Best Bet for Wandering Street Minstrels - 2004
Sure, the grub at Esperpento is great. The restaurant's paellas (Spanish rice stew cooked with meats and veggies), sangria, and tapas dishes are among the best in the Mission. But for those of you who want to treat your taste buds and your ears simultaneously, this breezy eatery is also a magnet for the many música norteña groups (which typically play the harmony-rich, guitar-based folk music of northern Mexico) that troll the area. On the weekends the joint is jumping, and the entertainment isn't from just any Tom, Dick, and Harry. The watchful maitre d' at Esperpento has made this place the busking big leagues; you have to have your act together to get past him. His discerning eye ensures the quality of the musicians never droops, and the resulting combination of spicy Spanish dishes and south-of-the-border balladeering is ... perfecto.