Omnivorous

A New Argentine steakhouse offers something for everyone, including vegetarians

What did thrill me were the vegetable sides: We ordered one each of the five on offer, and they were all impeccable. I loved the esparragas a la parilla, a lot of thin spears of lightly grilled asparagus, and the snappy, lightly garlicked espinaca saltada, whole leaves of barely sautéed spinach. The fluffy pure de papa (mashed potatoes) tasted purely of potato, and went so well with the meat juices that we ordered a second plate. The papas rostisadas (little roasted potatoes) were beautifully browned and soft and floury within. But the surprise hit was the calabaza pisada, mashed squash, sweet and buttery; it disappeared so quickly that we probably could have dispatched a second plate of it, also. It's the vegetables that are making my mouth water as I remember our meal.

We tried almost all the desserts available, too, save the ice cream: Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and dulce de leche seemed an unimaginative assortment. There was a good molded flan served with whipped cream and a dab of thick caramel; crepelike panqueques filled with another type of thick caramel, dulce de leche; and a shiny, dome-shaped chocolate bombe stuffed with a dense, satisfying chocolate mousse and ringed with three different fruit sauces. Until I learned that the name of my sweet, el Postre de Vigilante, a chunk of quince paste with a fan of thin, salty triangles of Sonoma County cheese, could be translated as "the dessert of the watchman" (perhaps because of its portability), I thought it was "the dessert of the thief." I loved the classic combination of membrillo and cheese, but $7 seemed a little high, compared with the same price for the much more labor-intensive confections.

Meat and Greet: El Raigón serves 
all-natural, free-range beef in a chic, 
understated setting.
Anthony Pidgeon
Meat and Greet: El Raigón serves all-natural, free-range beef in a chic, understated setting.

Location Info

Map

El Raigón

501 Union
San Francisco, CA 94133

Category: Restaurant > South American

Region: North Beach/ Chinatown

Details

Baked cheese $8

Salad with pears and blue cheese $6

Skirt steak $16

Grilled chicken $16

Mashed potatoes $4

Mashed squash $4

Chocolate bombe $7

291-0927

Open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 10:30. Closed Sunday

Reservations accepted

Wheelchair accessible

Parking: valet $8 at 478 Green (at Grant)

Muni: 15, 30, 39, 41, 45, cable car

Noise level: low to moderate

1501 Union (at Grant)

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Our little band left with affection for El Raigón: We'd assembled a varied and enticing feast from its compact (a dozen starters, 10 main courses) menu, with more highs than lows. And the place provided a welcome respite from the all-Italian, all-the-time focus of most of North Beach. As we walked to our car, we looked uncomprehendingly at the hordes standing in line at the Stinking Rose, placidly waiting for a mediocre, overpriced meal. We wished we could drag them around the corner for a whiff of El Raigón's garlicky chimichurri: the real deal.

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