West of Pecos in San Francisco

by foodhoe on July 11, 2012

550 Valencia St, SF, CA 94110 | 415.252.7000 | website
Sun-Thu: 5:30 – 10:30 pm | Fri-Sat: 5:30 – 11:30 pm

My friend DebbieG pulled together a dinner for those of us with birthdays to celebrate in July.  I chose this restaurant because of the catchy name, West of Pecos, which refers to a region in Texas with a colorful past full of lawless gunslingers and bandits that brings to mind visions of cattle drives and cowboys on horseback yelling yee-haw…  It’s a new spot in the old Bombay Bazaar space that has been completely reimagined so that you feel like you are walking into a time warp saloon in the wild west, complete with 100 year-old swinging doors.   The main dining room has an open feel that is dominated by a hulking horned skull and aged wood architectural elements that evoke the nostalgia of a bygone era.

The tall jovial fellow in the picture above frequently made the rounds to see how our meal was going.  I could almost imagine him saying yeehaw…  although his word of choice for the evening was groovy.  I believe he is one of the three MacNiven brothers (who also own Woodhouse Fish Co.)  The menu is rustic, Southwestern American fusion by the chef Leo Varos, a Santa Fe native who cooks fresh tortillas and roasts meats and vegetables Southwestern-style in a Wood Stone hearth.  I really liked the look of the bar which is framed by repurposed wood from abandoned mines.

We began with a variety of dips with their housemade tortilla chips, which are thick and crunchy and seemed not very salted.

Queso and Tortilla Chips ($8), melted cheddar and jack cheese mixed with roasted New Mexico green chile rajas and chorizo.  It was spicy and flavorful but the consistency was thin and dripped off the chip.  Over time, it congealed as it cooled off and by the end of the meal, it had a good scooping consistency.

The Guacamole ($5) was a medley of mashed avocado, chopped onion, and roasted corn with quartered fresh plum tomatoes mixed in.  It was topped with a generous sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper

I liked that certain cocktails were served in quaint metal cups, although Debbie thought the handle was awkward.  The drinks are strong and the pours were generous!

At first, we thought that the Green Chile Mac and Cheese ($8) suffered from the same thin consistency issue.  Over time, the elbow macaroni, thickened as it cooled, but perhaps it needed more of the melted sage derby cheese.  It was topped with new mexico roasted chiles which added a bit of heat, and crunchy breadcrumbs with flecks of fresh chives which added little bursts of flavor.

The Scorched Corn on the Cob ($6) was coated with sweet chile crema, dried lime, was a variation of the Mexican street food Elote,lip smackingly delicious, bathing our tastebuds with spicy, sweet, salty, and tart flavors.

Campfire Cornbread muffin skillet ($5) with a dollop of sweet chile butter, sprinkled with chopped chives and served with a little jug of molasses syrup which added depths of flavor.  Like, deep wells of it.  This was one of the big hits of the table.

The Messy Texas Ribs ($14) were coated with a sticky sweet ancho chile-dried apricot bbq sauce that was finger licking good, and were perfectly paired with the piquantly flavorful whole grain mustard slaw.

One of my favorite dishes was the Hearth Roasted Carnitas ($14), accompanied with a delectable sauce made from roasted corn, cherry tomato, avocado and cotija cheese, drizzled with colorful sauces and oils, and served with house made corn tortillas and a scoop of guacamole.

Cody modeled his delicious looking taco

I had a moment of trashy brilliance and put some of the chili cheese mac into my taco, topped with guacamole, queso and some salsa.

We shared some desserts, Apricot & Petaluma Cherry Crisp with cajeta ice cream ($7) and a trio of local Tara’s Organic ice cream which included scoops of goat milk, chipotle chocolate, lavendar on top of anise biscochito cookies ($8).  Of all those ice creams, we unanimously loved the cajeta which is a Mexican confection of thickened syrup usually made of sweetened caramelised goats milk. Click here to read a great post about it on the fabulous Homesick Texan blog.  Cody said it was equally delicious as the as to now unparalleled and exalted salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery.

It’s a casual and friendly neighborhood spot that is very convenient to Bart.  Our server was super friendly and nice although I had to remind him about my glass of wine, which didn’t arrive with the other cocktails and the chipotle lavendar duck breast entree that never showed up either…  But we were stuffed silly and didn’t notice nor did we really care…  We had a fine and festive time.

West of Pecos on Urbanspoon

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