Take-out mostly | 2884 24th St., at Florida Street, SF | 415.647.1500 | website
The sign really does say Mexicatessen, which is an abbreviation of Mexican Delicatessen. It feels a lot like the famous Italian deli, Molinari‘s in North Beach… The line forms quickly so you need to grab a number when you walk in and it can be very confusing because there is so much going on. First we loitered around looking at the display cases and menu for a while before we took numbers.
La Palma grinds its own corn to make fresh masa which is made into tortillas by hand as well as by machine and grilled behind the counter. Read Eating Asia’s paean about the hand made tortillas here, they really are that good. We noticed that they have a brisk business selling bags of the fresh ground masa.
This case in the front really catches your attention. The top shelf has a few scruffy slabs of fried skin displayed under bright fluorescent lights and the lower shelf flaunted tubs full of chicharrón, carnitas and other delicious looking chunks of meat.
I went to the back and stood there looking over the menu, which is in Spanish, that I can barely navigate my way through. (Hello, I studied Japanese in school…) And there are so many delicious things to choose from! Since we were going for ice cream at Humphry Slocombe after this, I decided to just get a taco with the handmade tortillas. I also got a couple of frozen Nacatamales and a package of bean and cheese filled gorditas to go. I’m glad I did because everyone else went hogwild and bought piles of food that I was happy to help consume!
Here’s the Chile Verde taco, two handmade tortillas smeared with refried beans and piled with tender spicy pork beans and topped with lots of cilantro and fresh onions.
Despite language shortcomings, DebbieG managed to order a plate of their amazing Chicharrón. This is something completely different from the fried pork skin rinds that can be found at any grocery store. Read Mexico Bob’s excellent post on the many variations here.
At first glance it looks dry and tough and and its appearance is not very appetizing. But this is to the uninitiated. It is a treasure chest of bliss, the best of everything in one compact square of pork joy. On one end you have the skin that has been fried to an addictive crunchy cheetos crisp that shatters when you bite into it, then there’s some rich custardy pockets of what I like to think of as handles of love and then chewy meaty bites that are like the best carnitas. All of the most addictive states of pork known to mankind all in one piece.
Sometimes you get a piece that appears to be just fat. Fried fat globules is good, but I like the combo pieces with meat and skin better.
Here’s a Chicharrón taco on a handmade tortilla and topped with some of their amazing guacamole. It’s the same meat but chopped up and topped with spicy salsa.
Shirley got a big tub of the guacamole that we gooped over everything, it made the delicious food even more delicious.
Some believe that they make some of the best potato chips in the nation. We tried the fried plantain chips that Debbie got, and thought they were bland and dry. We decided that we’d rather have fresh fried plantain chips.
Liz had a Chicken Pupusa, which is a thick handmade round of corn flatbread that is griddled and filled with gooey cheese. It was topped with some chicken, a tart cabbage salad (curtido) and mildly spicy red sauce.
Shirley’s Carnitas Sopes. She said it was all right but not very interesting. Looks like it needed a good blob of spicy salsa.
She really liked the Chicken Huarache. The sandal shaped flatbread had a lotta delicious stuff piled onto it like salsa verde, cheese and some cabbage and cilantro.
I hate to say it, but that madly decadent chicharrón really spoiled our tastebuds and everything seemed bland after that… Besides the prepared foods, they have bins of dried beans, chiles and a variety of cheese in the refrigerated section.
It’s a cool spot where you can pick up piles of delicious food, the only bummer is that they close at 6 pm and there is very limited seating on a few tables outside.