Tropisueno - Page 2

Outsized taco cart by day, high-energy urban cantina in the evening: Tropisueno is a Mexican dream
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Photo by Rory McNamara

The ceviche itself was wonderful: tiny boulders of plump, white fish (I would have guessed cod, but it was tilapia), puckered by plenty of lime juice and intricately punctuated with cucumber and onion dice, minced cilantro, and dabs of avocado.

We could have performed the same sort of triage, or diage, on the empanadas ($8), a merry little band of pastry turnovers stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, but this would have involved actual deconstruction — a kind of meatless butchery — rather than simply a refusal to construct. Plus, the pastry was outstanding and addictive.

The main courses range widely, from a vegetarian pozole — the traditional hominy stew, not traditionally vegetarian — to albóndigas, a.k.a. meatballs. But the house favorites are all from the sea and include the spirited camarones tropisueños ($16), good-sized, chubby, wild-caught shrimp sautéed and sauced with a purée of chile de arbol (a fairly mild red variety), lime juice, cilantro, and a little Mexican crema for softening. Throw in a sizable berm of Spanish rice, a pot of black beans, and a little steamer of fresh flour tortillas and you're looking at .... well, fullness.

People who love to gorge themselves on chips and salsa while retaining a sense that dinner itself remains to be eaten will be relieved to learn that the menu also offers "old-school" combo plates of trusty favorites, such as chicken tacos ($9.95 for two), stuffed with shredded green cabbage, queso blanco, and cubes of boneless grilled breast. The tacos are quite tasty, with or without an extra dollop of salsa smuggled in from the chips basket. They're double-wrapped in corn tortillas, which are soft though not as soft as their flour cousins, and this doubling up makes them both starchier and more rubbery. The ideal tortilla is soft enough to form a pliant pouch around its contents. These are not that soft, so ten cuidado or you will be the author of a mess.

Tropisueño

Dinner: nightly, 5:30–10:30 p.m.

Lunch: daily, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

75 Yerba Buena Lane, SF

(415) 243-0299

www.tropisueno.com

Full bar

AE/CB/DC/DS/MC/V

Noisy

Wheelchair accessible

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