Table Talk: El Pípila, Paper Rooster, Prime Rib Specials, Crab Feast

The beloved carnitas tacos from El Pípila. (tablehopper.com)

This week’s Table Talk gives you a taste of what’s on the menu at the newly opened El Pípila in SoMa and Paper Rooster in the Tenderloin, plus a crab feast for Valentine’s Day, and two ongoing prime rib specials.

Enjoy a Meal of Soulful, Guanajuatan Cuisine at El Pípila

El Pípila
879 Brannan St., San Francisco
Open Mon–Sat 11am–7pm

Shrimp tacos with crema, pico de gallo, and cabbage. (tablehopper.com)

There's nothing like home cooking, and at the newly open El Pípila in SoMa, you can pretend owner Guadalupe Guerrero and her daughters Brenda and Alejandra are cooking just for you. This stylish counter restaurant is a dream come true for this hardworking family who has been working on this restaurant for over five years (Guadalupe was accepted in the La Cocina incubator program in 2012). It also took a number of partners, architects, contractors, and more who offered in-kind donations and pro bono services to pull it all off, and now we all benefit by having this hard-won restaurant in our city.

A tasting portion of the pozole verde at El Pípila, a San Francisco favorite. (tablehopper.com)

The menu is based on authentic dishes from Guanajuato and special family recipes, with everything made by hand — Guadalupe’s pozole verde (with bacon) is a must, a bright and super-satisfying tomatillo-based chicken stew with cilantro, serrano chiles, and garlic. It will fix any cold or bad day — there's a reason it has a dedicated following.

There are hearty enchiladas, her famed beef albondigas, sopes, a variety of flautas, and the tacos include a savory nopales taco with chile negro, their famous carnitas, and lightly fried shrimp tacos with pico de gallo, a Guerrero family favorite. Tortillas are made by hand with fresh masa from Oakland’s La Finca Tortillería, and you can also try the bigote dorado, a large corn masa pocket filled with carne asada, lettuce, cream, and queso fresco.

El Pípila is now a stylish counter restaurant in SoMa. (tablehopper.com)

Since they’re right across from Airbnb, you’ll also find some updated dishes, like a kale salad with fresh nopales, pinto beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, queso fresco, and spicy cilantro vinaigrette that brings it all together — it’s a healthy yet hearty main dish salad. 

Brenda and Guadalupe Guerrero. (tablehopper.com)

When Guadalupe first emigrated to the United States in 1998, she worked 12-hour days at a taqueria in Berkeley, seven days a week, in order to save up enough money to bring her two daughters here. And now they're all working together, in their very own restaurant that is full of heart and soul and pride. It's a sweet ending, just like their chocoflan.

A New Chinese-American Sandwich Shop

Paper Rooster 
670 Larkin St., San Francisco
Mon–Sat 11am–3pm

The Warrior fried chicken sandwich with housemade sriracha chips and a freshly made ginger soda. (tablehopper.com)

Sandwich lovers, if you’re looking to mix up your usual selection of turkey, banh mi, or an Italian combo, there’s a new Chinese-American sandwich shop in the Tenderloin called Paper Rooster in the former The Chairman location. SF native and exceedingly kind owner Stanley Yee is a first-time restaurant owner, and puts so much thought into the assembly of these sandwiches, which are either made with chicken or are vegetarian.

The Emperor chicken sandwich with hoisin mayo. (tablehopper.com)

The Emperor is like a rich chicken salad (it’s a wetter style of sandwich) made of roasted halal chicken dressed with hoisin-mayo, plus crispy chicken skin inside, sliced housemade pickles, spring onion, and sliced tomato, all nestled in a torpedo roll from Panorama that comes with griddle marks from a panino press (the Reserve is made with XO sauce instead of hoisin). It has a little kick to it and is quite a hearty sandwich for $10. I recommend getting a side of the housemade sriracha chips ($3.25) and putting some in your sandwich as you eat it for extra crunch. There are six chicken sandwiches to choose from.

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There are also two fried chicken options, with jasmine tea–brined chicken, garlic aioli, and tomatoes; if you get the Warrior, you get housemade Vietnamese pickles, while the General comes with sweet chile sauce and greens. The fried chicken has a dark and craggy coating (but isn’t covered with too much breading) and has a juicy interior, which contrasts perfectly with the sliced pickle. There are a couple fried sriracha tofu options as well.

Vegetarians will also find a five-spice eggplant and mushroom sandwich, or fennel-artichoke salad, or roasted Chinese BBQ sweet potatoes. Sadly the winter tomatoes were rather wan, but here’s hoping Yee sources some that have a bit more life and color to them until summer tomatoes return in all their glory.

There are housemade sodas as well, made with his own syrups—“The Super” ginger ale is bright and spicy, and comes with ginger syrup, fresh lime juice, lime rind, and carbonated water, and is an awesome soda to pair with the chicken sandwiches. There’s also a jasmine or lime soda. Grab some Pocky on your way out and start thinking about which sandwich you want to try next.

Forget the Roses, Hit Up a Crab Feast for Valentine’s Day Instead

Tacolicious
1548 Stockton St., San Francisco
Thursday, February 14, 6:30pm–9:30pm
Tickets: $120, including tip (not tax)

The Crab Bender at Tacolicious is a fun Valentine's Day option for everyone. (Ron Escobar)

Wanna get crabby for Valentine's Day? Tacolicious is hosting their annual Crab Bender, which is when singles, BFFs, couples, and strangers all get together around a communal table covered with newspaper, roll up their sleeves, and get pickin’ on a feast of roasted Dungeness crab (with fennel, thyme, and chile). You also get Mexican-style clam chowder with charred poblanos and bacon; Josey Baker bread; winter chopped salad with chicories and Gorgonzola; and horchata pot de crème. Beer pairings will be provided by Alameda-based Faction Brewing. Now that's a love fest.

Prime Rib Lovers Have Two New Prix-Fixe Dinner Options

One Market Restaurant
1 Market St., San Francisco
$47.95 and up, plus tax and gratuity
Friday and Saturday nights, 5:30pm–9pm

Cockscomb
564 Fourth St., San Francisco
$55 per guest, plus tax, 4% surcharge, and 20% gratuity
Last Sundays, 4pm–8:30pm

Rotisserie wood–fired prime rib roast at One Market. (One Market Restaurant)

When you’re going to indulge in a steak dinner, prime rib remains a favorite of many steak lovers. There are two new options for you to get your prime rib on, starting with One Market Restaurant, where chef Mark Dommen is now serving rotisserie wood–fired prime rib every Friday and Saturday night from 5:30pm–9pm. It’s part of a special prix-fixe prime rib dinner, featuring a classic Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese wedge salad to start, followed by your choice of the “Market Street cut” ($47.95) or bone-in cut ($55.95) of rotisserie wood–fired prime rib, served with creamed spinach, horseradish cream, and made-to-order popovers. For just $4.95, you can add a Singular Sensation dessert, such as bergamot-citrus meringue tart, the famed Bradley’s butterscotch pudding, or chocolate toffee almond crunch cake.

Over at Cockscomb, chef Chris Cosentino's holiday prime rib was so popular they decided to extend it into a monthly dinner special on the last Sunday of every month. The Prime Rib Sunday Supper is a three-course, prix-fixe menu with a choice of three beef cuts (Queen Cut: 16oz. boneless; English Cut: 16oz. boneless, sliced thin, English-style; or King Cut: 24oz. with bone, $5 supplement), served with horseradish, au jus, and popovers.

You also get two accompaniments, such as fried Brussels sprouts with agrodolce, garlicky collard greens, baked potato, or cheesy, whipped Aligot potatoes, and more. You also get a wedge salad with chopped egg, bacon, and creamy blue cheese dressing. For dessert, you can choose banana cream pie or sticky toffee pudding. Now that's one way to combat the Sunday Scaries.

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