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About Us

Chao Pescao is a casual and very personal restaurant from long-time San Francisco restaurateur Rene Denis. The name translates roughly to “see you later alligator,” a friendly salutation common in Latin American countries, which captures the friendly and fun spirit of our restaurant. 

Our menu was designed to offer comforting Latin American food with vibrant flavors and rich cultural heritage, with particular emphasis on the Cuban and Colombian home-cooking from Denis’ childhood. The black beans, considered the foundation of Cuban food and served with all entrees, are his late grandmother’s recipe. The empanadas are Colombian, made with a masa dough and fried. Dishes are heart-warming and filling, with all entrees $20 or less, and each coming with rice, beans and plantains. 

Cocktails are vibrant and flavorful, based on Latin American classics and updated with a modern twist. Signatures include a Daiquiri made with 12-year aged rum, demerara syrup and plenty of lime. Our bar is stocked with spirits from throughout the region, including rum, tequila, mezcal and South American brandies, as well as specialty products like Bolivian brandy and epazote infused Oaxacan corn whiskey.

A thoughtfully selected global wine list was designed to complement the food and offer great value. 

Rene Denis

Founder, Owner

Rene Denis is a seasoned veteran of the restaurant and bar industry, with more than 20 years of experience, working in all facets of the field, including 10 years behind the bar. Denis ran the popular Mediterranean restaurant Soluna Cafe & Lounge in San Francisco’s Civic Center for 13 years, where he earned a loyal following and drew many dedicated fans for the lively happy hour. Prior to that he was the general manager of legendary San Francisco blues club, Biscuits & Blues, where he helped re-establish the landmark restaurant which was, at the time, on the verge of closure. Having experience as both a cook and a bartender, Denis was able to oversee every aspect of the restaurant and help turn it around; including developing the bar program just when the mixology movement was beginning to take hold. Chao Pescao, his latest venture, is a personal one, inspired by his upbringing in a Cuban-Colombian household and based on the recipes he grew up with. “Working on recreating family recipes reignited my passion for cooking.” Denis says, noting that his goal is to make people happy, improving people’s lives a bit at a time, if only for an evening.