You'll find duck leg tacos on Michael Mina's new lounge menu, $1.75 carnitas tacos in the shade of Best Buy, and you can even get them delivered by bike. Tacos are everywhere in San Francisco, but why not honor the diversity of Mexican food options available around here, and dig into something different for Cinco de Mayo? Here, seven super-flavorful Mexican dishes to try over the next few days. None of them are tacos.
1) Pozole from Chilango (235 Church St.) - A special occasion soup in much of Mexico, pozole is available for spoiled San Franciscans every day at Chilango. The tomato broth, roasted with guajillo chiles, is surprisingly rich in its own right, but the additions of hominy, shredded organic chicken, and a pile of julienned carrots, onions and radishes make a meal that hits most of the food pyramid.
2) Huaraches from La Torta Gorda (2833 24th St.) - Sure, tortas are a delicious gutbomb, but it's hard to go back after a bite of LTG's warm, soft huaraches. Get the oval-shaped slabs of bean-filled masa topped with al pastor or carnitas. No matter what, it comes with a confetti of cactus, red onion, radishes and cojita cheese. Pure heaven.
3) Chilaquiles from El Buen Comer (Noe Valley Farmers Market) - La Cocina grad Isable Caudillo shows up every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. hawking her richly layered guisados and her chilaquiles, which are basically tortilla chips soaked in red and green salsas, then topped with fluffy eggs that are scrambled to order.
4) Birria from San Jalisco (901 S. Van Ness Ave.) - The family-run, over-twenty-year-old casual Mexican restaurant serves super tender birria (made with goat) stew. Available on weekends only, the meal comes with fresh corn tortillas on the side so you can dip as you go.
5) Hamburguesa at Don Pistos (510 Union St.) - Chef Pete Mrabe cuts his ground beef with thick-cut bacon and onions cooked in bacon fat, grills it over charcoal, then lays the hamburguesa to rest under a blanket of fresh guacamole on a locally made roll. If you didn't catch that yet, this is a hamburger coming at you straight from Baja. Do you really need to hear anything else?
6) Tlayudas from La Oaxaqueña (2128 Mission St.) - After a bit of a tiff with the FDA (Grasshopper and tarantula tacos, are sadly not on the approved list, even when in season), La Oaxaquena is back and slinging everything else, including their personal pizza-sized tlayudas, which are almost like huge pappadam layered with meat, lettuce, cheese and guac. Make it interesting, and try the lengua or cecina on top.
7) Cabeza from the El Gallo Giro taco truck (23rd & Treat) - Ok you can get a taco here, but you've got to try the cabeza (braised beef head meat). Moist and jam-packed with nuance and flavor, it's the best in the city, especially when nestled into a warm corn tortilla with pickled jalapeño and a zig zag of picante salsa verde.
No doubt, there are lovers of sopes, tamales, and tostadas out there just dying to be heard. So share away in the comments.