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May 19, 2009 08:05 PM

Destino [San Francisco]

Because of a recent promotion, I got a WHOLE BUNCH of discounted coupons from (something like $250 worth of coupons for less than $30). Tonight was the beginning of the coupon adventure with food-buddy, Lisa.

We started with a cocktail at Pisco, the neighboring bar, as Destino was not quite ready to open. I had a lovely "Pisco Cosmo" which was very bright and tangy and Lisa had a classic Pisco Sour which could now be one of my favorite drinks.

While we were pondering the menu, we were given an amuse of a sliced, fried plantain served with a green parsley sauce. I could have eaten a dozen of these easily and both Lisa and I were dipping our fingers in the green sauce.

We ordered four small plates to share: a salad of Mexican papaya, greens, toasted pumpkin seeds, and hearts of palm, skewers of beef heart, a chicken empanada served with queso fresco and Andean black mint, and a ceviche of yellowtail tuna, ginger, sesame oil, and Fresno chiles.

Of the four dishes, the salata and the ceviche were easily far superior. The salad was fresh and points were given for not being over-dressed. The ceviche had large chunks of fish (I hate it when its almost ground) and was also not overdressed but quite rich and well-balanced.

The other two dishes were more wanting; the empanada's dough should have been brushed with egg before baking and it was a fairly chewy dough. It was served with a very spicy, yellow chili sauce and we were both pleased that we had kept the green sauce from the amuse to moisten it up. Made me miss the empanadas from Empanadas Place in Los Angeles. The beef heart skewers were well-seasoned, but sadly overcooked to the point of being very tough and chewy.

Huge points are given for the great service. After our cocktails, we sat down and ordered Sangria. Being slightly undecided, the waiter suggested one each of the white and red and when we found them too sweet for our tastes, the bartender very graciously took them away and discussed other cocktail options for us. Secondary cocktails that we shared was a Pisco-based Mojito and a Caipairinha, made with a most interestingly smoky Cachaca.

We were debating a dessert and knew of the fame of the Alfajores cookies. On the Destino menu, they only list the cookies by the dozen but the bar, Pisco, has them individually. When asked about dessert choices, we indicated we would go back to the bar for a cookie, our waiter offered us several small dulce de leche caramel-filledcookies which was the perfect ending.

Based on other dishes I saw being served and the attentive service, I would definitely return to try other dishes.

1815 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. We got out of an event and were walking up the street looking for somewhere to get a drink. The $5 cocktail special on the Pisco chalkboard caught our eye and there were seats at the bar, so we gave it a shot.

    The $5 special cocktail (I forget what they called it) seemed like a first-rate Pisco Sour to me. The bartender was very precise, made each one individually (and quickly). Delicious.

    Tried a few snacks. Halibut ceviche ($13) was very tasty though it didn't have choclo. Pork empanada ($3) was great though the dessertish cinnamon-guava (?) sauce that came with it made no sense. The Peruvian corn nuts ($4) were good though I prefer Piccino's. Plaintain chips ($4) were nice with the ceviche.

    Overall, very good value. They have the biggest selection of pisco I've seen.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Were you in Destino (title of thread) or in the Pisco Lounge?

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        We were at the bar. I think we got the same menus as the dining room. Seemed weird that they have two names.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          They have two street addresses. I haven't been back since the Pisco Lounge expansion so don't know the layout, they're connected inside?

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        Windy and I had a very nice dinner there a couple of months ago. We tried several of their cocktails and they were all well-balanced and delicious. The yucca gnocchi were one of the best dishes I've had recently.