A quick trip to Pacifica finds homage to Peruvian food and drink 

click to enlarge Enrique Sanchez
  • Brendan P. Bartholomew/Special to the S.f. Examiner
  • Enrique Sanchez helms the cocktail side of Puerto 27’s menu, which highlights pisco, a popular South American brandy.
Pacifica’s beaches were once favorite ports of entry for Prohibition-era booze smugglers, and its geographic isolation also made it an ideal location for speakeasies.

The sleepy seaside village might be only minutes from San Francisco, but a day trip there can feel like a visit to another world.

Since it opened just over a year ago, Puerto 27 Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar has given modern cocktail enthusiasts and foodies a reason to make the trek.

The dining room’s panoramic windows provide a stunning view of Linda Mar Beach, and a mural by artist and restaurant stylist Michael Brennan depicts indigenous Peruvians and reed fishing boats on Lake Titicaca.

Nautical themes figure prominently on the menu, with selections like the Sakura Maru, a Peruvian sashimi dish named in honor of the vessel that originally brought Japanese immigrants to Peru.

It’s perhaps fitting that head bartender Enrique Sanchez, who spoke to The San Francisco Examiner recently, had a career as a ship mechanic in Peru before he came to the U.S. in 2000. His first bar job was at Restaurant LuLu, and his résumé includes San Francisco favorites Beretta, La Mar and Rose Pistola.

Sanchez also spent two years on City College of San Francisco’s soccer team.

How did you wind up playing soccer for City College? I saw the soccer team practicing, went up to the coach and said, “Hey, what do I need to do to play here?” I’d played for my high school’s team back home, and at TECSUP, the technical school I attended. I love City College. It’s the best thing I’ve done since I got here.

What led to you being recruited to help open Puerto 27? [Puerto 27 co-owner] Julio Calvo-Perez told me he was opening a restaurant in Pacifica and asked me to come have a look. I said, “Oh my God, this is a beautiful place!” I didn’t really think about the money; I said, “I can do this. I can have some fun!”

Were you given a lot of creative control? Yes. The owners said, “Do whatever you need to do, it’s all yours.” La Mar was my baby, and this is my baby.

How do your 40 varieties of pisco fit into the overall theme? When we started, our focus was piscos, but I realized people might not be so open-minded, so I split the menu so it’s half pisco drinks and half not pisco.

Much of the food menu echoes the Japanese influence on Peruvian culture. Is that reflected in your drink offerings at all? Only in that we do carry some really nice Japanese whiskeys from Suntory, such as Yamazaki and Hibiki.

Is your crowd noticeably different from the ones in The City? We’ve got a totally different crowd from San Francisco, big time. Pacifica is totally different, but we’ve got really diverse people here.

Some view Pacifica as a small town with Midwestern tastes. Do you see that when you’re behind the bar? I don’t carry Coors Light, Bud Light, flavored Grey Goose, Midori or Absolut. People ask, “Why don’t you carry this?” and I say, “Why should I?” When you come to my bar, drink a pisco sour and then go drink your Stoli Vanilla somewhere else. Get out of your bubble for once!

Puerto 27 Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar Location: 525 Crespi Drive, Pacifica Contact: (650) 733-7343, puerto27.com

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