(Photography by Sarah Chorey)

First Taste: Gin & tonics wash down traditional tapas at Barvale

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File under: Divisadero Street is fast becoming one of San Francisco's top culinary destinations.

Whether you still call it Western Addition or prefer the modern, restaurant-inspired name of NoPa, this ever-changing neighborhood began its foodie evolution with a few lonely destination eateries (NoPa, Bar Crudo) and has, over the last few years, transformed into a restaurant row with industry heavy hitters including 4505 Meats, Brenda's Meat and Three, Namu Stonepot, Sightglass Coffee and, of course, The Mill, with their sinfully good toast.


North of Panhandlers now welcome the addition of Barvale, the Spanish-style tapas bar from restauranteur Adriano Paganini, and the spot is teeming with energy. Just walking past, you'll feel the tug to peek inside and join in the fun—a couple connecting over a pair of grapefruit gin and tonics; a large group of friends eating all the pintoxs at the bar; a group of gals gabbing over gambas and Spanish red wine.

While there are certainly other restaurants in SF that do tapas, the small bites are the focus of things at Barvale. On the cold menu, try the pan con tomate; the tortilla de patata; or piquillos relleno stuffed with blood sausage. Want something hot? Go for the patatas bravas or the garlicky head-on gambas with preserved lemon.

If you're waiting for a table at NOPA, pop in for an aperitif and snack—but you may find yourself staying for a full meal. This spot is also great post-show at The Independent.

// 661 Divisadero St. (NoPa), barvalesf.com.

(Sarah Chorey)

Find the entrance to Barvale just off Divisadero and Grove Street, in the former location of La Urbana.

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