Next Photo »
Previous Photo «

Super Bowl-alicious!

Nachos with guac, guajillo-beef short ribs, pickled jalapenos and lots of queso.

Nachos with guac, guajillo-beef short ribs, pickled jalapenos and lots of queso.

It takes a village to celebrate Super Bowl 50—specifically a free-to-the-public fan village (aka Super Bowl City) that will be centered at Justin Herman Plaza from January 30-February 7, starting every day at 11 am, with a million or so football-crazed visitors streaming through. While some locals may be getting out of dodge, gleefully Airbnb’ing their homes in order to capitalize on the influx of visitors, others of us are here to take in the festivities—or at the very least get our flat-screens polished and couches warmed up for Super Bowl Sunday.

Whatever you’re doing, Tacolicious is here for you.

IF YOU’RE HAVING A HOUSE PARTY:
For orders over $500, we do drop-off delivery which means we come and style out your table with choices like our DIY taco bar or our nacho bar (see above)—or both! We’re also offering the Super Bowl 50 Pack which includes 50 mix-and-match tacos for $199. Contact us at events@tacolicious.com.

IF YOU’RE GOING ALL OUT:
Want us to come armed with servers bearing platters of our mini tuna tostadas, bartenders shaking up hibiscus margaritas, and—best of all—someone to do the mound of dishes? Whatever you desire, we can fulfill your Super Bowl fiesta fantasies. Talk to one of our creative coordinators at events@tacolicious.com.

IF YOU WANT TO BOOK OUR PRIVATE ROOM FOR A VIEWING PARTY:
We provide the flat-screen, the servers, and the food. You just sit there with your 40 best friends, their chests painted in team colors. Chips provided for throwing at the screen in disgust. Tequila available for celebrating. Our private rooms are located at our Valencia Street and Palo Alto locations. Contact us at events@tacolicious.com.

IF YOU’RE A SUPER BOWL PARTY OF TWO:
Get Tacolicious delivered via Door Dash or Caviar. We offer our signature salads (who said football food has to be a heart attack?), our taco bar, dips like guac and queso, and a make-your-own-michelada mix (complete with cold cans of Tecate).

PLUS, MORE MARKET STANDS!
We’ll be attending additional Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets which—situated in the middle of Super Bowl City—will be surrounded by the revelry. Come grab a taco and inhale the aroma of carnitas mixed with team spirit.

• Tuesday, February 2nd, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (10 am to 2 pm)

• Thursday, February 4th, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (10 am to 2 pm)

• Saturday, February 6th, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (8 am to 2 pm)*
* Due to the early start time, will be slinging breakfast burritos in addition to our usual tacos. Mmmmm. Breakfast burritos.

FINALLY, FIND US AT THE SUPER BOWL CITY VIP LOUNGE.
Lucky enough to have access? We’ll see you at Crystal Jade on February 5 for some very important tacos.

 

 

 

When Alica’s Mom Cooks: Holiday Chicken Tamales Estilo Nayarit

Alica, her mom, and her sister Lucy

Alica, her mom, and her sister Lucy get ready to assemble the tamales

Until taking time off to go to travel in Mexico and visit her grandmother in Nayarit, Alice Huerta worked as our sous chef at Tacolicious Valencia. Today she’s back at the restaurant working as a server (hey, you can’t argue with the allure of tips), but she still cooks in her spare time. Alica just returned from Visalia, her hometown, where she, her sister Lucy, and her mom Xochitl, whipped up over 100 tamales for the holidays. She shared her recipe. This is the kind of recipe that demands friends and family. Do not try this at home alone!

Chicken Tamales Estilo Nayarit

Makes a ton (like 100? ask Alica)

Three 8-ounce packages of corn husks
5 pounds prepared masa (from La Palma if you live in SF)
3 cups manteca (lard)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 whole boneless skinless chicken breast
3 dried chiles California
3 dried guajillo chiles
2 pounds tomatoes, sliced in half
3 cloves garlic
1/2 yellow onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
kosher salt to taste
3 inch long carrot sticks (one for every tamale)
Manzanilla olives
Rajas de jalapeno en escabeche

Corn husks:
Soak in hot water to make pliable.

Masa:
Mix the masa, manteca, chicken broth, and salt to taste. (Alica’s mom uses a hand mixer.) To check if there is enough manteca in the mixture, she drops a bit into a glass of water and if it floats, it’s ready.

Chicken:
Bring a pot of water to boil and reduce to a simmer. For added flavor, throw in some onion, garlic and salt. Add the chicken and simmer for about 45 minutes, until cooked all the way through. Remove from water, let cool, and shred.

Salsa:
Remove seeds from the chile California and guajillo chiles. In a small pot of simmering water, cook until soft. Remove the softened chilies from the water and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut-side down, and roast until slightly charred and soft. Remove from the oven and let cool. To a blender, add the tomatoes and chiles, as well as the garlic, onion,  cumin, dried oregano, ground pepper, and salt to taste. Blend until smooth and set aside. Over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add the chicken to the pan and combine with the blended sauce. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes, allowing the flavors to marry.

Assembling tamales:
Take some of the soaked corn husks and tear them to make long strings. The strings will be used to tie the tamales. (Take care not to make them too thin or else they will rip when you attempt to tie the ends.)

Set up your tamale-making making station. It should include the masa, whole corn husks and strings, chicken in sauce, carrots, jalapeños, and olives.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 6.26.32 PMGather your friends and give them something alcoholic to drink. Now start the process of assembling the tortillas. Take a corn husk into the palm of your hand and spread about a 1/3 cup of masa into the center of the husk with a big spoon or spatula. (It really depends on the size of the husks because they vary in size, so you must portion accordingly.) Next, add about 2 tablespoons of chicken into the center of the masa. Be sure not to spread it out. Then, add your carrot stick, a raja of jalapeño, and an olive or two. Lastly—but definitely the trickiest part—tie the ends: To do this, roll up the tamale by taking one side and folding it over the filling. Then take the other side and fold it over so it closes. Take the corn husk string and make tight knots on both ends—tight enough so the masa and all the other goodies stay in. (To watch a really awkward video hosted by a woman with very curled hair about how to fill and tie a tamale, check out Saveur’s right here.)

Next pile the tamales into a steamer with water in the bottom and cook on medium to low heat for about an hour. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and warm in a steamer when you’re ready to eat.

Give to all of your friends for the holidays!

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 6.16.40 PM

Have Tostada, Will Travel: Mexico City’s Gabriela Camara Comes to SF

Trout tostada at Cala (photo by Chloe List)

Trout tostada at Cala (photo by Chloe List)

For those of us who travel to eat, there’s an irrational compulsion to attempt to bring the best food experiences home. I say irrational because trying to recreate a culinary revelation had in another country—or another state for that matter—generally leads to wah wah wahhh (that’s the sound of disappointment). Or, at worst, the discovery of a treasured salami smuggled in from Tuscany, forgotten and now wretchedly molding in your suitcase.

That cold bottle of sake that you had at 2 am in a Tokyo izakaya will never taste as good in your living room. The pork floss you couldn’t get enough of in Taiwan now seems kind of weird. Your rendition of spaghetti alle vongole inhaled ecstatically at a restaurant on the Amalfi coast falls flat. Obsessive cooks, trying to fabricate food memories, will chase the right flour for the pasta dough, or the hunt down what they deem a close-enough variety of tiny clams. But, it’s never quite enough, because momentous eating experiences don’t happen in a vacuum. They’re enhanced by everything around you, which, when you’re traveling, is spiked with that addictive bit of lost in translation.

This isn’t to say you heed your own advice. Anyone who knows me or Joe has heard us wax on about Contramar, one of Mexico City’s most famous restaurants. In fact, we fell so madly in want with Contramar’s signature dish—a tuna tostada topped with a spicy chipotle aioli, buttery avocado, and crispy fried leeks—that we put it on our own menu as an homage.

The thing is, though the “tuna tostada Contramar-style” at Tacolicious is incredibly delicious, for me it will never taste like it did the first time we had it at Contramar, a sweeping lunch-only, Mexican seafood restaurant with white tablecloths and a swath of signature azure blue, buzzing with a well-heeled bunch of Mexico City’s who-who. The first time I took a bite of that tuna tostada, it tasted like the best thing I’d ever eaten—like my first taste of modern, urban Mexico.

The genius behind Contramar is the dynamic and stylish Gabriela Cámara, a celebrated restaurateur who has a number of establishments. Perhaps it was in the stars, but at the end of last year, Gabriela chose to move her family from Mexico City in order to open a Contramar-esque restaurant named Cala in Hayes Valley. I’ve been waiting excitedly for it to open, which it officially did last week.

Cala's beautiful interior (photo by Chloe List)

Cala’s beautiful interior (photo by Chloe List)

Of course, Joe and I, along with Mike and Pajo (Tacolicious’ new director of operations), were some of Cala’s first customers. We walked in just as the doors opened one evening, which meant the late-afternoon sun was still filtering through the skylights making the space feel even more lofty and beautiful then it is when the sun dips. Like Contramar, Cala has white tablecloths (a design element that’s gone the way of the dinosaur in San Francisco), upright wooden chairs, and that signature azure blue, now on the facade. A wall of green trellised plants make for the only real pop of color. Gabriela, her speech inflected with a pretty lilting accent, was there to greet people. Her young son was eating at the communal table with some family friends, and her father who lives in Mexico was visiting too.

We ordered the simple but deliciously tender two-bite sopes playeros with midnight black beans, smoky-sweet fire-roasted sweet potato with bone marrow salsa negra, an amazing ling cod salpicon with tomatillo, and, of course, Camara’s signature tostada, which at Cala is now made with raw trout instead of tuna. Maybe it’s the connection I will always have to Contramar—sort of like a first love—but that night, biting into the tostada, I was transported momentarily from San Francisco. I felt that joyous little spark of being somewhere different, somewhere new.

[Originally published on saradeseran.com]