Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Tropisueno Mexican Kitchen
Reviewed Tropisueno Mexican Kitchen: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tropisueño is our neighborhood favorite! Living in SOMA, many good Mexican places are lunch-only, as they cater to local businesses. Not Tropisueño! They have a full dinner menu and lively bar scene. The happy hour environment combined with great Mexican food and fantastic margaritas (sweetened with agave syrup instead of sugar to keep the sugar levels tempered) at a good value keeps us coming back.
We found Tropisueño as a result of a recommendation from a friend, after looking for a good place to congregate after business hours with authentic Mexican food and tasty drinks to quench our thirst. The location is prime for meeting friends after work, as its financial district location makes it easily accessible from many points in San Francisco (and beyond) with the plentitude of public transportation (BART, MUNI, busses) and parking options. The street itself is a walking street located between Market and Mission streets, so it can be a bit tough to find for first timers. Also, the proximity to the Westfield Mall and Metreon theater make it a great post-shopping or pre-movie dining option.
The atmosphere at Tropisueño is perfect for a lively dinner party with its lighting being not too bright or soft. The southwestern style décor is welcoming and relaxing.
On a recent visit, our party was a few minutes early, so we waited in the bar over margaritas for about 10 minutes. As I mentioned, their MARGARITAS are DELICIOUS. On this particular night they were very busy – totally full (surprising for a Wed. night), so service could have been faster, but they did bring us chips and salsas.
Their chips are clearly fresh and housemade — thin, crispy, and deliciously addictive.
Our favorite dish there is the Camerones Tropisueño — a beautifully prepared shrimp dish presented in a lightly creamy and perfectly spicy red sauce. No matter what we order, we always ask for the special habanero salsa to liven up our dishes. It is super flavorful and spicy, but definitely not for the faint of heart…or stomach.
We also ordered a traditional plate with chicken enchilada, chiles rellenos, and tamale, which was good. The chiles rellenos was definitely the star — perfectly balanced between cheese, pepper, and delicate breading. The tamale was good and the chicken enchilada was definitely on par. While very tasty, this was slightly too much food, but in a good way…leftovers are never a bad thing.
The next dish we ordered was the Caldo de Mariscos a la Casa — this soup was made with large shrimp, sea scallops, mussels, and fresh fish in a lobster-chili broth topped with crispy tortillas. This was pretty tasty. The only thing I had hoped for was a little more seafood in the soup. The scallops were large and yummy, and there was also some white fish. All our entrees came with a side of hot tortillas and three types of beans to share for the table. A great touch! As for dessert, we skipped it because we were so stuffed from dinner.
The great food and fantastic margaritas combined with a low maintenance environment and relaxed vibe make Tropisueño a favorite haunt for any evening. It never fails to satisfy!
Occupation: Teacher & Resources Specialist
Location: Daly City
Favorite Restaurant: Bobo’s
Reviewed Tropisueno Mexican Kitchen: Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Reservations: When I made the initial reservation to Tropisueño, I wanted to make it for six persons, but I was told that they did not take reservations for more than four or five at the time that I was requesting. I went ahead and made two reservations for two parties of three. However, when I received a phone call confirmation two days before our reservation date, the reservationist made a nice effort to try to accommodate our party at a single table. She succeeded.
Comfort: When we arrived, we were seated at probably the best table in the house, a nice large table in the rear of the restaurant that was located in a niche — very private in a crowded restaurant. This was great because we were dining with children, and they could act their age and not be a nuisance to other diners. Overall comfort level was excellent. We were seated right away, and our food arrived very quickly after ordering, which is great when dining with children.
Service: The waitress quickly came to our table, and salsa and chips were set down immediately. She continued to provide excellent service throughout our entire meal.
Décor: The décor was contemporary with lots of light coming through a large wall of windows. It was really crowded, so I don’t think I was able to really take in the overall décor, but they definitely had a slight “south of the border” theme going, but it was subtle and not to excess. The atmosphere was very lively, consisting of patrons between the ages of 20-50. The bar area was also crowded, but no one was in line waiting for a table. The noise level was loud, but we had such a private table that it was not a problem.
Food quality: Very good. One of the adults ordered the “Los Favoritos” (enchiladas, taco, etc.), and they were good, but did not stand out. However, the house entrees were very good and are the high point of the menu. Each dish that I ordered had a unique and delicious flavor, especially the Camarones Tropisueño (awesome dish) and the carne asada plate. The carne asada had a great marinade, which I have never previously tasted. When I go again I will definitely order the main entrees and not the “Los Favoritos.” The Tampiqueño came with an enchilada, but this was not necessary. It would have made more sense to put some vegetables on the plate instead of having two different portions of meat. The carne asada portion was generous enough to be the only meat offering. Vegetables are needed for this dish! I ordered the house margarita and did not like the taste. I thought it was too bitter.
Portion size: Medium to large. The Tampiqueño had nice big slices of carne asada along with a generous portion of rice, but rather a small sized enchilada.
Summary: Very good Mexican restaurant, reasonably priced, and unique with great service, a lively atmosphere, and very good original entrée selections, but, I would probably go to Tropisueño more frequently if it was in a neighborhood location rather than downtown.
Occupation: Firefighter-Engineer & Paramedic
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Pisces California Cuisine
Reviewed Tropisueno Mexican Kitchen: Thursday, April 8, 2010
On an Internet search for Tropisueño, it stated that this restaurant was kid and group-friendly, so I went on Open Table to make reservations for 9, since nothing shouts out a good time like margaritas and family. Per the Open Table website, it would not allow me to make reservations for this number of diners for “4 weeks, so I called the restaurant on a Monday asking for reservations for 6:30pm on a Thursday. When I finally got a hold of someone, they said they wouldn’t be able to accommodate a group of that size until 9:30pm on any night of the upcoming week. My brother and sister-in-law had gotten childcare for their two daughters for the night that we planned, so I asked if it would be possible to split our group and have a table for 5 and a table for 4 and to see if once we arrive at the restaurant if they could seat us as close as possible. With no warmth of tone on the phone the person stated, “I can’t promise anything.” Clearly, I had gotten them at the wrong time.
Upon arriving at the restaurant on Thursday, my group of 9 was down to 7 as my sister and her husband were sick. My brother and his wife were late and stuck on the Bay Bridge (they actually didn’t arrive at the restaurant until 7:15pm). I approached the host at 6:30pm, and he was very gracious and warm, stating he could accommodate my group of 7 and seat us together and that it didn’t matter that we were still waiting for 2. A very nice surprise, given my attempts to get reservations earlier in the week.
The restaurant was warm, and the décor definitely looked like it is a place for a good time. There were folks at the bar and folks seated in the dining room, but it was a bit smaller than I expected, so I could see why perhaps large groups would be difficult to accommodate (contrary to what the website stated). We were seated, and it was dark and the music, though enjoyable, was loud, and my almost 3-year-old daughter was a bit scared. Luckily, we had brought something to occupy her while we dined.
We were seated at a long table with a very dangerous helping of chips and salsa. The chips were so light and tasty that before we knew it, the 5 of us had eaten 3 bowls full of chips with the fresh-tasting salsas. While waiting for the rest of our party, we ordered the plátanos fritos, empanandas de hongos, and crispy flautas. The plátanos fritos were so sweet and delicious with the accompanying black beans. My whole group thoroughly enjoyed this appetizer. The empanandas were delicious as well with a good amount of mushroom filling. The flautas were average, but were what could be expected of flautas. We each also each enjoyed a margarita. There were lots of creative margaritas on the menu with varying types of infused salts and flavors. The margaritas were strong and had good depth of flavor, though they were a bit expensive given the drink size.
My group tried to order a variety of dishes, which included Chile Verde, Tampiqueño (carne asada), Chuleta de Puerco Abodaba (Pork Chop), Camerones Tropisueño (Shrimp), a traditional combination plate, and I ordered the Chicken with Mole Poblano. The waiter told us that the chuleta takes approx 20 minutes to prepare, and so my partner — who ordered the chuleta — stated that the rest of the dishes could be served first while she waited for her dish. This preparation time information should have been indicated on the menu, as it could have affected her decision. The rest of us had our dishes served, and we were finishing our meals before she received her dish (which actually was more like 30 minutes from the time we placed our order).
All the dishes, when served, looked and smelled terrific and appetizing. The portions were ample, especially after eating all of the chips and salsa. The camerones were very tasty, and I secretly wished I had ordered this dish instead of my chicken mole. The rice that accompanied the chicken mole was probably one of the best Mexican style rice I’ve ever had. The mole was rich and complex. As I got down to the thigh/drumstick joint though, I realized that my chicken was not completely done. I made the mistake of not sending it back to the kitchen as I should have done, and I simply did not continue eating the chicken. Everyone in my group enjoyed their meal and we all tried a bit of each other’s plates and agreed that the food is like “California style” Mexican cuisine. Good fresh ingredients with great depth of flavor without the heaviness that is oftentimes associated with Mexican food.
For dessert, we each took a spoon and shared one slice of the tres leches cakes. The dessert was sweet, but not too sweet or overpowering. One slice, though, needs to be shared as the cake is very rich.
All in all, a good dining experience. The place is not good for kids, though, and perhaps not that great for large groups or folks who don’t already know each other as the music was pretty loud. I felt that the cost of the alcoholic drinks, though, was clearly where the restaurant makes its profit, as many of our entrees cost as much as one small margarita drink. This is a great place for drinks and appetizers after work but be aware, the drink cost adds up fast. If I were in the neighborhood for lunch, I wouldn’t hesitate to try this place out again, though I might try a burrito and the chips to counterbalance the cost of the margaritas.