Food & Drink

Gin & Juice: First Look at Finca Pintxos Bar

Never ready to rest on his laurels, Salt Lake restaurateur Scott Evans (Pago, Finca, Emigration Cafe, Casot) has added a fun new downtown eating-and-drink destination to his growing portfolio: Finca Pintxos Bar. 


Located in the space adjacent to the Eccles Theater that was formerly home to Fireside on Regent and then to Fenice, Finca Pintxos Bar is, as you’d suspect, first and foremost a bar. 21 and over, please. But as a little sister to Finca restaurant, Finca Pintxos Bar offers guests a fairly robust selection of pintxos tapas, as well as a robust beverage program – a hallmark of Evans’ restaurants.  

According to Evans, “Finca Pintxos Bar is a celebration of Basque small tapas (Pintxos – pronounced ‘peen-cho’s’), GinTonics and Spanish Wine. Our love of Spain continues with a selection of the culinary favorites from Finca 15th & 15th plus over half the menu features dishes developed exclusively for the Pintxos Bar.”

Evans is known for his love of natural wines, which are a staple at all of his restaurants. But along with that fermented juice, gin takes center stage at Finca Pintxos Bar. Evans explained to me that a few years ago gin bars started popping up all over Spain – an interesting trend that led to the opening of many GinTonics – bars specializing in gin cocktails, as does Finca PIntxos Bar. 

The space looks much like Fenice did, including the imported wood-fired oven, which remains a prominent feature of the exhibition kitchen. Although Evans and his team did add splashes of orange above the bar, swapped out the old bar stools for new ones, and darkened the wood throughout the restaurant/bar. It’s very warm and inviting, and open for both lunch and dinner. 

Chef Phelix Gardner

During last week’s Grand Opening event, I got to chat with Evans and Executive Chef Phelix Gardner about their vision for Finca Pintxos Bar which, according to Gardner, hopefully includes using the wood-fired pizza oven for cooking paella. Sounds like an excellent idea to me!  


The Grand Opening that my wife and I attended featured many items from the tapas and pintxos menus, although most were served from platters, finger food style. So the photos we took might not be entirely indicative of the actual dishes when ordered from the menu. We kept returning, for example, to the big platter of gildas ($2) – skewers of anchovy, olives and piparra (Spanish green pickled peppers). Cold pintxos at Finca Pintxos Bar are typically served with toasted baguette slices.


Olive oil is a cornerstone of Spanish cuisine and culture and I love that at Finca Pintxos Bar you can enjoy a tasting of regional Spanish olive oils ($12). And, in addition to the aforementioned gildas, there’s also olivos ($8) on the menu: house-cured olives with sweet paprika, onion and olive oil. 

Tortilla Española

Another cold pintxos we enjoyed was tortilla Española ($3), which is a Spanish-style potato, onion and egg “omelet” of sorts, drizzled with aioli and a sprinkle of Spanish paprika. Other cold pintxos available include jamon serrano: thinly shaved Spanish ham with olive oil and crostini ($13); a cheese plate with manchego and picon cabrales ($14); piquillo: sweet red pepper with confit tuna salad ($3), and escalivada: roasted and chilled peppers, eggplant, and onions ($2).


One of my favorite hot pintxos was datil – bacon-wrapped dates with blue cheese, almonds and spiced honey. Spanish style bruschetta – called pan con tomate – was also delicious: wood-fired bread slices rubbed with fresh tomato, garlic and olive oil ($5). I look forward to returning for one of the hot pintxos we didn’t get to try: cerdo, which is piquillo peppers stuffed with pulled pork ($4). 


I highly recommend ordering a few croquetas ($3) at Finca Pintxos Bar. They are light and airy Spanish ham (jamon) and cheese fritters with bechamel that I just couldn’t stop eating. 


My wife, who loves mushrooms, really liked the setas ($14) from the tapas portion of the menu, which was wood oven roasted mushrooms with confit of garlic, served on crisp toasted baguette slices.


Tapas are small plates that are meant to be shared, but larger portion sizes than the more petite pintxos. Tapas at Finca Pintxos Bar include patatas bravas ($9), pulpo ($18), fried shishito peppers ($12), flatbread with chorizo, eggplant and chevre ($14), and calabacín ($11), which we really liked. It was a generous serving of wood roasted zucchini with salsa verde and crispy garlic chips. 


My favorite tapas dish was gambas ($16) – tender shrimp bathed in a heavenly sauce of brandy, garlic, paprika and lemon, served with a wonderful toasted baguette for soaking up that silky sauce. Some of the breads at Finca Pintxos Bar are baked in-house, while the bodacious baguettes, I was told, come from Bread Riot Bakehouse. 

As the owners of Fenice and Fireside on Regent learned, it’s tricky to run a restaurant downtown with a 21 and over bar license. But I’m really hoping that Finca Pintxos Bar succeeds where others didn’t, because along with all the ramen, sushi and sandwich spots downtown, we really need some Spanish flare – and Scott Evans’ new hot spot delivers just that. 

Photos by Ted Scheffler 

Culinary quote of the week: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa  

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