This section is written by Erin Archuleta, half of the talent behind local outfit ICHI Sushi and ICHI Catering. Outside of the food world, Erin works full-time championing kid literacy at 826 National. Keep up with her @erinarchuleta.
The upcoming TACOLICIOUS in the Mission at 741 Valencia (between 18th and 19th Streets next to old-school local appliance mainstay Cherin’s in one of the old New College Buildings) is actually two projects: the Tacolicious concept of a smorgasbord of tacos and Mexican food, and Mosto, a cozy tequila bar with affordable snacks. You may be familiar with (or already a fan of) Tacolicious from their Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market stand, or their Marina restaurant that opened in 2010.
Owner Joe Hargrave’s original dream for the next Tacolicious project was for a 2,000-sq.-ft. space, without the Mission even as a blip on the radar. What he found was a 4,500-sq.-ft. stunner on Valencia Street. When he and the guys—his crew, chef Antelmo (Telmo) Faria, and general manager Mike (Mikey) Barrow—walked through the space, they knew they had found their winner. First thoughts were to build out two spaces, one for Tacolicious with a keen patio space, and the other they’d sublease. Then, after a trip to Guadalajara with Mikey, the idea of a tequila bar came up.
The guys knew they had a killer layout: a gorgeous side entrance flanked with mid-century brick screens (think Palm Springs entryways and Vegas patio living), floor-to-ceiling windows, warm wood floors, an open kitchen layout to the back on the right-hand Tacolicious side, a drop-down ceiling on the Mosto side, an old-school (for those of you readers under 30) working phone booth bank, and an intimate back room.
Quite frankly, I’m pretty excited at the prospect of a place to show off to my tequila-drinking family the next time they’re in town. In the firm tradition of folks who celebrate à la shots of Cazadores at midnight on Christmas Eve in my grandma’s house, not one person in my family would shy away from trying a number of the 300+ tequilas the guys plan to serve. And, in a move that would shock even my Grandma Guadalupe (who’s seen it all), these guys plan to have some tequila on tap!
Poised just behind the bar, there will be an al pastor spit, the meat being shaved for daily al pastor taco specials. There will also be a raw fish special each day. And, Joe’s good buddy Saúl’s mom in El Salvador, Mrs. Reyes, is training Telmo and the gang in making traditional banana leaf tamales. That’s right, Joe sent Telmo all the way to El Salvador to get the recipe down perfectly. At Mosto, they’ll be featuring five small plates and five regular drinks you can count on to wind down (or up) after work with.
On the Tacolicious side, you’ll be able to peek through those dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows at an expansive Paul Madonna mural showcasing a vantage point from the top of Dolores Park. The seating will be made up of comfy banquettes and two- and four-top tables. And the floor will be covered in authentic, brightly colored Mexican cement tiles. The patio boasts outdoor seating under a retractable roof. Nights like the foggy one this author’s hard at work on, I’d truly appreciate a retractable roof over my backyard even for just taking the dog out.
Tacolicious may have even solved one of the greatest modern problems—the first date who thinks it’s okay to chat on his or her cell phone at dinner. The crew has built in a space for a 1950s and 1970s phone booth bank between the front space and the back dining room so that you can banish that bad first date or take that ever-important international business call in a designated phone area. (That’s right, insert E.T. jokes here.)
Just past the phone booths, you’ll find the back dining room. Even while it’s smaller and not connected to an outdoor space, it has four large skylights, giving you a more radiant glow. In the center of the room, there will be a big 7x7-ft. table covered with succulents.
Lighting throughout the space will mostly be open and natural, but in the bar, there will be a fun and funky home-spun art installation: thousands of Mason jars will be covering the ceiling, and everyone working on the project from the carpenters, to the drywallers, to the builders, will contribute something special to them—be it army men, marbles, or photographs. They got the idea from their bar garnish stations at the existing Marina location. And, at the heart of all this is a family project. Joe and his editor-wife, Sara Deseran, are designing the space themselves.
Their near and dear personal project is a blend of traditional Mexican cooking by Telmo and Joe’s modern Mexican cuisine. And, from this gal who’s worked in the Mission for close to 10 years now, I’m glad to have a neighbor with an al pastor spit at the ready and tequila my grandma’s never heard of.
Exterior. All photos by Blair Sneddon Photography.