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San Jalisco

San Francisco CA (The Mission)

901 s van ness ave, san francisco CA 94110
website
415-648-8383
daily 8am-10pm

San Jalisco (San Francisco CA The Mission)

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Rating: 94
Price: $$$$

The To-Go

Great tacos, with a particular emphasis on the meat. The michelada is a sight to behold; if you like clamato, you'll love it.

The Sit-Down

For some, the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting is a chance to share their latest research, catch up with old colleagues and develop new collaborations, and learn about the cutting edge research going on in the earth sciences. For most, however, it's a great excuse to get a reimbursable trip to San Francisco's many delicious Mexican restaurants. After a few days at the meeting, business associates Steve, Eric, Chris, Dom, John, and myself headed out to The Mission to grab some tacos and relax away from the main conference zone. Because of the size of our group and a desire to sit down and relax, we were looking for a place with table service and a large seating area, eliminating some of the more popular choices; after consultation with Northern California Chief Taco Consultant Sergey, I decided that San Jalisco fit the bill, and we met over there in the early evening.

As we hoped, San Jalisco was spacious and comfortable, though during our time there it was apparent that most of their business was still take-out. This indirectly contributed to their biggest flaw, which was that table service was pretty dang slow - while we got chips & salsa right away, it took a while to place our food and drink orders, and at the end of the meal we were just kind of waiting around for the opportunity to pay and leave. Fortunately, I had ordered a michelada which turned out to be much larger than I expected, so I was grateful for all the time possible to finish it off.

The food itself was excellent. I got carne asada tacos, which came with rice and beans on the side. The tacos were both minimalist (in filling diversity) and maximalist (in filling quantity). My standard taco-reviewing procedure, for those of you who have not been a business associate in the past, is as follows:
1. View tacos from above, primary photography
2. Open tacos, inspect interior, secondary photography
3. Sample a few pieces of the filling to evaluate taste & texture independent of the entire taco
4. Take a bite of the taco with no additional augmentation
5. Add lime, salsa, etc.
6. Consume rest of taco, making alterations as necessary

Usually my strongest impressions come in steps 4-6, as one might expect. At San Jalisco, however, my mind was blown at step 3. The plain asada was superb. It was thinly sliced (or hacked, more likely) but thick enough to retain a slightly crispy exterior with a juicy interior. It was lightly accompanied by sauteed onions, and well-spiced, but the steak flavor retained a dominant position in the palate. I could have eaten an entire plate of the asada on its own. In fact, when combined into classic taco form (with lime & salsa), it lost just a bit of that specialness. I'm not sure why or how that happened, as the tortilla and salsa were both top-notch, but I think the exceptionalism of the asada was muted somewhat when mixed with other items. Overall, though, San Jalisco rates as excellent despite the slow service, and worth a trip if you're looking for a dining environment less hectic than El Farolito.

Reviewed by tacosmog.com on