cha cha cha
It went downhill years ago. Its one of a group of restaurants on my avoid list.
Unfortunately as a long-time resident, I have many friends who have fled to other, cheaper cities. When they come back to visit, they always seem to want to visit their old stomping grounds. Cha Cha Cha is one of those places. Luckily, my reputation as a food-crazy usually helps convince friends that Cha Cha cha sucks and they let me take them to some new place with good food.
Do you mean in the city? There are at least two that I know of called Cha Cha Cha. The one I've been to is on Haight, at Shrader. There's another one in the Mission I've never been to. I don't think they're two locations of the same place, but I could be wrong.
The menu is cuban/carribean, the wait is usually long. Sangria is good. Food is average.
re: Frosty Melon
The funniest thing about Cha Cha Cha is the hostile signage at the host stand (I'm talking about the Mission one.) There are signs that say things like, "If you don't like our policies you can leave", "we'll seat you when we want", etc. I'm perhaps exaggerating a smidge but the tone is truly hostile. And the host guy is hilarious, a Bon Jovi reject--officious, self important, obnoxious. It's not the place to go for hospitality. But it is a nice place to go if you want drinks and food at the same time, and the food is pretty good, definitely rich and greasy. But actually now there's an even nicer place, Medjool, which is laid back, comfy, people are nice and the food is thoughtful and delicious and you don't have to be abused for two hours before you get seated.
Oh no! The hostile signage thing! It's like they -want- you to go away
and never come back and tell everyone you know that they suck.
The worst ever was that place, geez what was its name, a breakfast place
next door to the Picaro in 16th. I think there's a branch of the Pork Store
there now, before it was Bitterroot. Even before it was that bizarre
military place (Taking Orders?). Before those it was a reasonably pleasant
jumbled place to get some eggs and taters. Anyway, one day I go in
and there's a sign on the register next to the napkin dispenser: "Hey
Pig! Only take one napkin, OK." There were a couple of others too that
I can't remember. Well that was that. A couple of months later they were
Anyway, back to Cha Cha Cha: There were basically three things that
brought them to prominence:
1. An inhumanly happy and pleasant waitstaff of 3 who worked their
butts off every night for years. They were awesome. I'm sure cocaine
2. One of the two [*] most reliably tasty things to eat in the entire city:
the chicken paillard, a perfectly grilled piece of chicken slathered
in a delicious mustard-tarragon cream sauce.
3. A policy of serving pitchers of sangria to people waiting in the hours
long line, guaranteeing that when you got a table, you were happy,
drunk, and starving.
By all reports, only number 3 is left. In which case, it might be worth
it to head there just for the nostalgia factor. But maybe not.
[*] The other most perfect and reliable thing to eat in the city, the
eggplant sandwich at Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store, is still going