The long-awaited La Cocina Municipal Marketplace opened this spring with an impressive lineup of vendors slinging po’boys, pupusas, and tostadas. But wait — what about the drinks? Well, when it opened, the team promised the cocktails were coming, and now, drinks are up: La Paloma, the new cocktail bar within the La Cocina food hall, opens this Friday, October 15. And with a local bar veteran developing the drinks, which are specially crafted to pair well with the vendors’ diverse food offerings, it promises to be a happy hour scene.
Claire Sprouse, coming from Hunky Dory in Brooklyn and the upcoming Buddy in San Francisco, developed this drinks menu. Sprouse bounces between SF and NYC, and says she’s a longtime fan and supporter of La Cocina. She also says this was one of the most challenging and rewarding menus she’s ever developed in her many years behind the bar because it wasn’t just pairing with one menu, but designing a list to celebrate half a dozen different ones. “It was so hard. I had to eat everyone’s food,” Sprouse jokes. But in all seriousness, “It was definitely harder to create a larger, cohesive list. We worked to create a balanced list that was true to these female entrepreneurs while featuring female vendors. It was a fair amount of research. But the best part was getting to know them and their food and their families.”
To start, La Paloma will serve a short menu of four cocktails, though eventually the plan is to have nearly a dozen, including two pairings for each vendor and nonalcoholic pairings for Kayma and Teranga, as those entrepreneurs are Muslim. The namesake cocktail that’s going to get along with everything is “La Paloma” with tequila, mezcal, and grapefruit. The “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” a Manhattan twist with Mexican tequila and vermouth, and the “Hyde Tyde,” a mai tai play with Mexican rum and pineapple liqueur, will pair well with tostadas and guisados, while the “Ponche San Francisco” with Salvadoran rum and guava is great with pupusas and tamales. There are also wines by the glass and beers on tap and an agua fresca of the day. Peruse the opening menu, below.
Do check timing before you go, because there are limits. La Paloma opens at 11 a.m., so you could have a lunch cocktail. Unfortunately, the food vendors close at 2:30, so slide in early if you also want food from your favorite stall. Later in the afternoon, there are snacks available at the bar if you want to grab an Algerian coca (hand pie), Senegalese fataya (beef empanada), or Salvadoran tamale. On Thursday and Friday nights from 4 to 8 p.m., there are rotating food pop-ups, starting with Teranga’s Senegalese mafe bowls on October 15 and Minnie Bell’s fried chicken on October 22. So keep an eye on Instagram for those food partner dates.
There’s a sweet happy hour deal, too. On Thursdays and Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m., drinkers can get $5 glasses of beer and wine and $7 cocktails and spirits. (Did you hear that, internet trolls who accused La Cocina of gentrification, to which the nonprofit resoundly clapped back.) Entering the food hall from Golden Gate Avenue, La Paloma cocktail bar is one of the first stalls you’ll see with a black-and-white sign and those bottles from female producers racked up in the back. Order at the bar and snag one of six seats at the corner counter, or wander with paloma in hand back to a nearby nook with 14 more seats.
La Paloma cocktail bar opens in the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace on Friday, October 15. Hours are Monday to Wednesday, 11am to 5pm; Thursday and Friday, 11am to 8pm; with happy hour Thursday and Friday from 4 to 6 pm.