Recently opened Aatxe is already a tapas sensation. Chef Ryan Pollnow, who trained at the two Michelin starred restaurant Mugaritz in Gipuzkoa, Spain, isn’t surprised – tapas and pinxtos are his specialty and passion, along with sophisticated cocktails and Spanish wines. We caught up with Pollnow about tapas, nights out and margaritas.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Building relationships with others that share a passion for food. Everything from teaching and mentoring a young cook to discussing the growing seasons with our farmers. Those interactions are what motivate me on a daily basis.

Where do you like to have a drink, besides Aatxe?
If SF weather cooperates, I love an afternoon margarita at the rooftop of El Techo. Otherwise, my go-to spots are Trick Dog and The Alembic.

Best nightlife destination in San Francisco in your opinion, and why?
In my opinion, catching some live music in the back bar at CafĂ© du Nord and staying long enough to grab a half price bottle of Champagne when the midnight bell is rung. Great restaurant, industry crowd, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s only 26 steps from Aatxe.

Where and how do you unwind in the city?
I love to take a slow bike ride out to Ocean Beach. I grab brunch at Outerlands and follow that up with cinnamon toast and a coconut at Trouble Coffee. A sun burn is always proof of a good day off.

What restaurant will you take a guest from out-of-town to?
It’s hard to narrow this one down. So many great restaurants in this city. For an out-of-towner though, I would definitely take them to Aster. Brett Cooper cooks some of the most honest and delicious food and it’s always reflective of the bounty that surrounds us in the bay area.

What are your favorite tapas around town?
Crisp eggplant with miso butter at Octavia. Beef Tendon salad at Nojo. And the snackles at Al’s Place.