Photo: Edible Excursions
For the most part, Mexican food in San Francisco is associated with our signature burrito, a fat slab filled with beans, rice, meat and potentially more, easily weighing in at a pound or more. Everyone has their favorite taqueria, and disagreements over which is superior can get heated indeed. I like an SF burrito as much as the next guy, but I think we need to be honest: It's not Mexican food. It's San Francisco food.
When I worked in Redwood City, a colleague told me that a large part of the city was populated by emigrants from Michoacan, families who have come to Redwood City and returned, generationally. Consequently, the city is chockablock with excellent, if unfancy, taquerias serving far more authentic fare. Over the course of many lunch breaks, I got to sample more than a few, acquiring a taste for one place's lengua, another's al pastor, and so on. I still occasionally make the trip down if I'm having a serious hankering, though the local El Tonayense trucks do a comparable job.
And then there's Tacolicious, which manages to be both authentically Mexican and uniquely San Francisco. Started in 2013 as an spinoff of the Spanish restaurant Laïola for the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and ultimately took over the concept due to its popularity. T-lish now has four locations (three in San Francisco, plus one in Palo Alto). The Valencia Street location, with its adjacent agave bar Mosto, is where you'll find us on occasional afternoons enjoying some tacos and a margarita or two. I also often bring groups there when I'm leading tours with Edible Excursions.
Tacos at old-school taquerias are simple affairs, a scoop of grilled meat and a dollop of salsa on a single tortilla. Tacolicious lays on a substantial mound on a double tortilla; in fact, I typically split them and turn each taco into two. But there's more to Tacolicious than tacos. Owner Joe Hargrave and chef Telmo Faria make periodic excursions to Mexico City to see how people are eating in Mexico right now. Dishes like albacore tuna tostados "Contramar-style" reflect current food trends—in fact, we had very much the same thing at Aguachiles in Playa del Carmen.
Sara Deseran, co-owner with Hargrave (her husband) and editor-at-large for San Francisco Magazine, published the restaurant's eponymous cookbook. I've cooked from it some, and find the recipes approachable and true to form. But of course, what interests me most is preserved foods.