Longtime residents of Noe Valley, including the proprietors of Noe’s Cantina, a newly-opened Mexican restaurant and bar at 1199 Church Street, are likely to remember old neighborhood haunts like Noe’s Bar, which once occupied the same location. Noe’s Cantina co-owner Tommy Basso (also of Delirium on 16th Street) remembers the old Noe’s Bar with particular fondness: His father, Wayne Basso, owned the place, and Tommy worked there for years before they sold it. Most recently, the location was Hamlet, a beer bar that closed last spring.
Now reinstalled at the corner of Church and 24th, Tommy Basso hopes to bring a family-friendly burst of energy to the neighborhood with Noe’s Cantina. The atmosphere, with thick red booths and TVs for sports watching, is casual and vibrant. And with restaurant partner Liam Mayclem — a local TV personality known for his KCBS program “The Foodie Chap” — plus Mayclem’s life partner Rick Camargo aboard the project, Noe’s Cantina is likely to be very lively indeed.
“The first thing I do when I get back to San Francisco after traveling,” says Mayclem, an English-American who also hosts travel TV segments, “is go to Puerto Alegre for dinner and a big margarita.”
In the vein of that Valencia Street staple, Noe’s Cantina serves a menu of “Mexican comfort food” and drinks. Think sizzling fajita platters (shrimp, pork, salmon, steak, or portobello mushroom, $18 with two sides), tacos (fish with avocado, pineapple salsa, and pickled red cabbage, garlic marinated tofu, and more options for $5 each), plus nachos and enchiladas.
After years spent exploring restaurants on-air, “I’m looking at our restaurant and the food and the team with the same eyes,” says Mayclem. “I always look to find something to celebrate — what’s unique, what’s fun — so I’ve applied all that to Noe’s Cantina.”
Mayclem frequently emcees local charity auctions and food events, and plans to use the restaurant to host such events, too, taking full advantage of his food world connections. Hubert Keller, who has already visited the new restaurant, will cook a “Sunday Supper” takeover, as will other chefs like Telmo Faria (Uma Casa, Piri Pica), David Lawrence (1300 Fillmore, Black Bark BBQ), and James Beard-award winnerJoanne Weir (Copita).
To drink (on top of classic margaritas), customers can order “star-tender” cocktails chosen by local luminaries and benefitting charities of their choice. The first is for musician Michael Franti, a “Soulrocker” cocktail with tequila and passion fruit. Proceeds go to the Do It For The Love Foundation, an Oakland-based charity that brings live music to people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges, and wounded veterans.
Up next: Cocktails from more of Mayclem’s celebrity pals like 49er Ronnie Lott, Olympic skater Brian Boitano, and boxing champion Ana “Hurricane” Julaton.
Noe’s Cantina is open now from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, and until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lunch is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, and weekend brunch is on the way.