Contigo Kitchen + Cava: Let a Great SF Meal Be With You

23 Jun

My 4 years of spanish in high school taught me that “contigo” means “with you” and  last Thursday night Contigo was most definitely with me. I had officially moved in to my first SF apartment only hours before my dinner. The moving truck had been returned, my new apartment was stacked full of boxes, and I had my newly appointed best friend Tony with me. He had been more than awesome: He helped me move. He drove the truck from LA. He endured me and my neurotic family and he did it all expecting nothing. The night before there was a very funny encounter with Tony and my family. First, Tony dominated my 9 year old brother at a game called sting pong, which is like ping pong but if you lose you remove your shirt and the winner gets to peg you with the ball. Let’s just say my little brother went to sleep with welt marks. My mom then made a joke that she never would have guessed that Tony would have been a finance major instead of an anthropology student. Tony was now several vodka and cranberries in and responded, “Finance, are you kidding me? I am moving your daughter, who I have never slept with, for free” Anyway, Tony is fantastic and after all he had done I really wanted to buy him a nice meal. We explored my new neighborhood, Noe Valley, until we found THE place. Have no fear, we first grabbed a beer and while it was the final Lakers game the only cheers heard in my neighborhood pub were from Celtics fans. Tony was annoyed and we walked more finding numerous cheese shops and bakeries in my charming stroller lined neighborhood. I read “Cava” and Tony and I determined that this was the place. The front window looked into the open kitchen and a hot chef with tattoos (a sign of any hot chef) was chopping vegetables. The place was so cute with a modern decor and although we didn’t have reservations we were seated right away at the only empty table. We ordered the Jamon Serrano, which was aged for 18 months, and the Patatas Bravas.

We also, of course, had several glasses of Cava. The potatoes were far too salty for my taste but the ham was perfection. Super high quality that literally melted in your mouth. The concept of this place was Spanish and Catalan and the name was chosen to connote “connection, community, collaboration, and convivialit.” As with most San Francisco restaurants this means local, organic, and humane ingredients. However, the restaurant’s mission went far beyond this, there was actual interaction with the other tables. We found out that the table next to us was a newly wed husband and wife from DC and they were visiting the wife’s daughter. Tony and the husband, who both had retirement in common, discussed the game that Tony was checking on his phone. Tony has lived in LA for the last ten years and was saying, “Of course, you are rooting for Boston. The rest of the world hates Los Angeles, but everyone loooves San Francisco. Let me guess, if it was the Dodgers and the Giants in the world series you would choose SF.” The man shrugged and Tony nodded. Tony just turned 31 and is a Boyle Heights resident, a part time professional mover, a member of the Mo-Odds and an anthropology student at East Los Angeles Community College. This man kind of rules at life, he bakes all of his own bread, gardens, and drinks good beer. He enjoys being mildly annoying and interrogated the waitress on the menu that changes daily based on what is available and in peak season. When he asked where Watson Farm was, where the lamb was from, the waitress didn’t skip a beat when she replied Marin. He ordered the roasted spring lamb and I ordered the cod with fava beans. My dish was good, although I wasn’t crazy about the sauce, but Tony’s dish was much better. He deserved the better entree, after all, he did all of the heavy lifting. The lamb was phenomenal and caused the foodgasm of the meal. After he finished the lamb, I went in and dug into the perfectly roasted turnips.

It was the perfect meal in my new city and my new neighborhood. Yes, I live in San Francisco now. And yes, LA has a bad rap when you leave the area but, truth be told, I love LA and I still have some excellent LA gems to write about. While I had to leave behind great people, restaurants, and food to make the transition to the next phase of my life I was so excited to be welcomed by such open arms and to have a restaurant that was “with me.” I dropped off a well-fed Tony at the airport an hour later and was alone for the first time in my new place. I have so much to explore and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Contigo was a perfect introduction and due to their close proximity and daily menu changes, I have feeling that I will be with them for a very long time.

1320 Castro St
(between 24th St & Jersey St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Neighborhood: Noe Valley

(415) 285-0250

One Response to “Contigo Kitchen + Cava: Let a Great SF Meal Be With You”

  1. Anisha June 23, 2010 at 1:04 am #

    We’ll miss you! Love reading about your new bites 🙂

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