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Monday, April 14, 2014

Kale Tacos in a Dive Bar -- How Totally S.F.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge YELP/ANN L.

Here we are in the midst of what may as well be the Decade of Kale. You can't walk a block without seeing the super green on a menu in this city. Kale is the new pork belly -- in terms of its ubiquitous presence, not necessarily in regards to nutritional value -- and while we've seen it on pizzas and in all manner of smoothies and salads, we're surprised it's taken this long to encounter it in taco form.

Dear Mom is one of the Mission's favorite bars. It's a dive bar atmosphere with dive bar drinks, but you're just as likely to be next to a Twitter employee instead of an interesting character. The food from the kitchen is more ambitious than it needs to be, too. There's a great burger, but there's also serious thought put into vegetarian dishes. Culinary historians centuries from now could use kale tacos at a bar like Dear Mom as a vintage example of how we ate in 2014: the era of when the yoga set met the shot-and-a-beer set.

One order of tacos delivers two corn tortillas filled with a salad's worth of sautéed kale ($8). The kale is beautifully wilted to a tender character that avoids being overly cooked to a droopy, banal state. If the rough stems of kale are rendered soft, you know the kitchen knows how to sauté kale correctly, and here the stems were the same consistency as the leaves. The menu promised avocado too but I didn't find any sign of diced avocado or anything like guacamole on the plate or within reach.

click to enlarge TREVOR FELCH
  • Trevor Felch

Fortunately the tacos are far from bland already. Instead of salsa, the kitchen provides the right brightness, spice, and crunch to elevate the kale by topping their tacos with diced pickled carrots and jalapenos. A scattering of queso fresco adds some protein to counter the taco's lightness, but it's easily omitted for vegans.

Speaking of pickled vegetables, there's not a better (and healthier when compared to say, French fries) bar snack for munching after round three of PBR tallboys than Dear Mom's big bowl of pickled in-house asparagus, beets, carrots, yellow cauliflower, green beans, and quail eggs (again, can be made vegan easily). Vegetarians should also seek out the appropriately named "Mama's Salad" full of produce like roast broccoli, avocado, little gems, and chicories on a quinoa base.

Sharing these three dishes amongst two diners would be the perfect meat-free meal in any venue -- dive or chic.

2700 16th St.,; 625-3362.

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