Basque Food in SF! (Txoko, North Beach, San Francisco)

04Jun11

Txoko - Stuffed Squid Pintxo

If you know me at all, you know that I’ve been longing for Spain and the food of Los Vascos (the Basque) since I returned Stateside in January.  So imagine my excitement and surprise when, soon after moving back to San Francisco, I heard of Txoko, a restaurant featuring Basque food!  Spanish Basque food!  (Usually the Basque food found in the States tends to be French Basque)

Note: “Txoko” is pronounced Choe-Ko.  A “tx” has a “ch” sound.  Don’t ask me why.  Ask the Basque.

Txoko didn’t actually open until a week ago, but many many friends have emailed me excitedly with various email newsletters, pointing out that a Basque restaurant was opening in San Francisco soon and shouldn’t I be majorly eager to check it out?

So, last week, when P emailed me (it was more of a scream/squeal via email– but I can’t blame her, because I felt the same), declaring that Txoko was finally open, we did what any two (slightly) sane, Europe-starved, bar-studying, dirt-poor, former-law-students would do:  We went.

I took some pictures, but the lighting wasn’t amazing, so bear with me.

Txoko - Trout

P and I didn’t have class on Thursday, so we grabbed the opportunity to make an evening trek to North Beach and forget about the pains of “real life” for a few hours.

We, of course, giggled at the Basque font (they have a very distinct font) on the menu.  The menu was also a bit small, but we ultimately ordered wine (a good selection of, what else, Spanish wines– from all over Spain and not just the Basque Rioja and Navarra regions), two squid pintxos (see top photo), a rainbow trout small plate, and a lamb small plate.

I have to admit, it hurt a bit to see pintxos being sold for so much ($3-$7) when the same thing in Bilbao would have been €1,5 (less than US$2).  Also, I have never seen trout or lamb on a Basque menu before.  Beef cheeks, yes.  Foie gras, yes.  Bacalao (cod), doubly and triply yes.  But trout?  Lamb?  Oops, I stand corrected.  The Basque are actually often represented by the image of sheep, symbolizing their shepherding heritage.  So, um . . . my bad.  😀

Txoko - Lamb and potatoes

Hm.  They also had a suckling pig.  For $60.  Yes, the next time I go: SUCKLING PIG FOR TWO, POR FAVOR! . . . 

I kid.

Kind of.

Not to say the food wasn’t delicious.  It was.  Just slightly overpriced for the amount of food offered.  P and I had an awesome time chatting about our memories from Spain– from our crazy escapades in San Sebastian to my broken leg in Madrid to amazing (and legit) paella in Valencia (pictures to be put up . . . eventually), and of course, meeting President Obama in Barcelona.  We even made it to French Basque country during our travels.

It was good times.

Txoko - The Bar

PS, I just wanted to point out one of my favorite things in Txoko:  the two pictures on top of the bar.  It’s a pirate and a . . . for lack of better term, merman.  Kind of awesome.

All in all, Txoko was a great experience.  As I am poor and struggling and unemployed, it’s probably going to be a while before I go again.  But it was fun, and I had a good time.  And it was nice, for a few brief hours, to imagine that I was back in España again.

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2 Responses to “Basque Food in SF! (Txoko, North Beach, San Francisco)”

  1. 1 Ana

    Hi! I am a Spanish Basque living in San Francisco. It is nice to see an American so excited about our food, however, I wanted to let you know that Lamb is one of the animals that the Basque (both French and Spanish) have raised and eaten the most for thousands of years.
    We are a culture of shepperds, and we not only eat the meat, but most of our cheeses are made with Sheep’s milk as well, so it is not out of context at all for the Chef of Txoko to serve lamb on his menu.

    • 2 Jeanne

      Mmm… In retrospect, you are completely right. I totally forgot that I have a sticker of a little sheep on my notebook that I got from Bilbao. 😀 Thanks for correcting me! I guess I didn’t eat as much lamb as I did pork and beef. I did, however, eat quite a bit of cheese. Well, the next time I’m back in Spain, I’ll make a point in finding some lamb. 😀


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