Kokkari (Small fishing village on the islands of Samos in the Aegean Sea) is a long standing Greek restaurant in San Francisco’s Financial District – Jackson Square area. Our last visit was over 6 years ago, so it was time for some refreshing of our memories.
Last visit in Fall 2021 during the Pandemic, when they reopened indoor dining for those that are vaccinated.
Why did we dine here? – To get a sense of how this restaurant has survived the test of time.
Summary – Kokkari still packs them in. The food is very good as is the atmosphere.
Insider Tip – Come for lunch if you’re on a budget or get a drink at the bar.
Cuisine – Greek
Chef – Erik Cosselmon (Rose Pistola)
Location – Financial District
Opened – 1998
Decor, Vibe – Kokkari has beautiful rustic, earthy decor that has changed very little. A large rotisserie is the center piece of the first room, along with a medium sized bar area. The back dining room is more comfortable as it is partitioned away from people standing next to the bar. We came on a weekday night for dinner and found the place packed with well dressed, middle-aged, Financial District types. No hipsters here!
Kokkari’s Menu changes from time to time but features their many time tested appetizers, soups, salads and entrees. Lamb is all over the menu.
Signature Dishes – Lamb riblets, lamb meatballs, lamb shank, lamb chops, dry aged rib eye.
Kokkari Food Picks:
Mojito ($13.50 was short but perfectly balanced. 9/10
Octapodaki tou Yiorgou – grilled octopus with lemon, oregano & olive oil ($17.75) was recommended by the server and included large of chunks of nicely cooked tender octopus. The version at Delfina still remains in our minds.
Duck Dolmathes ($15) where a special when we dined in 2018. Nice meaty alternative to the usual version.
Saghanaki ($17.25) was also recommended by the server. Pan fried Kefalotyri Greek cheese with lemon & oregano was presented table-side and finished with some lemon drizzle in front of you. It then started sizzling. Better than expected, nice crust and rich textures. No eggs unlike other versions. 9/10
Melitzanosalata, Tzatziki, Tirokafteri with housemade grilled pita (3 for $30) were three recommended versions. Each came with thick homemade grilled pita, cucumber slices and a nice blob of dipping sauce. Very big starter, share and bring some home. 8/10
Aginares Souvlaki ($18) grilled artichoke, bell pepper & red onion skewer with Greek yogurt is a simple and good dish for vegetarians. 8/10
Fakes ($11) lentil & vegetable soup with braised greens was on the bland side. 6/10
Kokinisto me Manestra – aromatic braised lamb shank with orzo & myzithra cheese ($28.00) was also recommended and definitely hit the spot. Very tender, meaty, fatty, and a must for those who love long braised meats.
Arnisia Paidakia – grilled lamb chops with lemon-oregano vinaigrette & Kokkari potatoes ($47.50) included 3 reasonably sized chops that were cooked to our desired medium rare. The potatoes were very nicely done too. $32.50 for 2 of them during lunch time. Expensive but a must order signature dish here. 9/10
Mosharisia Brizola ($66.50) charcoal grilled dry-aged rib-eye with braised greens & Kokkari potatoes is also a popular dish. Huge 16oz portion. Slightly over salted. 8/10
Lavraki Mediterranean Sea bass ($49) is simple and highly recommended. Farm raised fish from Greece. Grilled with olive oil, lemon and simple spices. Could use some starch. 8.5/10
Yiaourti Granita – yogurt sorbet with seasonal fruit granita & mint syrup – ($10) was recommended and hit the spot. The sorbet was slightly tart, while the granita added much more sourness to the dish. Refreshing. On another visit it was a citrus sorbet.
Baklava ($11.25) has a thin top crust and then lots of dense nuts. Different than most versions. 8/10
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Service – Kokkari had a pleasant waiter who helped us navigate the menu and ensured we didn’t have to hail any help. They did forget an item, so they weren’t perfect.
Value – Kokkari is not cheap, but clearly they deliver hearty portions of rib sticking food.
Alternatives – Restaurants similar to Kokkari are few and far between. They have a sister restaurant in Palo Alto, Evvia, that is not as beautiful as this restaurant, but serves almost the same food.
Verdict – Kokkari reinforced its reputation as the Bay Area’s flagship Greek restaurant, with solid food and service.