Manos Nouveau, at 17th and Market in San Francisco’s Castro District, is so obviously a labor of love that patrons can’t help but share in the good vibes. From the sultry Latin music that fills the small space, to the locally made artisan plates, to the art and photos on the walls that showcase talent within the community, owner and chef Manual Montalban has created something special and unique. Locals know this, and loyal customers might not be pleased that ‘their’ spot is gaining notoriety. Manos Nouveau deserves its praise, and this small gem likely won’t be hidden much longer.
With full command of his space and kitchen, Montalban, a Mission District native, serves a mix of classical French and contemporary Latin cuisines with a splash of California ingenuity, and the confluence creates modern and sophisticated flavors that are vibrant and layered. He adds an artistic touch to his fusion dishes, making each a beautiful work of art that prompts foodie-photos, and rightly so. Montalban’s artistry begs to be savored and remembered, long after you’ve joined the Manos Nouveau clean-plate club. Here’s why you should make your reservation now:
- Montalban’s new spring offerings include: Tropical Gazpacho Ceviche, with mango, pineapple and chayote topped with a prawn ceviche, Chard Salad with fennel, mango, agave-sherry vinaigrette, strawberries, fried cheese and a pistachio-fennel soubise, and Filet Mignon-Ribeye Burger with a hand made brioche bun.
- Montalban’s 30-day dry-aged ribeye, featured approximately once a month, has a cult following for which guests make reservations weeks in advance.
- The menu is divided into ‘nibbles,’ ‘hearty bites,’ and ‘substantial goodness,’ and a veritable rainbow of ingredients and flavors encourages sharing. From ‘hearty bites,’ try the Croquetas – chicken breast, plantain crust, quinoa and cilantro ham béchamel, or the Ahi Tartare Ceviche – a small tower of avocado, Latin peppers, red onion, fennel and aji infused aioli. For ‘substantial bites,’ the Chilmole Salmon was perfection, and the Pachamama – a quinoa, black bean, raisin and gruyere stuffed bell pepper was bursting with flavor.
- The lovely and expertly curated wine list is composed of small biodynamic and sustainably farmed wineries from South America and France. Prices range from $10-$18 per glass and $40-$180 per bottle.
- The all-inclusive European style menu pricing means no tipping. Item cost includes tax and gratuity. It’s simple, and it’s fair – allowing Montalban and his friendly staff to work as a team, each receiving a livable wage.
- The sexy black and red accented interior encourages romance and conversation. Choose a cozy corner on the first level, or venture to the upstairs dining room to take a seat near the window overlooking the urban scene, and share in the love.
Manos Nouveau, 3970 17th Street, San Francisco. Open 5 pm-10 pm Tuesday through Sunday.