The idea that a malevolent look — or a read, or shade — could propel you or your loved ones into a world of hurt is enough to drive a person to drink.
The belief in the power of the evil eye is strongest around the Mediterranean, but it’s found in cultures worldwide. In other words, just about everybody gets spooked by a veiny, jaundiced oculus. Some people in India put black eyeliner on babies to ward it away. You can go the goth-infant route, or you can make your way to Evil Eye in the Mission, in the cavernous space where Coco Frio used to be. There, the husband-and-wife team of Matt and Piper Norris have created a welcoming bar stuffed with bric-a-brac (and fab glassware, much of it their personal collection) to ward off any hostile juju.
If you caught the “Jews on Vinyl” exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum some years back, you’ll get the vibe. There are lots of rugs, illuminated stained-glass, weathered leather chairs, couches with mismatched throw pillows, and tabletops made from brass trays and redwood slabs. If the place isn’t hopping, it might feel a little too large, but you’ll never want for a comfy seat in which to drink one of three punch bowls, large-format cocktails meant for group sipping. At $50 each, they’re not necessarily for the most mundane of happy hours, but they’re grouped around different spirits, like gin (with lime, cucumber, and absinthe), mezcal and rum (with grapefruit and amaro), and rye (with lemon, spice, sherry, and ginger).
Otherwise, the cocktail list is cleft in three, categorized under “citrus,” “booze,” and “classic,” all in the $10-$13 range. “Booze” gets the most creative, with a Padrino made from brown-butter-and-sage-infused scotch, applejack, amaretto, and bitters — but even those classics contain some obscurities, like a sherry cobbler (with pluot oloroso, bourbon, lemon, pineapple gomme, and bitters). It’s definitely a cocktail lounge, too, as there are but four draft beers listed, with a smattering of bottles and cans, and a wine list in the high single digits.
Francis Hogan is Evil Eye’s consulting chef, and his menu is heavy on the bar snackies. You’ll find pimenton fries with harissa ketchup and roasted garlic aioli, beet-pickled deviled eggs, and two tops of popcorn (savory furikake and sweet caramel corn with peanuts). There’s an entire category devoted to toast, running from pork belly to boquerones (with tomato, pickled raisin, and parsley) to Brokaw avocado with roasted root vegetable, a crunchy seed blend, and carrot greens.
Ice cream from Humphry Slocombe goes into a “boozy shake” (a milkshake blended with bourbon and season fruits) and into cinnamon apple bread pudding, and cheese comes from Mission Cheese. But if you want something with heft and nutrition alike, there’s a chickpea slider with arugula, bell pepper-almond relish, and harissa yogurt, as well as a dish of fried cauliflower with cotija, lemon, and guajillo chile aioli. (If you don’t think that one’s healthy enough, you should hush your mouth and eat your vegetables before some phantom stares you down with one eyebrow arched.) And there are wings. In this case, they’re Vietnamese savory caramel chicken wings with cilantro, lime, and peanuts — essentially a chicken banh mi minus the baguette.
In other words, Evil Eye has covered all its bases to avoid spiritual contaminants and the possibility of dissatisfied patrons alike. If you find that you’re still getting pulled through tree trunks into the Upside Down or that occult ectoplasm continues to manifest on the ceiling above your bed, you may need to visit an eye-washing station with a young priest, an old priest, and a pious Sicilian widow, and chug brown-butter-and-sage-infused scotch for 15 seconds.
Evil Eye 2937 Mission St. 415-814-3779 or evileyesf.com