- $96 for $160 worth of family-style pan-American cuisine
- Click to see the menu.
Cuisine Type: Pan-American
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 25–50
Parking: Free street parking
Most popular offering: Peruvian Sea Bass Ceviche with aji amarillo and sweet potato
Alcohol: Full bar
Delivery / Take-out Available: Takeout only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
If you're wondering what to order at Bocanova, simply ask those in the know. The New York Times, for example, recommends the dungeness crab deviled eggs and the grilled chianina ribeye with a Peruvian Oriental sauce. Chef and owner Rick Hackett, meanwhile, speaks to the popularity of the chocolate croissant bread pudding: "In one month we sold 2,400."
No matter what, though, you should probably get a book—they're all around the dining room, and they're part of the Boca Book Exchange, an initiative that allows guests to take, leave, or trade in a piece of literature. The project is especially appropriate considering the pan-American restaurant's location in Jack London Square, and it's also an apt analogy for Hackett's approach to cuisine: eclectic, multinational, and often surprising.
Hackett's recipes have their roots in countries from Mexico to Peru. His fascination with Latin and South American food stemmed from the staff meals—that is, meals prepared for the restaurant workers before their shifts—at his other restaurant, MarketBar. He felt that the family-style plates arranged by his sous-chef and staff demanded a larger audience. Now, at Bocanova, he fills the entrees with local ingredients and California flair, building an edible bridge between the old world and the new.
In keeping with the homey theme, the menu's layout arranges dishes by different parts of the kitchen: pantry, stove, grill, and so on. Starters of jicama wedges lead into ceviches or fried cauliflower, bright palate-cleansers before larger helpings of braised lamb with pasilla chiles, or local halibut. Another dining tip to keep in mind: eat outdoors. That way, you can watch the yachts peacefully sail into the harbor and peacefully change back into cars when they return.