A century-old pawn shop has been immortalized in its original SoMa space by a new experiential restaurant, where a small front area houses a pawn shop tribute, complete with an eclectic selection of not-for-sale bric-a-brac curated by multimedia artist Jesse “Roadkill” Wilson. The self-monikered “Pawn Master Jerry,” played by local character actor Jerome Joyce, sports dime-store aviators and a cheap suit for shenanigans with customers that may include fake-bartering for, say, an unfashionable timepiece. Play along to gain entry to the hidden tapas restaurant.
Through the secret portal is a dimly lit room lined in brick and leafy wallpaper—think hipster watering hole in Havana—where diners, mostly tech millennials, enjoy chef Nick Ronan’s California-fied pintxos. The seared pulpo, a thick tentacle served with hummus and fingerling potatoes, is satisfyingly tender—a feat all its own. Lamb chops are well-seasoned, juicy and grilled to a perfect midrare, though the accompanying avocado and pistachio pesto hardly enhances the flavor profile for which lamb is universally loved. The pesto is to the lamb what the pawn-shop gimmick is to the actual restaurant: As expendable as a pair of dime-store sunglasses. 993 Mission St. (Near Sixth Street), 415.874.8041 thepawnshopsf.com