Contigo, San Francisco

by Stevie on March 26, 2012

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We’ve had the good fortune to dine at Contigo, a fun and stylish tapas and wine bar restaurant in Noe Valley, twice in the past few months, most recently with our lovely friends, Charles and Fernando.

welcome to Contigo

welcome to Contigo

Since that last time, Hegui and I’ve been talking off-and-on about what makes Spanish tapas so appealing right now. There’re several similar restaurants around San Francisco and we enjoyed a marvelous lunch at another one, Estadio in Washington, D. C., over the winter holidays.

There’s something about all the small plates that arrive randomly and almost magically that really delights. Kind of like Japanese restaurants or perhaps Korean, all those little dishes with different tastes are thrilling. Probably you could even include an Ayurvedic thali on the list, even though those small plates come all at once on a large metal tray. These meals de-center the dining experience from the standard appetizer-salad-main-dessert style of eating in exciting ways. I always notice the food more when I’m not really certain what to expect next.

open kitchen at Contigo

open kitchen at Contigo

Contigo dining room

Contigo dining room

Contigo is tiny and snug, with an open kitchen, a warm cheery atmosphere and good service. The food is really enjoyable and the menu, varied. We ordered most of the veggie and fish/shellfish oriented dishes and shared some inexpensive yet good Spanish red wines. The dining room can be loud, but people are having fun so it seems okay.

So in no particular order, we had the delicious wood oven roasted Monterey sardines and the Dungeness crab croquetas. Mmmmm!

wood oven roasted Monterey sardine

wood oven roasted Monterey sardines

Dungeness crab croquetas

Dungeness crab croquetas

To me the marinated Spanish olives always seem like a required dish at a place like this, and can so often disappoint. Not here. The olives were flavorful, and came with some pickled veggies and Spanish marcona almonds: a very elegant presentation which provided multiple textures and taste sensations.

marinated Spanish olives

marinated Spanish olives

The chicories salad and the Moorish blood orange salad were both refreshing. We all adored the sautéed Brussels sprouts leaves, which were sweet and a bit smoky. The sautéed greens Catalan style had lots of lovely Swiss chard, which I adore.

chickories salad

chickories salad

Moorish blood orange salad

Moorish blood orange salad

Brussels sprout leaves

Brussels sprout leaves

sauteed greens Catalan style

sauteed greens Catalan style

Of course patatas bravas is another of those stereotypical dishes that one must have at a tapas place. Like the Spanish olives, these didn’t disappoint.

patatas bravas

patatas bravas

I wasn’t especially keen on the black trumpet mushroom flam because the texture didn’t work for me. I’m not that into super-squishy. The others seemed to enjoy it well enough. The chickpeas and spinach Andalusian style, calamars a la planxa and seared local black cod finished our stunning meal.

black trumpet mushroom flam

black trumpet mushroom flam

chickpeas and spinach Andalusian style

chickpeas and spinach Andalusian style

calamars a la planxa

calamars a la planxa

seared local black cod

seared local black cod

We skipped dessert as we had already arranged to have cake at our friend, John’s house afterward.

So that’s all. Contigo is a must-try restaurant. I suggest a reservation.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Krista March 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

Wow!! Everything looks amazingly savory and delicious. I love Brussels sprouts so much, so I know that would have to be my favorite dish. :-)
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Alaiyo Kiasi March 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm

You guys really know how to live. I agree with Krista–everything pictured looks so delicious. The salads look like food from a dream. I’m drooling for the Wood Oven Roasted Sardines. Yum!
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Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet March 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I’m not one for sardines, but have to admit, they look really good!
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OysterCulture March 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm

OK, back from Spain just a month and already craving another tapas fix. I need to get me to Contigo. I confess we do not venture as far as we should as its so convenient to find good food in our neighborhood. But I am making an exception here.
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Devaki @ weavethousandflavors April 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

PWEEZE can we go to this place when I vist San Fran next. Everything (especially the orange salad and the patatas) has me drooling. What a wonderful spread! Gosh I miss you guys.

chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
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Magic of Spice April 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Tapas and tasting of any sort are just the greatest! Love being able to sample so many delights…sounds like a fantastic place and great menu :)
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