With nearly a dozen craft beers on tap, house made sangria and pop-up Mexican-American food like two for $5 tacos and a $6 burger that’ll fill for days, open-less-than-a-month San Francisco restaurant Garaje (that’s garage in Spanish!), will become a staple in your SOMA diet in no time (Not to be confused with a staple in your stomach).
It’s got everything a little Spanish (or Jewish, in my case!) boy could want: it’s cheap, quick, fresh, delicious and hits the spot.
The space has been converted into a great new hangout and the food is actually, shockingly, affordable — we’re talking one dollar sign on Yelp.
Make the 10-15 minute walk from the ballpark and you’ll find yourself in an industrial lounge meets mom and pop taco shop with a dash of sports bar and classic car aesthetics. Think: a few flat screens (nothing too invasive), Edison filaments hanging from the ceiling and a couple marquees as menus. The rustic light fixtures are easy to miss, but the ruby red Corvette-looking thing in the back is not. It’s Garaje’s custom tap system, which, made out of an old Coldpspot fridge, got its custom paint job in an actual body shop. There are neon bar signs, but not your typical Budweiser anywhere in sight: instead you’ll see paraphernalia like the giant, backlit Ducati sign the owners convinced a broke college kid to sell to them for $200.
The tacos could’ve used a little more salsa, but were otherwise satisfying with well-marinated steak strips hanging out inside a corn taco shell that tastes nothing like those crappy store-bought ones mom used to heat up in the oven on taco night.
The burger was large and took charge — the combination of two good-sized tender, juicy patties and classic cheddar gives the ole Double Double a run for its money.
Co-owner Alfredo Arturo Aguilar (he just goes by Arturo, obvi) forged the menu at Garaje from only the finest and freshest, locally-sourced ingredients — like Acme buns and La Palma tortillas (for the tortillas, he had to talk to a tío, who, along with most of the family-run business, doesn’t use email). Aguilar is so serious about fresh that he would rather disappoint for being out of an item than serve anything sub-par.
If you haven’t figured it out already, Garaje is themed like an old service garage. When Aguilar and his business partner took over the space in October last year, it was well beyond pick-me-up status. Think giant bags of MSG upstairs, a stray cat, and whatever was left of a fish tank and some crappy wooden ceiling fans — basically your run of the mill out-of-service neighborhood Chinese restaurant. They thought the place looked like an old service garage, so they went with it.
The space has been converted into a great new hangout and the food is actually, shockingly, affordable — we’re talking one dollar sign on Yelp. Come for happy hour and you can snag $2 tacos and a $2 can of Hamm’s beer (the stuff “born in sky blue waters” for those keeping track). A craft beer like a Green Flash IPA or the generously proportioned fish tacos will require a few more dollar bills (this place is cash only!), but it will be worth it. And make sure you ask about the Crazy Dave special. You’ll definitely want to mess with that.
Unlike your mechanic’s garage, with those rundown couch cushions, stale coffee, and cockroaches; this place will more than comfortably accommodate small to large parties and there’s an upstairs lounge-to-be awaiting some finishing touches. And if you’re low on juice, the tables along the west wall have iPhone 5 charging cables — which couldn’t have come in more handy when I waltzed in last week with a measly nine percent battery life.
Oh, and that house-made sangria? I’m calling it Arturo’s 90-Day Sangria. And while I won’t give away what took him three months to perfect, I will say it involves the following flavors concocted into a sorbet of sorts, which gets blended into a Spanish table wine on tap: hibiscus, cranberry, lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. ‘Nuff said.