I shuffled into Gecko’s Nob Hill location on a cold Thursday night and attempted to find some seats for myself and my friend Dylan—the place was surprisingly packed. We ended up grabbing seats at the bar by the front door and placed our orders. After a short wait (about 20 minutes or so) we received our appetizer and tapas plates alongside our entrées. I ordered the chorizo bleu cheese queso ($5.95) and carne adovada and grilled squash ($8). The bartender who was our server was one of the most reasonably attentive waiters I’ve ever had. Even though Dylan and I weren’t drinking, he continuously checked in on us but not so much so that it was overwhelming.The carne adovada was my least favorite dish—I don’t mean to say that I didn’t like it per se, it just wasn’t my cup of tea (or rather, bowl of chile … but I’ll get to that shortly). There was hardly any squash surrounding the lump of carne adovada in the center of the plate, all of which was drenched in red chile. The carne adovada tore apart easily but was still chewy, and when eaten with the mildly sweet squash dipped in the red chile, it was savory and filling. As someone who doesn’t normally like queso or bleu cheese, I found the chorizo bleu cheese queso to be wonderful. The chips were crisp and warm while the queso had a smokey taste and buttery texture, and mixed with the spiciness of the chorizo and the general smoothness of the queso cheese, it was delectable.The following Wednesday afternoon, I went to the Academy location for lunch. I pulled open the doors to the jukebox-inspired building and saw a whole of four people at the bar, including the bartender. Startled at the contrast between locations and the small size of the crowd, I sat in the seat at the bar closest to the door and ordered my food quietly from the friendly and available server. After about 10 minutes of listening to the other patrons’ discussion (I figured out they all worked there, as they discussed the other jobs they’ve had that related to working in a restaurant and amount of time they worked there), I received my krab taquitos ($6) and veggie burger ($8).The krab taquitos’ tortilla was thin, crispy and flakey, and the cheese was spicy but the tapas plate was entirely lacking the shellfish texture and taste that I was hoping for. Later that day, when I had the leftovers and it was cold, I did get a bit of a shellfish taste but it was extremely mild. I suppose if you’re ordering crab spelled with a “k” you should keep your expectations low. The veggie burger was delightful—served on a kaiser roll with butter lettuce and onion on the side. The patty was crisp on the outside and soft in the center which contained corn and beans (and probably more to be honest but my inspection was brief). The burger was very mild and I was starving so I wolfed that puppy down with brief intervals of inhaling the similarly crisp on the outside and soft in the center curly fries.I remained impressed with the servers my entire time at both locations, they knew everyone by name and were still personable and available no matter the crowd. Another thing I took note of was that even though the meals are smaller—the tapas, anyway—I was still full when finishing the meal. Though this was the second time I’d ever been to Gecko’s and ordered food, I found not only the food but the service in particular to be extraordinary.
Gecko’s3500 Central SE(505) 262-1848www.geckosbar.comKitchen Hours:Sun-Thu 11am-11pmFri-Sat 11am-MidnightBar Hours:Mon-Sun 11am-Last CallVibe: Night out with friendsAlibi Recommends: Daily quesadilla, veggie burger, curly fries