And while croquetas (basically fritters) are a common dish and a clever way of using up leftover mashed potatoes, it's not every day you find them filled with oxtail meat or plated with razor-like leaves of mizuna.
Among the most California-influenced small plates are a pulpo salad braised squid tossed with shredded fennel, chopped black olives, and citrus segments that were supposed to be grapefruit but looked and tasted more like mandarin orange and a pair of crostini-like toasts, each bread spear topped with a smear of avocado and a plump, juicy grilled sardine.
These little dishes are so good and so varied that the larger courses (called platillos, an odd use of the diminutive) seem almost beside the point. The most interesting ones are the cocas, Catalán-style flatbreads that resemble white (i.e. tomato-less) pizzas. And you probably won't miss that tomato sauce when firepower consisting of artichoke hearts, green garlic, and arbequinas olives is mustered atop your pie ($13). Flavorful? Yes, and then some, with a subtle crust hinting of pastry. But also slightly salty even for my taste. Maybe a little acid, from tomatoes or some other source, wouldn't be superfluous, or overcomplex, after all.
Dinner: nightly, 5:3010 p.m.
1320 Castro, SF
Beer and wine
Noisy but bearable