Buddy is a friendly new neighborhood bar in the Mission with top-notch cocktails and tempting snacks (emphasis on that crispy fried mortadella sandwich, below). The spot unofficially opened over the weekend, but will be ready for a formal open this Wednesday, November 17. Behind Buddy stands a team of industry veterans: Alvaro Rojas (Elda), Nicolas Torres (True Laurel), Nora Furst (Uma Casa), and Claire Sprouse (Hunky Dory in Brooklyn). And it’s shaped up to be a good time, with expertly crafted drinks, an intriguing natural wine list, and above-average bar snacks, all served up in a comfy and cozy space for kicking back with some buds.
Given this crew, Buddy was destined to have an outstanding drinks list. Nicolas Torres led the “creative vision” on cocktails, although Furst says they were truly a team effort. The opening menu has five cocktails, including a Bitter Milk Punch with rubino, angostura, citrus, and cherry and a Blueberry Cobbler with red wine, madeira, warming spices, and orange peel. Eventually, the menu will expand to include eight cocktails, but notably, all feature wine, sherry, or vermouth, as the bar doesn’t have a full liquor license. There are eight wines by the glass and a couple dozen by the bottle, for a small and thoughtful list popping plenty of natural wine, bubbles, pinks, and oranges. And alcohol-free options include not just a delicious-sounding, lightly fermented bread soda sweetened with dates and honey, but also a couple of nonalcoholic wines, and tea and coffee by Flowerhead and Grand, respectively.
Once you’ve whet your appetite, move onto the food menu, which blends fancy and fun for what looks to be a cut above the usual deep-fried bar snacks. Sean Thomas, who was the longtime chef at comfort spot Blue Plate, appears to be flexing his tweezers now: The chef is piping gougeres full of bay-scented labneh and smoked trout roe, cross-hatching massive trumpet mushrooms to pick up the prettiest golden edges, and packing anchovies and peppers in terrines topped with fluffy minced chives. There’s a savory, blue cheese–flecked cheesecake pooled with berry mostarda. But we’re not talking too fancy — that fried mortadella “sammy” has a thick slice of the lunch meat favorite, griddled until crispy, dripping with “Americaine” cheese, and we are all fools if we do not add a fried egg. The tuna confit, meanwhile, comes with a tidy stack of saltine crackers straight from the sleeve.
Check out the full menus, below.
Buddy the bar is in the former Californios space at 22nd and South Van Ness, a quieter spot in the Mission. Californios’s star ambitions had outgrown the space, but a friendly neighborhood bar feels like just the right fit for the cozy 1,200 square feet. The fine-dining space previously had striking black walls, white table cloths, and glam chandeliers. While Buddy kept the elegant molding and tan leather banquettes, it chilled that formality out a bit with a fresh coat of sage green paint, gray-and-white checkered floors, and more lived-in wooden bistro chairs and stools. At the front, there are a couple of cozy window seats tucked in beside shelves stacked with wine bottles and a record player on display. On the left, that burnished wooden bar still curves back into the room, but it’s now topped with white carrera marble and pulling up 10 stools. To the right, seven tables run the length of the room. Grab a friend and grab a seat, if you can.
Buddy opens November 17, with early evening hours Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. Eventually, it plans to expand to an all-day cafe.