A fire-engine-red edifice and azure doors usher patrons into the technicolor interior of Estrada's Mexican & Caribbean Restaurant, an expansive eatery that celebrates the succulence and spiciness of Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. Semicircle booths with glass tabletops hoist up traditional Mexican dishes loaded with sautéed beef, chicken, and vegetables, as well as platters that circulate the aromas of Caribbean delicacies such as fried yucca and plantains. Patrons who sidle over to the restaurant's full bar receive rewards in the form of south-of-the-border beer, homemade sangria, and Academy Awards for Best Chugging.
El Pollo Supremo satisfies all appetites with its eclectic menu of Latin American fare. The bill of fare blends Cuban congri––beans and rice–– fried plantains, and Mexican burritos and tortas with a meal that deliciously unites all climes and cultures: charbroiled chicken, served with tortillas and homemade sauce.
The chefs at Taqueria Vallarta stock their kitchen with both everyday and specialty ingredients, from chorizo and carnitas to head beef and cactus. Such diversity is necessary to create the Jalisco-style Mexican meals that are the restaurant's signature. Breakfasts of huevos a la ranchera top tortillas with spicy tomato sauce and fried eggs open up the menu before making way for lunch and dinner dishes such as tostadas with ceviche and chicken flautas with sour cream. Extra-hot dishes like the prawns a la diabla leave spices lingering on the breath, so that, hours later, diners can heat up their leftovers by blowing on them.
Chefs Jose and Hilario, who both hail from Mexico, treat adventurous palettes to south-of-the-border cuisine at all hours of the day inside Olivia's Brunch & Fine Dining. They grill, sizzle, and sear in an open-air kitchen, from which aromas of signature mole poblano and pork ribs topped with tomatillo fill the eatery. Servers whisk steaming brunch platters and comfort food with Mexican twists to tables draped in white cloths; sweet breakfast treats and California-inspired omelets, fluffier than award show banter, fill out the Sunday morning menu.
To some San Franciscans, a trek to the East Bay qualifies as a lengthy daytrip. One can only imagine their reluctance to travel hundreds of miles for authentic Mexican cuisine. Thankfully, Melissa’s Taqueria brings south-of-the-border flavors to Brisbane with a menu of tacos, enchiladas, and burritos packed with carne asada and al pastor. The kitchen stays busy throughout the day as chefs churn out dinner plates and breakfasts of pancakes and huevos rancheros.
A 15-year fixture in the bustling Mission District, El Tonayense invokes the sizzling flavors of Jaliscan street food with an array of traditional Mexican entrees and coastal seafood dishes. Tacos and burritos fill belly-piñatas to near bursting as diners sample from a meaty smorgasbord of carne asada, al pastor, and succulent prawn dishes. To spice up their south-of-the-border staples, El Tonayense’s chefs craft secret recipes of red and green salsas that dance across palates to the up-tempo beats of chomping teeth.
There are a lot of good Mexican joints in San Francisco–but not many that have inspired a hip-hop album. Electric-pop and hip-hop duo The Cataracs loves Gordo Taqueria so much that they named an album after it. They’re not alone in their adoration, as Gordo Taqueria has expanded to six locations in the East Bay area. After ordering at the counter, guests watch staff move at a methodical pace as they stuff chicken into burritos and scoop flavorful carnitas into taco shells. The dining area at the Berkley location stars a vibrant mural and stools with woven seats crafted from leather and fossilized tortillas.