I have been tracking the opening of MEDIA NOCHE since I saw the first pic of their Cubano on Instagram and am so happy to report they are open, bringing tropical and happy vibes to the corner at 19th Street and Lexington in the Mission. It’s almost like they requested the beautiful weather we’re having this week for their opening.
To recap my original post, the project is from industry vets Madelyn Markoe and Jessie Barker, who worked with consulting chef Telmo Faria (Uma Casa, Tacolicious) on the Cuban menu—now Juan Martinez (Tres, Matador, Globe) is the chef de cuisine. The menu is casual and compact: you can come by for the trademark medianoche ($11.50) or Cubano ($12.50). Both are hot pressed sandwiches that come with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard—the only difference is the medianoche is round and comes on an eggy brioche-style bread. Sidenote: this is some of the juiciest pork I’ve had in a Cubano, so good. There’s a fried chicken sandwich, the Celia (cute), with coconut slaw, avocado, and you’ll want to pour their Cuban green sauce all over it.
There are also bowls ($16 or $16.50), like ropa vieja and lechon asado, over black beans, rice, and coconut slaw, plus a couple of salads, including the bright verde ($6/$10) with young kale, cabbage, avocado, spiced pepitas, and a shaving of manchego with mojo vinaigrette (killer salad!).
You can start your meal with snacks like picadillo empanadas ($9), a must, plus hot little fried croquetas ($9) with smoked ham, Gruyère, and pickle that you dip into aioli. With this warm weather, the ceviche ($10) makes total sense, with calamari, shrimp, cilantro, lime, and plantain chips.
For dessert, there are Moon Bar ice cream pops in flavors like chocolate-dipped guava cheesecake and cafe con leche with cocoa nibs, developed by former Delfina pastry chef Jessica Sullivan. There are also guava pastelitos from La Ventana Cubana.
Service is fast-casual—you order at the counter, and then wait your turn for a spot at a table, either some communal ones or there’s counter seating. Some outdoor seating is coming too. The aqua-spiked space (designed by Hannah Collins Designs) makes you instantly happy, with custom concrete and hand-painted tile floors, plenty of wrought-iron touches, plants, and don’t miss the metallic banana wallpaper in the bathroom. You’ll find a flamingo mural outside by fnnch to match the neon flamingo inside, Fiona (now you know). Markoe, who has a music background and studied Cuban jazz, worked with her brother on curating the restaurant’s music.
You can also grab some wine (by the glass, carafe, and bottle, with two whites, two reds, a rosé, and a sparkling), plus sangria, beer, and aguas frescas. Hours are Wed-Mon 11:30am-10pm, closed Tue (look for some later weekend hours soon). 3465 19th St. at Lexington.
I mentioned the affordable Italian spot coming to the Mission, PINK ONION, a Sicilian-inspired panino, pizza, and pasta place, and it’s now open. To recap, it’s an extension of the Lo Coco’s restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley. Look for panini and salads for lunch, and 3-4 handmade pastas and about 10 pizzas with “lively salads” and housemade bread at dinner. There are 12 craft beers on tap and 6 wines on tap, primarily local. Open daily 4pm-10pm. 64 14th St. at Folsom, 925-323-1933.
The namesake medianoche at Media Noche. Photo: © tablehopper.com.