Green Chile Kitchen, SF

Green Chile Kitchen is a popular dinner option among the people I’ve met who live in NoPa.

Who can blame them? The interior is captivating: A gigantic wheel that has been repurposed into a light fixture, hanging bunches of fiery red chilies, dark wood furnishings, and metal stools adorn the cozy space.

Oh, and then religious imagery.

My second visit to GCK was on Super Bowl night and GCK offered $2 beers and a few food specials for the occasion.

Go Niners!

Okay, okay. So fans of GCK probably aren’t fans because of the décor.

I love me some tamales and the tamales you find here are fat with your choice of meat or tofu filling. (I chose pork.)

Fresh salad at a Mexican food is utterly useless.

The green chile is just fab. It’s not super mild – there is definitely a bite to it, but you can really taste the jalapeño.

GCK’s tamales aren’t made with the same yellow corn masa that I’m used to. This kind is less sweet, more earthy and robust. I imagine yellow masa would be a better contrast with the savory pulled pork, but the textures were the same.

Innards

They weren’t bad though. Actually, they were pretty yummy. As can be expected, the fillings were moist, what with being steamed inside the masa. At $12, it’s pricier than what you could get at more “authentic” dives in the Mission.

That smothered burrito is smothered alright.

The New Mexican Smothered Burrito ($13) is… a burrito. Underneath that delicious green chile is a standard burrito. The trick here is choosing the right protein.

The New Mexican Homestyle Chicken Enchilada ($13) is evidence that their chicken is excellent. Tender, juicy chicken wrapped up in a ton of cheese is a winning combination. Throw on that amazing green chile, a dollop of refried beans, and a smidgen of sour cream, and it’ll convert anybody to a GCK fan!

Holy enchilada platter!

My friend was filled to the brim with her enchilada platter. Mine was just a little bit bigger.

BOOM.

Now, this, my friends, is how you satisfy a hefty appetite. The chile relleno combination includes a cheese-stuffed poblano pepper, a taco with protein of your choice, beans of your choice, and a huge, warm flour tortilla with which to stuff chicken posole and rice.

All of the elements were excellent. The poblano pepper had lost a bit of its spice, but that issue was easily remedied with the addition of the spicier red sauce (not to be confused with GCK’s red chile).

The taco is slightly smaller than usual – what you’d find at, say, Safeway. It was also slightly thicker. I’m not crazy about how thick the crunch, but it was a good taco shell. I highly recommend opting for steak as your filling.

Mmm… watermelon agua fresca

I wanted so much to love the sopaipillas ($5 for a basket of four).

They aren’t that common (in my experience, anyway). I was aware that the same sopaipilla was used for both savory and sweet dishes, so I was expecting it to have a neutral flavor.

So-so sopaipillas

What I did not expect was the taste of cornmeal-crusted cardboard. It was pretty dang awful on its own.

I know what you’re gonna say: “Jenna, you aren’t supposed to eat it on its own in the first place!” That would suggest that the sole purpose of the sopaipilla is to be a vessel and, therefore, is a waste of calories. If I’m gonna subject myself to those calories, they’d better be worth it.

Alas, they were not. The honey is actually chile-scented! It’s just lovely, but could not completely mask the cardboard taste.

I am so impressed with the service at this casual joint. The guys in plaid shirts came around and cleaned the tables quickly – doesn’t matter how busy the restaurant was. Every single person working there was courteous and friendly. One cannot help really warming up to the place. I certainly did, and very quickly, too!

THE VERDICT:

By all means, dine at Green Chile Kitchen for a somewhat upscale version of Mexican food with a California twist (tofu, anyone?) I love the ambience and would gladly hang out here for beers and tacos any night of the week. I have no doubt that you would too!

2 thoughts on “Green Chile Kitchen, SF

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