A report by Dana Eastland. Opening this Wednesday November 13th is a new, modern Mexican restaurant called ~SABROSA~, located in the former City Tavern space in the Marina. The restaurant is helmed by chef José Ramos, who was one of the founding chefs at Nopalito and has been at Nido in Oakland until recently. He is joined by partners Andy Wasserman, Hugo Gamboa, and Adam Snyder (of Redford and The Brixton), and San Diego barman Matt Stanton. Their concept this time around is to create a lively bar scene, but keep it grounded with Ramos’s home-style, ingredient-focused cooking. The food will be seasonal, local, and not completely traditional, but is built around recipes from Ramos’s mother, grandmother, and aunt.
The space has been revamped by design team Clinton Miller and Parisa O’Connell, who previously worked on Redford and Corner Store, with a large, 24-seat bar at the back of the room. The dining room has a communal table for 12 in the center, with French doors opening to the exterior and tufted caramel leather banquettes along one wall. The bar is definitely the focus: it’s been backed with hammered brass, and the bar itself is made of eye-catching up-lit golden onyx. One wall has been done in warm walnut, while another wall is lined in subway tile with mirrored elements. Lighting has a Moorish feel to it, with punched iron lanterns in modern shapes, and the floor has white hex tile with a turquoise border. Outside seating will be available on nice days, with 32 seats under heaters.
As for the food, the menu offers small appetizers and snacks to share, including chicharrones; a toasted masa sope with pasilla chile, beef tips, and chickpea; and a very earthy black bean tamal with mushrooms, epazote, crema, and salsa negra. The cold bar section includes several seafood options, including a sweet and sour ceviche con frutas that’s currently made with pineapple, persimmon, and pomegranate, but will change seasonally. You’ll also find a selection of salads, including one with nopales and frisée, and a seafood cocktail. There is an offering of tacos and quesadillas, including a quesadilla de tinga with chicken, chorizo, crema, and epazote. Entrées include home-style stews like the caldo xochitl, a chicken, rice, and squash soup with carrots, turnips, and chipotle. Be sure to check out the rib-eye steak, which is marinated in Mayan spices (one is Ramos’s secret ingedient—he’s not telling) and served with a comforting plantain purée and Brussels sprouts.
The cocktail list, from Matt Stanton, is kept simple to complement the food. An interpretation of the traditional Charro Negro is available, with Milagro Blanco tequila, lime, Mexican Coke, and a spiced salt rim. There’s also the refreshing Pepino Diablo, with jalapeño-infused tequila, cucumber, lime, and salt. For those who like their drinks brown and strong, be sure to check out the Night Creature, with Old Overholt rye, mezcal, Averna, Benedictine, and orange bitters. You’ll find several different takes on a margarita, of course. There’s also a selection of mezcal and tequila available, and five beers on tap: Dos Equis, Lagunitas IPA, Trumer Pils, Hoegaarden, and Firestone Pale Ale. The wine list comes almost entirely from the Spanish-speaking world, including Chile, Argentina, and Spain. There are four white wines available by the glass, five reds, and two bubbly selections, plus an additional 15 wines available by the bottle.
For now, they’re opening for dinner only, but look out for the additional of weekend brunch in six to eight weeks, followed by weekday lunch. For now, hours are 5pm-2am daily. 3200 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-638-6500.