Monday, August 17, 2009

LoL San Francisco: Tango Gelato

Now, not many of you know this, but I'm a fiend for ice cream - vegan, store-bought, homemade, I'm all over any kind of frozen custard. However, I only recently got into gelato. I remember having it once&being totally unimpressed, but after trying it again back home, a fire has been ignited in me &now I am a gelato-consuming furnace of CHOMP (Miss Lumpy, now with 100% more wut?). Taking this nonsense into account, it's no surprise that when I was walking down Fillmore street &spotted Tango Gelato, I was pulled almost magnetically into the store. Painted a light, soothing sage contrasted with dark wood-tones, smelling of bread &that inherent sweetness ice cream parlors usually possess, it is the perfect place for a date or a quiet afternoon with a good book - fun fact, my choice was Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
A trend that I love in gelato shops is serving real food as well, usually paninis or salads, and Tango does not disappoint. They have a few choices of pre-chosen paninis as well as a board of "build-your-own" options. My creation was pesto, chicken, and goat cheese on focaccia, and I can honestly say it was the best panini of my life. They also offer small individual pizzas - rectangles of, oh, seven or eight inches long by four inches wide, and though they had a few selections, the only one they had available when I went was Veggie - fine with me! But leads me to believe they get them pre-made, or they have someone come in once a week to make a bunch &then freeze them, so if that bothers you, I'd opt for a sandwich or salad. I adored the veggie, &even my very, very carnivorous friend enjoyed it immensely.
Now, as for the pièce de résistance: of course, the gelato. Stars of smoothies and sundaes, you can find the menu of flavors online (click the picture above for a link!); their offerings feature classics like vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio, but also include Green Tea, Dulce de Leche, Blackberry Cabernet, and - sigh! - Crème Brûlée, among others, and if you couldn't tell, the latter was my favorite, though I greatly enjoyed the Blackberry Cabernet as well. The other flavors I tried were amazing as well, though I admit I was disappointed in the green tea flavor, as it was much milder than I was hoping for.
As far as pricing goes, I would say this is a lower-price destination. While the gelato is a bit pricey (compared to ice cream - it's pretty average for gelato), at $3.50 for their small and $7.00 for a pint (with, of course, other options in between) and $4.25 for a slice of vegetarian pizza, going in around lunchtime and getting a panini is your best bet. Because it can be hard to watch the grill and serve the high volumes of gelato orders they get at night at the same time, they don't offer paninis for dinner time - a shame, because at $6.50 for a big sandwich with salad and a free "chico"-size gelato, it would be the best-priced dinner in town.
Lolita-specific: What's more lolita than expensive, luxurious, glorified ice cream?! Kidding, of course, but seriously, if you're looking for a good time with a friend or two in one big photo-op, you've found it. Like I said, the entire store is a soft sage green contrasted natural hardwood, as seen in the picture above, and the walls are hung with black-and-white photographs from a local photographer. The booths are plush and fit two and four, respectively, so this isn't a great place for a large group, as the handful of small tables also only fit two or three comfortably. However, if you're looking for a cute place for a friend or two, or for a quick stop if your group is jonesing for gelato.
All in all, I definitely give it 4.5/5 stars. The food is excellent, the gelato is amazing &while they don't have many flavors, those they do have are a good mix of conventional &creative - my only concern is that everything except the panini was really a bit more than I'd like to pay. The staff is also friendly&helpful, &rather tolerant of my favorite ice cream-shop hobby: sampling as many flavors as possible. If you're visiting San Francisco &have a high-class sweet tooth, you would be doing it a great disservice if you left town without stopping by Tango Gelato.
(Part of Lolita on Location: San Francisco)

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