With Friends at Contigo

Owner-Chef Brett Emerson and his wife Elan, provide Barcelona-inspired tapas plates at Contigo in Noe Valley. The small plates are consistently good at this intimate neighborhood restaurant, which opened almost 3 years ago.

We started with slices of jamón ibérico de bellota: Spanish cured ham from black footed pigs fed exclusively acorns:

In Spain, ready-made pintxos (small bites usually “spiked” by a small skewer or on bread) are eaten at stand-up counters. Contigo has a few pintxos available on the menu that can be ordered by the piece. The pulpo (octopus), potato and banana pepper sticks are served in anchovy tins; and the wood oven roasted local sardines on avocado toast are excellent examples of the small bites:

Closeup of the oven roasted sardine with avocado toast topped with pickled red onion:

The all-Spanish wine list is very reasonably priced. We chose an aged 2005 Tempranillo which paired really well with our meal:

Albóndigas featured the pork and jamón meatballs stewed in a slightly sweet tomato sauce spiked with sherry:

The coca (flatbread) changes toppings with the season. This one featured wild nettles, smoked bacon, sheep milk ricotta and Manchego cheeses atop a base sauce made with caramelized onions:

The oven roasted tripe with chorizo and chickpeas is a staple menu item always worth getting. The tasty offal stew arrives sizzling in the cazuela:

The sautéed greens Catalan style included some beet greens and spinach cooked with toasted almond slivers, garlic and plump golden raisins. The bitterness from the greens offered a nice contrast to the sweetness of the raisins and crunch from the almonds:

The crispy patatas bravas was topped with a spicy tomato sauce and a garlicky aioli:

The very tender, perfectly medium-rare Marin Sun Farms lamb chops were served with a cumin yogurt sauce. The chops came with summer squash sautéed with harissa, olives and fresh arugula:

Our meal ended with an excellent version of TCHO Xocolata caliente amb xurros. The fritters served as the perfect dipping vehicle for the delicious bittersweet hot chocolate:

We didn’t quite make it through the whole menu, but as a party of four, we came pretty close. The menu is seasonal and locally focused, but we have noticed that it really doesn’t change that much between visits.


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