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Yucatecan Crawl in three parts

Today the ever-changing cast of chowhounds who joined “kare raisu” for an all-day chowdown touring San Francisco’s Yucatan eateries. I’ll post the list of things we tried and ask the participants to add their comments. Here’s the itinerary -

11:30am - Comida Yucatan y City Pizza (Turk St @ Leavenworth)

12:55pm - Mi Lindo Yucatan (Valencia and 15th), www.lindoyucatan.com

2:30pm - Yucatasia (Mission & 18th) & El Maya Yucatan (Mission & 16th

)

4:30-6pm - Happy hour at Tommy's Mexican (Geary @ 24th) http://www.tommystequila.com/

7pm – Dinner party and finale at Chichén Itzá, (16th @ So Van Ness

)

Part 1 – Progressive Lunch:

For me, the most pleasant surprise of the day was Comida Yucatan y City Pizza in the Tenderloin. The owner is Pakistani and the sweet woman who does the cooking hails from a small town near Merida. Four of us tried Thursday’s special, entomatado accompanied by handmade-to-order tortillas, and pureed black beans, $8; panucho de cochinita pibil; and a trio of tamales: colado, $2.25, torteado, $2, and orneado, $2. A very spicy-hot green salsa made from serrano and habanero chiles and a mild red tomato sauce were provided as accompaniments.

At Mi Lindo Yucatan’s Valencia Street location, lunch for eight included the large antojito platter, escabeche de pavo, cochinita pibil, poc chuc, relleno negro de pavo, sopa de dia, and puerco adobado.

Then three of us staggered over to Yucatasia where we were joined by one new recruit. And, despite the photos of Vietnamese sandwiches still posted near the entrance, the menu here is now strictly Yucatec. Here we had a panucho de pollo pibil, $1.50, papazul, $7.50, and salbute de cochinita pibil, $1.50.
Our last lunch stop was El Maya Yucatan where we gamely tasted a panucho de cochinita pibil, $2, and queso flan Napolitano, $2.

Part 2 – Happy Hour:

After a Christmas shopping break, “kare raisu” and I met at the bar at Tommy’s Mexican for margaritas. He picked Frida Kahlo reposado, and me, Chinaco reposado. And despite feeling too full to eat another bite, the tortilla chips are quite good here and we liked both the salsas, especially the roasted tomato one.

The Yucatan part of this stop was a couple shots of anise-flavored Xtabentun licor.

Part 3 – Dinner:

To wrap up the day, we headed back to the Mission for dinner at Chichen Itza. Eight of us sampled

Platillo Chichen Itza, $10 – panucho, salbute, empanada, tostada, and kotzito
Pato a la naranja, $18
Poc chuc, $14
Estofado de borrego, $16
Chicken mole
Tamales colados, 3 for $9.75
Escabeche de pavo
Roasted bananas with caramel, strawberry puree and ice cream
Bread budim with ice cream

We brought out own wines: 2005 Aveleda “Charamba” Douro Vinho Tinto, 1999 Husch “Apple Hill” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, and 1995 Turley “Hayne Vineyard” Napa Valley Petite Syrah.

-----
El Maya Yucatan
2022 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Mi Lindo Yucatan
401 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Yucatasia
2164 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Tommy's Mexican Restaurant
5929 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

Comida Yucatan y City Pizza
294 Turk St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Poc Chuc
2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. I am so sorry & envious that I couldn't make it.... all of a sudden I got swamped with deals going on in Thousand Oaks, Chicago & Florida... (I guess the silver lining is I get to try a number of new recommended chow spots) but I really would have prefered to participate today.

    I am waiting impatiently for posts on how the Yucaorgies turned out!

    1. Tamales colados at Chichen Itza are the perfect comfort food. Silky, mushy, flavorful (whatever was in it).

      I still love the mild escabeche de pavo here, as well as the panuchos and salbutes. Mashed potatoes were amazing, leading us to speculate how much whipping cream or butter went into them. The roasted meats were fine, but what really shines is the homemade tortillas and refried black beans.

      I'll repeat my impression from past lunches at Popol Vuh and now Chichen Itza. If Mexican food can be light and airy, this is the spot. Hope life south of the border (or nearly) is good to Kare Raise.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        Thanks much for bringing the Charamba. How do you feel about lunch vs. dinner at Chichen Itza?

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          The lunch prices are definitely a deal, and my favorite items (all the turkeys from salbute to panuchos to escabeche) are on both menus. If I were Chichen Itza, I'd probably change the evening menu to more tapas--smaller servings for $12 instead of entrees for $18--and charge for rice and beans.

          I do agree the ambiance at night is superior, and the gracious service is a plus.

          The Charamba was one of Weimax's bargain wines. <$5.

          1. re: Windy

            We're on the same wavelength on lunch vs. dinner. I liked the variety of small servings at lunch better, though I'd miss the mashed potatoes served at dinner time.

      2. Thanks for organizing the dinner at Chichen Itza. The overall quality of the food was high and a great value. There are few places in the City, if any, that eight people could eat that well for a food bill of $16 per person.

        The restaurant was kind enough to share two traditional Yucatecan dishes that are not on their menu. (Thank you Melanie for arranging this.) The roast chicken leg in mole and the tamales culado. The roast chicken was fork tender, though I felt that the mole was somewhat thick and lacked depth. The tamales culado, on the other hand, had the texture of soft, creamy and very fine polenta -- so comforting. The filling was shredded chicken in a savory yellow sauce that had a light cheese flavor. The flavors blended well with the creamy out layer and was my favorite dish -- so much so that I ordered some to go. It's too bad this isn't on their menu.

        The other stand out for me were the handmade tortillas. Almost too good to fill with lots of things, just a bit of pork or a smear of bean puree was enough to highlight the fresh handmade goodness.

        Also good were escabeche de pavo, panucho, poc chuc and the extra creamy mashed potatoes that accompanied several dishes. I enjoyed meeting and dining with everyone. Good luck down south Kare Raisu!

        Photos as a slideshow here:

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...

        18 Replies
        1. re: wanderlust21

          A few comments if I may.... its Colado... Culado will get a quite a giggle from pre-teen boys.

          With respects to Yucatecan "Mole"... do they call it a Mole (a word of Nahuatl origin)? I think in the peninsula they refer to its as Pipian... and I have yet to have a Yucatecan Pipian with much flavor depth (at least if you are comparing to a Central / Southern Mole). In the Yucatecan, the pumpkin seed is practically a staple (and a major part of their Squash crop)... and they regularly have without all the blow out, celebratory spices, dried chiles & fruits that Moles have. At its best its more like Japanese Curry (in texture, roundness of flavor & subtle nuances) than a Mole.

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            I'm told that the word "panucho" will also elicit giggles in certain parts of Central America. (Hint: they will sound like the giggles elicited by the word "snapper" in some parts of the US).

            At least I no longer confuse panuchos with salbutes....

            1. re: Xiao Yang

              I haven't heard about the association with Panucho... but Panocha (the alternate name for the triangle shaped sweetness peddled in form of brown sugar *wink) will certainly get some riled up in Mexico.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                I thought panuchos were street food snacks made from corn dough no? I never tried these but have seen them outside the markets and in the squares in Merida. Like open faced tacos if you woud.

                1. re: Lori SF

                  Yes Panuchos are open faced tacos (with part of the "tortilla" sliced off for pliability)... Panocha (see the subtle spelling differences) is basically the same thing as Piloncillo. Technically... Piloncillo is the substance... whearas Panocha is the actual cone shape (the syrup for example would be called Almibar de Piloncillo or simply Piloncillo and never Panocha which would only refer to the cone).

              2. re: Xiao Yang

                Or perhaps you're thinking of Venezuelan cachapas?
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/26697...

              3. re: Eat_Nopal

                I have heard it called pipian mole when referring to the ancient Yucatecan sauce made of pumpkin seeds when I was in that area. Also, Guatemalan' s make many varities of the same dish and they call pepian, which I have had as well very similar to the Mexican pipian just more heat because of the blending of the chiles makes it hotter.

                1. re: Lori SF

                  In Chiapas they also call it Pepian... are you saying its spicier in Mexico or Guatemala? My experience with Guatemalan cusine (at least among those from Guatemala City is that use chiles vary sparingly) on the other hand a Pipian in Puebla or Mexico State would typically be much spicier than most Moles.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    I found the Pepian in Antigua was more complexed and hotter than the Pipian Yacatan version in Uxmal and Merida. I believe the Guatemalans do more toasting with the dried chiles and pumpkin seeds, nuts and before blending. The Guatemalan woman that took care of me when I was a child would take hours to make this sauce, this is where i developed by love for hot hot. Then the Pipian I had in Puebla was spicer by the use of different spices not by the use of chiles.

                    This is making me so hungry.

                    1. re: Lori SF

                      I think in terms of generalizations... the Yucatec Pipian is unique in that its the lightest, least complex... really like a Pumpkin Seed "soup"... other Pipianes or Pepian are definitely more complex, nuanced & heavier (I think this goes back to the climitalogical differences between low lying, scrubby Yucatan State versus the cooler highland, forest areas of Chiapas, Puebla & Antigua). The other thing is that Pipian / Pepian is more of a special, celebration food in those areas... whereas in the Yucatan its actually part of the daily nourishment schemes.

                2. re: Eat_Nopal

                  Interesting. As far as the mole, it would be good to find out what part of the Yucatan the owner hails from. Colado refers to the corn meal being strained, so I guess they just misspelled it on the check.

                  http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?...

                  1. re: wanderlust21

                    the flavors do vary from villages, countryside to Merida then to the peninsula As for Pipian it also depends if they are using squash seeds or toasted pumpkin which can really change the flavor.

                    Looks like you guys had a great time.

                    1. re: Lori SF

                      To me the mole was the least impressive dish of the evening. The sauce was thick and bland; I couldn't have said whether it had pumpkin seeds in it or not.

                      I did like the poc chuc.

                    2. re: wanderlust21

                      Most Bay Area Yucatecs seem to come from the town of Peto... which is a relatively poor & remote area in the jungle, off the road that runs between the Puuc Route & Felipe Carillo Puerto.

                    3. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Yes, it was called a mole. Previously, I've also had chimole with turkey at Chichen Itza.

                      As background, when I called to make the res, I passed on a few special requests from kare raisu. I figured that the kitchen would be open to it since part of the menu changes every day. He requested papadzul or something with pipian sauce, vaporcitos, tamales colados, and escabeche de pavo. A couple days later I got a call back saying that they would make the tamales colados but not vaporcitos, escabeche de pavo was no problem, and that one of the day's specials would be mole instead of pipian because it was the wrong season (!) for the right kind of pumpkin. This was quite puzzling to me, as this would seem to be the time of year for pumpkin, but maybe I misunderstood.

                      I like your description of it as similar to Japanese curry, fitting for our friend kare raisu, and he did wipe up the last of that plate and cleaned every bit off the bones. Myself, not crazy about the dish, but did notice some fruity notes that I thought might be banana or pumpkin. But it didn't seem to have any ground pumpkin seeds in it from the flavor.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Melanie... I think in that version they use the seeds from a summer squash which I believe would be the little white ones with thin skins you sometimes see dried in the Mexican markets. Also... I am pretty sure the Yucatecans like to use the seeds fairly fresh... like I mentioned they see them as a nutritious staple not a condiment.

                    4. re: wanderlust21

                      Susy, thanks a bunch for these great photos at Chichen Itza. I have to say that the one of the chicken mole after the first cut looks like something out of a hepatology textbook. (g) But it did remind me of how wonderful the rice is here with well-toasted, separate grains infused with bouillon.

                      I'm glad you purchased some of the tamales colados to go, as I noticed the staff meal in the back was the same. I'm sure they made quite a few of them anticipating a bigger order than we gave them. How were they when reheated? CI's were my favorite of the day, barely beating out CYyCP's which had a meatier taste but not quite as smoothly textured masa. I thought the difference might be the timing of the steaming with CI's being a little fresher. We also had mini tamales colados on the antojitos plate at Mi Lindo Yucatan, but they weren't even close in texture though they tasted fine.

                      It was also good to have you at the table because you'd been to Popol Vuh a few times as well. Things seem the same to me. This was my first time at night, and I like the uplighting in the room much better at dinner time.

                      Popol Vuh is now Chichen Itza thread -
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/454130

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        The tamales were excellent when reheated the next morning, very moist and the outer corn meal was still soft and creamy. They also included a generous container of the tomato salsa to top it off and a small container of the spicy habanero salsa.

                        Yes, it was nice to find that the escabeche de pavo and panucho were the same as those I had at lunch, when the restaurant was called Popol Vuh. Glad you brought up the rice. I thought the rice was really good, very toasty and savory. The rice, beans and tortillas show a lot of care and effort to be better than just another side dish. I appreciate their consistency, putting care into basic side dishes, and maintaining quality at lunch as high as they do for a large party at dinner. I agree about the the lighting at dinner time, much better than the darker cavernous feel at lunch. Funny because you'd think they'd do just the opposite -- mood lighting at dinner and brighter lighting at lunch.

                    5. How did the group feel about MLY's poc chuc vs. Chichen Itza's? I made it to Chichen Itza a couple days ago. Don't know which is truly "authentic", but I crave MLY's poc chuc on a regular basis, and don't think that will be the case with Chichen Itza's poc chu (the strips of pork vs. the pork chop).

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Fig Newton

                        Personally, I prefer the poc chuc at Mi Lindo Yucatan. Our order of poc chuc at Chichen Itza was cut more thinly than MLY so each piece had a lot of char flavor, but overall it was less juicy than the one at MLY.

                        1. re: wanderlust21

                          Most Poc Chuc in the Yucatan seems to be very thinly sliced.... each town has its Poc Chuc masters that get 80% of the business by delivering an illogical combination of juicyness, smoke, char, citrus & earthy achiote.... needless to say it is quite exceptional versus the 80% of vendors that get 20% of the business.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            At Mi Lindo Yucatan, a whole pork chop is grilled and then cut into thin slices for service. MLY's seemed smokier to me, maybe from a longer time at not as high a temp as the thin slices at CI.

                            Here's a link to the chowdown report at Mi Lindo Yucatan from nearly 4 years ago,
                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/27909

                      2. My favorites at Comida Yucatan y City Pizza
                        294 Turk St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA.....were the homemade fresh tortillas, the custardy...colado, and the homey and perfectly stewed entomatado! They got a 96 cleanliness rating...wish I could say the same about the neighborhood! But I held my breath a lot, looked straight ahead of me and walked swiftly "NY Style" that being said, I would really like a return visit!
                        Here's to Melanie for creating this Chowdown and Kare Raisu for his new life in San Diego!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ChowFun_derek

                          Thanks, Derek! Since you also made your way to Mi Lindo Yucatan afterwards, maybe you could compare the two places.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            The only dish I could compare was the Tamale Colado (strained masa creating a custard like exterior)...the one at CYyCP was much more custardy than Mi Lindo Yucatan, which I much preferred...you say the one at Chichen Itza is even better...so I must get over there and pig out!

                        2. I regret that I was only able to make it for the final leg of chowing yesterday. I'm definitely glad I got to check out Chichen Itza -- it is a real gem in my opinion. The restaurant itself is comfortable and the service is very warm. And the fact that they will provide service for wines you bring in without a corkage fee (right?) is a real added plus!

                          I thought everything we had was at least "good," altho' I do agree that the mole was the least interesting. I'll echo the praise for the tamales colados as well as the poc chuc and simple but delicious escabeche de pavo. I also enjoyed the estofado de borrego and the novelty of scooping up creamy mashed potatoes with one fork while digging into black beans with habanero salsa with the other. I thought the duck was cooked well but where was the orange sauce?

                          Even my guest, a recovering "picky eater," enjoyed everything that was served. As we scraped up the last bits of caramel and whipped cream from the banana dessert I asked him why he didn't just lick the plate clean. "Well...I just met these people," he whispered back.

                          Thanks to everyone who shared wine. I had a really enjoyable time and of course wish Kare Raisu happy chowing the SD/LA area. I hope to see you over a styrofoam container of barbacoa de borrego at El Huarache Azteca sometime!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: rccola_and_moonpie

                            BTW here's the post I mentioned from my Yucatan trip three years ago. (It's so nice having a real search engine!)

                            The sandwich place by the Valladolid bus station is Squirmoz. Jealously looking forward to your report...

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/265213

                            Oh, and it looks like I have had Xtabentum, the honey/anise liquor mentioned above.

                            1. re: rccola_and_moonpie

                              Absoulutely - just need the date and time and I am there!

                              1. re: rccola_and_moonpie

                                Layla, it was such a pleasure to meet you. I had the same reaction when the plate of duck breast came out --- where's the sauce? But secretly I was glad that it wasn't drowning in sauce, as that style of duck a l'orange has never been my thing. I liked the smoky, charry flavor of this duck, though like "wanderlust' I would have liked it a bit rarer. Yet, even my well-done piece was still juicy and tender, and the bit of sweet orange-y glaze clinging to the skin was enough fruit accent for me.

                                The wines went remarkably well with the dishes, perhaps a testament to the balanced style of cooking at Chichen Itza. Windy's "Charamba", a young red from Portugal's Douro, had the youth and guts to play happily with the big and lively flavors on our antojitos plate. I also thought it perked up the chicken mole and performed well with the poc chuc's charriness. The Pinot Noir from Husch had matured beautifully to a graceful 8 years of age and still has a ways to go. This one was high alcohol (for Anderson Valley), approaching 15% but that gave it a sweeter and bigger impression. With the somewhat overripe and jammy fruit it had a candied style and good balancing acidity that had no problem pairing with the sweet sauce on the duck. I love the forest floor earthiness of Pinot with duck and this was a terrific partnering. I brought the Turley Petite Syrah because I love this grape variety with kebaps, Thai food, and Indian lamb curries and wondered how ti would show with Yucatecan cuisine. It's concentrated extract overpowered the grilled poc chuc, but it proved itself once again with the braised lamb.

                                The restaurant doesn't have a liquor license yet. The corkage policy may change once it does.

                                I liked the banana dessert a lot too. As one can see from wanderlust's photo, the strawberry sauce squiggled around the edge is made from whole fruit. The sauce was delicious in its own right and now just coloration for the plate. The natural tang was the needed counterpoint to the sweet caramel on the bananas. I liked the ice-y ice cream too, more ice milk like. This was a terrific dessert for only $5, and shows off the professionalism of the cooking here.

                              2. The surprise winner of the lunch series, for me, was Comida Yucatan, despite the fact that I arrived late to mostly tepid food and didn’t get to meet the apparently extremely charming cook.

                                Entomatado was a homey tomato sauce and pork braise which tasted wonderful on its own and even more so perked up by a bit of habanero salsa. Tortillas were good and masa-y, and the black beans were my favorite of the day. Great, deep flavor, warm and meaty without the heaviness that sometimes accompanies this most glorious of all pork fat vehicles. (The habanero salsa was also my favorite of the day, though that might be because it’s the only one that didn’t put my taste buds out of commission.)

                                I can’t speak to the tamales, since only a few tiny morsels remained by the time I got there. Clearly popular.

                                I’ll be back to order more of the daily specials. Don’t come here at night unless you are large and weapon-wielding.

                                At Mi Lindo I liked the escabeche best, with its vinegary-meaty-salty broth, followed by the poc chuc, which to me tasted mostly like grill (not a bad thing). The adobado with orange slices seemed generally popular, but I found it a strange combination of too sweet, too salty, too dry, and too greasy. Beans were good, but not as good as Comida Yucatan. Tortillas were eh. I thought the appetizer platter was prettier than it was delicious, though maybe panuchos just aren’t really my thing. I tend to like my beans less . . . hidden. Service was sweet and patient.

                                By the time we got to Yucatasia I was no longer in any position to ingest food, let alone critique it. Suffice it to say that nothing there was good enough to overcome this handicap. The cochinita pibil on the salbute was tender, if a touch greasy. This was the only place with bright orange salsa, for what that’s worth.

                                At this point, I cried uncle and left to find coffee.

                                The food at Chichen Itza was good enough to make me forget that I’d been eating all day. Escabeche, which I liked at Mi Lindo, was much better here, with full-flavored, tender, supremely unstringy turkey meat and a subtler, more complex vinegar broth. I actually really liked the mole—I think the Japanese curry comparison is a good one, since what I liked best about it was its silky-yet-substantial texture. Sure, it was a bit sweet, but I thought the faint sweetness worked beautifully with the salty sour spiciness of the salsa and the earthy undertone of the tortillas. The tamale colado was my next favorite. Delicious custardy fluffiness, as mentioned upthread. The two French-leaning dishes were well-executed—my slice of duck breast was medium rare and juicy, and the lamb was tender—but I wouldn’t order either of these again. The lamb was too much like something I’d make at home if I were out of everything except lamb, wine and carrots: nothing wrong with the combination, just not something I have to make a special trip to eat. And I’m not a big fan of either duck breast or duck-fruit pairings. Also, to judge by the enthusiastic conversation at the table, I may have been the only one who didn’t love the mashed potatoes. I thought their texture was a little gummy, as though they had been mixed too vigorously, and the garlic overpowered the potato taste in a way I found tiring. Beans were great, if a little less primally satisfying than the ones at Comida Yucatan. Appetizer platter was beautifully presented and very tasty, especially the empanada and the little bean doodad. Once again, I was least excited by the panucho. Our (extremely friendly and very enthusiastic) server insisted that the roasted banana was the must-try dessert, but I actually preferred slightly tangy bread pudding. Which is not to say the roasted banana was bad, because, really, how can a roasted banana be bad?

                                All in all, it was a great day of eating and hanging out. I learned a lot of new vocabulary, received a patient initiation into the glories of Yucatecan food, met several fun people and avoided doing my work all in the same afternoon. Thank you to everyone who brought the wines, and most especially to Melanie for organizing the marathon. To Kare Raisu: alles Gute und viel Glueck in San Diego! Lass Dich ab und zu mal hier im Norden blicken!

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: sarahmilne

                                  "Don’t come here at night unless you are large and weapon-wielding"

                                  ROTFLMAO ... really, I troll the worst areas of Richmond and Oakland without blinking an eye and I was a bit ... intimidated ... by the area that this restaurant is in ... at high noon ... I ate Tu Lan that same day and it was positively upscale in comparison.

                                  It is really great to hear the food is worth the hassle. Brave people attending a MATINEE at Golden Gate Theatre might consider this a stop .. during daylight hours.

                                  GREAT post. So sorry I couldn't move heaven and earth to be there ... for many reasons.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    For clarification, you're referring to the neighborhood around Tu Lan vs. Comida Yucatan, and not the restaurants themselves, right? The corner of Turk and Leavenworth is about as gritty as it gets in this town. I took the streetcar from the Financial District on Thursday and walked the two blocks up from from Market Street. This was the venue on the crawl that was the most untested, which made me somewhat nervous inviting 'hounds to join me here. Luckily chowhounding instincts paid off again, and we were amply rewarded by the delicious comida casera here.

                                    I had lunch there again on Friday. Here's a link to the post in the other thread,
                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42907... . In the photo of my hibes con puerco lunch, one can see the matching chairs and formica-topped tables on the side of the room where we sat. The other side has folding tables and chairs, but that was where the other patrons chose to sit. The walls are freshly painted in pastel canteloup and Derek determined that some of the decor were a hold over from the curry house that occupied the spot before, supplemented by some fancy sombreros. Inside, I find this far more comfortable with less greasy surfaces compared to Tu Lan.

                                    That said, I don't know how often I'll be returning here. I hope some Hastings students can take advantage of it. There were even more seedy activity and smells on Friday. But once inside Comida Yucatan, the wonderful cooking aromas remove all memories of those mean streets. The owner told us that he was going to try staying open until 1 AM. Much of his clientele works in local restaurants and they don't get off duty until late at night. There was a new handwritten sign in the window on Friday saying that it would be open until 1 AM that day.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      Definately talking about the outside street scene and NOT the restaurant.

                                      Ya know, I'm almost tempted to hit this place late night when it gets all the restaurant workers ... almost.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        It's interesting that Yucatasia in the Mission is so insanely busy during lunch time, whereas this place is almost deserted at mid-day. Hope they're busier at night time. The cochinita pibil was a low point at CYyCP, much too dried out. I think I'd try the relleno negro next.

                                        I mentioned to Sarah and Alex that once we decided to go with this theme for a farewell chowdown, I was seeing Mayan faces at restaurants and everywhere. At our stop at Tommy's in the Richmond, I arrived before Alex and took a seat at the bench across from the cashier instead of waiting in the bar. The place was the emptiest I've seen it at that time (but soon a party of 26 arrived!), and I had a chance to strike up a conversation with one of the owners, Mrs. Beremejo. I complimented her on the role her place had played in sparking the interest in Yucatan flavors and the new restaurants that have opened featuring her native cuisine. She smiled and said, "Yes, our flavors are unique in Mexico. One or two of our staff have opened other restaurants. They come here, work hard and learn the restaurant business. They save up their money and it's only natural that they would want to have their own place."

                                        Yucatasia thread -
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/468645

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          I never realized Tommy's was Yucatan food!...was it always that way, or is this relatively new? Have you eaten there? How does it compare with the new crop of Yucatan places?

                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                            The family that owns Tommy's hails from Oxkutzcab, near Uxmal. The menu at Tommy's Mexican has a handful of Yucatecan dishes and an occasional special. The rest of the menu is old school Mexican-American. It's been a long time since I've ordered any food at Tommy's, for me it's a drinking place. I had the best intentions of ordering a plate of poc chuc for whoever joined us at happy hour to nibble on, but it ended up being just the two of us.

                                            Here's an older post from rworange that will take you to more info about SF's Mayan/Yucatan population,
                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44653...

                                  2. re: sarahmilne

                                    Sarah: Aber selbstverständlich!

                                    wow I got the umlaut to work!

                                    1. re: sarahmilne

                                      Sarah, thanks for coming out to join us and making this such a fun chowdown! You unearthed my inner German, and brought out of side of kare raisu heretofore unseen. I now have the dubious distinction of making our two enthusiastic 20-somethings throw in the chow towel. Though the way you conveniently missed the nearby cafe I suggested and somehow ended up at Tartine with a piece of lemon tart made a fine tale. :-J

                                      With everything you've got on your plate, I didn't expect to hear from you for a while. So, i appreciate your posting even more. And, also that you're willing to take a counter position. That's the value of chowdowns . . . we're all eating the same food, yet a range of opinions emerge.

                                      Here are my photos from lunch and happy hour -
                                      http://flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/...
                                      (click on bottom edge of photos for captions) .

                                      Let's go back to Comida Yucatan soon!

                                    2. This three part chowdown was something only Melanie could do. I only attend the lunch at Mi Lindo Yucatan and was completely full and happy.

                                      The other have listed the dishes, so I will not since I was not sure of the name of the dishes.

                                      The antojito platter, was something to behold. All this sampler plate was a great to start. Unlike most of the Mexican food I normal have it was less spicy and hot, so the true taste of the ingredients come out.

                                      There a pork dish which was not ready so if Alex will post the name I will go back on my own.

                                      One dish of thin grilled pork look to me to a be a Chinese BBQ pork but it had it own taste.

                                      Thanks to Melanie and Alex for this insight into Yucatan food.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: yimster

                                        Heheh, the Chinese char siu looking pork was the puerco abdobado!

                                        Could you tell us about the soup of the day (sopa del dia) you tried?

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          Yes, as I was going down with a cold I really wanted a bowl of soup. The chicken soup had a very rich broth and was real comfort food to me. The flavor was deep (after long hours of slow cooking like a "old fire" Chinese soup).

                                          The vegetables and chicken was overcooked. Sorry to say my taste buds are not completely on due to the my on set cold. So I am sure the whole meal was great but I know I missed a lot, but the food impressed me enough to go back.

                                        2. re: yimster

                                          Thanks, Yimster. I'm glad to know I'm not the only chowhound without the metabolism of a 16-year old or the girth of a sumo wrestler. (Well, about the latter...)

                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                            Yes, few of us are able to eat ten meals a day. I did once but that was years ago. But I am sure you could put away at least two baskets of xlb's by yourself.

                                        3. Thanks to Melanie for organizing the day and best of luck to kare raisu in the move.
                                          Nice to meet everyone as it's been ages since I've been on a chowhound food crawl or dinner.

                                          As the new recruit who arrived after the Mi Lindo feast, my first stop was Yucatasia. When I arrived they were all just starting at the panucho that had just arrived. I got tagged the designated eater - my fave was the cochinita on the salbute was moist and delicious and I couldn't stop picking at it. The edges of the tortilla puff were crispy but overall it was a bit greasy. The food struck me as lukewarm. I was intrigued by the bowls of soup everyone else in the place seemed to be eating.

                                          Next stop at El Maya I really enjoyed the panucho cochinita here and it arrived steaming hot. Luckily it was mostly all mine as the rest of the crew was crying uncle by that point. The flan was very solid but never having had that style before can't judge how it was executed.

                                          Love that hit of hot in the salsas at all places, it's been ages since I've been to Mi Lindo but I didn't think any of the orange salsas were as hot as I recall theirs being. Nice spice on all of them, I think my favorite was the green one at Chichen Itza.

                                          After a break for shopping and ice cream at Bi-rite, joined in on the dinner fun. Would definately go back for the platillo of appetizers as the bite or two I got of each didn't do them justice. A favorite was the simple tostada with black beans, although I didn't get the kotzito which seemed taquito like but without anything in it.

                                          I agree with Sarah on the lamb, it was well done and falling apart tender, but it was just nice lamb that could be done at home and why order it as a Mexican place (although it did go really well with the Turley vino).

                                          The black bean puree and fresh tortillas were hits - we had 2 or 3 orders of those and were still finishing them up after all the entrees had been devoured.

                                          Mole wasn't a hit for me, it was a deep dark reddish brown but a gloppy really smooth texture that I had a hard time getting past. And I had no idea that there had been filling in the colado only having had a bit of the edges of it, but might have to try it next time to get the full experience.

                                          The bread pudding was definately tangy - a couple said it was a bread pudding for people who don't like traditional bread pudding. It had ice cream with it, but it had an odd texture and not sure what flavor that was. The banana ice cream with the roasted banana however was a favorite of mine.

                                          My only other experience with Yucatan food was at Mi Lindo and it's been ages, but it's good to know these are out there. My favorites at Mi Lindo were the black beans in the past too, give me some fresh tortillas, the black beans and some of that green salsa at any of these places and I'm a happy snacker.

                                          1. Apoligize for the late review - just arrived in SD after an overnight in my favorite CA town [where I grew up] Monterey! (& Disclaimer - have not read anyones posts on the page yet - to give unbiased review!)

                                            It almost makes me sad to think about it - I was so happy on Thursday.

                                            All I have to say is - what a way to go away Chowhound style! A gracious thanks does go out to everyone who attended and especially Melanie for organizing an all-day event that must go down in the annal books of ch history.

                                            Stop # 1 >>
                                            I met up with Melanie, Chowfun Derek, und Sarah at Comida Yucatan where we dined on my favorite dish of the entire crawl - the Entomatado de Puerco with the soupy black beans colados (strained). The pork in the simple tomato sauce reminded me of my nonnas pork fortified pasta sauce - so how could I not fall under its spell?

                                            To me - the combonation of the black beans and red sauced pork - all wrapped up in the best crafted corn tortillas I had all day and finally spiked with a tinge of habanaro salsa was the essence of Yucatecan cuisine if it could be summed up.

                                            I should be an expert on the trio of Tamales since I practically ate what Derek and Melanie left - and hardly left any for the wunderschoene Sarah zum essen. The horneado - was the baked tamal - pretty dry and hard. The torteado - was my favorite - kind of a middle ground between the baked and jelly like tamal colado - though I am still not sure what torteado means.

                                            The best part for me was that I was sitting so my line of vision could see our wonderful cook looking ever so often in our direction to see if we were enjoying what she prepared. All I could do is smile at her and she smiled back. That just melted my heart because -as they say- if there is love in the preparation of the food - it is bound to be great - and it was.

                                            Stop #2>>
                                            Mi Lindo Yucatan was very good - I enjoyed almost everything. Some things that stood out were:
                                            -- the chilindrias (spinach, h/b egg and corn antojito) on the Platillo Mi Lindo Yucatan
                                            -- Escabeche de Pavo: my favorite dish - though the waitress was strangely hesitant to let me order it (due to previous reactions no doubt) Loved the brightness, peppercorn elment and inclusion of relleno
                                            -- Relleno Negro

                                            As you can imagine I was pretty stuffed at this point - yet our "comida slave driver" aka Melanie Iron Fist and Stomach whipped us on to Yucatasia where Sarah discovered her new favorite music. :)

                                            Stop # 3>>
                                            Yucatasia was pretty packed and we learned you shouldnt ask for a paper menu - because they are "too busy for that." Papadzules were at had because it was the only place which offered them. Though they looked good - but I guess they tasted meh..
                                            I liked the version I made at home once a lot better.

                                            I was so delerious by now that didn't know where I was by this point or who the people were beckoning me into a restaurant with chinese food. :) lol Sarah hat mich verlassen und dann haetten wir ein bauch weniger.

                                            Stop # 4 >>
                                            El Maya Yucatan - Bite of Flan Napolatan was wonderful - eggy and not super sweet.

                                            Intermission >>
                                            Much needed drink at Tommy's shared with Melanie. This was among my favorite stops the whole trip. The guy who made the drink knew what he was doing - get the Frida Kahlo Reposado. Best Margarita I have had ever... So go there and invite Melanie too!
                                            Final Stop >>
                                            Chichen Itza. All I can remember was that it was quite extradordinary and is a worthy destanation for Bay area and visiting hounds. Fantastic dinner where I found myself extremely hungry - it was that good.

                                            Best part of it all - in the end - is the Chowhounds. :)

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                              KR... was Chichen Itza good enough that it would be your sole Mexican recommendation to someone visiting from say New York or Boston?

                                              Also... could expand on how these places compare to the now defunct Rey Pakal (RIP... both the leader & the restaurant)?

                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                I have not eaten at Colibri, DF etc. but even so, I would definitely send a person visiting here from the East Coast in good conscience. The cooks here can preform and I like the simple menu. I think that they are definitely striving for the Alta cocina end of Yucatecan cuisine, though no where near what I have seen/heard come out of Izote. Is this better than Bayless's - I probably doubt it.

                                                I joked with Melanie about the French fusion sign but I actually remember the dry lamb stew and the exquisite Pato en naranja the best of any dishes. (Ok I admit the mole did remind me of Japanese Curry! And yes I did like it because of this only - so dont banish me!: ))

                                                I also have not eaten in the Yucatan but I have eaten in LA's Chichen Itza in its former incarnation and Flor de Yucatan (my absolute favorite) to compare these to.

                                                ERP vs CI : Rey Pakal tasted homemade to me; the food at Chichen Itza tastes like restaurant food. Both have their qualities but are different beasts (despite the white clothed tables at ERP).

                                                I must say that if I were able to eat more at Comida Yucatan - I think I would end up liking in more than I like ERP. You need to try this place EN and CI - but I think you would come out liking Comida the best.

                                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                                  Thanks KR

                                              2. re: kare_raisu

                                                So I had to recreate my favorite dish of the day

                                                Entomtado de Puerco con frijoles negros

                                                 
                                                 
                                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                                  YUM! can I come over??

                                              3. I joined in only at Mi Lindo Yucatecan. As always I enjoyed seeing old hands and meeting new folks. Due to my cell phone ringing off the hook (which it never does) I was outside talking when the food was brought and therefore have only the vaguest idea of what anything I was eating was called. So can't chime in on specifics, but I will say everything I ate was delicious. I had a mango agua fresca which was refreshing and not too sweet. I would definitely come back here for a meal.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: sumimao

                                                  Thanks for mentioning the agua fresca, I forgot to order one! Actually I was freezing cold, since the back door to the place was opening and creating a wind tunnel. Mi Lindo Yucatan's food was mostly good and has good variety, but not my favorite of any of the standards. I'd choose Cocina Yucatan for homestyle food and Chichen Itza for a more elevated cooking in comfy surroundings.