxtaposition of the sweet and salty.

Our third raciones we ordered was the Sauteed greens catalan style with roasted almonds, golden raisins and garlic. It was a simple nice green salad that gave a nice break to the saltiness and spiciness of what we had already eaten.

Our fourth and most favorite dish was the Coca (flatbread) of sweet and hot peppers, bacon, caramelized onions, oregano and manchego.  It was extremely tasty. They were like little mini-pizzettes punched with lots of flavor. In fact, we had ordered another one cause it was so good. Definitely a winner.

And, for our final dish we ordered the Tripe with chorizo and chick peas. We liked this dish.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t as greasy as I would’ve expected it to be.

During our meal, we had asked our wait staff if they had any spicy condiment like "espelette" or even hot sauce.  They did not, but much to our surprise and delight, the Chef made a special concoction of spicy dip… Now that’s a Chef who cares about his customers.

The only weak spot is their ice teas which were very weak. We had asked about it, and apparently they were not making any excuses, their brewing machine was making the tea really weak, oh well. 

All-in-all we had a lovely evening. We had a bottle of Decendientes de J. Palacios red wine for $45 and I had 2-glasses of Garcia revalo white for $10 each, and our meal with the tip for 4 people came to almost $200. Would we go back, absolutely. In fact, I’m planning another trip when I return to US for the winter holidays…


  1. I can't wait to go and ask them to make that Coca without cheese and bacon! Tell me, though: How painful is it to pay $10 for a glass of wine after living in France, the land of the delicious 3 euro verre?!

    1. FYI..., they do have a number of vegan dishes; afterall, is is SF. Yes, wine and cheeses are so much more expensive than Paris. However, I did find a wine store it's a chain that carries some really good wines from all over the world. As you know, outside of SF food is cheaper so it sorta balances out with the wine/food etc.

  2. Noe Valley has some of the best restaurants in SF.

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