A table spread out at the Red Window.
One of San Francisco’s newest North Beach hot spots, Red Window is committed to creating a welcoming neighborhood for locals and travelers alike. Now that people are getting their vaccinations, looking for great places to get out and most of all, comfortable doing it, Red Window is in a prime position to become the area to go for a quick tapas and cocktail with low Alcohol content, or so guests can enjoy a full dining experience by exploring the innovative low-proof cocktail program of thoughtful Spanish bites.
Ideally located in one of Little Italy’s busiest neighborhoods, it’s not common for a non-Italian restaurant to claim prime real estate. With this in mind, managing partner Elmer Mejicanos has been working in the area for over 15 years and saw the need for something else in the neighborhood and hired chef / partner Adam Rosenblume to expand the horizons of North Beach.
Managing partner Elmer Mejicanos (hat) and chef / partner Adam Rosenblume.
“Red Window is an extension of the European perspective in the city’s Little Italy and celebrates Spanish traditions by soaking up culture, tapas and pintxos with a modern twist,” explains Mejicanos. “The menu is designed to provide guests with a customizable dining experience based on their preferences and level of comfort, equally suitable for a quick pintxo and low-proof cocktail lunch, a take-away meal, or a leisurely tour of the cocktail and menu cards a visit from the bar car – which brings the bar experience to the guest’s outside table. “
Mejicanos opened the Red Window with the intention of showcasing San Francisco’s most extensive, seasonal, and low-alcohol cocktail bar. Working creatively with a beer and wine license, he took the opportunity to make Red Window a destination for curated, low-proof cocktails, skillfully maneuvering around fortified wines and bitters.
The red window shoemaker
Guests will find seasonal cocktails alongside classics such as the Red Window Cobbler, known as “the best cobbler in San Francisco”. Its mission is a fresh answer to a city that continues to crave craft cocktails, especially after so much indoor time, but with an emphasis on the low-proof experience.
For the menu, Chef Adam Rosenblum worked closely with Mejicanos to create a selection of tapas that would blend with the flavors of the cocktail program. Rosenblum wants to evoke a sense of nostalgia when guests experience the Red Window. Guests will find a selection of pintxos, tapas and dishes that are recognizable and celebrate Spanish tradition. The flavors are true to their origins while combining interesting flavors and engineering that give it a unique red window touch.
We sat down with managing partner Elmer Mejicanos to talk about the best things, how Red Window was received, pandemic pivots, and more. Here’s what he had to say.
Was it difficult to open in the face of the pandemic?
We planned to open Red Window in early 2020 before hospitality was turned on its head during the pandemic. It was a long way to go and he couldn’t be more proud of the team’s ingenuity in still bringing Red Window to life and devising new ways to do it. As the outlook for the industry grows more optimistic, the team’s mission is to revive a sense of hospitality, instill fun and playfulness, create a place for community, and share a whole new way to share craft cocktails enjoy.
How was the restaurant received? What can guests expect from a culinary experience here?
We’re grateful to say that the restaurant has been very well received by locals and visitors to San Francisco so far. People seem excited to have something else in the neighborhood.
A selection of tapas.
Guests find attention to detail in every aspect of the service – from warm towels offered at the beginning of the meal to the bar cart that adds fun and atmosphere to guests. The Red Window strikes a careful balance between a well-prepared cocktail and dining experience in an accessible setting where you can enjoy a special occasion or have a bite to eat with friends during the week.
Why did you choose North Beach for a Spanish restaurant?
According to Mejicanos, North Beach is one of the longest-running, real neighborhoods in San Francisco. It’s a place where everyone knows their neighbor and people take pride in supporting local businesses – which are still mostly family-owned or small businesses. There’s a special sense of community that really cemented the Red Window team’s decision to anchor its roots in this iconic neighborhood.
The best things to order on the cocktail menu?
From the cocktail menu, the Red Window Cobbler is a must. Mejicanos have always had a penchant for the complex taste of sherry cobblers. Sherry is one of the most famous low-percentage products in Spain and goes very well with Red’s menu
Window. We took great care in creating the Cobblers – we really focused on the process and the quality of the ingredients.
The cocktail actually consists of a secret Red Window House blend of three different types of sherry, alongside tangelo cordial, angostura, and locally grown peaches, figs, and black walnuts. There is true love and care in everyone. When he created this cocktail, his usual process took a few weeks to come up with new recipes, and it took the Red Window Cobbler months to find the right balance.
A cocktail from the bar cart is also a must for those who dine al fresco. The aim of the bar cart is to bring people something that was taken away during the pandemic. The team missed that interaction that happens when guests sit at the bar and interact with someone preparing something tasty.
The best things you can order on the tapas menu?
There are many Spanish-inspired delicacies to try on the tapas menu. One of the must-haves is the Tortilla Española, inspired by Rosenblum’s research trip to Spain before the pandemic. Rosenblum, a dish usually served in slices, instead serves a customized version of the potato and egg dishes, garnished with a caramelized onion puree and paprika to add an anther depth of flavor. Also not to be missed are the Patatas Bravas from Red Window, where potatoes are cut into thin slices and slowly baked into a 50-layer potato cake. Each is then individually cut into cubes and fried and topped with a peppery aioli.