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Mar 30, 2014 10:49 PM

Uno Dos Taco [Russian Hill, San Francisco]

Uno Dos Taco is a venture from the folks behind Pesce and currently occupies its former location on Polk Street. It’s permanent site is still at least two months away from completion, so in the mean time, the repertoire has continued to increase. Open every day now, addition of dinner service with daily specials, happy hour on weekdays (full bar!), and brunch on weekends fill out the offerings beyond tacos. Here’s the brunch menu,

But at 9am on Saturday, I skipped over the brunch dishes and went straight for tacos. Well, I did order a cappuccino (only fair). The taco menu,

Lengua, $3.25, and Pescado, $4.50, tacos were medium-sized and came with a small side of tasty pureed black beans dusted with queso fresco. The braised beef lengua seemed oddly lean and dry, and was missing the stipulated tomatillo salsa. I wouldn’t order this again.

On the other hand, the pescado hit nearly every mark. Battered and fried cod offered a satisfying crunch and on-point, moist fish. Zesty cabbage slaw dressed with lime and black pepper brightened up each mouthful. Chipotle crema under the fish, and pico de gallo plus cilantro over the top completed the dress. The single ply corn tortillas deserve some special mention. Housemade daily with fresh masa, these tortillas are exponentially better than the norm with a slight chew and tasting like real corn.

If more heat is needed, a squeeze bottle of tomato salsa's at hand. But be careful, habanero chiles ramp up the Scovilles.

Uno Dos Taco
2227 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 525-4116

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  1. I've stopped by Uno Dos more times than I'd like to admit. I really hope they find a way to keep this location open when the new one is finished.

    The fish taco is definitely the best taco on the menu. The vegetarian one is a close second. I only tried carnitas once, and found it dry and bland. The al pastor was pretty uninspiring.

    The taco quality can be uneven at times (like I said, I've been there a lot), but they more than make up for it by having a good cocktail selection and reasonable prices. And the fish always tastes good and is always moist, and the sauce is a great mix of creamy and spicy. It's just a matter of whether they hit the mark on a crispy batter, or let it get a bit soggy on the way to the table.

    In the evenings, they have a larger menu with entrées and salads in addition to the all-day taco menu. Except the jicama salad (good, but a bit too tart), I've just stuck to the tacos and cocktails.

    I'll be sorry to see them move to Market St.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jacquesf

      The lady at 1 2 Taco with whom I spoke said she hoped they'd have a continued presence at this address as the neighborhood has so embraced them. I could tell she doesn't want to leave either.

      The photos of pipian on the fb page look enticing.

    2. Beautiful photo of that fish taco, Melanie. I was a little surprised at the inclusion of pico de gallo in the taco. Most of the Baja style fish tacos I've had do not include it. Perhaps they're taking a little poetic license? In any event, I've got to get over there soon.

      15 Replies
      1. re: farmersdaughter

        For what it's worth, pico de gallo -- while less common on fish tacos in Northern California -- is a typical condiment on a Baja fish taco. The photos in this blog post by Bill Esparza provide a good overview of how fish tacos typically look and are dressed in Ensenada:

        Ensenada is pretty remote from most of Mexico -- it's closer to Vancouver than Mexico City -- and I observe that oftentimes cooks who are expert in Mexican cuisine don't have as much familiarity with Baja food, and they re-interpret it fairly freely. I notice that at many places in the Bay, dishes from mainland Mexico are prepared with intense authenticity, while dishes from Baja seem like they've been run through a conceptual filter.

        I should add that better tomatoes are more available year-round in Baja than they are in Northern California, which may also account for some of the difference in how often pico de gallo is used.

        1. re: jayporter

          I only have time for one Baja-esque fish taco on an upcoming, last-minute flying visit -- Bay Area Hounds, should it be at Uno Dos or Sabroso? These two seem to be the front runners in town at the moment for this dish. I'm leaning toward Uno Dos because of Melanie's praise of the tortillas but I'm open to persuasion :-).

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Thanks for the reminder about Comal, Robert. We may be in the East Bay and it is now on the list for that day. So maybe two fish tacos :-). But still need to know which between Sabrosa and Uno Dos for over town!

              1. re: grayelf

                There's also Cholita Linda's new brick-and-mortar in Temescal if you want to make a whole fish taco crawl out of it.

                Comal's aren't anything like the Baja style, though, to my knowledge — don't they usually only serve grilled fish tacos there?

              2. re: grayelf

                I'm thrilled to have Sabrosa and Uno Dos Tacos in my neighborhood. Never thought that such authentic flavor could be found in this part of town. Sabrosa's fish taco at Tuesday's happy hour was quite a bit different than my first experience. It's grilled fish, so not Baja style, nor is it dressed like one.

                The best piece of fried fish was at The Codmother, but the tortillas were nothing special. I like Sabrosa's tortillas the best, very limey and tender. Uno Dos Taco's tortillas are not as tender, as they're probably reheated, but have a roasted corn flavor to them. 1 2 Taco's pescado is best all-round fish taco of the three I tried in SF. So that's where I'd send you.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I don't remember ever having deep fried fish tacos in Baja, to be honest, always done on a flat top with a crispy coating. But I don't mind good deep fry :-). Maybe I can hit BOTH Sabrosa and 1 2 if they are close enough together to be considered in your hood.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    You could hit Nick's Crispy Tacos and TACKO too in close proximity. ;)

                    1. re: grayelf

                      In Baja -- specifically Ensenada and San Felipe, the towns from where the dish hails, but most other towns too -- the fish is usually fried in lard in a kind of upside-down comal (I forget the name of it) that looks like a wok with a ledge around the edge. You can see one in the picture that @Melanie Wong posted below. The fish is deep fried in the lard and then set on the ledge until someone orders it, at which time it's dunked back in the lard for finishing and to heat it up.

                      BTW, the stand in that photo, El Nuevo Jaliscience, makes the favorite fish/shrimp taco of many people in Ensenada, and their preparation is very traditional.

                      1. re: jayporter

                        Ah that's it, then, they do it differently in BCS then, which is where I spent a bit o' time. Never had deep fried fish in a taco in Los Cabos or environs.

                        1. re: jayporter

                          Thanks for the info and especially for your familiarity with El Nuevo Jaliscience. I posted about it on the Mexico board, if you'd like to comment further,
                          At the time I wrote that, google found nothing at all about this stand. It's nice to learn that it has a following.

                2. re: farmersdaughter

                  This taco was dressed beautifully from the chipotle sauce to the slaw and pico de gallo. Pls report back when you have a chance to try it.

                  When I was in Ensenada a little over a year ago, I only hit two fish taco stands. Walked past many more, and the bowl of pico de gallo was always there for dressing your own fish taco. Here's the photo of one stand,

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I went by this afternoon to try the fish taco. I am very impressed and can't wait to try more of the menu. The fish was crispy and not overbattered, and that tortilla was amazing. I don't like out of season tomatoes but the pico de gallo was flavorful and the rest of the salsa had *almost* the right acid level. I should have asked for an extra wedge of lime, even if I had to pay extra for it due to the lime price spike we're experiencing. The lime that was served to me only supplied about four drops of juice. It needed just a bit more. One of the best Baja-style fish tacos I've had in Northern California.

                    1. re: farmersdaughter

                      Now I can exhale. ;) Glad to hear that there's some consistency here with the fish tacos.

                      I'll say that the tortillas at 1 2 Taco are better than what I had in Ensenada where the corn tortillas were uniformly disappointing. Fresh masa makes a difference and it's harder and harder to find the real deal.

                3. Sad to share the news that this Polk St location has closed, as the opening of the Market Street location draws closer.