Beautiful weather drew us to San Francisco this evening, perfect for strolling around SOMA StrEat Food Park and visiting new trucks. The food truck craze has made available some of the best examples of food, from comfort to ethnic. Checking ahead on the Park’s Facebook page is a clear indicator of which trucks are present on any given day, so after seeing what was in store, we had high hopes for the food.
Lil Burma “provides healthy, gourmet street food,” as per the website, and we can’t argue. We ordered coconut chicken noodle soup but were graciously offered the Indian style curry chicken to try; no wonder, they knew that we would be impressed! The curry chicken was fork tender, stewed in an Indian blend of spices for a deliciously medium heat, and Zach thought it was the the tastiest he’s tried (in his limited curry experience). It was served over rice, which in Zach’s opinion, was “the best hands down from a food truck.” The soup was August’s favorite, being considerably milder. Abundant flour noodles and meaty coconut chicken hunks in a buttery bean soup would be the chicken noodle soup to beat any cold. It was not overly spiced yet zingy with sweet onions, fresh cilantro, and lime, achieving a good blend of flavors that any palate can handle.
Best Brazilian Skewer doesn’t have much of an online presence, but when you see the little cart, you will recognize it. Simple skewer plates were filling and nutritious, with sides we imagine taste like home for Brazilians. August erroneously thought the skewer would have had one big strip of meat, so she was surprised to see bite-size hunks of savory steak enhanced by a nice marinade; it’s always appreciated when street food is served in a manageable way, since plastic knives really wouldn’t do much for steak. A large pile of fresh mixed greens tossed in a light oil and vinegar dressing propped up the skewer, providing a good source of crudités, so to speak. The potato carrot salad was not heavily dressed and the vegetables were cooked to just the right point, maintaining good texture. The rice, so unassuming, was the underdog of the plate. It looked simple, but the flavors of garlic, onion, and black bean made it delicious like none other we’ve tried before.
Dessert in the form of a Golden Waffle was a great way to cap off the night. These waffles aren’t typical, as they are made with Belgian pearl sugar in the true liège style. Enjoy it plain or add toppings as we did – from drizzles to fruits, there are many combinations available. We chose Nutella, Ghiradelli chocolate sauce, Three Twins organic vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. Granted, when you add toppings the waffle really becomes what you make of it, but we’re sure that anything would taste just fine atop a fluffy yet crunchy waffle.
When the weather is right, everyone comes out to play, no matter what day of the week. Similarly, the Park is open seven days a week, with standard ploys like movie night Wednesdays at mimosa brunch Sundays. Just check Facebook ahead of time to see which trucks will be there.
Nearly hidden by surrounding buildings but still in broad view on a busy street, Los Potros Restaurante Mexicano at 508 E 11 St. attracts a big crowd. After we ordered at the counter we learned that we also could have sat down at one of the (few remaining) tables to review menus with more details than a bulletin board. Had we not been at the counter, though, we wouldn’t have seen the horchata and jamaica beverage fountains. Zach’s younger brother Willie joined us for dinner and we shared a glass of each agua fresca among the three of us while we waited for our plates to be brought to our table. Since Willie hadn’t tried jamaica before and he enjoyed it, we took that as a good sign that our coming meal would be deliciosa.
Willie got the classic Mexican sandwich with steak. He reported that the tender beef didn’t pull out and was easy to bite through. The fresh quality bread was soft inside and crisp outside, from just the right amount of grilling. Creamy, fresh avocado and rich, light, and tangy crema balanced the jalapeños resulting in a fair amount of heat without being overwhelming. None of us knew from the bulletin board that this would come with fries, and even though they were prepared from a frozen state, Willie said they were “golden to perfection.”
We’re accustomed to seeing chimichangas as a side or appetizer. There are many theories to the origin of the stuffed and deep fried flour tortilla, but it is commonly agreed that it is a truly American dish, in the sense of embracing the Americas as a continental culture from Arizona to Sinaloa. With a nice amount of rice and beans, this pair as an entree was very filling. Crispy and fried yet absent of grease, the tender chicken inside was moist and savory. It was stewed with “tons of spices” like Mexican oregano and chile. Los Potros sends this from the kitchen usually with crema, cotija cheese, and guacamole, but Zach requested no guacamole; otherwise the picture would have been prettier.
Nearly a quarter of the menu is dedicated to mariscos (shellfish), so it would be a disservice not to try something from that section. August was not disappointed with her choice of shrimp cocktail; she initially asked for the one with shrimp and octopus, but then the camarero at the counter asked if she’d like the one that also had clams and abalone. Well now, who would say no to that? The peeled shrimp, massive octopus hunks, bed of clams, and abalone pieces were remarkably fresh and meaty, swimming in a chalice of tomato and lime juice with abundant vegetables. Onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cilantro were “fresh, fresh, fresh,” providing crunch and acidity to contrast the sinking bite of the seafood and the creamy avocado pieces.
We made it here just in time for dinner, as Los Potros opens at 8 am but closes at 8 pm. If we find ourselves in the area during the mañana, we might have to stop in to try breakfast. The happy patrons around us validated our opinion that this is a great place for made-to-order comida mexicana.
The word taco comes from Nahuatl, a language indigenous to Central America that was used by the Aztec and is still spoken by about 1.5 million people today. The tlacopan, aka taco, is now a staple across Mexico and its neighbors, and no wonder – one is just enough to tide you over until the next meal, or multiple tacos can be filling and fulfilling, so they please as a snack or an entree. Simple but scrumptious, make your own instead of visiting that infamous chain and you might not care to return there.
Makes 10 stuffed tacos
1 1/2 lb. flank steak
10 small corn tortillas
2 cups of shredded iceberg lettuce
2 tomatoes, diced
1 large avocado, halved and sliced
1 cup of canola oil (for frying)
1 cup of sour cream
3/4 cup of mild or medium cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup of soy sauce
3 tbs. of milk
1 tbs. of dried cumin
2 tsp. of dried oregano
2 tsp. of garlic powder
2 tsp. of onion powder
1 tsp. of cayenne pepper
Your favorite salsa to taste
Make a marinade with the soy sauce, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne. Mix together in a bowl. Put the flank steak in a large food storage bag, add the marinade mix, zip closed, and let sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Fill a deep-sided saute pan with the oil. Heat over medium heat. One or two at a time, place the tortillas in the oil; fry each side for roughly 1 minute, turning only once. The edges of the tortillas will be harder while the centers stay somewhat softer.
Using tongs and a long knife, as soon as you take a tortilla out of the oil, bend it over the knife.
Use brown paper bags to soak up oil and let the tortilla shells drain and harden. Mix the sour cream with milk and transfer to a squirt bottle for fancier looking presentation, but keep in the refrigerator for now.
Clean and then preheat the grill on medium-high heat. Grill the flank steak to your desired temperature, flipping once.
Roughly 10 minutes on each side would be medium-rare.
Remove the meat from the grill and transfer to a clean cutting board. Let rest for 5-6 minutes. Slice lengthwise, then each strip slice into thin pieces – the thinner the meat, the easier to eat.
Load up the shells with: steak, salsa of your choice, lettuce, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and tomato.