El Rey Pakal
Stopped by this new Yucatan restaurant located in Montecito Plaza in San Rafael for a late lunch today. Had a great plateful of Cochinita Pibil served with some very fresh, hand-made corn tortillas. Unfortunately I was alone, so no chance to explore what looks like a very deep menu further than that. If the Cochinita Pibil is any indication, I will be back for more.
Wow, great catch. Looking forward to future reports. San Rafael is so cool. Here's the exact address
227 3rd Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901
I made it here today on my way back from San Francisco. It's pretty easy to miss at this point, as there's no signage up on the mall walls indicating the restaurant's presence (the nearby Puentez Taqueria is wayyy more visible.)
The interior is nice, a nice beige-yellow dotted with paintings of Mayan landscapes and posters of various Yucatan landmarks on the walls.
I was told that they've only been open 8 days, so the service is still a little ragged in terms of greeting people (folks either seated themselves or walked halfway into the place, like I did, before being noticed.) However, once I was seated, the wait staff (it's definitely a family operation) were very attentive, friendly and helpful with my questions.
Like wineguy mentioned, the menu is fairly deep with Yucatecan selections. I noticed many of the people seemed to be ordering off the appetizer menu, as big platters of varying antojitos (almost all $8.50 ea/3-4 per order) were brought out on a regular basis. Included in the selections are:
Polcanes - Corn dough stuffed with lime beans & crushed pumpkin seeds topped with pickled red onions
Panuchos - Homemade fried tortillas stuffed with black bean puree, topped with grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, pickled red onions, and avocado
Salbutes - Fried tortillas topped with grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, pickled red onions and avocado
Empenadas - Corn dough stuffed with ground pork, beef, cheese or potatoes. Served with tomato sauce and sprinkled cheese
Codzitos - Fried taquitos stuffed with chicken topped with tomato sauce and sprinkled cheese
Tacos/Torta de Cochinta Pibil - roasted pork in traditional achiote sauce served with homemade tortillas/french bread
Tamales/Tamales Colados - Steamed soft corn dough stuffed with chicken and wrapped in banana leaves. The regular tamales come with tomato sauce, while the colados comes with achiote sauce.
Brazo de Reina - Steamed spinach corn dough stuffed with boiled eggs, crushed pumpkin seeds and tomato sauce.
They also have a Delicias Rey Kapal option where you can get a sampling of various appetizers (2 ea. small sized Tamales, Panuchos, Salbutes, Codzitos, Empenadas, and Polcanes) for $15.50
Entrees range roughly from $10 - $16. These include:
Pavo Uido - Ground pork with hard boiled eggs, capers, served with sliced onions.
Empanizado de Puerco - Pork steak sprinkled in bread crumbs, served with black bean puree and salad
Frijol con Puerco - Pork stewed with black beans, Yucatec style
Poc-Chuc - Charbroiled pork marinated in Yucatec spices, with black bean puree, grilled onions and hand-ground salsa
Escabeche de Pollo - Hot marinated chicken in a special Mayan seasoning, served with chopped red onions
Relleno Blanco de Pollo - Chicken in white sauce, seasoned with green olives and raisins, and served with pickled red onions
Pescado A La Parrilla - Grilled fish with vegetables and rice (fish of the day will vary with the season)
Camarones A La Parrilla De Rio - Grilled shrimp served with roasted potatoes and rice
Carne Asada - Grilled arrachera steak, served with salsa, rice, and black bean puree, guacamole and sour cream
I ended up with the Relleno Negro De Pollo ($12; chicken in black chimole sauce, Yucatec style). The menu said it would come with pickled red onion, but mine came with what looked a sampling of the Pavo Uido ($6.95; ground pork with hard boiled eggs & capers.) The chicken was a tad on the dry side unfortunately, but the chimole sauce helped moisten it up. Not earthshaking, but good overall. The Pavo Uido was an interesting take on what essentially is meatloaf, but probably not something I'd order separately in the future.
Saturdays & Sundays they offer other specialties, including:
Queso Relleno - Holland cheese stuffed with ground pork, raisins, green olives, capers, hard boiled eggs served with thick sauce & tomato sauce.
Chocolomo - Beef soup with vegetables
Mondongo - Traditional tripe soup in Yucatec seasoning
Puchero - Chicken, pork and beef soup with vegetables, served with pickled red radish.
The home-made tortillas they serve are very good, as well as the salsa, which is the best I've had in awhile.
There are desserts available, but my take-home menu doesn't have them listed unfortunately.
The waitress was very appreciative when I mentioned it was great that they were serving their style of Mexican food and that I'd definitely be coming back to try more of their menu. With the general lack of Yucatecan places in the Bay Area in general, I'd say this place is definitely worth exploring if you're in the area.
Yeah, you're right - something to ask the folks who own the place the next time out for sure
Just to be complete, I noticed I left a few items off the entrees menu:
Pollo Rey Pakal - Roasted half-chicken, served with rice, black bean puree, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream
Platillo Vegetariano - Vegetable skewers, served with rice and black bean puree (you can add meat to the skewers for extra)
They also have a couple of fajita dishes; a grilled meat & shrimp platter (Platillo El Rey Pakal; serves 2) accompanied by black bean puree, guac, pico de gallo and sour cream; as well as the Cochinita Pibil that the OP liked a lot.
I have an explanation for that. If you translate Pavo Uido to English it says Escaped Turkey thats why its not turkey. Someone said it was like meat loaf but its more like stuffing for Thanksgiving turkey. Story has it that the they couldn't afford to buy turkey for dinner all they had was pork meat for the stuffing, hence the name "pavo uido" or missing turkey.
I stopped there for lunch today, alone, and had the Empanadas appetizer, $8.50 for an order of three plus a bowl of "chicken noodle soup" which was really a quite good chicken broth with a few veggies. I liked the empanadas, different from anything I've had before, simple, fresh, and very good. I had no room to try anything else. This place calls out for four people to go and share food to get a chance to taste more things. Excellent salsa (after I added some salt). Very friendly staff. The owner said there was only one other Yucatan restaurant in the Bay Area, in SF.
re: Mick Ruthven
Well, ... there's three and a quarter that I know of ... and Zuni even briefly once had a dish from the Yucatan
Plantanos across the street from Tartine has a Yucatan dish or two. So there's your quarter restaurant.
Probably the restaurant he is thinking of is Mi Lindo Yucatan
Even lesser known is El Yucateco. I did a report on the place but it seems gone. All I can find is this report.
Oh yeah, Tommy's on Geary is supposed to have some Yucatan dishes
Not a restaurant, but some food from the Yucata at the Sebastopol farmers market.
Of course given that San Rafael has these odd little clusters of ethinic restaurants like three Persian and three Cuban/Puerto Rican ... he could mean there's another place in San Rafael. It wouldn't surprise me at this point.
Just a note to the above list ... RIP El Yucateco.
I got into a conversation with a table next to me at a San Rafeal Persian restaurant. They were saying there was no good Mexican food in San Rafael ... so of course I apoligized to evesdropping and told them about El Rey Pakal.
As part of the conversation, one of the party who works around the block from El Yucateco said it closed a few weeks ago. Like he said, it was a lousy location and there was too much, uh, street commerce near the restaurant.
There's a bunch of Yucatecan places in SF. There's at least one more on Mission between 16th and 18th (in addition to El Maya and Yucatasia).
393 Eddy St, San Francisco, CA 94102
El Maya Yucatan
2022 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Lol Tun Restaurant
2341 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Mi Lindo Yucatan
401 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Mi Lindo Yucatan
4042 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
2164 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103