Coming to Polk Street in the former location of The Pour House (which just closed over the weekend) is EL LOPO, a Spanish-inspired, food-forward wine bar (through a California lens). Owner Daniel Azarkman’s concept is inspired by pretending if California remained a Spanish colony, what would our food look like? So the wines will be focused on Spanish varieties grown in California, along with some Spanish vermouth (on tap), sherries, and wines, plus beers as well.
The snacks will have some Spanish ingredients and inspiration, like a tortilla, but will change with the seasons—and don’t expect anything “authentic.” In fact, what he’s calling a tortilla is meant to bridge the gap between what the term means in Spain and what it means in Mexico: at El Lopo, they look and eat like Mexican tacos, but the flavors are much more Mediterranean, and the tortilla itself is made from potato and egg. During a test run pop-up at Blur, Azarkman served one with sherry-braised pork shoulder, wilted chicories, harissa, and pomegranate seeds.
Some other past dishes included a Galician-inspired empanada of pork picadillo, yellow peaches, and sweet peppers, topped with romesco; fig and ham toast with mission figs, jamón serrano, and queso fresco on Jane fig and walnut bread; and roasted Mary’s chicken wings in a sauce of almond butter, saffron, and oloroso sherry.
He’s working with the Butcher’s Local Union 510 on making custom Spanish charcuterie—they’re starting with a hard chorizo. There will also be canned seafood (like mussels and sardines) that will be served lightly embellished (think soft-boiled egg, greens, and bread), and he’s looking at featuring West Coast seafood, like herring from Oregon.
Azarkman was most recently working with Off the Grid for six years, helping entrepreneurs launch their own food businesses that past three years, and was inspired to give it a go himself—he was also an intern for tablehopper some years ago, so it’s fun to see this happening.
For now, El Lopo is planning to open around Friday February 1st as a bar with a very limited menu (think room temp items like canned seafood, salads, and charcuterie), and once some permits come through, the full food menu will launch. The rustic space will have 48 seats, with a long bar, and cooking will happen right behind the bar (Azarkman brought on a kitchen manager who has cooked at Octavia, Iyasare, and Octavia).
Hours will be 4pm-12am, with the full menu running from 5pm-11pm when things are up and running. Follow along on Instagram for updates, and I’ll keep you posted on the full launch. 1327 Polk St. at Bush.
Sherry-braised pork shoulder “tortillas.” Photo: Daniel Azarkman.