Occupation: Marketing Program Manager
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Contigo
Reviewed Contigo: Friday, December 6, 2013
With so many places to eat in San Francisco, Contigo remains one of my favorites. From the minute you walk through the door and see the open wood-burning oven firing away, you are immediately welcomed to dinner which always makes you feel special. Contigo uses seasonal ingredients to bring to San Francisco the flavors of Spain, taking “California” twists to traditional Spanish dishes.
When you’re at Contigo, know a few truths; start off with one of their cava selections, be prepared to split all of the dishes (served tapas style), and never skip the churros!
Though the menu at Contigo does adjust seasonally, there are some constant items on the menu. Always be sure to start out with the Croquetas: the fried ball of perfectly gooey cheese and jamon cannot be missed. They are warm, gooey, crunchy, cheesy and delicious! Another one of my favorites are the Albondigas. Now, I grew up eating albondigas, which are Spanish meatballs. Though my mother’s were always a part of a soup, these are served in a small clay dish, accompanied by a tomato/sherry sauce, a hint of cinnamon, and big leaves of fresh parsley. These albondigas melt in your mouth.
The perfect thing to help wipe up some of that amazing tomato/sherry sauce is the crust of the Coca or Flatbread. This flatbread is topped with smoked bacon, buttery manchego cheese and wild mushrooms, and then put into the wood-burning oven until the crust is crisp and the cheese is melted. In order to round out your meal, it is required that you get the churros. Now, all of the desserts at Contigo are delicious, but the Churros are an experience. A small dish of perfectly fried, sweetly seasoned pastries are accompanied by a mug of melted, salted, dark chocolate. The crisp churro dipped into the thick chocolate along with the cinnamon and sugar combined with the sea salt is a winning dessert that cannot be missed.
Contigo’s small, warm atmosphere is perfect for birthdays, dates or simply catching up with good friends over great wine and delicious food.
Favorite Restaurant: Paradiso
Reviewed Contigo: Thursday, December 12, 2013
I love tapas; they are a perfect way of trying multiple dishes. I’m really glad I tried the tapas tasting menu—I think I got a wonderful selection of some of the chef’s favorite dishes.
My favorites at Contigo are the Crab Salad, the Jamon Fritters, the Patates Braves, and the Ahi Tuna. So delicious! The outside patio area where we ate was really cute- although it was cold outside, there were sufficient heat lamps and the top lighting and décor gave it a really nice backyard garden ambience feel.
Warning: the tables are pretty close so be prepared to overhear your neighbors’ conversations— for better or worse. Unfortunately, I had the displeasure of overhearing a young man go on and on about his new patent and his 6 new cars the entire dinner. Our waitress was really helpful and she gave us excellent recommendations on the perfect wine pairings. I would definitely visit again.
Occupation: Sound Designer and Mixer
Favorite Restaurant: Smoke Berkeley
Reviewed Contigo: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Contigo is a nice place to eat with a friend and try a variety of foods.
Our table, located towards the back in a raised area of the restaurant, gave us a nice view of the kitchen where we could watch the food being prepared.
The service was excellent. I wanted to have some sherry with dinner, but I wasn’t sure which one to order. The waitress brought out 2 tastes for me to sample. When I didn’t like either and told her I wanted something a little sweeter, she brought out another choice which I liked. Our food arrived very quickly… so quickly that I joked with my wife that I thought “they want to get us out of this joint as fast as they can.”
My only service qualm was that one of their busboys bumped into my wheelchair on a number of occasions. Even after asking him to be more careful, he still managed to kick my chair one more time before I left.
Being a tapas restaurant, it’s easy to try a number of dishes in one sitting. The big hit for me was the Croqueta de Jamon Serrano which is a crisp, round creamy fritter of Spanish ham. I HAD to order a second serving. Another standout was the Conjundo, which is Iberico toast with a fried quail egg, smoked butter beans and pickled chile. It was a great combination of foods.
I didn’t enjoy the larger plates as much as the tapas. The Albondigas (meatballs) were good, but the Squid was rather tough. They grill the squid along with baby artichokes and chorizo. It’s served on a bed of black rice with an aioli. I didn’t like the browned (actually charred black) artichokes or squid.
For dessert, we had the Xocolata Calenta, which is a cup of thick, decadent, Tcho hot chocolate accompanied by 4 churros, which we dipped into the cup. It’s a dessert to come back for.
I wouldn’t cross the bridge from Oakland to revisit Contigo, but if I was already in the city, I’d go there. And I’d certainly recommend it to my friends.