~REGALITO ROSICERIA~ is trying to win the sweetest branding award: the design of the site is totally puppy-style "awwww, so cute!," the menu is clean and pleasing to read, and even the exterior of the building is chipper. It all jives with the nice people working here too. The whole place makes me feel like I just took a big ole hit on the Prozac pipe, followed by a chaser of Zoloft.
All remnants of the former shady pupuseria are long gone—the new interior is more IKEA than grease-a-ria. It's kind of like a post-modern taqueria from someone who understands a pleasing paint palette. There's a long counter overlooking the kitchen (hello, single diners) and some tables for those who prefer their feet firmly planted on the ground. The music veered into a scary pop-land a couple times, and the lights are a touch bright, but it's mostly cheerful and clean, and there is even art on the walls. (Literally the complete opposite of the cave that was here before.)
Munch on some kicky pepitas ($2) (AKA pumpkin seeds for all you non-linguistic gringos) with chile and lime while looking over the menu. The specialty here is the 1/4 roast chicken, which is free-range (thank you) and comes with your choice of marinade (salt, pepper, lemon, or chile, garlic, lime) and a side of pinto beans and Mexican rice. The chile, garlic, and lime pollo was definitely juicy, but I found it lacking some salt and seasoning, so I hope they get that right—at least it wasn't dry. I hate that. The Mexican rice was some of the best I've had (fluffy, savory), and the pintos were big and tasty. I so want to come back for the Oaxacan mole ($12.50).
If you can handle some spice, go for the enchiladas rojas ($7.50). But because this place plays some authentic Mexican comida mind tricks on you, the red ones don't come with cheese or chicken, so order them with chicken if you expect to make a meal out of it. The enchiladas verdes ($8.50) come with chicken, but no cheese. Just pointing these things out so you don't end up busting out a sad clown face when you don't get some chicken in your enchilada. (That last part of the sentences sounds kind of naughty, ay caramba.) The thing that will totally make you cry is the heat of the red sauce—it packs a gangsta punch, thanks to the guajillo chiles they are using. Gonna make you sweat! (Everybody dance now.)
The menu offers grilled nopales ($6.50), which are probably one of the hardest things to prep, like, ever. Seriously a ball-busting dish to prepare—"Hey, anyone want to remove prickly spines off this big ole box o' cactus?" "Uh, no, gracias." So half of eating this dish is appreciating the labor that goes into it. Like pomegranate. (Times ten.) Nopales are also noteworthy for their incredibly snotty character—it's like a wicked cousin to okra.
A pal tried the black bean soup special ($6), which also had good heat and seasoning, but dang, the chochoyotes (masa dumplings) hiding in the bowl were like corn rocks. Unexpectedly, my favorite dish was the ejotes/green beans ($3.50). The beans were cooked perfectly, and had this acidic tang from some lime, plus some thin slices of sweet onion. You'll want an order for yourself. There's a guy in the kitchen who has some special touch for doing these beans that I couldn't get out of him. Magic beans. The papas con rajas/roasted new potatoes and poblano chile strips ($3.50) were also killer—needed a little salt, but with the crumbling of cheese on top were tasty nonetheless. Rad, those rajas.
Finished up with some commendable custardy flan ($5.95), and the sangria we had with dinner was also well made, with a rim of cinnamon and fresh chunks of fruit with no cloying sugary taste. I'm coming back for the pork leg, the mole, and those damned green beans. Hasta luego!
3481 18th St.
Cross: Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Brunch Sat-Sun 9am-2pm
Hours as of July 2012:
Sat & Sun Brunch 11 am-3 pm
Sat & Sun Lunch 11 am-5 pm
Dinner served Mon-Sat, 5 pm-10 pm; Sun 5 pm-9 pm