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
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.