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The Tablehopper

Practice your Spanish at the new Coqueta and Padrecito

Over on the waterfront, celebrity chef Michael Chiarello (Bottega) has opened Coqueta (Pier 5, 415-704-8866), his Spanish project in the former Lafitte. The 84-seat space features an open kitchen, a rustic-chic look (complete with cowhide rugs), views of the water, and an outdoor and glass-enclosed patio room reserved for walk-ins hungry for tapas.

The chef is Ryan McIlwraith (Bottega), who offers an array of hot and cold tapas, cured meats (like jamón iberico and chorizo), dishes off the wood-fired grill, paella served on the hour, and grilled calçots (a type of scallion), which Chiarello has been growing specifically for the restaurant. Regional dishes range from Madrid, Catalonia, the Basque country, and beyond. Joe Cleveland (who previously worked for José Andrés) is running the bar program, which includes an innovative and extensive drink menu ranging from gin and tonics to sangria and sherries. Open nightly for dinner; lunch and brunch will be added later.

Arriba! The crew from Mamacita has opened Padrecito (901 Cole Street, 415-742-5505) in the former EOS space in Cole Valley. The team, which is also responsible for places like Tipsy Pig, Umami and Blue Barn, includes Nate Valentine, Sam Josi and Stryker Scales. The new spot is quite large, with three levels. On the main level is the dining room, which includes intimate booths for two, communal tables and bistro-height tables. The second level, off to one side, accommodates the bar, and a mezzanine level has additional seating that will eventually be available for large groups and private parties.

The agave-focused bar program, developed by David Ruiz, features lots of tequila- and mezcal-based drinks (por supuesto), though gin and whiskey lovers can also find something to love. The bar area is a fashionable take on a Mexican cantina, while the dining room has very high ceilings and dramatic windows, which many will remember from the EOS days, and the height has been kept comfortable with natural-weave and punched-metal hanging lamps.

The menu from head chef Luis Contreras (who is also a partner) is smaller and more focused than at Mamacita, and everything is house-made from scratch, including corn and flour tortillas and all salsas and sauces. Look for tacos served in pairs, enchiladas and chilaquiles, and an array of appetizers and sides, which will change with the seasonal availability of ingredients. As much of the restaurant’s produce as possible comes from Oak Hill Farm in Glen Ellen (owned by Josi’s grandmother), and they’ve arranged for the farm to plant some special items just for them, so you’ll find some unusual vegetable choices, like crispy kale sprouts. They are hoping to add brunch and lunch in the future, so stay tuned.

The spring weather means Off the Grid is back at Fort Mason with its Friday night market. The market has some new features this time around, including cocktails from the Alembic and beer from Magnolia. Each of the vendors will serve a new menu choice each month, so you can check back often and try new things. Off the Grid is also starting the brand-new prix-fixe dining service, which is a specialty heated lounge area where you can make a reservation to have a more composed meal with one of the participating vendors, including Azalina’s and Hapa SF, plus cocktails (and more) from Derby Cocktail Co., a new mobile bar concept by Stag Dining. The average cost for the prix fixe is $40, plus optional beverage pairings available. The market’s hours are 5 p.m. – 10p.m. Fridays.

There’s another spot to get your baked goods on: Flour + Co (1030 Hyde Street, 415-992-7620) from Emily Day, who used to run operations over at La Boulange (pre-Starbucks), and her husband, Ryan.

The spot is absolutely darling (but not too twee), with turquoise walls, lots of sunshine, and a plethora of fresh flowers. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a spring afternoon with Stumptown coffee and some rockin’ baked goods. Day is all about using what she calls “the good stuff,” like real butter, flour, eggs, and produce, to create simple but delicious pastries. Each of these ingredients has taken on a bit of a personality, which you can see in the graphic design at the location. The wonderful graphics, from Rubber Design feature personifications of milk, eggs, and flour, and appear not only on the walls but also on the to-go cups.

As for the menu, look out for cookies, fruit bars, buttermilk biscuits, and seasonal specials (a recent one was strawberry pie with Straus ice cream —can you say “springtime”?). There are also sandwiches and salads for lunch, plus a potpie. For lunch, check out granola and yogurt or, for a savory option, try the biscuits and gravy. They’ve also got cakes, pies, and loaves of bread, so it’s a great place to pick up something on your way to somewhere fabulous. They’re currently open daily 6:30 a.m.–6 p.m..

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Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular weekly e-column about dining in S.F. (subscribe for free at www.tablehopper.com) and has a book, The Tablehopper's Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco. E-mail hot tips to marcia@marinatimes.com.