Weighty Matter

La Santaneca

In addition to your rice, beans, salad, tomato, and corn tortillas, you'll receive good, hearty fare like Salvadoran-style steak -- lean, flavorful beef topped with a delectable mélange of green bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Carne deshilachada -- shredded beef sautéed with egg, onions, and green peppers -- has a wonderful, springy texture. Pollo en crema is one of the most decadent dishes on Earth -- a half bird smothered with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and about a cup of tangy sour cream. The masterpiece is the chile relleno de carne, in which a moist, eggy batter gives way to a juicy filling of shredded pork. I'd had the chile relleno before and have had it since, but on that night I received little more than a bite after Laura tried it, got that glint in her eye, and attacked it with the ferocity of a lion pouncing on Bambi.

Saved by Salvadoran: Neighborhood joints like La Santaneca are hopping 
despite the retracting economy.
Anthony Pidgeon
Saved by Salvadoran: Neighborhood joints like La Santaneca are hopping despite the retracting economy.

Location Info


La Santaneca

3781 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

Category: Restaurant > Central American

Region: Mission/ Bernal Heights


Pupusas -- $1 each
Plátanos y frijoles -- $4.50
Yuca with chicharrón -- $5
Salvadoran-style steak -- $7.50
Pollo en crema -- $7.50
Chile relleno de carne -- $6.50
Tiste -- $1.60


Open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday)

Reservations accepted

Wheelchair accessible

Parking: moderately difficult

Muni: 14, 23, 49, 67

Noise level: moderate to loud

3781 Mission (at Richland)

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Unfortunately, we never did get in the groove with dessert. Moist, grainy, sugar-dusted empanadas come stuffed with refried beans -- by then we'd had enough beans -- or a creamy, slightly better plantain/milk purée. Chilate arrived as a bowl of plantains and airy dough puffs bathed in a sweet, horchata-tasting syrup, accompanied by a mug of warm, nutmeg-spiked rice drink whose predominant flavor, bitterness, seemed ill-suited to the end of a meal. Perhaps these dishes are acquired tastes, or maybe we'd already eaten too much. In any case, my next meal at La Santaneca will end with entrees. Or rather, it will end the following day, when I pull a to-go box out of the fridge, feel the gravity, and realize that La Santaneca keeps on giving.

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