It was awesome to be back in San Francisco last week particularly with the glorious summer sunshine. This time I was spending a lot of time down by the water and thought I’d check out some of the restaurants down that end of time.
I’ve walked past Croqueta a few times but I’ve never been in before. It has a cute little tent with a beer garden attached but I didn’t realise that this went back into the pier to an awesome dining space.
I left the food ordering to my friend. I love all Spanish food and she’d been there before. The menu is definitely a best of Spain tour. Apart from cured meats and cheese, small one bite pintxos, tapas and large raciones. The dining room itself (once you move past the tent) is big and airy. The tables are raw, washed wood but the flatware is colourful, reminiscent of Spain.
First things first, as with most American restaurants there is an awesome cocktail list. There was an actual gin list and my friend chose a gin with orange notes in it. It was served with tonic and grapefruit – it tasted delicious and refreshing. The citrus in the gin was unreal but fully disclosure, I prefer citrus style gins more than floral or herby style gins. It was also pretty as a picture with flowers and thyme in the glass.
I went a little more California classic. I opted for a salt breeze magherita. It was a really light magherita with a salt foam on top instead of having salt around the rim. It came out looking like a little pillow of sea foam and was a lovely, light take on the magherita.
Cocktails firmly in hand it came time for the food – starting with the devilled eggs.
If you’re travelling to San Francisco any time soon be warned that devilled eggs are having a moment. They are retro, old school and something I really haven’t seen on a menu ever but they were on EVERY menu in San Francisco. These, of course, had the Spanish twist to them. They were pickled quail eggs wth mustard and finely sliced jamon. They were good. I liked the mustard and jamon combination but eggs just really aren’t my favourite.
Anyone who follows this blog knows that the boy and I spent a week in San Sebastian last year and seriously thought about moving there just to keep eating pintxos. These upheld that desire.
The manchego cheese, with jamon and apricot jam was delicious. The cheese was super sharp but evened out by the mellow jamon and sweet apricot jam. The tortilla was also beautiful. It was soft and slightly sweet with raisins in the tortilla. The only problem was they were so small, they were gone before we even started. We ordered another round of the manchego cheese just to be sure we liked them.
Of course, we also had to order some patron peppers. It was a tapas restaurant after all.
Next up, we had patatas bravas. It wasn’t the traditional patatas bravas…
There were individually roasted potatoes, perfectly crunchy and salted, then toped with the cheesy sauce that you expect for potatas bravas. The fiery tomato chilli sauce was served in the middle so you could decide how much or how little you wanted to add.
I actual enjoyed potatas bravas like this. My issue is often, chefs go to so much work to make crunchy, crispy potatoes but then cover them with tomato and cheese sauce which makes them soggy. Serving them like this meant they remained crispy, even after they were sitting there for fifteen minutes while we kept gossiping and solving the world’s problems.
We also went for the Spanish classic croquetas de pollo.
I’m not use to seeing chicken croquetas on menus – usually it’s either ham or vegetable but these were awesome. They had peas inside them as well, which almost made them like a deep fried chicken pie finger. The creamy sauce inside was delicious and well seasoned.
Unfortunately, the cured mandarins were less of a hit. Personally I don’t eat fruit so they were never going to be a thing for me but my friend also didn’t touch them. I also don’t think the dish needed any sweetness so I’m not sure what they were meant to add.
The also went for another Spanish classic, meatballs.
Again, croqueta did their own twist on the meatball by using duck and pork. I’ve not seen duck in meatballs before but I definitely would have them again. The pork also added that little bit of fat that made it super juicy. I also liked using cherries in the tomato salsa. It gave it a nice little bit of sweetness and tang that tomatoes don’t have on their own.
The final dish we went for was the grilled octopus.
It was another Spanish classic. The outside of the octopus was charred and smokey with beautiful, soft flesh on the inside. There was also a nice hit of chilli in the oil over the top, which was absolutely awesome with the fluffy potatoes underneath.
Absolutely stuffed, we didn’t look at dessert and instead opted for a final cocktail at the Ferry Building before my friend had to head back to Sausalito.
Overall, if you’re looking for a nice restaurant close to the water that won’t cost an arm and a leg, I would definitely recommend Croqueta for great food and awesome cocktails.
Pier 5, The Embarcadero
San Francisco CA 94111