A couple of nights ago, my husband and I went on a rare date. Having a toddler makes restaurant dining challenging, yet in these strapped economic times, it is tough to justify dinner, drinks, a movie and a babysitter.
But we sucked it up, took the bus to San Francisco's Mission district and strolled passed a quirky eatery, with a paper menu stapled to the outside wall.
When we entered the restaurant we soon learned was called lolo, Bebel Gilberto's voice fluttered around the room. With only 5 tables and an open kitchen, it felt like we had stumbled into an intimate restaurant in Mexico City, rather than San Francisco.
Our host walked us down a windy hallway to another, more spacious room, complete with multi-patterned bright canvas walls and high-backed booths. Tables were populated by a mix of self-congratulating Republican young women from Novato, lesbians chatting about the Prop 8 debate and Latino families slurping large bottles of Spanish wine.
Forgoing our normal tastes, we asked the waiter what to get and dutifully he brought us their specialties: a tropical taco, octopus and pistachio salmon. The chef must be a fan of Jackson Pollack, because his food splashed color with texture, both visually and in our mouths.
The small plates kept coming as we sipped Siete 7 vino and enjoyed an adult dinner. And for this, lolo had placed itself high on my list of favorite new SF dining spots.
Then, the check came (which was reasonable despite our alcoholic splurges), stuffed inside a book (circa 1982) of Shetland Sheepdogs, with a number of entertaining bits of graffiti strewn throughout. And that was when we relished San Francisco, where restaurants take themselves seriously, but not too seriously.
lolo, 3234 22nd St, San Francisco. 415-643-5656.