If you tell someone you’re going to Noe Valley, the response is usually “When’s the baby due?” and/or “Why?” We’re not going to make assumptions about your unborn child, but the answer to the latter question is that there is good food to be found, specifically at Contigo, a tapas spot rolling out some of the better Spanish small plates in the city.
The restaurant projects bright, happy feelings the second you walk in, thanks to the big open bar and roomy booths, while the heated back patio is a little more romantic and ideal for a date. That is, provided you’re at the point in your relationship where you’re down to share all your food. The menu is Spanish tapas style, but most of the tapas items are very small, so we generally stick with the larger raciones section and get things to share. Most things on the menu are well-executed, but a few do fall flat, so what you order definitely matters. To top it off, make sure to get a bottle or two of something to drink: the wine list is heavy on the cava (all of the yes) and even the cheapest wines on the list are very good.
So while Noe Valley might not be a place you hit up on the reg – unless you’re already two kids deep – if you do find yourself there post-baby shower or house hunting or are visiting friends who are really making moves into the adult stage of life, Contigo is a great place for sharing eats and drinking wine. We probably wouldn’t venture to Noe specifically for a meal here, but we’re happy it exists, and it’s a lively spot in an otherwise rather tame area. And you wouldn’t be judged for ordering multiple bowls of patatas bravas and calling it a night. We’ve thought about it.
This is a seasonal salad, but if you find it on the menu it should be in your order. Pomegranates give it a fruity kick, and the whole thing tastes exceptionally fresh. It’s a nice contrast to the heavier tapas, and a great way to start your meal.
This is a beautiful dish, but the crunchy chickpeas and tomatoes and pickled onions just didn’t really jive for us. We liked the babaganoush-y spread, but the flavors felt like they all showed up to the wrong party. Pass.
Contigo drops straight up perfection on their patatas. The potatoes are immaculately crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the aioli that comes with is a sauce of beauty. You need these.
Changes seasonally, but on our most recent visit this Spanish pizza involved spicy peppers and copious amounts of cheese and sausage. Give the people what they want, and the people always want a pizza option.
The best thing on the menu, the grilled squid with black rice and roasted artichokes is almost paella-like and absolutely delicious.
Pickled raisins, it turns out, are not our jam. The vinegar in them is a bit overpowering, so we’d go with the padron peppers if you want more vegetables.
Decent meatballs that aren’t disappointing but aren’t particularly memorable either.