When we're looking for a fun night out—hot tip: fun nights out are back again—Red Window in North Beach will be a no-brainer.
A block from Washington Square in the middle of all the action, the Spanish-inspired restaurant is an instant attention-grabber thanks to its brightly muraled facade and two parklets that flank its oblong locale at the corner of Columbus and Stockton.
Helmed by two partners who know their stuff when it comes to food and drink—bar manager Elmer Mejicanos hails from nearby Capo's and Tony's; chef Adam Rosenblum is a Causwells alum—Red Window is a departure from the area's usual pizza-and-pasta establishments.
"I have worked in North Beach for over 15 years and saw a need for a different offering in the neighborhood," Mejicanos says. "We are excited to expand on the European perspective seen in SF's Little Italy and bring this celebration of Spanish traditions in imbibing culture, tapas, and pintxos with a modern twist."
Red Window provides a serious pop of color at the corner of Columbus and Stockton in North Beach.(Photography by Sarah Chorey)
The new eatery breathes life back into the old Caffé DeLucchi space, which closed in 2018. The first thing you'll notice: the vibrant exterior, which has been hand-painted with an abstract motif of flowers and SF Victorians in tropical hues. Two parklets, painted in bright peach and aqua tones, are ready to seat 100 guests for outdoor dining in an energetic atmosphere.
Food at Red Window is as spirited as the place would suggest, with Spanish-style tapas designed for sharing and no fewer than a dozen pintxos for mix-and-match snacking. Among our favorites are the fried salt cod fritters, oxtail crostinis, and Basque classics including tortilla Española, patatas bravas, aged jamon Iberico and, you guessed, Red Window's own take on the Basque-style cheesecake that has been making local foodies crazy with cravings of late.
"Those coming to Red Window will find an array of dishes that celebrate Spanish tradition," says Rosenblum. "We wanted the flavors to be true to their origin while pairing interesting touches of flavor and technique that give it a unique Red Window touch."
Mejicanos' cocktails are a key part of the festive vibes here, and you'll find an extensive menu of creative low-proof drinks centered around aperitivos such as vermouth, amaro, and sherry. "I have always had a love for the complex flavor of sherry cobblers," says Mejicanos. "If it's on a craft cocktail menu, that is the drink I'm always getting."
So what's a cobbler? Obviously we're not talking about the peach dessert your twangy Southern aunts used to make.
The specialty Red Window Cobbler, for example, is made of a house blend of three different styles of sherry, tangelo cordial, angostura bitters, and locally sourced peaches, figs, and black walnuts. "We took immense care in the creation of our cobblers, really focusing on the process and quality of ingredients. The Red Window Cobbler is built off of fruits picked at the height of their season, then saved and frozen for our special house-made sherry blend."
By creating a cocktail menu with low alcohol content, Mejicanos hopes to serve up a progressive drinking experience that you could think of as a boozy tasting that offers a range of flavors without the heavy hangover.
Adding to the party vibe is an interactive bar cart that makes the rounds among the parklets and highlights three different drinks at a time. These cocktails are then prepared tableside by a Red Window bartender.
"The goal for the bar cart is to bring something to people that was taken away during the pandemic," Mejicanos says. "We miss that interaction that happens when you're seated at the bar and interacting with someone making you something delicious. Since we can't seat you at the bar, we are bringing the bar to you in a safe manner."
Eventually, Red Window's dining room will welcome guests for meals inside a space inspired by Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill's La Muralla Roja. Still a work in progress, the interior remodel is under the care of Auspice Design creative director Nicholas Roberto, whose firm has worked with SF's True Laurel and Shakewell in Oakland. Expect the bar to be framed with madrone trunks fashioned by Roberto and bright splashes of purple on the walls painted by Mejicanos himself.
Photography by Sarah Chorey
Another classic Spanish dish, the thick tortilla Española is stuffed with onions and potato and sprinkled with paprika.
// Red Window opens at 4pm Wednesday and Thursday and at noon Friday through Sunday; 500 Columbus Avenue (North Beach), theredwindow.com