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Pisco Latin Lounge

Bella Chicas Everywhere

Even though the bar at this new-ish Destino offshoot was empty just before 6pm on a recent Tuesday for cocktails and tapas, within a half hour Pisco Latin Lounge was in full swing with its weekly lesbian social “Lez Ladies Night". With a couple of weeklies (there’s a Brazilian night on Wednesdays), a nightly social hour offering drink specials from 5-7 pm, tapas service until midnight or later every day but Sunday, and extended hours and tapas specials on Tuesday and Wednesday, who can blame the crowds?

The overall feel of this clubby little place is sleek and modern, with warm touches like red walls, a polished tin ceiling, and bits of puzzling décor ranging from SOMA chic to TGIFridays kitsch. The low couches tucked under the front window are great for an afterwork group. For two or three, the long bar and high tables along the wall are perfect. (There are no traditional dining tables, however.)

Friends report that on a recent Monday evening, the spot was pleasantly one-third full with plenty of room to relax and eat at the bar, while a fun, party atmosphere was in effect thanks to the strong drinks, suave bartenders, and that smorgasbord of pop vids on the wall.

But if you’re feeling a bit decadent or maybe even a bit rowdy, there’s a partially glassed-in raised back section. From there you can keep an eye on the goings on at Pisco, and there’s a lot to watch with all the tasty nibbles coming from the kitchen, flat screen TVs above the bar blasting Latin and U.S. pop music videos (think Sean Paul, Shakira, Daddy Yankee, Britney), and of course all those fabulous drinks being made.

The cocktails are a mix of classics and favorites with a South American twist, and yes, foodies, it’s possible to get an excellent pisco sour here. We started off with one of the drink specials, the chica bella, a refreshing mix of sweet and tangy, pisco and pomegranate and an “original recipe” pisco punch with just the right amount of pineapple gomme -- nothing too thick or sweet here. An order of frituras di yuca ($6), fried yuca chips with aioli, and plantain chips with tuna tartar ($6) and we were off to a good start. There’s nothing like crunchy, salty chips to get the appetite going.

From there we moved on to the bolitas de quinoa frita ($8), deep fried shitake and quinoa risotto balls served with romesco dipping sauce and then more quinoa in the form of the pisco-chino roll ($12) with yellowtail and a soy-tamarind reduction. The bolitas were soft, creamy, and full of flavor even without the romesco. The roll, however, was a bit bland and reminded us a bit too much of “health” food. A raw tiradito of sea bass with recoto and red jalepeno slices was far superior ($14).

The hit of the night was the la ropa vieja del pastor ($11), a bowl heaped with juicy slow braised pork shoulder, topped with a Peruvian corn salsa, queso fresca and served with a side of plantain chips. It simply melted. Friends have praised the mini Peruvian burgers and the small but excellent cheese selection (garrotxa for example), but word on the street is that the seared sardines on crostini are too crammed with flavors—and too fishy.

Somewhere during the parade of food we moved on to a second round of cocktails. The la perla ($9) was an enticing mix of rum, orange and lime juice, and ginger beer. Also a great match with the pork. The more classic sidecar ($9) was true to form: a touch sweet, a touch tart, and oh-so-tasty.

For dessert there is only one offering, alfajores ($5), dulce de leche butter cookies from big sister Destino next door. Armed with a glass of sparkling bonarda ($11.5) we prepared for greatness, unfortunately it didn’t quite hit. The cookies were tasty, but a bit too soft in that almost stale way. The bonarda on the other hand was a perfect cap to the meal. (Perhaps a cheese plate will make more sense next time?)

By this point Pisco was full of ladies enjoying brightly colored cocktails that showcased the Peruvian liquor, pisco, at its best. We however were pleasantly full, warmed by pisco and in need of a bit of testosterone. Well, there’s always “Pisco does Brazil” on Wednesdays.


Latin Tapas
Upper Market
$$

No Reservations.