Chef Moves: Nopa's Alejandro Rodriguez Now at 20 Spot

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Chefs Alejandro Rodriguez and Marcella Lew are now at 20 Spot. Photo courtesy of 20 Spot.

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The exterior of 20 Spot in the evening (their parklet is to the left). Photo courtesy of 20 Spot.

There’s some top SF talent now in the kitchen at ~20 SPOT~ in the Mission: chef Alejandro Rodriguez, who was previously the chef de cuisine at Nopa (he was there since the day it opened, in 2006!). He is joined by his wife, Marcella Lew, another Nopa and Nopalito alum, and Oscar, who has already been working at 20 Spot and helps with prep and makes the pizzas.

Chatting with Alejandro, he says at the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, he was in Mexico for a three-week trip that turned into three months. Nopa was operating with a truly bare bones/skeleton crew during those early months, so he never really came back, and instead bopped around some local businesses like Palm City and Nightbird (plus more travel in Mexico), before Jessie Barker at nearby Media Noche told him about the opportunity at 20 Spot. Since Alejandro and Marcella live just a couple blocks away, it helps keep things low-key (strive for that live-work balance!)—he’s happy about being back in the kitchen.

It’s a big adjustment to go from Nopa’s huge kitchen with a wood-fired grill and massive team, but now he’s learning the way of the TurboChef oven, and getting used to buying 10 avocados at the nearby Mission Community Market on Thursdays, instead of ordering 50 cases. Alejandro is excited to be reaching back out to smaller, local purveyors and artisanal makers for ingredients for new dishes and updating 20 Spot’s well-known cheese and charcuterie plates.

20 Spot is always the perfect spot to swing by for some insane bubbles poured by owner Bodhi Freedom, a plate of oysters, some choice vinyl beats (Bodhi had a bass tube installed under the bar, love!), a fun social scene in the parklet, and some tasty seasonal salads and small plates. But now, Alejandro is updating the menu and working on how to make 20 Spot more of a dinner destination instead of just about wine and gorgeous snacks, so stand by for some changes. He’s going to experiment to see what people want, and we’re so here for it. See you there. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat until 10:30pm. 3565 20th St. at Lexington.