Using our method of asking wait staff and chefs from places we enjoyed eating for recommendations came to the fore in San Francisco when we wandered down to the Embarcadero and Coqueta.

We’d had a quick bite near our apartment at Aliment and sat up at the chef’s bench; being early meant we could chat to one of the team who said Coqueta was her ‘must-do’ by the water. We managed to get a booking – just – and presented ourselves for an innovative take on tapas and pintxos.

Coqueta was founded just over a year ago by an Emmy-award winning chef, Michael Chiarello, who is still to be found on various Food Network and PBS shows in the US. If you’re not in the US you can access some of his tips and techniques here. But on to the food at hand. Given we’re heading towards the end of this gastronomic tour, we chose just a few dishes and decided to wash them down with cocktails. Gluttonous husband availed himself of a couple of the restaurant’s signature Spanish gin and tonics while Greedy Girl put aside her preference for the frozen version and ordered a margarita.

The main room, in the Pier 5 building on the waterfront, has been well designed. There are some high banquettes lining the walls, stools at the bar overlooking the open kitchen and plenty of tables which are already very full, even at 5.30pm. Glimpses of the water are available through the long windows at the end of the room.

Coqueta interior

We had a great vantage point

The menu is divided into various sections. There are meats, cheeses, pintxos (little skewers), cold and hot tapas, montaditos (open-faced sandwiches), raciones (large plates), verduras (veggies) and, finally, arroz and paella.

We started with a selection of pintxos. From left to right, they were aspargus tortilla with pickled cara cara oranges, a quail’s egg ‘diablo’ with pickled mustard seed and jamon serrano, chorizo with roasted artichoke and piquillo pepper, manchego with jamon serrano and an apricot/sherry jam and white anchovy and olive with pearl onion and guindilla pepper. All lovely little bites that went down a treat with the drinks.

Pintxos selection

Pintxos selection

Next up was more jamon serrano. Simply presented with some little crunchy breadsticks, this was soft and enjoyable.

Jamon serrano

Jamon serrano

We then moved to the savoury dish of the evening. Albondigas a la Feria. These were a combination of duck and pork grilled meatballs topped with a tart cherry and tempranillo salsa and crispy shallots. An unqualified yum.

Duck and pork meatballs

Duck and pork meatballs

It’s interesting that other places Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband have dined on this tour, where a dish had three items, the wait staff immediately recommended adding a fourth, given we obviously share plates. Tapas is probably the ultimate sharing environment but we weren’t suggested an extra meatball. Go figure.

Our final savoury plate was ‘sunny side up’ egg with shrimp, crispy potato straws and a chorizo dressing. This is how it arrives at the table. Admittedly, it’s not the prettiest dish you’ll ever see, but our lovely server came forward to mix the dish together so it was ready for eating. The egg was sliced up and its runny yolk mixed through, and the potato straws and shrimp were tossed to be coated with all the ingredients. It looked a bit of a mess but it was a very enjoyable mess.

Egg and prawns

Sunny side up egg with shrimp and crispy potato

Debating whether to have another savoury dish or a dessert, the prospect of churros (pictured at the top of this blog) won out. This was ‘Churro Fantasia’ – crispy doughnuts with a classic drinking chocolate (although not much was left to be drunk after the dipping) and an unusual but very welcome mixed berry powder on the side. It was a delightful sight and well executed.

Coqueta is a lovely spot, made even more so by a sunny day. There’s a small area abutting the main entrance which has bar tables and also would be fun for a quick stop. The food is very tasty and the drinks menu, particularly the range of gin and tonics, is worth investigating.


Pier 5, The Embarcadero, San Francisco

Coqueta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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