Yucatasia is so great!
My not-very-brave friend looked at the premade tacos drying out under the warmer in the front window and asked "Am I going to get sick from this place?" We headed in and were peered at by the Latino men eating at all the tables. But Sandy the proprietress greeted us warmly and led us to a roomy spot, where we ordered trenchermen's portions for $27.
For nibbles we had a taco de pavo (turkey) and chicken salbutes, each $1.50. The salbutes are the way to go, nice thick tortilla all chewy under some of that tasty roast chicken they're becoming known for, sliced avocado, pickled onions and black pepper. I loved the super-hot salsa.
I was underwhelmed by the banh mi, though the chicken was great. The sandwich was dry and haphazardly garnished. But we got two winner entrees, the entomotado de puerco and the pescado empanizado. The former was a bowl of really rich, soft to the point of being almost creamy, gamy pork (I think there was a piece of foot in there) swimming in thick tomato sauce, with a pile of small tortillas and another bowl with a thin black bean puree. You fill one after another of those tortillas with the saucy pork, dip it into the black beans as you go along, and wow. The breaded fish was bits of a flat fillet, clean-tasting, not greasy, plated with more pickled onion and avocado, white rice sprinkled with black pepper, and another bowl of black bean puree. More delicious roll-your-own tacos. We must have had eighteen of those little tortillas. Sandy couldn't believe we ate it all (I take most of the credit).
We got more backstory from Sandy's husband David (nice Vietnamese name). He was an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley until his company went belly-up three years ago. One of his brothers invited the couple to run his bodega a few doors down Mission Street while he pursued some other business. They poured all their energy into the store, spent day and night there and really built up the business. They noticed that nearly all their business came from these single guys who had just moved here from the Yucatan, who came in after work to get this and that to eat for their dinner as they had no domestic life whatsoever. They became pals with the guys, and when the brother ultimately returned to reap the fruits of their labor (he hinted at high drama and family feuds), they decided to stay in the neighborhood and find some cooks to make lunch and dinner for these locals. And they've been so surprised and delighted lately to see these gringas wander in, seemingly all of whom have heard of them through Chowhound.
What a happy place. Thanks for the discovery, OP! With Thrift Town on the corner, that block of Mission Street is officially Heaven!
....Great post! I agree - this place is truly great.
There is something special going on here for sure, and I love the fact that they're seeking to fulfill the needs of homesick Yucatanean bachelors!
The place is confusing and frankly a bit intimidating in its atypical fare and off-the-menu items. But I would love to see it succeed. I would even go so far as to say that I wouldn't mind if it frequently had a line out the door. Sure, I'd be annoyed at the fact that the hoi polloi was getting wise, but I'd be happier knowing that this place was finding the stability and popularity it deserves.
Nice report back and nice background info.
I was in SF today and driving up Geary. I've driven by El Yucateco a number of times, but there were parking places in front, my sign from the food gods to stop and at the least pick up a menu and scope out the place.
I mean, I was beginning to wonder if there was a population explosion of people from the Yucatan in SF.
Little place with a half Mexican, half Yucatan menu. They were making tortillas using a wooden tortilla press. Sorry, but I was just stuffed and could not eat another thing and in the back of my mind I thought there was a negative report on the place, so I decided to look it up and stop by next time.
Well, it gets mainly enthusiastic reviews, especially for the Yucatan side of the menu. It is no Yucatasia (but what is) and doesn't have the extensive menu, but what it does it seems to do well.
In this link, the blogger writes:
" ... the cochinita pibil was glorious. The pork was moist and tender with some smokey flavor from the spices which had a member of our jury exclaim: it's better than the bbq pork at memphis minnie's"
I guess this pork is also used in the burrito. That habenero sauce must be a Yucatan thing because they have it here too.
There was a postive Chowhound post on the burritos and tortillas. It had a few other positive posts on Chowhound too. Since it is near the AMC theatre, it might be a good option when seeing a show.
There are reports elsewhere on the web that the menudo and pozole are excellent too.
Anyway, the reason I post this in addition to have some notes on what to order when I stop in again, is that in my Google, I found out a little history of the men who inspired the owner of Yucatasia to open near that section of Mission.
It seems there is a large Mayan population in the area. Surprisingly enough a lot of the migration happened after 9-11 when work in the nearby toursist areas in that part of Mexico dried up.
Also interesting that the owner of Tommy's Mexican on Geary has a Mayan background. You know, this site is so great. Not only would I never have found Yucatasia without it, but I never would have learned, as a result, about this little part of local history.
Mmmm, had pork ribs there yesterday and a chicken panucho. Sooo good! I hadn't ordered the panucho, had ordered something that starts w/ an s (can't remember) but it was great so who cares? I really think they have been improving. First time, the panucho was good, not great. Now it is fantastic, more pickled onion and they've added pickled jalapeno.
Sandy seems to have really calmed down and mellowed and I actually saw several women eating there this time. My friend P was starting to think there were so many men because Sandy is so cute. ;)
I know I had said to maybe avoid the pork (if you are expecting Viet pork) but this was tender and not too fatty. Came with a mountain of tortillas and what is essentailly pureed black beans, and rice. A lot of food for $7. They also had relleno negro but a girl can only eat so much.
Extra special bonus, they now have their FANTASTIC chicken leg wrapped to go w/ rice. Take it home, eat as is, shred and toss in a salad, whatever...Makes Gooood Frickin' Chicken look like KFC.