Address: Corner of Polk Street and Broadway, Russian Hill, SF
Phone Number: (415) 409-TACO (8226)
Date Last Visited: February 7, 2009
So I had always wanted to come here for as long as I can remember, but I am so unfamiliar with Russian Hill that I didn’t even try. I can easily come here after work as I pass Polk Street everyday, but going there alone with the sun setting was a bit scary especially when I don’t know my way around. I had to work on this particular Saturday for our office’s annual purge, and since we finished early, I came here.
To my surprise, it was actually very easy to find. The YELP address says it’s at 1500 Broadway, but the entrance is on Polk Street. It shares a space with Rouge - which is a lounge/club in the evenings. I watched “Check Please, Bay Area’s” vignette on Nick’s Crispy Tacos (shouts to Star and Jnet who watched the same episode), so I was expecting the unusual combination of Mexican food and a Moulin Rouge-ish atmosphere. There were big cooshy velvet booths lining the sexy red walls. I guess you can tell now why the place is called rouge. Even though the environment was atypical, it was fun!
When I got there, there was a line with 10 or so people in it. Hey, when there is a line, that means the place is good. I got a good look at the place and it was very cute. People were here with their kids, single diners were seated at the bar watching whatever was on the flat screen televisions, and everyone seemed to be enjoying their food. I saw it all - nachos, burritos, salads, and even a gentleman eating soup, but I was here for one thing: TACOS. Oh yes, when you come to Nick’s, bring cash. The plastic is not accepted here.
You go to the counter to order, find yourself a seat with a number, and just wait. I actually LOVE the booths with the cheesy, flower-designed, plastic table cloths. Those table cloths so clashed with all the red, but it is so cute! The booths are elevated so you get to see everything and everyone below. I know this was the club’s idea, but having it in a Mexican place is cool. I also like how they have the sauces on the table. I don’t like salsa bars. Too messy. This way, you don’t waste those little plastic cups and you don’t have to worry about anything falling in the salsas. Plastic bottles - thumbs up. There were three kinds, but I stuck with the salsa verde and the milder red sauce.
- and -
Carne Asada - Grilled Steak in Corn Tortilla with
Pico de Gallo and Pinto Beans - $3.25
Both Done *Nick’s Way*
made crispy with Jack cheese and guacamole - add .95
*angels singing* If you want it crispy, you gotta ask for it, so I did. The first one I ate was the Pescado, but read about it in the next paragraph. The carne asada was SO good. Yeah, there was a lot of moaning while I was eating. Be prepared, these tacos are JUICY. I must have used ten napkins. All worth it. The meat was seasoned real well and the toppings were delicious. It was so big that I needed a fork to pick up everything that came out of it. Delicious! P.S. When they say “crispy,” don’t expect it to be like a crunchy Taco Bell taco. These tortillas have a slight crisp without it falling apart in your hands.
So I had an ulterior motive. I have made it a goal to take over the Big Eat SF List, and the Pescado was #10. It did not disappoint. The battered and fried fish was fresh and flaky. The crispy exterior went so well with the cheese and guacamole. INCREDIBLE. I would go back just for these. Normal Mexican places, like in the Mission, don’t serve Baja-style fish tacos, so having this was a treat. Yeah, I have had the ones at Rubio’s - I admit it, but these are 1000-times better. Everything about it is just BETTER. The flavors, the batter, the guacamole (I can eat that alone), the tortilla - everything.
Overall, this place is GREAT. I won’t be afraid to come here again. It’s open until 9:00 p.m. every night, so it is a good place to have a late snack. One thing I saw on the menu after my visit that I didn’t notice while I was there was the “Elote” which according to the menu is “corn on the cob done up the Mexican way, with grated cheese and chili powder.” Doesn’t that sound fantastic? I guess I was so excited about my fish taco that I didn’t even see the other great things on the menu. Well, there is always next time, and I guarantee there WILL be a next time.