Corn is king at this Mission spot, serving Venezuelan-style dishes in a very casual atmosphere
Some random tasting notes: la vegetariana, a compendium of tofu slats, avocado slices, plantains, and black beans, was difficult to eat because of the toughness of the tofu. Catira, shreds of chicken sautéed in a sofrito then put to bed under a blanket of melted cheddar cheese, was tasty, but not tasty enough to overcome the sweet interference of encircling cachapa. (There is a reason high-fructose corn syrup comes from corn. You could make a nice crèpe suzette from a cachapa.) Pulled pork, on the other hand, or pernil, was about as good as it gets — and made that much better by the little tub of aioli served on the side. The spicy sauce served with la vegetariana (we guessed some version of chipotle or other hot-chile aioli) was better yet, and a pretty peach color on top of it all.
Like the three tenors, Pica Pica's three corn flatbreads share obvious similarities and have distinctive virtues, but if I could only choose one, I would choose the arepa, which seemed to me the best balanced and most disciplined of the three: redolent of corn but not cloying, thick and firm enough to hold its contents without becoming competitive. None of the three, though, are finger or ballpark foods, suitable to eat by hand; they're all too big and unwieldy, and you'll need a knife and fork so as not to disgrace yourself. Don't ask how I know.
PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN
Daily: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
401 Valencia, SF
Beer and wine
Not too noisy