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Basque Happy Hour at Bocadillos

I can't say how pleased I was to get the press release from one of my favorite SF restaurants, Bocadillos, that it is now offering a Basque happy hour menu from 5-7. Having visited Basque, Spain for the first time last fall, I can verify that every hour in that wonderful town of San Sebastian is a happy one, especially come evening in San Sebastian, when the town's myriad bars open their doors. Inside, revelers find the txacoli (a light, tart, slightly sparkling white wine) flowing and set platters of the world's tastiest drinking food, pintxos--or tapas, as we know them. These pinxtos are largely bite-size combinations of things like olives, anchovies, chunk tuna, pickles, peppers--basically anything salty, spicy, briny and thirst-inducing. Each little item costs only a buck or two and is the perfect companion to that inexpensive wine or beer.

The pintxos at every bar--and there are hundreds of bars lined up next to each other on the streets--are different, some more creative and complex, others just simple stacks of canned delicacies skewered on a toothpick. Gerald Hirigoyen, proprietor of Bocadillos is literally the author of a book called Pintxos, so his menu should be good. The press release promises a changing $2 menu of such creative fare as "organic kiwi and marinated beets on chevre; tortilla Espanola with Manchego cheese on toast; lambs tongue on pear chutney with fresh herbs; and chicken with spicy pickled vegetables." All this can be washed down with gulps of that bracing txacoli.

I've long thought that the San Sebastian format would work beautifully in a town like SF. The only problem is that we don't have too many districts besides the Mission as densely populated with bars as SS's old town is. But Bocadillos is a great start, and I can't wait to go.