Recently we had the good fortune of celebrating at Lolinda, the new hipster Argentine restaurant on Mission Street, in San Francisco. Sister restaurant to Beretta (Italian food), the massive warehouse used to be the home of Medjool, a Middle Eastern restaurant. Now, Lolinda has been transformed into a sleek, dimly lit open space with two bars, dining area seating approximately 200 people (including some banquettes on the side). Fabulous food in a boisterous, somewhat noisy setting–very lively and urbane!
It’s a carnivore’s delight: Argentina is world-famous for its churrasco barbecue style and chimichurri sauces. The beef selections are imaginable and delectable with over seven different types of grass-fed, grain finished beef cuts (ranging from short ribs to blood sausage). The fish and vegetable selections more than hold their own. Additional options include two types of ceviche and a handful of vegetarian offerings such as a pastel de choclo (squash, onions, raisins, and olives, cooked in a corn crust) and platano al horno (ripe plantains with queso fresco, and jicama salsa).
An affordably priced wine list primarily focuses on lesser-known varietals from Portugal, Spain, Chile, and Argentina including sherry and port and 20 options available by the glass. We had a full-bodied Malbec blend with Cabernet: a bottle of Syrah Petite Fleur from Bodega Monteviejo winery, in the Mendoza region of Argentina. I also had a superb glass of a Spanish rose cava that was a special feature that night. There is a shorter but exemplary selection of European and South American beers too.
Four of us were able to test this restaurant’s capabilities with a wide range of dishes: ceviche de pescado, an unusual and delectable halibut with aji amarillo, fried corn, and sweet potato; grilled artichokes with lemon aioli (alcachofas); charred vegetables with tiny beluga lentils on a bed of frisée with almonds in vinaigrette (ensalada de lentejas), two types of empanadas–corn (maiz) with aji amarillo, ricotta and salsa criolla as well as chicken (pollo) with raisins, potato and aji amarillo. It would have been very difficult for us to choose between the two.
The grilled dishes came next: grilled baby octopus (pulpo) with beans on a bed of frisee; branzino with a medley of root vegetables in escabeche and mild pepper sauce (lubina a la plancha); hanger steak (asado) with onion, zucchini, red anticucho sauce, and crosscut beef short ribs (tira de asado).
Ending this feast was a crunchy culinary delight of peanut butter mousse (cajeta crust with peanut brittle bits) with dulce de leche ice cream with peanut crunch. One of these was enough to enjoy with four spoons! Lolinda is a must among the very newest restaurants in San Francisco!
Lolinda restaurant is located at 2518 Mission St.; 415-550-6970; open seven days a week, serving dinner on Sunday-Thursday 5:30 PM-12 AM, and Friday-Saturday until 1 AM.