Thursday, August 29, 2013

Taqueria Casa Mexicana

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Just like Taqueria Los Coyotes on 16th Street I probably would have continued to blindly pass Taqueria Casa Mexicana had it not been for a tip from a friend, in this case the most metal and awesome bartender in all of San Francisco, Lotta, at Lucky 13.

Lucky 13 is right around the corner on Market Street. Lotta was pouring drinks, a few local pals sat at the bar chatting, a couple of dogs slept on the floor, a few folks were playing pool. Probably at some point Judas Priest blasted out of the jukebox (a real jukebox, with CDs) - a nod to nearby Castro street as well as the tattoo and biker crowd that made up the bar's Sunday day-drinking constituency.

"I'm starving," I noted, eyeing the popcorn machine wearily.

"I was just going to say the same thing," said Lotta, who then may or may not have accidentally spilled some Fernet Branca into a nearby shot glass and nudged it my way with a wink.

"How do you feel about tacos," she asked. Glasses were clinked, Fernet were drinked.

"I feel good about tacos, I feel super good about tacos now that you mention it."

"You should go to Casa Mexicana around the corner. I'll give you money," but I was out the door before Lotta could shove any of her filthy blood money into my hand... take her money, I've never heard anything so silly!

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The biggest things Casa Mexicana have going besides their proximity to my favorite bartender are their awesome soups, menudo or pozolé, and their stewed meats, pollo con molé and conchinita pibil (also sometimes called puerco pibil).

The latter is a Yucatán specialty with pre-Colombian roots that uses an ancient spice blend featuring annatto seeds and citrus made into a traditional condiment for roasting called achiote paste. The whole beast is wrapped in wide, aromatic banana leaves and slowly roasted. When the Spaniards introduced pigs in the 16th Century, the natives adapted their "New World" whole-beast roasting technique from Aztec cooking to the Spaniard's "Old World" pork.

The dish is made famous in Robert Rodriguez's film Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Go out and rent, er, download it today if you haven't seen it. Here's a clip from the film's DVD extras:



Conchinita pibil, it's to die for.

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Taqueria Casa Mexicana
180 Church Street
San Francisco, CA

Lucky 13
2140 Market Street
San Francisco, CA