Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cheese Quesadilla and Corn on the Cob, Nick's Crispy Chicken Tacos
Occupation: Pediatric Physician Assistant
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Nick's Crispy Tacos
Reviewed Nick's Crispy Tacos: Tuesday February 19, 2008
Walking into Nick’s Crispy Tacos on Polk Street always feels like I’m walking into a good time. Festive music plays in the background; sometimes it is Mexican music, but tonight it was the Grateful Dead. The tables are topped with cheerful, floral tablecloths.
The walls are a deep red color. Hanging from the ceiling are massive crystal chandeliers. Under the same roof as Nick’s is Rouge, the well-known San Francisco nightclub. The two businesses share the space dishing out tacos by day and tequila by night. While Nick’s is open, patrons are free to dine at the bar or at the booth tables in the Rouge section of the premises.
Tonight was Taco Tuesday at Nick’s. This meant that the tacos, quesadillas, and chips/guacamole were all two dollars! At Nick’s the style is very casual. Diners order at the counter, are given a number, and then the food is brought to their table. We started with a basket of chips and a couple of Dos Equis. The salsa smothering the chips is extraordinary. It is fresh and packed with juicy flavor. The chips are thicker than ordinary tortilla chips and accompany the salsa perfectly.
Within about 5 minutes of choosing a booth, the food was brought to the table. The chicken tortilla soup is the best I have ever tasted. It has a savory chicken broth, diced carrots and celery, hearty chunks of chicken, and a handful of tortilla strips. To top it off, a sprinkle of delicious white cheese melts on top of the steaming concoction. In addition to the chicken tortilla soup, I had a cheese quesadilla. This is a simple item on the menu; however, the high quality ingredients made it shine above your ordinary cheese quesadilla. The tortilla was cooked until golden brown with a generous amount of salty Mexican cheese oozing out the sides. Eating this quesadilla with a spoonful of Nick’s salsa is unbeatable. On the side we ordered the corn on the cob. Typically, I am not a corn eater, though rumor has it that Nick’s corn is some of the tastiest. I had to give it a shot. This corn is smeared with a creamy, peppery, cheese sauce. It was delicious. Eat the corn.
Young professionals grabbing a burrito on their way home mingled with parents of young babies bobbing to the music. Nick’s is an easy restaurant to enjoy for most everyone. The prices are very reasonable for a great Mexican meal.
Occupation: Marketing Consultant
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Côté Sud
Reviewed Nick's Crispy Tacos: Sunday February 10, 2008
This is not exactly what we expected from a taco joint -- heavy crystal chandeliers, red velvet booth banquettes, red leather couches, plastic chairs, flowery plastic tablecloths, and red walls. It was busy, but not jammed, with some families with small children enjoying a casual meal. I loved the sign that says “no cell phones”!
We ordered at the bar -- it seems to be a bar/lounge at night -- and waited at a small table. The menu looked promising: Niman Ranch meats, organic chicken, and line-caught fish. Clearly the owners care about their ingredients. Service was friendly and efficient.
The thick tortilla chips seemed to be homemade, but the crispiness was starting to stale. It’s hard to keep homemade chips fresh all day, so by the afternoon they were getting less crispy and chewier. The guacamole was creamy and mild-flavored, but the “salsa” was more like just chopped tomatoes -- no onions, cilantro or other ingredients.
Given the name of the restaurant, we ordered our tacos “Nick’s Way.” That means, for an extra .95 cents, they add jack cheese and guacamole and shove it all into a fried taco shell inside a soft corn tortilla. The star of our meal was the generously proportioned pescado taco, a fried white fish filet with cabbage, onions, and a tangy lime-flavored sauce. The crispy shells suffered a similar fate as the chips -- they were getting a little chewy. We joked that perhaps it should be called “Nick’s Chewy Tacos.”
The carne asada taco was prepared similarly -- grilled bits of beef with the same accompanying condiments and pinto beans, except no tangy sauce. This was a little bland. It could have gained a lot by using marinated steak. As we lifted the carne asada off the paper lining of the plastic basket, there was a small pool of grease. For some, this could be a good thing.
Finally, we sampled the chicken quesadilla with sour cream and guacamole. It looked beautiful and huge with a golden tortilla crust. But it looked better than it tasted. Actually, it tasted just fine with tender chicken, but again a little on the bland side.
For beverages, they had a modest selection of beers. We chose Bohemian, which was a nice complement to the meal.
Overall, the food was good but lacked the spice or heat that we expect with Mexican food. San Francisco can boast many great taquerias and this was probably one of the better fish tacos we’ve had. But the blandness of the food left it lacking.
At $29 for two people, it wasn’t the cheapest taco joint in town. But we’re willing to pay extra for the high quality ingredients. If we find ourselves back in the Russian Hill neighborhood, we’ll go back. But we’re not likely to go back just to visit Nick’s. There are too many other great taquerias throughout the city to warrant a trek across town.
Occupation: Software Sales Manager
Favorite Restaurant: Casa Orinda
Reviewed Nick's Crispy Tacos: Monday February 18, 2008
After working up a healthy appetite during a day of shopping in San Francisco, we decided to still our growing appetite by visiting Nick’s Crispy Tacos.
Nick’s Crispy Taco (sharing one space with well known nightclub, Rouge) is located in a cozy neighborhood close to the marina and looks promising from the outside! Unfortunately, my “cold sweat” started right after walking through the door. It immediately triggered flashbacks to my younger years, when I used to hang out in nightclubs. I would be having a great time in a dim lit, cozy club, but suddenly be shocked by the bright lights turning on, signaling it was closing time. Those bright lights shattered the ambiance completely and showed how ugly a nightclub really was without the darkness to hide it. Well, in short, that’s Nick Crispy Tacos. Just imagine some cheap outside furniture in that space with plastic flowery tablecloths and you’ll have a good impression of Nick’s!
As for the food, it’s decent and something you can find all over California. In my opinion, this would be a great place for taco “take-out” if I lived in the neighborhood, but it's not I place I would go out of my way for to get too!