There is nothing quite like undressed lettuce, sitting there like a pile of hay in a barnyard, to let the air out of the balloon of anticipation, and yet this seemingly minor oversight is common practice in many Mexican restaurants. If nothing else, the kitchen crew at Regalito sweats the details.
The only sauce I didn't respond to was the roping of red-pepper coulis across the enchiladas rojas ($7.50), flaps of corn tortillas also topped with white pipings of crema, like decorations on a birthday cake. The sauce's rich rust red color belied its undersalting. On the other hand, the tortillas weren't deep-fried — a small mercy.
Many of the small dishes, of bar and side food, are remarkably tasty: brilliant little pirouettes of flavor and texture you could easily choreograph into a light, leisurely meal or an extended cocktail hour. If you've ever saved the seeds from your Halloween pumpkin and later tried to roast them, only to meet with disappointment, you will find the pepitas ($2) — pumpkin seeds toasted with chili, salt, and lime — to be revelatory. Mostly they are tender and melt in the mouth without leaving behind that terrible cud of fiber.
Beans, of course, are available in a variety of guises. Among the possibilities are stewed pinto beans ($2.50), mild and meaty, and ejotes ($3.50) — green beans — sautéed with delicate ribbons of white onion and finished with a squeeze of lime. And while we are on the subject of limes: the house-made limeade ($1.95) is a phenomenon of dense sweet-sourness. If you're tired of lemonade and you want a bit more excitement than the usual aguas frescas can provide — or you seek the grease-cutting power of citric acid — you will be happy with it. Think of it as a little gift to yourself — a regalito, as Spanish speakers say.<\!s>
Tues.–<\d>Fri., 11 a.m.–<\d>10 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.–<\d>10 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.–<\d>8 p.m.
3481 18th St., SF
Beer and wine