One night my travel bud and I passed by this small, bustling bar just off Divisadero St in NoPa. It had that cool make-shift garage look, complete with tribal skeletons sprayed on the walls.
So after a fancy dinner around the corner we found ourselves at El Mercado La Urbano, the casual little brother bar to swish Mexican restaurant La Urbana right next door. We headed straight for the bar and were greeted by Christopher and his big smile. Chris ran the bar and introduced us to Mezcal, a distilled liquor made from the maguey plant (a form of agave) which we enjoyed ‘neat’ in a shot glass. I can safely say that that was the first time I have ever sipped an alcoholic beverage slowly from a shot glass.
Amidst sips of Mezcal and handfuls of chilli spiced popcorn, Chris explained that he had been to Sydney as a teenager on some sort of young leaders program. He was there for a few weeks and loved the place. When it came time to come home his love of wine and people drew him to becoming a sommelier. His passion for Mexican drinks lead him to El Mercado La Urbano. When we told him we were moving to the Mission District, an area known for its strong Mexican community, he immediately grabbed a pen and paper and started listing all his favourite places like the back of his hand.
It felt like we were having a drink in his living room – a feeling you don’t get very often in bars these days.
When we came back a second night for a drink and a hello we were sad not to find Chris behind the bar. But alas, we will always think of you whenever we sip shot glasses of Mezcal.
x Grandma AL
[header image courtesy of http://www.sfgate.com]