Lunchtime in Havana

Paladar brings to S.F. the real flavors of Cuba

Fricase de pollo's another winner. Pieces of chicken, potatoes, and carrots are simmered in a rich broth flavored with capers, green olives, raisins, oregano, and achiote. This comes with a big bowl of rice and, though it's not mentioned on the menu, a big helping of fried sweet plantains, so it's a lot of starch.

Salade "Cubaiçoise" was a sort of joking riff on a salade niçoise: a few slices of coriander-crusted seared ahi tuna are accompanied by a salad of olives, hard-boiled eggs, hearts of palm, potatoes, plantains, green beans, and radish. This dish doesn't make much sense, but there seems to be a law that every restaurant has to have some raw or nearly raw tuna on the menu.

Paladar's flan has a good caramel flavor but it's quite dense, very eggy, not rich or creamy — presumably it's made with whole milk rather than evaporated. Maybe this is where the tortilla's missing eggs ended up. The cortadito, an espresso ristretto macchiato (a short pull with a splash of milk), is absolutely classic: sweet, nutty, and rich. As noted on the menu, unless you order otherwise, it's served Cuban style with plenty of sugar. On one visit, the sandia cooler, watermelon and cucumber juice with a spring of mint, was very refreshing, another time it was too sweet for my taste — probably varies from melon to melon.

Paladar offers real Cuban cuisine.
Jen Siska
Paladar offers real Cuban cuisine.

Location Info



329 Kearny St.
San Francisco, CA 94108-3204

Category: Restaurant > Caribbean

Region: North Beach/ Chinatown


Open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. No reservations. Dining room wheelchair accessible, bathroom not. Parking: lot or 30-minute meter. Muni: 1, 9. Noise level: moderate.

Yuca frit $5.50

Cubano sandwich $9

Picadillo $10.50

Lechón asado $11.25

Sancocho Colombiano $11

Cortadito espresso $2.25

Sandia cooler $3

329 Kearny (between Bush and Pine), 398-4899.

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It's best to go with no more than three people, so you can sit in the sunny main room; the only tables that can accommodate larger parties are in a stuffy basement. Currently, the restaurant is open only for lunch on weekdays. They say they plan to open for dinner and perhaps weekends when they get their beer and wine license. If the kitchen keeps its focus on the soulful, traditional dishes it does best, Paladar could be a great addition to the downtown dinner scene.

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