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Robert Lauriston Jun 2, 2011 10:59 AM

Former Enrico's, new Basque place by the Naked Lunch people, opened Tuesday.

504 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

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  1. Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 2, 2011 02:04 PM

    I tagged along with a friend who's a vendor to the soft opening. At the time, the staff didn't know which of the tapas served would make it to the opening menu. Looks like the liver and onions (foie gras torchon & grilled cipollini), mushroom empanada and junipero cured salmon have, but of course the usual caveats that things might have changed a bit before the official opening. Speaking of the service staff, they had to pass a written exam to get hired here and I was impressed by their professionalism and knowledge amidst the evening's chaos. The interior is rustic making it more like a drinking establishment but the food is definitely a cut above that, as we've seen at Naked Lunch. The benches out in front that fans of Naked Lunch know well were reupholstered but they're still there for al fresco dining. The kitchen has a wood-fired pizza oven and wood grill. I have some photos of the interior, click on "show info" for captions,

    1. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 2, 2011 02:14 PM

      Anybody else been? Bauer just gave the food three stars so will likely be hard to get in for a few weeks.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        nocharge RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 2, 2011 03:43 PM

        I've had dinner there twice. I kind of agree with Bauer on this one. The food is very good, but the deliberately cafeteria-like set up of the tables (dispensers with cheap paper napkins, etc.) feels like an unnecessary gimmick in a restaurant with good food and a full bar (and it's not dirt cheap, either). Plus, it's kind of dark inside. However, I thought the servers were quite good and it's definitely a restaurant worth checking out for the food.

        Note that the print edition of the Chronicle stated that they accept reservations, but the online edition says they don't. I believe the online edition is correct.

        1. re: nocharge
          Robert Lauriston RE: nocharge Aug 2, 2011 05:35 PM

          No mention of reservations on their Web site, either.

          Putting paper napkins and a jar of silverware on the table cuts costs, and it didn't stop Bauer from giving much higher service ratings to both Cesars.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            nocharge RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 2, 2011 06:37 PM

            The explanation I got had nothing to do with cutting cost, but with adding Basque touches. Apparently, the owners had visited the Basque Country and eaten in restaurants that had tables set that way. For me, with that kind of price point, it becomes more of a gimmick. (Bauer calls it $$$; last time we were there, we spent over $80/person with tax and tip.) But it should be fairly trivial for them to provide nicer napkins and a little more light inside.

      2. j
        jman1 RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 2, 2011 02:54 PM

        Is this like a traditional Pintxos/tapas bar? Or, more of a restaurant that also serves pintxos?

        4 Replies
        1. re: jman1
          Robert Lauriston RE: jman1 Aug 2, 2011 03:07 PM

          Menu reads to me like an eclectic Cal-Med small plates restaurant with some Basque touches.


          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            nocharge RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 2, 2011 03:45 PM

            Probably a pretty good description.

          2. re: jman1
            Savory_Girl RE: jman1 Aug 2, 2011 04:36 PM

            Really neither if you ask me...after living in San Sebastian for 6 months I'd say that Txoko is very loosley inspired by Basque food. It's good food, don't get me wrong, but if you're looking for lots of Basque food or a traditional pintxos bar feel this isn't your place. Disappointng in my opinion. I reviewd it on my site a while back if you're interested...it was only days after it opened though so maybe some of the kinks have been worked out. I'll likely go back to check it out one more time once the hype settles...but I thought there was much better Basque food at Pipperade (although a higher price point)


            504 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

            1. re: Savory_Girl
              Windy RE: Savory_Girl Aug 2, 2011 05:56 PM

              this was another of Bauer's mismatches. He seemed to hate the food and then gave it high marks.

              I also predict they'll have to add a subtitle to the hard to pronounce/spell name.

          3. felice RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 22, 2011 05:38 PM

            I've eaten dinner here twice now and greatly enjoyed it both times. I am a big fan of Naked Lunch and Txoko's food is similarly flavorful and even more sophisticated on a plate instead of between two slices of bread. I would not hesitate to order to foie gras pinxto again and again. We also recently had a squid pinxto and an anchovy pinxto that were fabulous. On the small plates side, the seafood items have been my favorite. There is usually a seafood dish garnished with pea sprouts - I usually order it. What can I say, the chef has a knack for with pea sprouts in combination with seafood. After trying 3 seafood sandwiches and 2 seafood small dishes, I've never been disappointed.

            At some point I want to try the main dish, usually steak, but thus far I can't tear myself away from the variety and flavors of the pinxtos and small dishes.

            I noticed during my most recent visit that they've turned up the lights, which allowed me to see my gorgeously plated food. Can't wait for a third visit!

            504 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

            1. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 14, 2012 05:37 PM

              Went Basque-bar-hopping last night and this was the last stop. "Crispy Pork Headcheese,
              Egg, Bean Puree, Bacon, Smoked Tomato, Padrons, Pickled Mushrooms" ($13) was fantastic, a fried thick slice of headcheese on some bean puree with a fried egg on top.

              I was drinking wine but it has about the most interesting cocktail list I've seen. Have to go back soon and try the rib-eye for two.

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