2031 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA
Sometimes just the name of a place gives you a sense of what you might expect. At times this is good and at others, well not so. I agree that setting yourself up for a meal like this isn’t the wisest thing to do, as its really just “judging a book by its cover”. With no facts or proof to make a case either way. But I suppose it builds the advice case for owners – pick a name, and research it well, before you plaster it on everything your restaurant will represent. It could have inherent or unexpected nuances or meanings that you weren’t aware of and then its too late…
So being told by my dining mates that we’d be going to a place called Tacolicious after a long day of work, and the main chooser not someone I’ve really gone out to dinner with before this evening, I had my doubts before I even hopped into the taxi that would take me there from my hotel. I wasn’t aware of the research or thought that went into this decision, and I had no time to do any checking of my own before rushing out to join them, so I couldn’t really complain. From the sidewalk, it looked like nothing special. A smallish-looking space in fact. With just this one side with a window to glimpse inside.
The crowd inside was a young and energetic one. A really positive vibe was being emitted from the warm and dark room. I got a good feeling right away, as we had to kill some time at the bar before a table could open up for us. A decent choice of beverages and what seemed like an endless supply of fresh salsa and chips. That setup alone would satisfy me for a night out.
But before long, we were seated and quickly made our choices, beginning with these fried sweet plantains that came with rancho gordo heirloom beans, and layered on top of a cumin crema. In years past, I was never a huge fan of plantains, but lately I’ve come to enjoy them for their slightly different texture than their cousin banana. The coating was thin and the fry on them was not overly done, both positive points. I could have easily eaten them on their own as the crema was sort of ordinary to me.
Next up was this beautifully done albacore tuna tostada, dubbed in what they call “contramar-style” and layered inside was some crispy leeks, a drizzle of chipotle mayo, and these fanned out slices of fresh avocado. The crispy fry of the corn tortilla acted as the base for this otherwise soft textured combination. The buttery bright red tuna melding well with the equally luscious avocado. The light and refreshing flavors of this colorful disc of ingredients is what I love most about fresh Latin-influenced food.
To round out our outing, one that had our appetites damaged by eating so many of the delicious chips and salsa, we settled quite easily on a platter of tacos. Offered as singles, and discounted per taco price in groups of 4 and 10, I was quite impressed with what we got, especially the amazing local rock cod, paired with cabbage and another bright crema. You had your choice of fried or grilled and we chose the latter.
The fish done in this manner had a slight smoky aroma to them, adding to my delight. Flaky, meaty chunks of white fish. Wonderful. The others sampled included their traditional carnitas and the guajillo braised beef short rib, the latter which was calling to me but I never had a single bite of.
Despite the uneasy start to the evening to Tacolicious, I quickly put those thoughts away and ended up having a ‘delicious’ time. The dedicated focus on hormone-free meats, sustainable fish and organic vegetables, all were welcome and certainly contributed to the quality of the food being put out here and landed on our table.