I had been sad to read a negative report on this new place at Noe and 24th, several months ago, as, like that poster, the thought of a neighborhood place serving good, regional Mexican is very exciting. However, I wanted to see for myself...sister Janet is in town for the Spicy Bite chowdown tonight, and that proved to be an ideal excuse. Janet and I both lived in Mexico City (years ago) so while we may not be experts we felt that gave us a basis to adequately judge the place...and it is certainly food she can't get in Reno...
So we went last night, and were VERY happy and most pleasantly surprised with a good experience. I will try to link the prior post below for comparison; maybe someone in the kitchen has been listening!
First of all, I wouldn't necessarily call the place 'upscale'.perhaps it is upscale compared to Cancun or La Taqueria, but by Noe standards prices are quite reasonable, even cheap. Dinner for two, with a large pitcher of sangria, enough food for three (portions are very large so we over-ordered), tax and tip was $63.00. The atmosphere is quite casual, though pleasant.
the space is very small, even cramped. we were seating at a tiny table configured so our backs were to the room. I really hate that. hinted about trying to get an available four-top but was told it wasn't possible for two, even though that table stayed empty the entire time we were there. I guess they were hoping for Sat night walk-ins. I HATE having my back to a room. oh well, that was the ONLY downside of the meal, and things got much better from there..
the wine list is limited, they also have a few Mexican beers (no margaritas, alas), but I wasn't in a beer mood, so we decided to get Sangria. simple version with small pieces of chopped apple in it, and not too sweet. worked for me.
we started with guacamole and a plate of 'sopacitas' (Small sopes). guacamole was fresh and well made with the avocado not totally smashed,hint of tomato and cilantro. just like I would make it except not as spicy. The chips that came with it were certainly big enough (no more little strip-like chips). The server (service was very good all night), asked if we wanted to spice it up, and promptly brought an excellent green tomatillo salsa, with plenty of kick. He told us he had hotter ones if we wanted,but I was happy. We later noticed them taking a variety of salsas, including a salsa fresca that looked very good, to another table, so if you want a choice/sample of salsas, just ask. The sopacitas, which are one of several vegetarian options on the menu, were excellent! Corncake base tasted home made, toppings were nopalitos with tomatillo and queso fresco (my favorite), mushrooms (also very tasty) and one with jalapeno strips. yumm.....(and again, plenty of kick with just a touch of that green salsa)..
Next, we shared an order of tomatillo tortilla soup. The fried tortilla strips were in the center in a ball that had to be pounded with the spoon to break them up into the soup (imagine one of those chocolate oranges you pound on to break open )...without distributing the tortilla strips there wouldn't have been enough contrast. soup good, not outstanding.
for mains, Janet ordered the chili relleno, I had cochinito pobil. The chili relleno was stuffed with various veges and soft cheese, had a light, proper breaded coating, and YES, it was made without the heavy tomato sauce that one usually finds at Mexican places in CA and the southwest. the correct type of poblano chili used! One bite took me back to the real Mexico City years ago: this was the real thing, and without a doubt the best chili relleno I have had outside Mexico (until now, I had pretty much given up on them in US restaurants).
The pork was served with a side of black beans and of rice that I pretty much ignored (too much food) and with three excellent, fresh (corn, of course) home-made tasting tortillas. It came shredded on a bed of banana leaf , with red onions in a marinade that was a little too vinegary for my taste. (I thought the relleno was a better choice, but Janet really liked the onions, which was fine with me since I was busy trying to figure out how to steal bites of her relleno.)
If there was dessert, we ignored it. we had reached max capacity, but we were definitely happy! I have to say that based upon my experience this place is one of the best new, casual dining experiences I have had in SF in quite a while. I will be back soon to try the huevos rancheros at brunch, and if it continues to be this good will be on my list of places where I am a regular. Check it out and I hope the poster gives it another shot; let us know what you think now...