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Parada 22: The Puerto Rican Pop-Up in The Mission

Updated: Jan 22, 2016 22:07
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Parada 22 is a brick and mortar in the Upper Haight that neighbors its cousin, Cha Cha Cha.  And cousins they are, literally, for Cha Cha Cha (and Boogaloos) is owned by restaurateur Philip Belber who is a cousin of Parada 22 owner, Gloria Pinette.  For the last six months, Parada 22 has been setting up camp in hungover hipster vegetarian favorite Sunday morning Mission hangout, Boogaloos.  Parada 22 has taken over with their pop-up, serving Gloria Pinette’s Comida Puertorriquena recipes to the Mission masses.

I had the $12.50 pernil asado.  Slow roasted pork shoulder marinated in garlic, oregano and sofrito.  Sofrito is the base of Puerto Rican cooking.  I always have sofrito on hand; frozen in ice cube trays.  One could possibly argue that sofrito defines our nation’s cuisine.  Almost every recipe begins with sofrito.   Hell, I’ll add sofrito to a stir fry or a curry in a blink.  Also on the plate were braised red kidney beans, white rice, maduros and a mixed green salad.  When the troupe of rice, beans (with their smokey ham chunks) and pork shoulder were eaten together, it was a good match.  Solo, not so entertaining.

Unfortunately for Parada 22, I’d have to tip my hat towards the Borinquen Soul Food Truck at their achievement of the utmost satisfying circumference of crispy on their maduros.   The maduros (fried ripe plantains) at Parada 22 were supple, sweet and savory, but lacked their optimized potential to achieve crispy edges, offering only a minimal amount of crispiness.  The plate lacked texture.  And this could have possibly been caste aside had the pernil’s cuero (leather)– its crowning glory– had made an appearance.  This layer of fat that sits atop the roast mutates itself into a brittle and viscous protector, preventing the meat from drying out, but providing maximum porky flavor! When you bite down it resists, shatters and then melts on your tongue.  This element sent my family members into a Darren McGavin caricature in  A Christmas Story, sneakily tiptoeing into the kitchen to steal fragments of the roast holiday beast.  I was beyond disappointed when I didn’t receive any of the cuero.  Surely, if a food stand in Ireland can reserve chopped cracklin’ from their spit- roasted pig to garnish their pork sandwiches with, it is a known fact that people love crispy bits of pork and we deserve them!

All in all, I’d not only come back, I’d recommend Parada 22′s pop-up.  If not to specifically request the cuero that they’re hiding in their socks, but to gobble down their solid tostones with mayo-ketchup.  I felt a slight internal pride eating here, but I think it mostly came from the abundance of PR flags.

Parada 22 Pop-Up
3296 22nd Street @ Valencia
[The Mission]

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