First Look at the New Loló on Valencia
By: Marcia Gagliardi
Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column about the SF dining scene, subscribe for free atwww.tablehopper.com. Out now is her first book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion, a groundbreaking new style of guidebook. And check out her new app, Tablehopper’s Top Late-Night Eats, which highlights 95 SF spots serving food past 11pm!
With the closure of Loló’s colorful location this past weekend after six years on 22nd Street, it’s now time to turn our eyes to Loló’s new digs. As previously noted on tablehopper, it’s opening in the former Lot 7 on Valencia, which is a much larger location.
The partners in Loló—executive chef Jorge Martínez, his wife Lorena Zertuche, and GM Juan Carlos Ruelas—now have a much bigger playground for their guests: the dining room is more expansive (65 seats!), plus there’s an open kitchen, two bar areas, and in early spring, there will also be a downstairs private dining room with room for 20 (mark my words, this room is going to become party central).
Leave it to co-owner and artist Lorena to blow us away with another fun, vivid, and one-of-a-kind interior. There isn’t a place in town that can touch the creativity of her style—a lot of it is inspired by her childhood on the rancherías in Torréon, Coahuila.
As soon as you walk into the space, you’ll see a riot of color and patterns. On the walls are printed oilcloth, woven fabrics, and men’s suit jackets stitched onto the back of a banquette; there is also a bright pink wall covered in silver doilies, another wall with more than 1,000 hand-folded origami boats, bike tires used as frames, and salvaged car doors (the team even found someone to reinstall glass windows on them).
Take a closer look at the booths and you’ll see the leather belts stitched down the center—and yes, the bench seats are pickup truck seats—while two of the overhead lights are made from vintage bicycle handlebars. It all feels very Mexico, and the artistry and DIY aesthetic are also very Mission.
Lorena says of the design: “With our new restaurant, I was inspired by both my childhood and the heart of the Mission District. As our city continues to evolve, it runs the risk of losing some of its history and culture. I wanted to capture and preserve the artistic spirit of the neighborhood—in my own way—and create an environment that embraces our heritage, ingenuity, and history built around food and community.”
There are also some new dishes on Jorge Martínez’s Jaliscan-Californian menu that integrates Mexican flavors with local ingredients, like Dungeness crab croquetas, oyster and pork chin confit sopes (whoa), black mussel and calamari escabeche, and panko-encrusted avocado tacos. Yup, we get a new taco. No fear, favorites like the taco tropical and the tuna tacon (seared albacore tuna, shellfish aioli, avocado, roasted tomatillo sauce) will transfer over.
Of course the bar team (bar managers David Gallardo and Leon Vasquez) has been working on some new cocktails, while still keeping a strong focus on mezcal. Look for new drinks like El Benito (mezcal, lemon verbena, Avezé gentian liqueur, yellow Chartreuse, bitters), the Mezcal Mula (pomegranate-infused tequila, mezcal, ginger beer, bitters), and the Player, a non-mezcal option with Cynar, rye whiskey, grapefruit bitters, and Anchor Steam. The menu also features a number of Spanish wines.
Aficionados of tequila and mezcal will want to sidle on up to the brand-new, nine-seat Agave Bar, serving mezcal and tequila tastings. There will be a rotating “Vuelos de Mes” (flight of the month), which will include three one-ounce tastings of specialty mezcal and tequila for $10–$12. (If you want a cocktail, you’ll need to go to the restaurant’s main bar or be seated at a table.)
Loló will open with dinner and cocktail service Mon–Thu 6pm–12am and Fri–Sat 6pm–1am. Lunch and brunch service will launch in March. As for what will go into the original space, stand by.
974 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-643-5656.
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