Nite Owl- Seeking Refuge From Bandidos @ Tacos Club
Another bar food-cocktail parlour recently opened up in the Castro a few weeks ago to a less than warm reception. Before its opening, Bandidos Consulting Chef Jamie Lauren mused, “I hate to call it white people Mexican food but it is. And I think the Castro needs a place like that.”
As a general rule, white people claiming to know what a group or area needs hasn’t fared well throughout history. Throw in a reappropriated ethnic slur when you aren’t actually a member of the group said slur was hurled at, and you have a recipe for una tormenta de mierda, if you will. (Note: Bandidos may or may not be changing their name.)
Also, in the interview, Lauren said, “I know that San Francisco has a lot of good Mexican food, and Tacolicious has taken over the scene in that way,”
To be clear, Tacolicious (also technically “white”) has indeed very successfully emulated their inspirations in selling pricey tacos to the hip and well-heeled, but if you were to ask a chilango if El Califa was the best in DF or the only game in town you might get a dissenting opinion. Likewise could be said here.
Still, I’m sure Bandidos will do well. San Franciscans have good taste in a lot of things, but Mexican, whether it be chilango or californio style is questionable. How else does one explain the enduring popularity of Taquería Cancún? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a gente- owned institution that does some stuff okay and God forbid we lose yet another long-time Mission business, but I would never call it good, much less the “best” for that matter. I’m sorry guys, I know- let the hate mail commence…now.
Should you find yourself in the Castro in the near future, and care to dine on brown people Mexican food however, then a visit to the oddly named Tacos Club might be in order. True no Señor Swayze margaritas to be found here, but on last visit there was good grub and not the frenetic bottleneck that you might find inside its peers on Castro or 18th Streets, although the attractive and friendly staff did concede that the dynamic changes a bit when the stumblekins start storming the gate just before two.
An angeleno by birth (round two of aforementioned hate mail), I have to say the one of the things a lot of SF taquerías can’t seem to master is carne asada. To be fair it’s tricky, but a trip here might be worth ordering that alone. Mexicans don’t really dig beef cooked anything below medium well, still carne asada is a testament to northern Mexicans’ deftness with steak. Sadly, though, most taqueros in this town will give you heaping pile of charcoal, but the carne asada here is some juicy business indeed.
They don’t cook the al pastor on the trompo like they should, which always saddens me, but it’s spiced with cinnamon which sort of makes up for it in a weird but enjoyable way. The owners, who are from Michoacán, and the staff just know their stuff. Meaty standards are their trade and whereas you can’t get $10 cheddar cheese picadillo tacos, you can get a fat DF style torta for less than that.
Plus they have a pretty cheap weekend brunch for the neighbourhood AND $2 tacos every Tuesday, which is good news for all of us and our wallets since, well, you know…there are bandits on the street now.
Open til 2:00 a.m. Fridays & Saturdays; 10:00 p.m. every other day
2312 Market Street (@16th & Noe)
UPDATE: The owners of Bandidos have decided to dispense with the Mexican thief motif. Although your billfold is still probably safer at Tacos Club.