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Nov 6, 2008 05:48 PM

Quick notes from a poorly planned excursion to the Mission Dist.

If you had only one hour in the mission where would you go?

Unfortunately, I asked that question of all of you too late. I'm in town for a few days. I had an open 1.5 hours at lunch so I bolted down to the mission district for food.

Problem was, it was my first time and I forgot my chowhound notes. Oh well, I tried to make the most of it. I got off the BART at 24th and just started walking back north.

I noticed a ton of promising looking places (in particular, how is the Nicaraguan place on Mission near 23rd? I don't know that I've ever had Nicaraguan). Anyhow, here's where I ended up. I know there are better options. And I've read a few since. But I figured I'd give a report on what I got and, if I can squeeze some time tomorrow, hope to go back.

1. Pupusas from Antojitos Aminta (2590 Mission)
This is a little pupuseria in an arcade sort of place off the West side of Mission. I had two pupusas, one with beans and cheese and another with zucchini and cheese. Both were excellent. The masa was light, moist, nicely golden and crisp without being hard. The zucchini one was the best. Excellent. Worth a return visit to sample their whole menu (as well as more pupusas too.

2. Tacos from La Pinata Tortas y Jugos, 2471 Mission
Since I'd just eaten two large pupusas, I opted for tacos since the Tortas were huge there. I got pollo al pastor (didn't have pork) and carnitas. The pollo al pastor was pretty good, but definitely lacking in flavor and spice. The moistness of the chicken made up for it. the Carnitas taco wasn't very good at all. The place really pushes their Torta De Cubana "la madre de todas las tortas". It's $9. Pretty steep, but probably good, but didn't try it. Don't go here for tacos though.

3. Yucatasia 2164 Mission
I was pretty full at this point, but when I saw a Yucatecan place, I couldn't help myself (something we are sorely lacking in the North East). I could only bear to get one taco, so I ordered (what else) cochinita pibil taco. Ok, this was really good. The cochinita was moist, a little greasy, but that's to be expected, and very tender. It could have used a bit more flavor, but with the pickled onions and habanera salsa, it was great. But what made it so good were the tortillas. Very good hand made tortillas. I was really, really impressed. I've since read more reviews on this place. Sounds like it's good they shed the Vietnamese part of the menu (where on earth did that come from??). But I really want to go back. Everyone else in there was clearly enjoying delicious food. Must go back. But it also sounds like there's even better mayan food in these parts (chichen itza?). so maybe I'll go somewhere else?

So, overall, still a very positive experience. But I know there's so much more (and quite likely, much better) options. So, if you had just one hour in the mission district, where would you spend it?

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  1. Poc Chuc for great Yucatecan.

    1. I think you did pretty well - I've never eaten at any of the places you mentioned, but they all sound good. If I had only one hour, I might decide to walk east on 24th street instead of north on Mission, but you can't go wrong either way. You could also have a great time walking south on Mission, or going over to Valencia and walking up Valencia from 24th.

      The zucchini and cheese pupusas at Aminta sound great! Thanks for the tip

      9 Replies
      1. re: Dave MP

        Thanks for the update. Some of the best food I've had is when I forgot my notes and just went on instinct. Probably too late for you, but I hope you took Dave's suggestion and walked around 24th. The other suggestion would be to get off at 16th where you can try Poc-Chuc and the nearby El Maya Yucatan on Mission. There are also a few interesting eats on 16th

        1. re: Dave MP

          Eh, forgot the links for your report. I did forget to mention that I'm actually sorry they dropped the Vietnamese part of the menu. They made one swell chicken banh mi. IIRC, one of the owners is Vietnamese.

          2164 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Antojitos Salvadorenos Aminta
          2578 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          La Pinata Tortas Y Jugos
          2471 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          1. re: rworange

            thanks. I ended up going to poc chuc, based on the recommendations. I had a fabulous meal there.

            My dream is that a place that special opens at some point here on the East Coast before I either, 1) die or 2) move back West.

            I had two tacos - one chimole de pavo and one cochinita pibil. Both were great, though I think the chimole de pavo was even better; turkey with that great inky black sauce and something I'd never come across before. One waiter spelled it bute, the other spelled it bud, but it was a black patty made from ground pork, egg and some mixture of herbs or something. It kind of looked like a black veggie burger, smaller and cut into half circles, and put in the chimole taco.

            I went ahead and ordered the platillo maya, with a panucho, salbute, empanada, tostada and kotzito. As others have reported here, it was very good. The habanero salsa that accompanies the plate was amazing.

            Oh, and they had cantaloupe agua fresca as a special beverage. It was amazing. Reminded me of when I lived in Australia and used to drink it all the time at some Filipino friend's house. Great stuff.

            Anyhow, thanks for the recommendations folks.

            1. re: adamclyde

              Glad you made it. Poc Chuc would be my first choice, Or second. Or third.

              Chimole de pavo is sometimes called relleno negro. (Versus the blander relleno blanco.) The "meatloaf" is probably better if you don't know what's in it. The first time I had this dish, I thought they were croutons of rye bread, or something fermented.

              I had the full bowl of chimole de pavo yesterday and shared the platillo maya and couldn't have been happier (unless I'd convinced my friend to order the escabeche de pavo).

              1. re: Windy

                Yeah, meatloaf was how he described it. It was great. I didn't really think it seemed meatloaf-y though. It was too herby, I thought. Anyhow, do you know what the mayan term for it is? Bute? Bud? Curious as I'd not heard of it before.

              2. re: adamclyde

                Thanks. I've been mulling over what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner for my S/O's Guatamalan family as the traditional Thanksgiving dinner ain't their favorite version. I was considering a deep-fried Cajun turkey, but maybe this might be a better idea. I'll call and see if I can get them to make me a large to go order.

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

                1. re: rworange

                  Try it first though. I love chimole personally, but it's pretty weird stuff. I'd bring the escabeche de pavo to anyone's house though.

                2. re: adamclyde

                  cool, sounds like a solid, solid run. much props, seems like you have a real good nose. i'm sure you've put in some serious work back east. have you checked out much around 125th and outer boroughs? just curious, how's the state of restaurants for the community of folks from puebla? nice work, hope you enjoyed sf.

                  1. re: ken ivorous

                    There's some really good stuff in manhattan (east harlem and a few other scattered places) and the boroughs (in particular, sunset park in brooklyn and roosevelt ave in queens). Home for me is the tristate board, so I've done a LOT of scouting out the Westchester/Fairfield County areas too.

                    But, as you mentioned, it's 99% from puebla, so it's almost all of a similar variety. Not the diversity you have here or down in LA. Plus, it's really only been in the last 10-15 years or so that it's really taken off in the north east. What I wouldn't do for a Oaxacan place or Yucateca place or, frankly, a baja fish taco place in the north east...

                    Anyhow, I'll leave more discussion for that out on those boards. Thanks for the local help!