Due to my poor planning, I had done scant research on where to go to dinner with a friend last nite and we just got in the car and headed towards Hayes Valley, deciding along the way to try the open/then closed/now I guess reopen Midori Mushi.
Not surprsingly, the sushi joint was closed on Mondays (Sundays too). We then tried, in succession: Paul K, Zuni, that place on Market that keeps changing it's name (was carta, now la tasca?)....all also closed....and finally wound up at Destino.
It was packed! Is this b/c it is good or b/c there is literally nowhere else to eat on Mondays? We decided to find out and told the host we'd wait.
The 45 minute estimated wait morphed into 15 minutes. The restaurant seems to peak around 8:00 in terms of the wait.
Here's what we ate:
Empanada ($4 for one)
filled with a pork picadillo, pimiento stuffed olives, cinnamon
IMO, the best dish of the night! I'd love to come back and order 2 of these, a salad and a glass of wine. The cinnamon taste was strong (but not too much so) and was really wonderful w/the pork. The pastry was light and flaky.
Ensalada de Palmitos ($9)
a mixed green salad, with Brazilian hearts of palms, jicama, golden raisins and papaya
Good, not great. Required a liberal application of salt. Lots of hearts of palm, which I love and which is why I ordered the salad...but frankly, you can just open a can...I am not sure what "Brazilian" means in this context. There wasn't much papaya...maybe a slice. But overall, refreshing and tangy.
Picante de Camarones, Tortillas de Casa (around $10 or $12?)
sauteed tiger prawns served in a spicy sofrito sauce and served with four pieces of homemade tortilla chips
Very nice rendition of a dish that seems to have been done a lot - or maybe that is just presentation...the whole food in a martini glass thing (also used for ceviche). The sauce was fantastic (if you like garlic!) - the flavors really melded together and the texture was wonderful - so I was thankful for the yummy homemade tortilla pieces. There were about 6 shrimp, med to large sized, so it was not a bad price.
Salmon Marinado en Panela, Locro, Saltado de Espinaca con Datiles ($17)
caramelized King Salmon filet served with 2 sides: a squash-goat cheese purée and spinach sauteed with Medjool Dates
I am a sucker for Medjools and was intrigued by the squash-goat cheese combo, so we dove into this "large plate" (there are about a dozen small plates and about 5 large/entrees). The salmon was overcooked, which was a bummer b/c the sauce was delicious. The squash was "interesting". I did keep eating it so I couldn't have hated it. I felt like there was corn in there. The spinach was tasty - maybe that came from the Medjool flavoring - but I definitely didn't SEE any dates!
We passed on dessert - were pretty full - and split a glass of LBV 97 port ($8).
We also had 2 glasses of wine and a beer between us. They were really courteous about splitting the glass of port as well as one of the glasses of wine for us.
Service was casual, efficient and very friendly.
There was an excellent vibe in the restaurant - several larger parties but everyone was courteous and just seemed to be having a good time.
All in all, a centrally located "neighborhood" restaurant that I believe will satisfy many. There were several other things on the menu that I'd like to try out (ceviches, arepas).
I tried this place several years ago and was not so impressed but this return trip converted me - I'll definitely be back.
ps - or tab for 2 was $75 before gratuity.