Friday, October 15, 2010

San Francisco Mission district ramble: Poc-Chuc, Four Barrel Coffee

Four Barrel Coffee's spacious counter

I couldn't spend a weekend in Berkeley and Mill Valley without squeezing in an afternoon roaming San Francisco's Mission district. But I've gorged on enough Tartine pastries; where else to go? After settling on Poc- Chuc via a little Internet intelligence and Four Barrel Coffee, which I first tasted at the Cognoscenti Coffee stand, I had a chance encounter on the BART platform with Josette, an adventurous and youthful retired French woman who was also spending the afternoon exploring San Fran.
She decided my food-focused itinerary sounded better than her cable car plan, so she joined me for lunch at Poc-Chuc, a pleasant Yucatecan refuge near the bustling Mission St./16th St. Bart station. Poc-Chuc was similar to the now-closed more formal version of Chichen Itza, but I found the cooking even more focused and luscious. Josette's prudent French appetite was stunned at the size of the generous plate of poc-chuc, the signature dish of grilled citrus-marinated pork, beans, rice, grilled onions and housemade tortillas.
Seriously good plantains at Poc-Chuc
We also tried excellent cochinita pibil and shrimp tacos, and some of the best fried plantains I've ever had -- with "creme fraiche" on the side, I explained. Even the tamarindo drink was generously sized and perfectly balanced -- this place is a real winner, even if it's not in the down-and-dirty Mission burrito style one might expect in the area. 
Grilled pork was tender and nicely caramelized
Then it was time for afternoon coffee at Four Barrel, a newer caffeine stop on Valencia with a woodsy, open design. A bar with stools overlooks a large roasting operation in the rear, while the large counter in the middle makes espressos and cappucinos. A wall of vinyl records provides the soundtrack -- "Hunky Dory" when we were there -- while a gentleman at a small counter in front prepares special varieties like a richly-flavored Ethiopia Welena Suke Quto I tried. 
Making a pour-over at Four Barrel Coffee

He'll ask you to specify if you want an espresso or a "pour-over" -- that's a drip cup made in a Clever Dripper filter which steeps the coffee more deeply than a normal drip filter. With its trendy mounted animal heads, rough-hewn tables filled with Macbook-using Missionites and retro soundtack, this is one seriously cool coffeehouse. I would have liked to also check out Dynamo Donuts for a Lemon Szechuan or Molasses Guinness, but I just couldn't fit in another bite. Must return to the Mission, soon.


swag said...

I know most of the eastern United States thinks that San Francisco is a nearby suburb of L.A., but there's no reason a blog called "Eating L.A." should be guilty of it.

This blog is either suffering from a lack of local material or it was shortsighted when this blog was named. Pick one, if not both.

Larb Neur said...

Swag, I trust you're kidding. The idea that the person who runs a blog called Eating LA can't make a report about a recent trip to somewhere else is just plain silly.

Mlle Paradis said...

great post, i was just up there and there's so much i missed! hope the new style "pour overs" catch on - at least flavor wise. american drip coffee makers waste a shocking amount of coffee and make lousy coffee. the exact same models in europe have holes in a circle that allow the hot water to percolate throughout the "basket" of coffee. instead of the single stream. am i making my point, or am i just ranting?

anyway, most people don't need a gourmet coffee maker, just a good one.

i wish i could say i'd gorged enough on tartine pastries.


Eating LA Fan said...

Swag, from glancing at your profile it's clear that you're a San Francisco coffee fan who must have stumbled across this blog because it dares to mention *gasp* coffee in San Francisco.

Well, because you're obviously new here there's something you might not realize. Eating L.A. does a wonderful job of covering the local LA food scene!

As a longtime fan of this great blog, I can assure you that Eating L.A. tirelessly covers virtually every single neighborhood across Los Angeles in search of food and drink news to share with us readers. I'm an L.A. resident and I cherish this blog for its lively and informative posts about local eating. But I also appreciate the occasional posts that deal with food outside of LA. I've gotten some excellent tips about dining in Palm Springs, in Tijuana Mexico, and yes, even in San Francisco from this blog.

Variety is the spice of life! I'm sure that Eating L.A.'s focus will always center around Los Angeles. But why complain when it broadens its scope a bit and gives us readers a taste of other cities as well?

I honestly have no idea what you're complaining about. Eating LA is not suffering from a lack of local material, nor is its name "shortsighted." Maybe if you took the time to actually scroll through some of the SIX YEARS worth of posts dealing with local stories, you'd realize that.

carter said...

Next time in SF, you should try Matt Straus' Heirloom Cafe at 2500 Folsom, corner 21st. Matt is former sommelier at Wilshire in Santa Monica, grad of cooking school in Vancouver, BC, and reallllly knows food and of course wine. The place opened mid-May of this year. for more details.
I can't wait to get there, just a matter of those 400 miles!

Alex Truck said...

I (personally) think San Francisco is one of the best places in the World to try out different cuisines. But I am kind of biased :)