With Michael Bauer spending the holiday week in Minnesota with Betty Crocker (really), Tara Duggan takes the opportunity to check out the latest Yucatecan restaurant in the Mission: Popul Vuh. Both Duggan and Popul Vuh shake things up in a good, as Bauer has absolutely panned the last three Latin places he's reviewed (Mexico DF, Essencia and Tres "not even in the Top 1,000" Agaves). The difference with Popul Vuh, says Duggan, lies with its simplicity and sincerity:
Popol Vuh stands out for its freshly made food and friendly service. Those unfamiliar with Mayan cuisine might take a while to warm up to some of the specialties, but they are almost uniformly delicious.Unlike the upscale spots that Bauer found cold and harried, the service at Popul Vuh is "genuinely warm and friendly," and though there were some tepid entrees (the "cottony" pescado frito, for instance), the little Mission spot hits all the right notes, not overstepping itself in the least. The end result: a surprising but endearing 2.5 stars. [Chron]
The short menu - 14 or 15 items - changes often; thankfully, it doesn't try to encompass all styles of Yucatan food plus act as a Mission-style burrito bar...
The moody, darkly lit room isn't precious at all, but has much more atmosphere than most budget-minded Mexican restaurants nearby. And the food is definitely several steps above what most of them have to offer.
ELSEWHERE: Just because San Franciscans aren't as red-meat crazy as their urban brethren in, say, Chicago and New York, don't think that there isn't delicious steak to be had in the city. Case in point: the rarely-seen bone-in filet mignon at Bobo's. The Guardian goes for the double whammy at Elisa's Cafe and L's Caffe, leaving you wondering whether you prefer your cafes with one "f" or two. Down the Peninsula, San Mateo's polished Ristorante Capellini hasn't lost a step in its 17th year of service. The Chronicle also doles out opening briefs to Custom Burger, Spruce, Napa's Ubuntu and Saratoga's Plumed Horse,
ON THE BLOGS: GrubGirl takes the trek to the Hard Knox Cafe, Gutenberg does his thing at the always-beautiful Quince and somehow, the El Tonayese Taco Truck lets Burritoeater down.