May 18, 2024


Cooking Is My World

The best food of the week from our Bay Area restaurant critic

In this new weekly column, I’ll be sharing the best dishes I’ve eaten around the San Francisco Bay Area lately. While the list may include Instagram-only deals or seasonal tasting menu items, I’ll be sure to only include things that you could reasonably get now-ish.

This week’s edition includes chilaquiles, a great burrito and tonkatsu with a rich, mole-like sauce. You can also check out my recommendations from last week.

Chilaquiles verde at SanJalisco

The chilaquiles verde at SanJalisco, doused in a glossy tomatillo salsa and scattered with gooey nopal and cheese.

The chilaquiles verde at SanJalisco, doused in a glossy tomatillo salsa and scattered with gooey nopal and cheese.

Soleil Ho / The Chronicle

This family-run Mexican restaurant, decked out in colorful papel picado and framed portraits of Frida Kahlo, is an essential breakfast stop, especially if you partied hard the night before. I love their massive platters of chilaquiles, which come in four varieties with different toppings and salsas.

As the tortilla chips sit, they soak up flavor from the sauce, softening slightly at the corners. The best is the chilaquiles verde ($10.95), doused in a glossy tomatillo salsa and scattered with gooey nopal and cheese. The salsa is tangy and mild, so it won’t upset your stomach if it’s feeling kind of tender in the morning. It might just be me and the particular fixations of my inner child, but the indulgence of eating chips for breakfast never gets old.

SanJalisco. 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Indoor and outdoor seating. 901 S Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. 415-648-8383 or

Al pastor burrito at Cuco’s Burritos

A super burrito with al pastor at Cuco's Burritos.

A super burrito with al pastor at Cuco’s Burritos.

Soleil Ho / The Chronicle

Some of the best burritos in the Peninsula can be found in this modest storefront in Redwood City. Opened by two sisters in 2019, Cuco’s makes your basic burrito (and “super” upgrade) as well as a wide selection of specialties, like a vegetarian burrito draped in rich mole negro and a carnitas- and bean-filled version coated in mild red salsa. The staff are friendly and are also happy to take advance orders via phone.

Though I wanted to get all of the burritos, I settled on a super burrito ($9) with al pastor just to get a sense of the baseline. The ratio of beans, meat, rice and cold garnishes like avocado salsa felt right, and each bite revealed a different set of textures. The burrito is also seared a little bit to give the tortilla some flakiness. Though I didn’t spot a vertical trompo in the kitchen, the al pastor was smoky and well-seared, with heavy pepper notes in its marinade.

Cuco’s Burritos. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Indoor and outdoor seating. 2855 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City. 650-362-3474

Kurobuta tonkatsu at Rintaro

For a while, bustling izakaya Rintaro has been serving $50/person set menus featuring seasonal delicacies like sashimi, steaming-hot fish cakes and tempura-fried Brentwood corn. At five courses, it’s already a filling meal, but there are other other items you can add from an a la carte menu. One, the tonkatsu ($15), is a piece of Berkshire pork loin breaded in panko and fried to a craggy crisp.

Fried pork is always tempting, but what really caught my eye was the included sauce, made with hatcho miso, which I rarely see on restaurant menus in San Francisco. A dark brown miso made in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, hatcho miso has a muscular, mole-like taste, and it’s a very popular topping for tonkatsu in that region. It heightens the savory flavor of the fried pork and has the same concentrated depth you’d find in the fond at the bottom of a roasting pan.

Rintaro. 5-9:15 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 5-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Indoor and outdoor seating. 82 14th St., San Francisco. 415-589-7022 or

Soleil Ho is The San Francisco Chronicle’s restaurant critic. Email: Twitter: @hooleil