Taquerias are a dime a dozen in this town, ranging from high end to low end depending on what part of the city you are in. Whenever I see a new one open I sometimes wonder why. They are becoming as ubiquitous as Starbucks. It seems folks think there is no end to San Franciscans love of some quick Mexican food. Into this mix comes Adriano Paganini of Super Duper Burger (and a few other places) fame with Uno Dos Tacos--sort of a mix of Super Duper meets Chipotle as it were.
The concept was originally done as a pop-up in a space way down Polk Street just past Broadway. It seems to have proven a success with the Marina set so they've now set up official shop at the large space previously inhabited by Seller's Market at the corner of 2nd and Market. It's been open for awhile now and I had some passing interest to give it a try one day when my friend Ms. Moll wanted to have lunch one weekday so we made plans to meet and eat here as she seemed to like it.
The menu is small, focused, simple--pick a meat then pick how you want it--tacos, burrito, salad or plate. Suspiciously like Chipotle but with a couple extra choices. Though sadly, I wasn't able to point to stuff and ask for it to be added though she did ask if I wanted cheese and I said yes, I mean it's Mexican food! Turns out this was a 50cent up sell which she failed to mention. (That's ding #1) Here we placed our order then found a table to sit at while we waited for our little lighted buzzer to go off. First up was the salad with carnitas--I do so love pork.
Carnitas, chopped romaine lettuce, black beans, tortilla strips, lime salsa fresca and well, did you notice? The cheese I paid for wasn't there. So I hustled back to the counter with my receipt to get my cheese. (Ding #2) She took my bowl with an "o, sorry" in a well "s**t happens kind of way" instead of a oops or mistake way. Then the cook across the way sprinkled the barest dusting of crumbled queso fresco across the top and handed the bowl back. Hmmm...I just took my bowl and went back to the table. I will say it looked fresh but it really didn't have much flavor. I couldn't taste any of the supposed lime and the carnitas was on the dry side, which can sometimes happen. Fortunately they had some salsa on the tables and I had to generously coat the bowl to get some taste in this decent but unexciting salad for $7.75 plus 50cent for cheese. Overall, blah. Next we went the taco route.
Fish taco--deep fried cod with chipotle salsa and cabbage on a corn tortilla. Carnitas taco--slow roasted pork on corn tortilla with onions and cilantro. Served with side of pureed black beens and tomatillo salsa. The fish was good enough with a nice kick from the chipotle and crunch from the batter, though at $4.50! for one that fits in the palm of your had it seemed pricey for cod. The carnitas was pretty much the same as on the salad, a little on the dry side, the tomatillo helped, though Ms. Moll came across a large chunk of fat when she bit into which turned her off to the whole thing. (Ding #3--strike out!) Again at $3.25 for just one, pricey. And not they each only came with one tortilla not two like some places serve. Ms. Moll does give thumbs up to the black bean thing they serve. Me, I thought it tasted like some weird black bean pudding and the texture really threw me, not in a good way. Plus, there was more cheese on these beans that we got on the salad. These were pretty basic versions of street tacos at San Francisco food truck prices. Unexciting.
And yes, we did splurge $2.95 for chips and guacamole, Ms. Moll wanted some. What can I say, they continued the same theme. Chips needed salt, the guac needed more cilantro, jalapeño or just even salt--something, anything. Lack of flavor in even the simplest dishes was just a continued disappointment.
Uno Dos Tacos isn't breaking any new ground in flavors or food offerings and considering the prices they are charging for some things, the other options in the neighborhood keep me from wanting to try this place again. Though I'm sure the place will do fine and be a big hit with the workers nearby. They have ample seating inside and outside, beer, happy hours and the food is just this side of bland and boring enough that if you go with a group everybody should be able to find something they can fit into whatever populist dietary restriction they are currently on. When all is said and eaten, I'd rather nosh at Chipotle around the corner, at least there I can get extra toppings and cheese without the up charge.