A few days ago I went with my partner to Criolla Kitchen. I was pretty excited to check this place out since it is only a few blocks away and the space looks nice.
Since Criolla recently opened, it stil has the typical San Francisco gotta-go-to-the-new-restaurant-even-if-we-stand-in-line-for-two-hours set :-). We were quite pleased to see then that our walk-in status got us seated very quickly. The line started forming following our entry.
For appetizers, we ordered the Yam tater tots. My childhood memories of those delicious nuggets with a crisp outer exterior and ripping hot but fluffly insides may have gotten the best of me. They were just okay. Smaller than your typical tot, not quite hot and no salt was a let down. There was a green dipping sauce that did nothing for me but my partner really liked.
There are two sauces on each table that are made in-house. A spicy red and a white (mojo?) sauce. Both were pretty decent accompanyments to all the dishes with the white sauce being my favorite (if a spicy doesn't doesn't put my mouth on fire and tear up my insides it's a waste of calories :-)
Just like some people around us, we all got excited about the back of the menu where you could find slow-cooked BBQ. Unfortunately there is small print saying you can only get it a few days out of the week (and not the day we were there). Many people were sighing and had that familiar sad-face look of "I had no plans for BBQ but now my mind is set on it".
Clearly the star dish here is the Fried Chicken and Waffles. Since we are both cutting back, we went for some other options. My partner ordered the Shrimp and Grits while I ordered the pork chop.
Things went a little bad here. The server wrote down I ordered the hamburger so when the food arrived, I had this giant beast of a burger topped with onion rings in front of me. The waiter was not there and we had to explain this to some other person delivering the food. They re-fired my meal and never offered to take my partner's food and bring them both together. This is okay to some extent but to not at least offer is a bit odd.
At the same time the wrong food was delivered, my wine was out and my partner's ice tea was out. The waiter went out of his way to ask if he wanted another iced tea and brought it right back but I coudln't get the waiters attenion for another 10 minutes to order another glass of wine.
The pork chop was delivered finally but my partner's food was nearly gone so I felt like it was time to kind of rush-eat. The pork chop was pretty good if not slightly overcooked. They make it look like a steak by basically butterflying a bone-in chop. I got the definite impression that they were firmly pressing on the meet to speed up the cooking process but unfortunately that also pushed out the delicious juices. This is just speculation on my part but given the amount of pork chops I've cooked in my life, I feel it is safe to say that is what happened. I did taste the shrimp and grits and felt there was a ton of good flavors if not too heavy-handed with the onions and salt.
Overall, the food was not bad but not great. The service needs to pick up their game big time and the menu needs some fine-tuning.
If you are looking for a local spot to grab some grub to fill your belly, I would recommend Criolla. There's a good chance I will go back the next time I feel a need for some stick-to-your-ribs food or am bringing friends for a full meal before hitting the town.
2295 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114