World Beat

Peña PachaMama

We Are Family: Although its food isn't all that it could 
be, Peña PachaMama may be the friendliest, most 
inviting nightspot in the city.
Anthony Pidgeon
We Are Family: Although its food isn't all that it could be, Peña PachaMama may be the friendliest, most inviting nightspot in the city.

Location Info

Map

Pachamama Restaurant

1630 Powell
San Francisco, CA 94133

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: North Beach/ Chinatown

Details

Salteñas $4

Papas a la Huancaino $6.50

Picante de pollo $11

Silpancho $13

Papas relleno $10

Alfajores $3

Sangria $5/glass, $18/liter

646-0018

Dinner served Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 10 p.m.; Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Reservations accepted

Wheelchair accessible

Parking: implausible; garage across the street

Muni: 15, 30, 45

Noise level: gregarious

1630 Powell (at Union)

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Although the food at Peña PachaMama isn't all that it could be, the venue makes up for it with its warmth and ebullience. This has to be the friendliest, most inviting nightspot in the city. Another translation of pachamama is "Earth Mother," and as soon as you walk into the place you feel like you're part of some extended global family. (Peña means "a circle of people coming together.") On the little stage there may be jazz, flamenco, or salsa to spice up your meal, depending on the day of the week, and Saturday nights belong to Sukay. The band has played venues around the world (its CDs and cassettes are available in the bar), and its musicmaking and showmanship inspire a glow of pleasure. One of the charms of the place is that the restaurant's staff is also part of the entertainment, so the guy playing the charango is actually Eddie the bartender, the maitre d' is the Yma Sumac-esque vocalist and panpipe virtuoso, and the pastry chef emerges from the kitchen long enough to demonstrate a particularly athletic indigenous dance step. At one point another dancer moves among the tables in dazzling native garb topped off with feather-lined, parasollike headgear; for a multicultural change of pace the band might serve up the occasional bluegrass number. It's a great spot to celebrate a birthday (there were three going on the night we visited), especially when the cocktail waitress leads an impromptu salsa lesson and everyone gets up to dance the night away.

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