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Pica Pica Poised to Catch a Venezuelan Wave

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Venezuelan flavors seem poised to enjoy the sort of culinary trendiness that Korean flavors are currently enjoying. The people are handsome, the telenovelas popular across the Spanish-speaking world, the food traditions borrow liberally from Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and Central and South America, and Hugo Chavez is doing his darndest to keep the country in the news.

All of which means the Pica Pica Maize Kitchen concept could be positioned well before the crest of a wave of interest. At a media preview Thursday evening, it was clear that the design of the quick service resto, originally from the Oxbow Market in Napa, could prove an easy template to stamp out across the region or even country.

The flavors were bright and fresh, and not as aggressively spiced as the Central American cuisines the Mission has traditionally been known for, and the marketing is savvy enough to jump on board the current gluten-free craze (making an entry into the faddish Los Angeles foodie scene rife with new age dietary anxiety nearly a certainty if it succeeds).

The one thing that could hold it back is its current location. Though well positioned on the Valencia brunch corridor for weekend eating, there's not a lot of nearby office workers or foot traffic near 15th on weekdays for the lunch-friendly menu. It is brighter and more inviting than the former tenant, Mi Lindo Yucatan. But this eater lives just up the street and will probably be back.

The public launch, which has faced some delays with a soft-launch originally scheduled for April, is now scheduled for Wednesday the 12th.

· Full Pica Pica Maize Kitchen coverage [~ESF~]

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen

401 Valencia Street, SF, CA