Could anything be better than the contemporary Mexican Cuisine at La Urbana? Here’s the answer: Yes, the small plates served next door at the restaurant’s attached garage space, sometimes referred to as El Garaje. La Urbana’s food is exquisite, but pricy. What was originally conceived as a small space for private parties and beer drinking has transformed into a very casual lunch venue with a late afternoon “happy hour”.
Bottled and draft beers seem to dominate the card tables in this room, however, the red wine and citrus sangria is excellent and well worth a try. If you decide on the Sangria, my suggestion is to buy a pitcher, since the per glass price seems steep by comparison. Personally, I find it difficult to order anything but the Agua Sandia (Watermelon Aqua Fresca). The color provides enough inspiration for me to order it. Horchata is sometimes available and their version of this rice, cinnamon drink is as good as it gets.
The Sopes alone are reason enough to stop by for a bite. In the above photos you can see their thick cornmeal patties filled to the brim with refried beans and topped with meats as exotic as barbacoa style short ribs in a heavy Mole sauce, roasted chicken, carne asada and carnitas, the Mexican classic pulled pork. Each is then topped with avocado and cilantro with a squeeze of lime. How much do these cost? They are being given away for a mere $3 each. Two are satisfying and make a cheap meal. The short rib meat is truly a bargain, because it is 1/3 to 1/4 the size of La Urbana’s short rib entree that costs $24 with pureed potatoes and vegetables tossed in for color.
Tacos can be had with the same fillings, though the sauces change from time to time. Queso fresco cheese was added to the batch pictured in the top photo, but not always. Smaller photos show carnitas again, a roasted vegetable and chorizo taco, a predominantly roasted corn filling with both avocado and queso fresco, and finally a braised short rib taco. There is so much filling on the tacos, that I often order extra tortillas. Again, these delectable morsels are sold for $3 each, but drop to $2 each at happy hour. Anyone could be happy eating one or more of these.
On their daily menu you may sometimes find a fish taco for $5. It was good and the size commanded a larger tortilla, but I’ve had enough fish tacos to know of several that I prefer to these.
These photos make it clear that the tacos are made with a very generous portion of the meat and poultry fillings. From left to right we have shredded chicken, barbacoa style short ribs with a spicy chile sauce, carnitas, carne asada, then more chicken and carnitas.
Although I usually stick to the tacos, upon occasion the daily menu will offer a tempting diversion. The chicken salad was good, but not outstanding, however, the Mexican sandwich, typically called a torta, was very good and big enough for many of us to be satisfied by eating only half. It would be impossible to overspend at this venue. I’ll bet their catering business is more than busy.
La Urbana Website with mention of El Mercado Urbano
|661 Divisadero St|
|San Francisco CA 94117|
|1 415 440-4500|