A tortilla makes a handy mousepad, an acceptable patch for stiff denim jeans, and, if you draw a face on it, an ideal companion on fishing trips. But there are many other uses for it, as today's Groupon proves: for $20, you get $40 worth of traditional Mexican market food at Regalito Rosticeria in the Mission District.
Regalito’s bustling, warm interior is equal parts kitchen and sit-down restaurant. Food is prepared behind a wooden counter in a fully visible area. The unusual set-up, inspired by Mexico City market stalls, encourages a sense of lively communal consumption. The wide-ranging menu features items for brunch, lunch, and dinner, ensuring that no temporal appetite is left unsated. Burgeoning belly grumbles can be quieted with an appetizer of papas con rajas—roasted potatoes and poblano chili strips with queso fresco, and crema ($7.50)—as you eyeball the rest of the menu. Most entrees are served with rice and beans, giving you a traditional side dish to savor along with the mingled flavors of cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted, banana-leaf-wrapped, citrus-and-achiote-marinated pork garnished with habanero-pickled red onions ($16), or the pollo con mole negro, half a poached free-range chicken in Oaxacan mole, a rich sauce of chiles, nuts, fruit, and spices ($17). Cap an evening meal with a dessert of caramelized mango and Mexican vanilla gelato ($8) or a potable wine or beer from the potable wine and beer list.
Proprietor and chef Thomas Peña spent several years refining recipes learned from his mother and grandmother, and he traveled for several months throughout Mexico researching local foodstuffs before opening Regalito Rosticeria. “Regalito” is Spanish for маленький подарок, which is Russian for “little gift,” a phrase that suits the restaurant’s intimate environs, bright green walls, tropically hued paintings, and year-round Santa. The sense of community is extended to the food itself, which boasts many organic and locally sourced items, as well as free-range chicken and Niman Ranch meats. Stop in for Saturday or Sunday brunch and procure a free mimosa to wash down a plate of huevos con chorizo ($11) and enjoy the meal with a friend, loved one, or entire tree full of capuchin monkeys.
A 2009 Winner and 2010 nominee for CityVoter’s and SFGate.com's Best of the Bay List for Best Mexican Cuisine and the winner of San Francisco Bay Guardian's Best Kickin' Chile Verde, Regalito Rosticeria has generated a lot of local press. It has received excellent reviews from San Francisco_magazine, _SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Nearly 270 Yelpers give Regalito Rosticeria 3.5 stars. OpenTable reviewers give it four stars, Citysearchers give it five stars, and 78% of Urbanspooners recommend it.
- Regalito means "gift" in Spanish, and we're delighted to dig our warm tortilla into any of Peña's bustling kitchen's special deliveries. – San Francisco Bay Guardian
- I lived in Mexico for four years and so I know what authentic is. Not only is this authentic, it is progressive, avant-garde, and home of the amazing CHILINDRINAS. – An OpenTable reviewer who dined on 03/13/2010
When the time came to name his restaurant more than seven years ago, Regalito Rosticeria's owner and chef, Thomas Peña, thought back to days spent sitting at the kitchen counter, watching his mother and grandmother carefully prepare family meals. The memory of that little gift, or regalito, fueled his passion as he traveled Mexico researching cooking techniques and perfected his pastry skills at the California Culinary Academy. Today, Thomas gifts his guests with authentic Mexican dishes made according to traditional recipes that are both familiar and delightfully different, using as many local, organic, and sustainable ingredients as possible. Every Tuesday, the staff slow-roasts half a free-range hog—humanely raised with plenty of space and free WiFi—for its Pigalito menu, which features tacos de carnitas and other street-food-inspired fare.
The restaurant's open kitchen recalls Thomas's memories of watching his family cook, as well as the makeshift kitchens in Mexico City's markets. A wooden diner counter is all that separates the chefs and their guests as they stir mole sauces, stuff chili relleno with mexican squash, and chop up salsa fresca within a communal and intimate setting. Vibrant artwork accents the eatery's yellow-and-chocolate walls, and lemons and limes piled atop the counter's glass divider add extra bursts of color.
3481 18th St.
San Francisco, California 94110Get Directions