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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Casa Sanchez: Etching the Next Era at the Home of the Taco Tattoo

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge ADRIAN AREAS LATIN JAZZ ENSEMBLE
  • Adrian Areas Latin Jazz Ensemble

Casa Sanchez has long been home of the "taco tattoo" story. If you get a tattoo of "Jimmy the Cornman" riding his corn on the cob rocket, you get free lunch for life. Pretty good deal, especially considering that Casa Sanchez brand tortilla chips and fresh salsa are now the highest selling chips and salsa in California. 

But the legend of the tattoo is now a thing of the past.  Turns out, lunches for life for the over two hundred tattooed taco lovers proved too much for the restaurant to sustain. Even though anyone craving those extra crunchy Casa Sanchez chips can pick up a bag at a nearby grocery store, Casa Sanchez the restaurant is still trying to hold its own on a street lined with taquerias. 


Despite some financial struggles, owner Marta Sanchez turned down proposals for pop-ups from high end restaurants and chefs, including the highly esteemed Boulevard. James Beard Awards don't mean much to this family run business that has been on 24th street since the early seventies. Especially after her mother passed away at the restaurant, Sanchez has never felt comfortable diverging dramatically from the history upon which this family establishment is built. She sees recent gentrification as something of a hipster invasion and is determined not to buy in to this trend.

Still, Sanchez isn't adverse to innovations. Casa Sanchez has recently started hosting late night music,
click to enlarge ADRIAN AREAS LATIN JAZZ ENSEMBLE
  • Adrian Areas Latin Jazz Ensemble
becoming a hot spot for the local punk rock scene by enthusiastically (if at first inadvertently) filling the scene's venue void. The salsa scene is also in on this intimate venue, as an original member of Santana and other Grammy award winning salsa artists play an "All Star Night" on the first Friday of every month.  

When La Posta, the beloved taqueria down the street, was evicted to make room for condos, Sanchez knew that Casa Sanchez's moment had come. She describes La Posta's eviction as "particularly disturbing" because it was the first time that condos had made their way on to 24th street. La Posta, slang for "the bus stop," was a landmark on 24th street, known for the lines that snaked around the corner until the wee hours of the night. It was also a family restaurant like Casa Sanchez, one that boasted a long menu of Mexican specialties that the Sanchez clan lacked. Marta Sanchez approached La Posta with a proposal for a merger, describing the partnership as a perfect match. 

La Posta's ownership accepted. 

This collaboration will debut in late May and a grand opening, complete with mariachis and margaritas, is in the works for early June. In the meantime, Casa Sanchez will host a Cuban pop up this Friday, May 18 from 5PM to 10 PM with what promises to be the most authentic Cuban food you can get in San Francisco. As Cuban chefs from Havana take the kitchen, Cuban singer Tito Gonzalez, who regularly sells out Yoshi's Jazz Club, will take the stage. The following Friday, Casa Sanchez will host a paella pop up with a chef from a yet-to-be-revealed five star San Francisco hotel as an AIDS fundraiser. More information on these events can be found on the Casa Sanchez Facebook page and tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling (415) 637 6300.

The future looks bright as Casa Sanchez takes a thoughtful and innovative approach to its next chapter. And, of course, there will still be salsa. 

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Camila McHugh

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