Papalote Mexican Grill
3409 24th Street
San Francisco, CA
The Mission district has what I call a lot of “flavour”. Colorful characters, simple ethnic shops, groceries and eateries (many of the Latin persuasion), and a very “real” feeling about it compared to the more tamer parts of this beautiful city by the bay that I adore. I headed down to this part of town to meet some folks before visiting their home on the edge of this area, and after being pitched a few options for something to get for takeaway chose the taqueria. My local guide said this place was very well known and he’d had some good meals there so left it in his capable hands to drive us over after I arrived by BART. The scene below is where I was standing waiting for my ride just across from the 24th street station, ironically in front of a McDonald’s…
So we soon ended up on the street by Papalote. From the outside, it looked nothing special, sort of diner-like as I peered into the space where you can eat in. Walk-in-and-take-out traffic seems to be heavy here too, as we were soon joined by a few people grabbing a menu card and giving their order to the cashier. I was enticed by the many offerings, including the tasty sounding vegetarian ones, but in the end opted for the fish tacos.
Given the busy crowds eating in and those waiting for take out, we stepped outside and were given a small number plate to respond to when it was called. As I was more engaged in catching up with my old friend who I hadn’t seen in about six years, we shot the breeze and I didn’t really pay attention to what was going on inside. I’d say it was a good ten minutes at least before our order of three items was ready and we were called back inside. Apparently, there are times when they are prone to making mistakes in bagging food given how hectic it is in the kitchen, so after a quick scoop and scan of the contents of the plastic baggie, we nodded in agreement and set off to eat. I don’t recall seeing any outdoor table/chair settings, so I assume if you get it to go, you really do eat it elsewhere, perhaps even on the sidewalk like we saw some fellows doing.
As I unwrapped the tin foil casing that surrounded by pair of fish tacos, I began to immediately regret blindly saying “yeah, I’ll have it with everything”, when asked what I extras I wanted with it. Note to self, engage the order taker rather than speak to friend in line. The guacamole in particular was smeared everywhere and had managed to wedge itself in between the two flour tortilla envelopes of the two separate tacos. A small container of really spicy salsa didn’t help much other than help cut through the richness of everything here. The fish itself (of which you can see a good sized chunk that dodged the topping madness in the lower left of the image above) was nice and tender. Seasoning was light. I wish I had the opportunity to enjoy this main ingredient in a less interfered way. Next time perhaps, next time…