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Nov 29, 2006 04:56 AM

SF & Emeryville - Cocina Poblana - Corundas, 5 moles, 6 + salsas (peanut, strawberry,etc), breakfast soup & more.

If nothing else, I have the taste of poblana peppers down after eating here.

The Emeryville restaurant is a lot nicer than the SF location with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus and a full bar. Parking isn’t easy though.

Some of the more interesting dishes:

Breakfast (in addition to more traditional items like French toast)

- Sopa con huevo - Vegetable soup, cooked with two eggs bell peppers onions and cilantro.
- Breakfast Torta - Breakfast sandwich; with two scrambled eggs, tomatoes, avocado and spinach.
- A different omelet has fish sautéed in a garlic cream sauce
- Breakfast burritos are created with flour tortilla two eggs, spinach, Poblano refried beans, cheese, and salsa Poblana. Choice of ham, house-made chorizo, potatoes, nopales, machaca, or mushroom.

- Plato Casero - Slowly cooked baby back ribs cooked in a green tomatillo and chile de arbol sauce
- Pipian Burrito - Pumpkin seed & peanut sauce, in a tomato tortilla with choice of meat, black beans, rice, Mexican cheese, and salsa poblana.
- Other burritos: Casero, Fajitas, Chipotle, mole poblana, mole rojo, mariscada, prawn, calamari, fish, crab, mushroom sauteed in garlic sauce,
- Huarachitos poblanos

- Raspaditas de Tinga
- Camarones Locos - Four tiger prawns and champiñones cooked in a habanero BBQ sauce
- Huaraches Azteca
- Chiles en nogada (yeah !!!)
- Pipian Mole - pumpkin seed sauce with essence of chile guajillo, pumpkin seeds, and traditional Mexican spices.
- Mole Mama Elena - Broiled turkey wings smothered in a chile negro sauce; accentuating the flavors of chile negro, pumpkin seeds, and roasted peanuts.
- Mole Mama Luisa - pumpkin seed and chile guajillo mole sauce.

- Café de Holla - (Coffee, cinnamon, Molasses, Abuelita chocolate)
- Atole
- Champurrado
- Licuado – “We can prepare it as your taste desires: Hot, warm or cold Milk, fresh fruit and the fames Mexican poncho pantera chocomil”

Both locations have salsa bars with rotating salsas it seems. They didn’t have the pumpkin seed salsa that I was looking for. The Emeryville location had fewer salsas – only six with two that were removed before I got to them.

Here’s what I tried:

Chips – Thin, hot, blistered ... yet ... there’s a little something there in the taste that reminds me of Fritos. However, they worked with the salsas.

Salsa Poblano (hot) – Chunky salsa fresca with tomato, onion, cilantro and something that had a cucumber-like taste I couldn’t identify. The heat does not seem like much at first but slowly smolders and catches fire.

Peanut salsa (hot) – Good peanut flavor with poblano heat. Very good.

Salsa mocajetes (hot) – Medium heat green salsa with a whole cucumber in the salsa. This was stunningly tasty ... smoky and tangy.

Salsa Strawberry (mild) – I love this savory smoky salsa with pieces of chopped fresh strawberry.

Corundas (tamales)
“Our own family recipe; Olive Oil infused Masa topped with: grilled cactus, and potatoes cooked in mole rojo”

Unless mole rojo suddenly means ‘green sauce’, they got this sauce wrong. It also doesn’t match the description of corundas that I found on the web.

This was not wrapped in corn leaves or triangle-shaped, but in a traditional tamale shape. It was atop a regular corn husk and smothered under chunky nicely roasted potatoes, soft nopales, onions and zucchini in a tangy tomatillo sauce that wasn’t spicy.

This turned out better than most vegetarian dishes I’ve tried. It was warm, delicious comfort food. They did a nice job of roasting the potatoes and surprisingly the tamale made with olive oil was moist and tastier than most lard-based versions. This dish was just so wrong from every point of view that to win me over it had to be good.

Mole poblano
“Grilled chicken breast served with an authentic mole poblano made from an old family recipe.”

Pieces of chicken breast and slivers of poblano peppers in a hot red mole that had chocolate notes and maybe some ground peanuts. The chicken breast wasn’t a good idea and lacked character. With dark meat bone-on chicken this would have been a lot better. For dinner it comes with a chicken leg. I’d skip anything with white chicken breast.

Refried beans – Very good. Whole black beans that are not too soupy. There is a little hot poblano kick and a drizzle of crema on top.

Rice – OK. Doesn’t make me a fan of Spanish rice but a little better than most with a more pronounced tomato flavor

The horchata looked lovely and frothy and I wished I ordered some.

I would be more enthusiastic if my order had not been wrong. They forgot the corn tortillas. The pinto beans I requested on one order didn’t happen. Unless, mole rojo means green, the corunda had the wrong sauce on it. This last really annoys me because I was in the mood for mole, so it was a big mistake to me. There was a shift change and people weren’t paying attention though I was the only customer in there.

Also they removed the avacado salsa and salsa cabara from the salsa bar in the time it took me to place my order.

While there are adjustments to local tastes, it has an interesting enough menu that will bring me back. In another post linked below, TopoTail nailed this place, IMO ...

" I'd call it a cut above "typical Mexican fare." The Chiles Rellenos, for instance, are not the greasy, deep-freid version one usually finds here, but grilled and not breaded. My wife is always looking for Rellenos like those we had in Oaxaca, and if these weren't on that level, they were way better than what one usually gets in an American Mexican joint."

Location and full menus on website:

Previous Chowhound posts:

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  1. The menu on the Web describes corundas as "Homemade steamed tamales toped with Braised spare ribs in a green tomatillo and chile de Árbol sauce. Served with rice."

    Chiles rellenos that are breaded and fried isn't an American thing, that's exactly how they do them in Jalisco. Like any fried item, it takes a skilled cook to make them well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Yeah, there's a vegetarian version and the cut and paste is from that side of the menu. My understanding is that in the SF location, you choose what you would like sauce/mole-wise on the tamales where the Emeryville menu indicates that red mole is standard.

      From the little I've found it seems that a green tomatillo sauce is more standard.

      I am guessing they are still in the new-restaurant phase. They only recently added the full Emeryville menu to the website. The service while ok, could use some more attention. Walk into the restaurant and there are no menu boards and only a take-out lunch menu no where near the counter.

      This was an impulse dinner, I just happened to be driving down Hollis and there was the lone parking spot at the front door ... the usual sign from the food gods to stop.

      So I hadn't looked at the website recently and assumed the lunch menu was it. I asked about breakfast (only on the weekends) and was given a breakfast menu. Then I decided to ask while I was waiting if there was a dinner menu. There was. What was annoying is that I was there as lunch changed to dinner and would have appreciated knowing that. I would have ordered differently.

      Anyway, thanks for the info on the Chiles rellenos. I've never been much of a fan of this dish and will give this version a try ... after the chiles en nogada.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        About the Corundas... half of their heritage is from Jalisco (as mentioned on their site)... so their version seems to be a bordering state revision of the Michoacanian original.

        Chiles Rellenos are souffled & fried all over Mexico & they might have originated in Puebla that way (they speak to me of the type of cooking that was going on during the colonial era convents)... but it is also true, that it is just as easy to find non-souffled fried stuffed Poblanos throughout Puebla & Central/Southern Mexico.