Chilango, the brainchild of a chef from Mexico DF (the name Chilango is slang for a resident of Mexico City, or Distrito Federal) has zoomed to the top of david kaplan‘s list of best new restaurants. The excellent handmade street fare made from sustainable ingredients ranges “from very good to best in class.”

“Their carnitas are small pieces of moist, fatty pork, deep-fried so they are crispy on the outside yet unctuous within,” he says. “Served with pickled onions, chunky guacamole, four salsas, and handmade tortillas, their carnitas may be the best bite I’ve had this year.”

Second to the carnitas is the huarache, a thickish oval of griddled masa piled with carnitas-flecked refried beans, pulled braised short ribs, cheese, and herbs. Sopes, a slightly thicker masa concoction, have a wonderful toasted flavor and resilient bite. There are four options for toppings: cheese, picadillo (spiced ground beef), potato-chorizo, and poblano. Tamales are creamy and loose, with a spicy salsa; fish tacos are also very good. And the filet mignon tacos are delicious, says vulber, who agrees it’s one of the year’s great new spots.

Incidentally, Chilango’s owner also owns Casa Mexicana, which vulber thinks definitely has the best burrito in the Lower Haight-Duboce Triangle area.

Chilango is pricey compared to your average taqueria, but a bargain for the quality, david kaplan says. And the half-pound of carnitas that you get for $12 stands as a meal for two. The lunch and dinner menu items are the same, although a lunch order gets you two sopes, tamales, or quesadillas, while at dinner you get three.

Chilango [Castro]
235 Church Street, San Francisco
415-552-5700

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