Tidbits: Al Pastor Papi, New Ramen Spots, Next Level Burger

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An al pastor taco from Al Pastor Papi. Photo via Facebook.

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The signature spicy ramen from The Story of Ramen. Photo courtesy of The Story of Ramen.

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Spicy ramen with bone marrow at Ushi Taro. Photo courtesy of Ushi Taro on Yelp.

Some quick notes for you:

It’s tough to find some true al pastor tacos in SF with meat shaved off the trompo, but that’s what Miguel Escobedo (previously Papalote—he sold his portion of the business back to his brother) is doing at Al Pastor Papi. Escobedo’s new biz has opened in a hot pink trailer parked at the new Parklab Gardens in Mission Bay, next door to the Warriors arena. I’ve been following his al pastor obsession on Instagram after reading a preview of his tacos and look forward to checking out his Mexico City-inspired tacos (he’s using tortillas from La Palma and also offering carne asada, pollo asado, and a vegan option too). Hours are Tue-Fri 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-9pm.

Here’s more on Parklab Gardens: it’s operated by Carlos Muela of food truck parks SF Spark Social and StrEat Food, and also plays home to Hookt doughnuts (from the Frozen Kuhsterd folks), rotating trucks, and there’s a bar serving beer and wine. A main feature is Stagecoach Greens, a high-tech, outdoor miniature golf course from Esther Stearns and Jan Cohn Stearns, with 18 holes inspired by cycles of boom and bust around the West. There’s also an app to keep score and book tee times (open daily). 1379 4th St. at Mission Bay Blvd.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned ~THE STORY OF RAMEN~ coming to the Mission, a weekday ramen shop that’s also a classroom at night. Founder Manville Chan says they are soft-opening for lunch this Friday August 24th, 11am-2pm. You can take a look at the menu, which includes a couple of kinds of tonkotsu, vegetarian, and chicken broth selections, plus add-ons and gyoza. For weekday evenings and weekends, their restaurant accepts advanced reservations for their educational and interactive ramen experience, when diners participate in making noodles and learning more about ramen and the broth. In the coming weeks, hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, closed on Labor Day. 3231 24th St. at Mission.

Since we’re talking ramen, there’s a place that has caught my eye: it’s called ~USHI TARO~ in the Inner Sunset, and they make a bone marrow ramen. With summer black truffles. Whoa, hearty—perfect for Fogust. It ends up their focus is on ramen with beef bone broth (shio, spicy, and paitan), and they also make oxtail and tomato ramen, and tsukemen. Other sides are available as well. I’ll report back! Open Mon-Fri 5pm-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-9:30pm. 1382 9th Ave. at Judah, 415-702-6014.

And now we’re taking a break from the beef: opening this Friday August 24th is ~NEXT LEVEL BURGER~, a plant-based burger joint in Potrero Hill. The menu includes plant-based burgers, hot dogs, salads, sandwiches, sides, and dairy-free (soy- or coconut-based) shakes. 450 Rhode Island St. at 17th St.