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Restaurants & Bars 16

Chilango: favorite new restaurant of 2009 (Church & Market, SF)

david kaplan | Dec 6, 200902:17 PM

Chilango is a couple of months old, started by a former chef at Mexico DF. I've had two fantastic lunches here, with food ranging 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. Served with pickled onions, chunky guacamole, four salsas, and handmade tortillas, their carnitas may be the best bite I've had this year. At $12 for a half-pound portion, they constitute most of a meal for two, making them a bargain as well.

They offer four types of sopes, thick masa cakes topped with cheese, picadillo (ground-beef based), potato and chorizo, or poblanos. I tried the first two, and even better than the toppings was the starchy cake below, with a resilient bite and toasted corn flavor. Although I usually don't love tamales, theirs are creamy and loose with a spicy salsa. Perhaps second only to carnitas was huarche, a big oval corn cake (thicker than tortilla, thinner than sopes) with carnitas-flecked refried beans, pulled braised short ribs, cheese, and herbs.

Both times I've been it's been pretty empty. It's pricey relative to taquerias, but a bargain compared to restaurants serving handmade food with sustainable ingredients, which is what Chilango is.

235 Church St near Market, SF

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