Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pitstop at Pica Pica

I'd been telling folks how much I missed the incredible accessibility of cuisines that I once enjoyed when living in downtown Manhattan—not just your usual Italian, Chinese and Japanese fare, but also Venezuelan, Russian, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, Cuban and more. One of my absolute faves was and still is East Village hole-in-the-wall Caracas, which puts out the best empanadas and arepas I've ever had; plenty of others agree—often the wait to get in can stretch for an hour and a half or more (luckily, there's takeout). Whenever I'm in town, I always try to pick up one of the deep-fried sweet corn hot pockets (aka empanadas) stuffed with shredded beef, sweet plantains, black beans and cheese (called the de pabellon) as well as one of the spongy pita-pocket-type arepas, packed full of another delightful meat and cheese combo. It's something I wish we had in SF.

So when I heard that Pica Pica Maize Kitchen was opening in the Mission, I was psyched. Finally. Venezuelan-style arepas and empanadas conveniently located nearby. Sadly, the empanadas don't hold a candle to the ones at Caracas. But the Pabellon maize'wich (pictured above) comes damn close ... at least in flavor and appeal. This is true comfort food. And at a pretty good price. Welcome to the neighborhood, Pica Pica.

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