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Pimientos de padrone

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Has anyone had the tapa,pimientos de padrone,in a tapas bar in the Bay Area? I fell in love with these when I was in Madrid and introduced to them by a fellow pepper lover. They are peppers that look like jalapenos and as a tapa they seem to be broiled after being coated lightly with olive oil and salt. In Spain, you are given a plateful and it's almost akin to a culinary Russian roulette for these peppers can be mild or very hot and it's an amusing little game to play in the taparia to see who will be unlucky enough to get the hot ones. They are so very tasty and I'm wondering if someone has come across them here?

Does anyone have a recommendation for good Portugese food in the Bay Area? I now have a craving for it after reading about the Big Dog's adventures and remembering some of my experiences in Newark.

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  1. There's a tapas bar in the Haight that I THINK might've had 'em.

    My notes tell me these are good local tapas bars: Zarzuela, Timos, Esperpento, Picaro. I'd just go down the list of all the places in town, phoning and asking whether they have pimientos de padrone (definitely check for tortilla de patatas while you're at it!)

    Hey, I've hung out in Madrid a lot (and have the liver to prove it!)...if you feel like starting a tapas thread over on the "International" board, I'll join in.

    You sound pretty savvy...I'll bet you knew the good places between Pl. Santa Angel and the Prado...and the good horchata place in Plaza Mayor...

    hasta pronto

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jim Leff

      See you in international!

    2. Note that Happy Quail farm in East Palo Alto grows pimientos de padron. Happy Quail sells retail at Palo Alto (Saturday) and Menlo Park (Sunday) farmers' markets, usually at the Ferry Building plaza on Saturdays, and sometimes in Marin. See their Web site for details.

      Pimientos de padron are available from the early summer into October, and the ratio of not-hot-to-hot usually rises from about 1:10 in June to 3:10 in September, although a lot is dependent on weather.

      Happy Quail grows other peppers, including extraordinary aji, and they dry and grind peppers, selling them in small vials, so you can have a mid-winter hit of anything from their smokey mild pimento to flowery and zingful aji rojo to potent orange habanero.

      I often bring a bag or two of pimientos de padron when visiting people, especially those who have lived in Spain. Having read first about them in Calvin Trillin's relevant essay and knowing how hard they are to find in the U.S., we are lucky to have an excellent local source. Also, the hot ones are rarely extremely hot -- I only once had one that was clearly up in serrano/aji territory. This means that even people with low piquancy thresholds can enjoy the fruity-herbal quality of the pepper, at least at the beginning of the season.

      Preparation is a snap: saute hot till blistered with a little olive oil; add salt and serve hot. I prefer medium salt, like kosher salt, rather than giant salt like sel gris de Guerande.

      14 Replies
      1. re: David Sloo

        Just a second to the great pimientos de padron that Happy Quail Farm produces and the easy of their preparation. I made a fool of myself at a tapas bar in Barcelona and was thrilled to find them at the local farmers market. Wrecked a few other lives by introducing them to friends......

        1. re: chowetta

          Now if only they didn't cost $24 / lb. But I suppose that is related to their scarcity.

            1. re: Paul H

              At Quetzal this year they were selling for $6 a pound.

              Here's a few posts from 2006 to supplement this 1999 post.

              Should the OP be still looking restaurants that serve them here's reports from this year for Bocadillos and a special dinner at Olivetto's.

              There was also a possible siting at Cesar.

              1. re: rworange

                The season is definately past. Spanish table had some tired looking ones last month, they said they are last of the season, so it will be awhile. Cesar always has them on the menu.

                1. re: rworange

                  Are you sure that wasn't $6 a bag? I've seen that price many times, then late in the season they get a little cheaper. They do indeed have them on the menu at Cesar.

                  1. re: Atomica

                    Just going by what was in that post, haven't bought them personally.

                    Also in the above posts is the info that Mariquita occasionally has them.

            2. re: David Sloo

              I'm usually fine with the hot ones, and my husband loves them, but I do want to point out that the giant ones they sell at Queztal Farms (rworange linked to my post above) are unsurpassed by any normal sized ones I've ever had, here or in Spain (where I could afford to eat as much as I wanted). Almost every one in the bag drove us to blindness/deafness.

              I've been told by other Chowhounds that Spanish Table sells seeds - does anyone know what time of year that happens?

              1. re: coolbean98

                I've seen them there whenever they had the peppers, drop them n e-mail and ask when they'll get fresh ons in for the spring.

                1. re: coolbean98

                  "Giant" pimientos padron? That don't have the random heat of the small ones? Sounds like someone found a way to sell some common variety of chile at 10 times the normal price. Chiles cross pollinate like crazy, so at most these are a cross between pimientos de padron and some other chile.

                  I grew pimientos de padron from seed this year and they were prolific and very true to type (assuming Happy Quail's pimientos are the real thing). I was pleasantly surprised, since I've not had good luck here in SF with several other varieties of chile. I bought the seeds online from Harvest Moon Farms (just google to find them). They list them as "Padron Peppers". I would avoid buying seeds from a food store. No telling how old they might be. But assuming the seeds are truly pimientos de padron the main issue is germination rate, so if you only need a few plants go ahead and buy seeds from Spanish Table and if you get pimientos you like, save a few grams of seed for next year. Just start lots of seeds (5-10 times more than the number of plants you want) and pick the healthiest to transplant.

                  Sorry to ramble on. Is there a Chowhound gardening forum?

                  1. re: Zeldog

                    Yeah, like pimientos de padron on steroids, whew. Whatever chile they crossed these with it was a bit too much for me - I'll stick to the original!

                    I'm glad to finally hear a growing report on the seeds! I will look into getting them online. I am not a very good farmer - can they be grown in containers? What time of year is best to plant?

                    1. re: coolbean98

                      Yes they can be grown in containers. No smaller than 5-gallons. I planted two in a 14-gal plastic tote (don't forget drainage holes. I think I started the seeds in mid March and transplanted the first week in May. There's no frost in SF, so if you start too early the seedlings will just sit there until it warms up, so be patient if they don't seem too vigorous at first.

                      1. re: Zeldog

                        Excellent - thank you so much! Wish me luck!

                    2. re: Zeldog

                      I bought seeds, from harvest valley I believe, two years ago and they did quite well in my Vacaville Garden, but none I ate where really hot.

                      P.S A Chowhound Gardening forum would be great!

                2. Timo's and Picaro are gone, Jim, for your notes.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: essvee

                    Picaro on 16th in the Mission is still open.

                  2. D'oh! I swear I saw it closed a year or two ago! I guess not.

                    1. I had pimientos de padrone at Evvia restaurant in Palo Alto this past summer. They might have them at Kokkari, the sister restaurant here in the city. It may be a seasonal dish, however.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Tea

                        Pimientos de Padron originate in Galicia in the NW of Spain, where the climate somewhat resembles northern California -- cool temps with frequent fogs and rain. (It's part of Green Spain, as they call it now.) Seeds are available from Tomato Growers Supply Company and can be ordered on line. In Santiago de Compostela, the preparation seemed to be a quick saute of whole peppers in olive oil until just tender, then sprinkled with coarse salt. They were a wonderful treat, especially with an order of pulpo.

                        1. re: TNExplorer

                          Despite the date of this post - I picked some up two weeks back at the Spanish Table in Berkeley - strategically placed at check out.

                          Beware not cheap - but ever so worth it!

                          1. re: kare_raisu

                            Spanish Table sells padrones from Happy Quail. They mark them up a dollar from the $6/pkg price that Happy Quail charges at the Farmer's Market.

                      2. Bringing this topic back up...

                        I bought two bags of pimientos from Happy Quail at the Tuesday Ferry Bldg Farmer's Market. They were...$8.00 a bag. And I thought last year's prices were getting too rich for my blood! The guy said they would be available for the rest of the summer and I'm just hoping the price goes down as we get further into the season.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: PegS

                          It should--this is waaaay early for peppers; they're probably from the happy quail greenhouse rather than the normal field, since we had a big frost about a month ago.

                          How were they?

                          1. re: SteveG

                            They were good. As good as usual.

                            1. re: SteveG

                              SteveG: you are totally correct - we have a plant going this year in a container and it has just started to really grow (was purchased in a 2" pot). It's only about a foot tall at this point and has a looooong way to go before we see peppers! (We're in Menlo Park so weather is good but it's just not warm enough yet, even with the heat wave last week).

                            2. re: PegS

                              I notice that on this entire nine-year thread nobody seems to have mentioned Italian frying peppers. They're very similar to Pimientos de Padrón, though larger and longer, and are prepared in the same way. They're cheaper and more readily available (most farmers' markets and Monterey Market in Berkeley, in season, carry them), though not quite as piquant.

                              Cesár is getting quite long of tooth and boring, but I still like to go there when padrón peppers are on the menu.

                              1. re: dlglidden

                                I don't find them similar at all. Padrones are a one-bite item, less sweet, and have much thinner flesh with a different flavor, plus there's the fun Russian-roulette aspect of one out of six or so being spicy.

                                Cesar on Piedmont's been open less than two years. If I manage to restrain myself from going more than once a month, there are always a bunch of different new or seasonal dishes. If I got bored with hanging out there with friends over wine and cold cuts, I'd worry about my health.

                            3. There is a tapas resto in Palo Alto that serves them. I don't remember the name (maybe someone else knows it) but it is on the main strip, has a kind of an industrial feel, and really high ceilings. The place is good and the peppers are fantastic!!! I could have had 10 servings!

                              1. For the Portugese food, it isn't that fancy, but I love the Grubsteak in the Tenderloin. One side of their menu is regular diner food and the other is Portugese food. Their cod fish hash is excellent!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: SFGourmande

                                  The request for Portuguese food was from 1999. More recent topics on that:


                                2. For seekers of the rare 'pimientos de padrone,' Tierra Vegetables has been selling them for $8/lb. at the Saturday Farmer's market for the past two weekends.

                                  1. Riverdog and Quetzal have had them at the Saturday Berkeley farmer's market for several weeks now. I believe that Riverdog's are $8/lb while Quetzal's are $12/lb. Not sure if there's a difference in flavor b/w the two farms as I usually opt for the cheaper of the two.

                                    1. I recently fried up some Mariquita Pimientos and they were pretty good... not as good as the true Spanish ones, but they did the trick.


                                      1. Try Nopa, they have had them on the menu for few months but this may change. I had some 3 weeks ago and they were fun!

                                        1. blue plate often has an appetizer with padron peppers, marcona almonds and goat cheese.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: shivani

                                            had some at zarzuela in russian hill last night! delish!

                                            2000 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                            1. re: shivani

                                              yep, they were on the menu last night

                                              1. re: sarahlefton

                                                They were excellent when we ate at Cortez a few weeks ago.


                                                550 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102