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Favorite old school Mexican restaurant in SF ?

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supper_hound Apr 4, 2011 04:20 PM

thank you !

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: supper_hound Apr 4, 2011 04:42 PM

    By old-school you mean Mexican-American?

    12 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      myst RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 4, 2011 04:46 PM

      Tia Margarita's has the old school vibe and they serve hot flour tortilla's with a bowl filled with wax paper pats of butter. Very garlic-ky salsa and platters with pools of refried beans with a layer of melted jack.

      Very Mexican America - just a little tough to park.

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      Tia Margarita Mexican Restaurant
      19th Avenue Clement, San Francisco, CA 94102

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        s
        supper_hound RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 4, 2011 04:46 PM

        Hello,

        No , family run , authentic, classic.

        thank you .

        1. re: supper_hound
          Robert Lauriston RE: supper_hound Apr 4, 2011 04:48 PM

          Chava's.

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          Chava's Mexican Restaurant
          2839 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            p
            pauliface RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2011 10:26 AM

            Ha! At first glance I thought you said Chevy's...

          2. re: supper_hound
            t
            Thomas Nash RE: supper_hound Apr 4, 2011 05:05 PM

            Authentic, classic: Nopalito. Excellent, could in be in Mexico, but not family run.

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            Nopalito
            306 Broderick St, San Francisco, CA

            1. re: Thomas Nash
              BernalKC RE: Thomas Nash Apr 5, 2011 09:57 AM

              Nopalito? Really? I think that is pretty much the opposite of what the OP is asking for.

              To me Nopalito is a rejection of the "classic" family run Mexican American joint, a re-invention of it that features expensive, boutique, pretension in the name of being holier-than-thou. Even if the OP is looking for a classic-reinvented-with-organic-locavore-goodness, I'd recommend Green Chili Kitchen over Nopalito.

              1. re: BernalKC
                t
                Thomas Nash RE: BernalKC Apr 5, 2011 11:35 AM

                The OP clarified and said he did NOT want Mexican-American, but classic, authentic, and family run. I pointed out that Nopalito is not family run but that it is very authentic and classic Mexican regional cooking -- much like you would get at a restaurant of this class in Mexico City.

                Mexican food is much more than just cheap dives. It can be refined and even boutique.

                1. re: Thomas Nash
                  BernalKC RE: Thomas Nash Apr 5, 2011 06:45 PM

                  I see your point about the OP saying no to Mexican-American. But that is somewhat in conflict with "old school" and "classic", which I think we'd both agree don't apply to Nopalito and would suggest what we used to call Mexican, but thanks to places like Nopalito we'd now call Mexican-American.

                  Whatever, a lot of good suggestions on either side of the line here...

                  1. re: BernalKC
                    t
                    Thomas Nash RE: BernalKC Apr 6, 2011 11:17 AM

                    Actually, we don't agree.

                    Nopalito is classic, old school of the type you would find in Mexico City or elsewhere in Mexico, but not in the USA.

                    My problem is that too often we start talking about restaurants in the context of the Americanized versions of a national cuisine. I keep pushing on this forum for a focus on what a cuisine is like in its native country. Almost invariably that is superior to what has become the American standardized version, even when the American version is done well.

                    Why this is the case is an interesting question. It has to do with more than just toning down to American tastes. I think one factor is it allows taking short cuts on the ingredients that in the native versions create a multi-dimensional complex dish. This may be because in early renditions of a dish in American restaurants, customers come to identify with one dominant flavor and that then becomes the signature of the Americanized version.

                    This is the same discussion as in the Mission Chinese Food thread...

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                    Mission Chinese Food
                    2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    1. re: Thomas Nash
                      Robert Lauriston RE: Thomas Nash Apr 6, 2011 12:02 PM

                      These are complicated issues.

                      These days, it might be easier to find first-rate handmade tortillas around here than in many places in Mexico.

                      Slavish attempts to replicate a foreign tradition aren't always as successful as staying true to the spirit and style of the tradition while adapting it to local produce. That's not such an issue for Mexican cuisines, since we can get most of the ingredients.

            2. re: supper_hound
              BernalKC RE: supper_hound Apr 5, 2011 09:52 AM

              Puerto Alegre. I've been going there for 30 years now. Same family. Same formula, though the menu has expanded over the years. Definitely classic.

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              Puerto Alegre Restaurant
              546 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              1. re: BernalKC
                mariacarmen RE: BernalKC Apr 5, 2011 12:26 PM

                +1.

          3. t
            twan55 RE: supper_hound Apr 4, 2011 05:13 PM

            For burritos- La Cumbre, steak.

            The worst burrito they've ever made is 50 times better than anything in New York.

            Sad.

            Btw- it's linking to one in SM- I'm referring to the one in the city.

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            La Cumbre Taqueria
            515 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            1 Reply
            1. re: twan55
              wolfe RE: twan55 Apr 4, 2011 07:26 PM

              I think supper_hound is from Boston and the Mission burrito is not authentic Mexican.

            2. mariacarmen RE: supper_hound Apr 4, 2011 07:17 PM

              Tommy's.
              http://www.tommystequila.com/

              15 Replies
              1. re: mariacarmen
                myst RE: mariacarmen Apr 6, 2011 09:08 AM

                Tommy is very similar to Tia Margarita's. I actually prefer Tia's which is also like Juan's in Berkeley and others of the combo plate ilk.

                But I think the OP wanted something less American style.

                1. re: myst
                  Robert Lauriston RE: myst Apr 6, 2011 10:00 AM

                  The one time I tried Juan's Place, well, I didn't go back. Stuck in the past in a bad way.

                  Mexicali Rose in downtown Oakland does that retro stuff pretty well.

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                  Mexicali Rose Restaurant
                  701 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94607

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    myst RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2011 11:47 AM

                    Yes. I don't tend to lean toward retro, but I know several places that do it "well". I generally stick with tequila, chips, salsa and guacamole. Pretty safe. Plus I get full without an entree.......

                    Juan's has flour chips which is just evil. Tia Margarita was in my old "hood" and I have to admit a hot buttered flour tortilla with a spoonful of salsa was pretty tasty. But I will share these things with "road food" or somewhere else as retro is not really hound-worthy.

                    1. re: myst
                      mariacarmen RE: myst Apr 6, 2011 12:54 PM

                      i like the melted cheese with chips they serve at Tia's - queso fundido? It's the only place I've ever had that, and love it.

                      There are certain dishes i just love at Tommy's - the Yucatecan specialties. Their poc chuc drives me crazy, and i used to love their rice (tho I think it's changed) and their salsa, which they use also as the dressing on their salads. I haven't eaten enough at Tia's enough to compare - mostly just have margaritas and chips and the aforementioned delicious melted cheese debacle.

                      1. re: mariacarmen
                        Robert Lauriston RE: mariacarmen Apr 6, 2011 01:17 PM

                        I think the people at Poc-Chuc all came from Tommy's.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          mariacarmen RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2011 04:15 PM

                          Really! Makes me like them even more.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston
                      mariacarmen RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2011 12:51 PM

                      i do like Mexicali Rose - do agree it's better than Juan's.

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                      Mexicali Rose Restaurant
                      701 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94607

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        ...tm... RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2011 11:09 PM

                        Agreed on Juan's. I live nearby and it stands out in my mind as a place I've heard so many grea/nostalgic things about when I describe where I live, and I can't imagine how anybody could like it. I mean, there are tons of places I'm not so excited about but realize people have different preferences, but unless there is a genre of people who like mushy, oily, bland food I don't get it. Interesting fact--the fajitas contained broccoli, but not in some sort of Cal-health way, in an overcooked, smelly, floppy way. Though I'm still curious as to whether it used to be much better or whether my nostalgia-havers were wearing rosy, margarita-filled glasses.

                        1. re: ...tm...
                          s
                          sydthekyd RE: ...tm... Apr 7, 2011 10:24 AM

                          Have you tried their crab enchiladas?

                          1. re: sydthekyd
                            m
                            ML8000 RE: sydthekyd Apr 7, 2011 06:37 PM

                            I was at Juan's a month ago. Sadly it has gone down hill and the crab enchilada wasn't very good. I had a taste...not as I remember it. On the flip side, everything on the daily special board was good, so there's hope. I had the goat and it was very good.

                            p.s. Don Juan (the original) was there...lots of people stopped by to say hi.

                          2. re: ...tm...
                            Ruth Lafler RE: ...tm... Apr 8, 2011 01:45 PM

                            I friend who is one of those people who love it dragged me to Juan's once. I don't even remember what I ate, but I never wanted to go back.

                            Speaking of Berkeley, though, La Fiesta was old school, and I think the new incarnation will be, too. The food at La Fiesta always (in my mind, anyway), had more freshness than places like Juan's. Also very old school in the East Bay: Acapulco in Alameda.

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                            La Fiesta Restaurant
                            240 Villa St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                      2. re: mariacarmen
                        Tripeler RE: mariacarmen Apr 7, 2011 07:18 PM

                        I agree with Mariacarmen on Tommy's on Geary. When I ate there, I seemed to be transported back to 1968. Of course, the added benefit is the huge tequila selection curated by Julio. He is a very impressive guy.

                        1. re: Tripeler
                          mariacarmen RE: Tripeler Apr 8, 2011 01:23 PM

                          He is. and poor guy just lost his father a few weeks ago, too...

                        2. re: mariacarmen
                          prima RE: mariacarmen Apr 20, 2011 09:25 AM

                          Which old school dishes does Tommy's do best?

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

                          1. re: prima
                            mariacarmen RE: prima Apr 20, 2011 10:26 AM

                            well, my favorites are the Yucatecan dishes, like poc chuc, so maybe that's not what you consider old school, but they do enchiladas well - very cheesy, gooey (that's what i think of when i think of old school Mexican(-American?). I used to love their rice, but I think it's changed....i like their Camarones al Mojo de Ajo, chile relleno... my sister used to call their Special Dinner a "dairy delight" (Two Cheese Enchiladas in a Green Tomatiilo Sauce, Topped with Sour Cream, Served with Rice, Beans, Salad and Tortillas). I love their spicy salsa (i think at one time they had a hot and a mild.) Good guac.

                        3. moto RE: supper_hound Apr 4, 2011 09:28 PM

                          El Delfin, on 24th St.

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                          El Delfin
                          3066 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          1. k
                            kc72 RE: supper_hound Apr 5, 2011 10:01 AM

                            Used to go to Don Ramon's w/ some coworkers about 12yrs ago -- is that still around?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kc72
                              Robert Lauriston RE: kc72 Apr 5, 2011 10:08 AM

                              It is.

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4973...

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                              Don Ramon's Mexican Restaurant
                              225 11th, San Francisco, CA 94102

                            2. pamf RE: supper_hound Apr 5, 2011 10:10 AM

                              Roosevelt Tamale Parlor on 24th Street.

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                              Roosevelt Tamale Parlor
                              2817 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pamf
                                Robert Lauriston RE: pamf Apr 5, 2011 10:16 AM

                                Roosevelt got a makeover about five years ago from Karen Taylor of Primavera / El Molino Central.

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                                Roosevelt Tamale Parlor
                                2817 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              2. m
                                mikeylikesit RE: supper_hound Apr 5, 2011 11:00 AM

                                in the city, puerto alegre is what you are looking for.
                                skip don ramons, it is profoundly overpriced.
                                nopalito is nueva mexicana and probably not what you are looking for but very very good.

                                if you want the best os mexican, definately rancho de las trancas in ssf.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mikeylikesit
                                  Frosty Melon RE: mikeylikesit Apr 5, 2011 11:16 AM

                                  Puerto Alegre was the first thing to come to my mind too.

                                  -----
                                  Puerto Alegre Restaurant
                                  546 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                2. v
                                  vulber RE: supper_hound Apr 6, 2011 10:13 AM

                                  i love puerto allegre, but not authentic at all.

                                  i really enjoy sanjalisco and gallardo's

                                  1. p
                                    pauliface RE: supper_hound Apr 6, 2011 10:27 AM

                                    Who remembers Mom Is Cooking?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: pauliface
                                      Robert Lauriston RE: pauliface Apr 6, 2011 10:29 AM

                                      The food there was good before it got too popular.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        p
                                        pauliface RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 7, 2011 10:33 AM

                                        Was I on time? I ate there in the 1990-1995 period.

                                        1. re: pauliface
                                          Robert Lauriston RE: pauliface Apr 7, 2011 11:58 AM

                                          Actually, the food might have been good until the end. The service was a disaster, they couldn't handle the crowds brought by the Chronicle reviews.

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                                          Broken Record
                                          1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                            c
                                            Calvinist RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 7, 2011 01:43 PM

                                            Pastores has replaced Mom Is Cooking for us. Different, smaller, no bar. But it's our home cooking Mexican favorite now.

                                            -----
                                            Pastores Restaurant
                                            3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              Windy RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 8, 2011 08:11 PM

                                              No, the food at Mom is Cooking was pretty dreadful by the end.

                                              Pastores is better than Mom is Cooking, minus the great patio with drinks.

                                        2. re: pauliface
                                          c
                                          chezdy RE: pauliface Apr 7, 2011 12:17 PM

                                          Used to love their enchiladas suizas with mole!!

                                        3. m
                                          ML8000 RE: supper_hound Apr 6, 2011 12:59 PM

                                          Define "old school". Is it simply age or style...and if style, which style, Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, etc. I ask because old school means something different to people given where they grew up, where they live and where they've traveled.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: ML8000
                                            p
                                            poser RE: ML8000 Apr 8, 2011 07:05 PM

                                            Anyone remember Casa Agura on !9th and Noriega"

                                            1. re: poser
                                              Robert Lauriston RE: poser Apr 8, 2011 07:53 PM

                                              Casa Aguila, closed in 2002. That place wasn't so much old-school as sui generis. The chef made Mexican food in her own unique style, lots of butter and parmesan. Nothing else quite like it then or since.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                Windy RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 8, 2011 08:12 PM

                                                Wasn't the chef (or owner) Filipina?

                                          2. b
                                            billraymond RE: supper_hound Jun 28, 2011 10:03 AM

                                            My first reply was going to be "go to San Diego" and then all you need to do is find a street corner and there would be your answer. Having lived there I feel incredibly spoiled and have not been able to find much in the way of family-run, authentic food that can compare to actual Mexican food found just north or further south of the border.

                                            I will throw my hat in with the others and say Puerto Alegre is one of the best. There are some things that are very americanized and some things that are standard fare. My favorite dish is the carne ala parrilla (sp?) which has many of the flavors you would come to expect on the Mexican table... a perfectly seasoned, slightly marinated thin steak topped with grilled spring onions, roasted jalapeno and some beans.

                                            The nice thing about Puerto Alegre is if you need the food to taste even better, all you need is to order another pitcher of margaritas :-)

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                                            Puerto Alegre Restaurant
                                            546 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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