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Regalito Rosticeria

Sit-down Mexico City Market Food

For all the taquerias, taco trucks, and Mission dives specializing in moonshine margaritas, the neighborhood seems to lack a good sit-down Mexican spot where you’d be willing to take your mom. Thankfully there’s a new option: Michael Pena’s Regalito Rosticeria, where you’ll find Mexico City style “market food” and an inventive menu with fresh ingredients at an affordable price.

The atmosphere is cool and modern -- the building itself is bright yellow, and the large sign on the outside wall makes the location hard to miss. The setting is simultaneously intimate, open and airy, with a long bar overlooking the chef’s cooking, seating for twenty-five, and service that is both friendly and distinctly Mission-cool; think Latin America meets indie-hipster.

We began our meal with the Guacamole con Tostadas ($7), a rich, buttery but completely pure version of this Mexican staple, served with large homemade fried corn tortilla disks you break into “chips". We tried the Ensalada de Mopalitos, a salad of grilled cactus and salsa ($7), the only real vegetable-based appetizer on the menu, with julienned bits of cactus and a slight vinegar bite. Our favorite “Botanasy Antojitos” -- so much more fun to say than appetizer, no? -- was the daily special, three small sopas with shredded barbeque pork, fine bits of cabbage, and crema, completely worthy of entradas status, and enough to fill us up before our meal had really even started ($11).

With a trio of personal tastes that ranged from the Mexican food of the Central Valley, to that of the Southwest and Texas, all three of our dining party were on a continual quest for the flat-to-the-plate enchilada combo plate reminiscent of our childhoods. Regalito provided a respite in the category of cheesy-deliciousness in their saucy Enchiladas Verdes plate ($12). This dish included two enchiladas made with shredded chicken in a tangy green sauce. Other dishes that beguiled our taste buds included the Pollo con Mole Negro, ¼ roast free-range chicken with a rich, dark Oaxacan mole of chile, nuts, spices, and Mexican chocolate ($13), and the Carnitas, roasted crispy shredded pork, perfect for taco fixings ($15). All entrees are served with tasty Refritos and light, fluffy Mexican rice -- each typically large and filling enough to be shared, particularly if you’re trying out a few appetizers.

A stand-out on the minimalist dessert menu includes the Capirotada -- warm bread pudding made with apples, raisins, nuts and cheese ($6). Seems this one has improved since Regalito first opened -- there were rumors that this dish was dry and tasteless, but we found the bread moist and the dollop of tamarindo ice cream irresistible.

The “Bebidas” include Latin American wines ($7-8), Mexican and San Franciscan beers, Agave Wine Margaritas ($5), delicious fruity Sangria ($6), and a selection of aqua frescas and fresh juices ($3). They also class up the joint by serving a topper of Ritual Roasters’ coffee by the press pot -- the organic fair trade sort ($3).

Not only was thought given to the coffee and to the interior, but these folks serve up quality Niman Ranch beef and pork along with free-range chicken, making sure to use the best quality ingredients in all their dishes. The only drawback was spice -- the seasoning was a mite conservative, and the dishes could use more picante. Overall, Regalito Rosticeria is an all-around tasteful, tasty, taste of an establishment that raises the bar for Mission-style Mexican food, providing a worthy alternative to the infamous burrito in a lovely, spare setting.

Regalito Rosticeria
3481 18th Street (between Mission & Valencia)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Hours: 11am – 10pm, Tues thru Saturday, 11am – 8pm, Sunday

Inner Mission

Reservations unavailable.