Copas, a new all-day restaurant and bar, opened quietly at 2223 Market Street last week, bringing pillowy potato dumplings buried under tangled strings of scallions and thick slices sesame toast smothered in avocado to the Castro. The casual neighborhood destination is the brainchild of founder Jessica Kapoor, who says she hopes Copas will be a place for people to kick back and relax while enjoying chef Julio Aguilera’s thoughtful menu of Mexican- and Spanish-inspired California cuisine, alongside a beverage list that ranges from cappuccinos by day to cocktails at night.
The name alludes to the restaurant’s Spanish influence in several ways, Kapoor says. “Copas” not only means “cup,” a nod to the restaurant being a place where people can literally stop in for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, but also refers to the “the heart suit equivalent in a Spanish deck of cards,” she explains. “While it’s not a literal translation, when you play cards with your friends there’s always that warm, familial feeling,” she says. It’s that feeling — of gathering around a table playing games with friends or family — that Kapoor hopes to foster. Kapoor is also Chief of Staff for Saison Hospitality Group, the company behind two-Michelin-starred Saison and one-starred Angler, and brings her keen eye for service to this more casual sister restaurant.
From breakfast to dinner, Aguilera offers plates that toe the line between approachable and elevated. To start, there’s a burrito-like “rollie” that’s comfort and convenience embodied — a flour tortilla wrapped around scrambled eggs, pinto beans, cheese, and smoked brisket served with a smoky house salsa — and delicate, cinnamon-sugar-coated churro donuts that want nothing more than to be devoured with a hot cup of joe. And while the lunch menu has yet to launch, dinner brings a parade of plates showcasing California’s bounty while incorporating Mexican and Spanish ingredients and techniques in unexpected ways. The pulpo, for example, combines grilled hunks of Spanish octopus with fragrant passion fruit and earthy chile pasilla, while the arroz con pollo, evoking memories of grandma’s home cooking, arrives in a Corningware casserole and comes bathed in a sweet and spicy chile marinade.
Beverages begin with coffee and espresso, featuring beans from Proud Mary Coffee, before flowing into a list of light and refreshing cocktails like the Ronda, a blend of tequila, watermelon, orange, and li hing plum. The wine list is rolling out shortly, Kapoor says, and is being curated with help from the team at Angler and Saison. In fact, Kapoor says much of the restaurant’s development has been collaborative. “It’s been a very team, communal effort,” she says, adding that she wants to ensure everyone on the team feels like their ideas are valued. “It’s giving people their flowers,” she says.
Kapoor has gone out of her way to cultivate a sense of creativity and nostalgia, from the menu to the physical space. As one example, there’s an array of Corningware coffee pots that sit on a sideboard just inside the door, giving the entry a sort of grandma’s house vibe. Kapoor also plans to use the restaurant’s walls to showcase various artists’ work, rotating the art every quarter. The colorful paintings throughout the restaurant right now come from artist Marco Osvaldo Razo Veyro, who Kapoor became close with after the death of the artist’s son in 2016. She’d already invited Razo to showcase his work at the restaurant when she discovered he’d painted a piece featuring a group of people playing cards around a table years prior. It now hangs prominently in the restaurant’s entry. “There’s been a lot of divine synergy in this space,” Kapoor says. “You know when you’re in the right place at the right time — it’s felt like that.”
Copas is now open Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.