I’d heard a lot of hype about Esperpento before I ever got around to dining there. My friends who had visited told me it was amazing, and given my love of tapas, I couldn’t wait to visit this tiny restaurant tucked away in a corner of the Mission District in San Francisco.
I was not disappointed.
Esperpento isn’t just about the food, it’s also about the ambiance. The crowds are huge and the wait is long, but it’s a loud, fun place to hang out on a weekend night and share a pitcher of sangria with friends. I did that exactly a few months ago, and while I didn’t snap photos of everything I ate, I left happy and sated.
We started with the blood sausages with rice. These were my first blood sausages so I was excited to try them, though they had a little too much rice and not enough meat for my taste.
The photo is blurry, but I can’t review Esperpento and not mention the fried anchovies. Sprinkled with a bit of lemon juice, these little fish were a delicious accompaniment to our drinks.
We also ordered the fried cod. This was perhaps too much fried fish for one meal, but having four people agree on several tapas can be an excerise in restraint. The cod was crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside, albeit bland. The accompanying tartar-like sauce didn’t help much.
The sauteed mushrooms were one of the healthier tapas we chose. Simply prepared, their earthiness was a good change of pace to all the meat dishes.
The pollo al ajillo was messy but tasty. Richly flavored and garlicy, the meat was practically falling off the bone.
The best dishes, however, are not pictured. The patatas bravas was by far my favorite dish of the evening (it’s my favorite at Bar Cesar too) and the patatas al ajillo were a close second.
I can’t wait to go back. There were a lot of dishes on Esperpento’s menu that I wanted to try but didn’t get a chance to on this visit. Next time, I’ll be trying their stewed oxtail, the alcachofas and calamari frito.