Delarosa, the immensely popular bar and food hangout on Chestnut Street in the Cow Hollow District of San Francisco, has pulled off one of the greatest food heists of all time. Styling themselves as an Italian bistro with pizzas, salads, skewered protein, Panini combos, pasta and fried specialties, they are actually an authentic Oaxacan restaurant in drag.
This little known fact only becomes obvious after the sneaky bartender places a shot of mezcal in front of an unsuspecting guest. As the mezcal works its magic, the pizzas contort into delicious Thayludas, the Paninis expand into plump, round Tortas, a house made mole sauce appears out of nowhere to delicately coat the Spiedini, salted, fried, chili encrusted grasshoppers hop onto the menu in the Fritti section, and the Antipasta list is expanded to include Tamales Oaxaqueños and Memelitas stacked high with delicious chunks of octopus.
Nola, one of the most cherished local customers who dines nearly every day at Delarosa, a place she calls home, likes to quote Paul Newman: “Why should I go out for hamburger when I have steak at home?” I don’t know if Nola has ever been slipped a taste of mezcal, but had she been so lucky she would have marveled as she watched that juicy, thick steak assume the healthy, tasty charm of thin sliced arrachera and tasajo.
Men tend to the babysitting at Delarosa while the women fend off the giant spiked turtles that crawl up from the sea to munch on the lime salted cacahuates.
These were my impressions, in any case, as I sipped on my mezcal. It was pure magic to my eyes and ears. I was entirely unaware that I had lapsed into flawless Spanish until I heard myself ask for La Cuenta. Like Nola, I plan go back again and again.