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Basque Cultural Center


Of course I love to eat out, and I enjoy the style and sophistication that is so abundant in the San Francisco dining scene. But variety is the spice of life, and if every meal out were to be highfalutin, it would be a very tedious affair indeed. One of my guilty pleasures is the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco, which we had the pleasure to go to on Thursday for a friend’s birthday. (Check out Pengrin’s pics on Flickr!)

It is unfair to imply that the BCC is unstylish or unsophisticated. In fact, it’s the sort of place that I would have been thrilled by in my suburban youth. It is unpretentious yet elegant in an old-school way, like the old woman who still wears cat-eye glasses and A-line skirts and drives a big car with fins … and looks damn fabulous doing it.

It is the antithesis of the San Francisco restaurant scene, with some paradoxical twists. Blue hair (or no hair) caps the heads of roughly 75% of the diners. The bar is well equipped to make your classic cocktails — martinis, manhattans — and is stocked with aperitifs that, until very recently, haven’t seen the light of day since the 1950s. The food is as old-school as it gets, yet featuring a remarkable amount of newly trendy offal, like beef tongue and sweetbreads. What’s old is new again. And baby, the BCC has the old thing down.

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