Deterred by the number of people waiting to dine at Schmidt’s last night, we walked east on 20th
street to 901 South Van Ness, where there was a mix of Latinos, Anglos, and Asians at San Jalisco.
The name is new, but the restaurant has operated frin 1988 until earlier this year as Los Jarritos, serving the most authentic Mexican food I have experienced in San Francisco (a city with many more immigrants from Central America than from Mexico and perhaps more Peruvians, too).
The tortillas seem to be made on-site: they are a bit thicker and less perfectly round than the mass-produced ones and not at all dried-out. The tortilla chips, indeed, seem a bit too thick to me. The salsa was unremarkable.
The sauces for both of our entrées – chicken in mole sauce, and chile verde (pork in green chile sauce) – were authentic and chile-hot (picante). Well, usually the piquancy of Mexican dishes with chiles hits you immediately, and the burning sensation crept up more like Southeastern Asian dishes with chiles.
Mole in American Mexican restaurants is usually blander. I know from a restaurant in Puebla in which we had eight different mole sauces that there are multiple mole sauces, but authentic ones have nuts in the mix with unsweetened chocolate. The San Jalisco mole did not visibly have nuts, but there were some there, very ground up. And, perhaps in a concession to Anglo tastes, the mole sauce was a bit sweet.
The chile verde tasted authentic, as did the refried beans and “Spanish rice,” though I only had one forkful of the latter (I prefer to get my carbohydrates elsewhere, and was thinking about dessert, since tres leches was on the menu, though my entrée plus some chips while waiting left me to full to order it.)
As in most Mexican restaurants, the default is refried beans, but one may order whole pinto beans or whole black beans instead.
Horchata and other “fruit drinks” are available. Los Jarritos (a brand of Mexican soft drink) used to be available, but with increased export to the US, Novamex the multinational company owning the brand pressed “trademark infringement” on some thirty US restaurants with the name, though “jarrito” is a common, not a proper name (meaning “little jar,” referring to small earthenware pots throughout the Spanish-speaking world). Though Novamex’s case was dismissed, restaurant owner Dolores Reyes reached a settlement and changed the name.
Portions are large, particularly beverage glasses; service friendly and attentive. I want to return to check out the chilaquiles Remo (chicken with scrambled eggs, cheese, and shredded tortilla bits) or machaca (bits of flank steak scramled with eggs, onions, tomatoes, and peppers) for breakfast some time.At $15.95, carne asada con chilaquiles seems pricey, though the portion is probably substantial.
The restaurant is open every day from 8 AM until 10 PM and serves its breakfast dishes all day.
BTW, Jalisco is not a saint you’ve never heard of, but the name of the Mexican state that includes Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, and “Jalisco” is a hispanization of the Nahuatl words xalli (meaning “sand” or “gravel”) and ixtli meaning “plain.”