Limon a hip foodie eatery and hot cocktail spot in the Mission 

click to enlarge Bar manager Fernando Meza invented the Don Carlitos in honor of Carlos Castillo, the father of the three brothers who run Limon. “It’s very refreshing,” says Meza, noting the drink — made with Pisco Quebranta, a Peruvian grape brandy — appeals to whiskey and bourbon drinkers.
  • Bar manager Fernando Meza invented the Don Carlitos in honor of Carlos Castillo, the father of the three brothers who run Limon. “It’s very refreshing,” says Meza, noting the drink — made with Pisco Quebranta, a Peruvian grape brandy — appeals to whiskey and bourbon drinkers.

Limon, a hip, urban restaurant, is one of the foodie stars that line Valencia Street. The narrow, high-ceilinged room is lined bycitrus-yellow banquettes on one side, facing the handsome bar and open kitchen. Dramatic glass lamps hang above the large front window that looks out on the vibrant street parade passing by. Modern graphics in bright, primary colors line the walls. Upstairs, a small loft overlooks the action. The pioneering Peruvian spot was opened by the Castillo brothers in 2002. Bar manager Fernando Meza hails from Lima and honed his cocktail skills working at many of The City’s hot spots. 524 Valencia St., San Francisco, (415) 252-0918, www.limonsf.com

What’s the crowd like? Local, young, trendy. People looking for surprising food with lots of flavors. Locals who tell their friends. We also get lots of referrals from hotel concierges.

How did you get into bartending? I started as a busser when I came to San Francisco 16 years ago. I’ve been a bartender 11 years, at Limon about a year. I worked at La Mar, Lulu, where I started as a bar back and learned bartending and how to approach people. And at the Four Seasons hotel.

What bars do you like? Jasper’s, the Cantina, Beretta.

What do you like to drink? Lager beer, shots of Sheep Dip whiskey.

What do you like about bartending? Being social with people, mixing and creating drinks. I’m learning more and more every day. It’s like cooking, which I like. I won’t make any drinks without a mixing cup because you want consistency, and I want other bartenders to make cocktails the same way. I want you to come back.

What makes a good bartender? Always with a smile, no matter what. The customer is always right, make them happy, always be on top of things.

What famous people have you served? Mayor Ed Lee, when he came and gave us the proclamation for Limon Day last Oct. 23 in honor of the Castillo family, which opened the restaurant and helped the local community. Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy band. Anthony Bourdain from the “No Reservations” food show. Constanza Chaparro, a famous Peruvian actress, who I met through her mom.

What was your biggest tip? $150 for four cocktails at Lulu’s. It was a young guy who had just come back from Vegas — maybe he won. He said the service was good. It was my lucky day.

What’s your most memorable experience? I was shaking a cocktail shaker and the glass part came off and hit a guest sitting at the bar. But he caught it and just started laughing. I was so embarrassed.

About The Author

Donna Domino

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Monday, Oct 20, 2014

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