A Chili Kick at Don Pisto

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by sararevell on February 4, 2012

Behind a wealth of Italian eateries is a modern, brash Mexican cantina that seems like it’s doing brisk business. We arrived late on a Friday night and were told that we would have about a half hour wait for a table. The long room has a tiny bar on one side and a long open plan restaurant on the other. Exposed brick walls and steel beams amplify the already noisy and chilly atmosphere and while it has an air of being too cool, the food brings it back down to earth.

The open kitchen is shrouded in a smoky veil of chipotle and chili. Animated chefs turn out fresh tortilla chips into a pan the size of a giant paella dish, waiting to be distributed among the hungry crowds. We ordered a bowl of guacamole to try and found ourselves digging into a deep pot of chunky, creamy avocado that had been given a kick of green chili pepper. Their salsa was an unusually vibrant grass green colour and as feisty as the guacamole.

Mexican music beats thumped out across the room where tables of people enjoyed Mexican beers and margheritas. I went for something lighter, ordering a sweet mango soda that was made south of the border.

When our table was finally ready, we ordered the tortilla soup for two to share and some fish tacos. The soup was a spicy, dark broth with stewed chicken, avocado, celery and thin ribbons of fried tortilla. While it was hearty and warmed the insides, it was sadly too spicy for me so as much as I wanted to enjoy it, I couldn’t. The tacos were a little better, wrapped in thick floury tacos and served with shredded lettuce.

The menu is touted as being street food and it certainly is short but well thought out. They have some interesting dishes and many not normally found in Mexican restaurants which is what made it so interesting and ultimately, such a popular place to eat. I was just a disappointed that the heat of the challis they used was too high for me but I guess the peppers in Mexico are a far cry from the milder ones I’m used to across the Atlantic.

For two drinks including one cocktail and two large meals, our bill came to $36.35 (about £23), which is pretty reasonable for the North Beach area.
Don Pisto's
510 Union Street
San Francisco, California, 94133
(415) 395-0939


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