We Love Chez Papa
It seems that every neighborhood in San Francisco has at least one French bistrot, and some have more that one. What a city! Potrero hill has Chez Papa and its sister Chez Maman, and there is no way that it could be otherwise.
As usual, it was a cold San Francisco night. On Van Ness Avenue people were hiding in big sweaters and sporty clothes… Yes, the city will never be the fashion capital of the world. Let’s blame it on the harsh wind and that summer fog. As I crossed 18th Street at Missouri, downtown San Francisco revealed itself in all its urban glory, and the wind quieted down. It is really quite view, even for locals like me.
Chez Papa is the staple place of the hill, and it draws an elegant and eclectic crowd. On the night I visited, the ambiance was quiet and lovely. One table over, a trendy couple was dining on mussels and wine. A group of friends were enjoying their food and each other’s company – even the kids were well behaved and eating their frites with a focused gaze.
The restaurant is small, sleek, and decorated in earthy red tones. It has a few tables outside for the brave ones. As we walked in, a server greeted us immediately and offered us a nice table. The service was prompt, courteous, and very discreet. Servers and bussers left us the space we needed, keeping an eye from afar and knowing when to come and go. The manager, Raymond, whom I know, also came to our table to say hello, and we had a small friendly chat.
The web site says this about the food: “We strive to recreate the simple yet subtle flavors of Provence cooking.” A tasty tapanade is brought to each table as a welcome gesture and for wine sipping time. We ordered a second serving, and it was delivered in seconds. As a main course, I chose the black cod on a lentil bed and a side of veggies. It was absolutely delicious and cooked with flair. You can find the whole menu and special dishes by going on their web site. Their menu offerings are delightful and right out of a Provence table.
Dining out at chez Papa is definitely worth the trip, even from as far as Marin, East or South Bay. And any guest to the city would tremendously enjoy the location and the charm of this so, so San Francisco French bistro on the top of a hill.
Chez Papa Bistrot | 1401 18th St. San Francisco | 415 824-8205