The Latest From the Hall: Kit Fox and El Pípila

One of the openings that everyone who puts food into their bodies one-to-four times daily is looking forward to in 2016 is Citizen Fox in the Mission. Right now, the “plant-based” restaurant is doing a regular Wednesday-through-Saturday-nights-plus-Sunday-brunch pop-up a few blocks own from its future location, but for the time being, there is also its li'l cousin at the Hall on Market Street, Kit Fox.

As the Hall is but a temporary venue, there is only a small selection of what's to come, all of it in the $10-$11 range: jackfruit carnitas, a tempeh portobello banh mi, and the like. The sourdough caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil arugula pesto, served hot if you ask politely) is a no-brainer, as it's a vegetarian dish from the start, but what won me over was the French dip. I'm usually skeptical of vegetarian or vegan recreations of meaty dishes, mostly because they tend to be their antecedents' poor relations. This one — a panini, basically — comes with roast onions, seitan, and horseradish jus. Don't confuse simplicity for plainness, especially with the zip of the jus. While I quibble with the generosity of hte portion size a bit, a large side of kale bulgur salad with currants and citrus ($6) is a nice, acid counterpoint to all the gluten.

Meanwhile, the newer tenant at The Hall is El Pípila. Named for a freedom fighter in Guanajuato in the early days of the Mexican War of Independence, El Pípila is riding the sopes trend hard. Like an extra-thick tortilla, sopes are made from masa soaked in lime — the calcium-heavy mineral, not the citrus — and topped with refried beans, lettuce, cheese and your choice of chicken, nopales, or picadillo (ground beef-and-tomato hash). Because sopes are essentially open-faced sandwiches, they come piled high with a little food mountain, and that is very much to my liking. You can also get enchiladas, two carnitas tacos for $8, or pozole verde ($10, and made with bacon). The salad craze must be infectious, because El Pípila does a sope salad as well as a consierably more healthful-sounding kale salad with radish, romaine, nopales guanajuatos, and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. It's a lot lighter than Taqueria Cancun, that's for sure.

The clock's ticking on the entire enterprise, so get down there while you can.

Kit Fox and El Pípila, at The Hall, 1028 Market.

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