It takes a certain type of restaurant that can come in to break up the row of seedy Broadway strip-clubs in North Beach, and Txoko has a mix of the right elements: great food, good cocktails and that breezy vibe.
I did see some semblance of the old Enrico’s restaurant/live music lounge, but I have to say that I really love what the new owners (and folks behind Naked Lunch) did with the large space. There are tables on the left, a long bar on the right and tables for dining al fresco, but I highly recommend ponying up to the communal table in the center of the room. The menu consists of a variety of small bites, small and large plates, cheeses and desserts which really bodes well with the urban, some-what industrial interior. I was digging the silverware in mason jars. Plus, they serve late night — so this is a major bonus for those looking to score some grub when every other kitchen in town has closed. The prices range from $3 to $14 (save for the $65 for 2 big plate), so you could get carried away ordering a few dishes and not be shocked when the final bill comes.
On a recent visit, I tried the “Liver & Onion”(Foie Gras Torchon, Cipollini, Pedro Ximenez Gastrique), Crispy Veal Sweetbreads (Potato Coulis, Chorizo, Fava Beans, Mushrooms), Wild Mushroom Arroz (Hen of the Woods, Morels, Chanterelles, Fiddleheads), and Ahi Tuna Tartare (Roasted Tomato Puree, Black Olive, Chive Oil) — and I was delighted and impressed with every single dish. I recently checked their website and it appears that some of the ingredients have varied ever so slightly, just as an FYI. But the bottom line is that Txoko is churning out delicious food at reasonable prices. I think this would be a perfect date spot. Either pre- or post- cursor to 15 Romolo. Or Garden of Eden. You take your pick!
Tuna tartare dish
Liver and Onions
Mushroom dish -- sorry, a little blurry!
The 2nd stop of the evening was Wilson and Wilson Private Detective Agency (aka The Wilson Bar) for some serious cocktailing. We all know that you must make reservations for Bourbon & Branch and it is the same case here at this bar within a bar.
You may order drinks separately for $12 each or order three-courses for $30, set up similarly to a dinner would be: you have the aperitifs (light and will whet your whistle), the mains (just as a main course would be, full-bodied), and the digestifs. They’ve also got some serious punch offerings for $40, such as the Lost Temple with strawberry infused pisco, the Dark City and the Jungle At Dusk.
The Wilson Investigative Cocktails I chose were:
Red Scarab: Applejack, Lillet Blanc, Lemon Juice, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup, Hibiscus Tincture, Sparkling Wine
Charlie Chan: Black Tea infused Karlsson’s Vodka, Lemon Juice, Ginger Syrup, Coconut Marmalade, Black Pepper Tincture, Clove Tincture
Hard Boiled: Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Laird’s 100 Proof Apple Brandy, Zucca Amaro, Cardamaro Amaro, Cinnamon Infused Orange Bitters
All drinks aside, I was (and still currently am) obsessed with the look and feel of Wilson and Wilson. The whole theme is based around a purse belonging to Ms. Wilson that was discovered within the walls of the building and the story is extremely fascinating. Tip: though you might be in a alcohol-induced haze, you must read the entire history in the cocktail menu and study the interior because every last touch is well thought-out and the decor is beautiful. The bar stools perfectly hug your bottom (no joke) and you feel like your in a hidden little den in a sketchy mc-sketcherton part of town aka the T-loin. But it’s all worth it in the end, if you’re still standing.