Best of the Bay 2011: BEST PLACE TO YUCA IT UP

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Yuca — sounds like yucky, often looks and tastes like same. Turquoise-splashed Puerto Rican restaurant Parada 22 in the Upper Haight turns that yuca to yum. Rarely eaten here, yuca is the deliciously inescapable side dish for the bulk of the entrees, the centerpiece of the vegetarian platter, and the base of the yucca, avocado and garlic soup. Even as a standalone side, mashed and marinated in onion, olive oil, garlic, and spices, it shines. Parada 22's savory way with the cassava root (as it's known in much of the USA) complements home-style island favorites like tender, oregano-suffused pernil asado pork and a piquant pollo encebollado (chicken smothered in onions). For real starch maniacs, order a side with the truly scrumptious mofongo, mashed plantains with shrimp criolla.

1805 Haight, SF. (415) 750-1111. www.parada22.com

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