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The Early Word on La Urbana

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[Photo: Patricia Chang]

It's been a few weeks since La Urbana opened its doors on Divisadero, and the upscale Mexican restaurant has seen its share of foot traffic. But before the professional critics chime in at the one-month mark, it's time to see what the common man is saying about La Urbana's menu, cocktails and space. Is La Urbana succeeding in its quest to delight diners with an innovative take on refined Mexican cuisine? We've got The Early Word.

The portions and the prices: Contradictions ordinarily reign when it comes to The Early Word, but one thing rings loud and clear this time around: the most consistent commentary concerns La Urbana's portion sizes and price point. Yelper Cherylynn N. notes "an overpriced menu with ridiculously small portions," and Carolyn F. says "portions are tiny while prices are not." "Don't make me order 12 dishes to fill up," entreats Yelper Shelby C. "If the portions get bigger, I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful (and tasty) relationship." "They need to do some serious reconsidering of their pricing vs the food portions if they are going to stand up against places like NOPA and Bar Crudo," says Theresa H., but they may already be adjusting: "Since my first visit I noticed slight menu variations to ingredients and prices (down) and their portions seem larger," says Mauricio A.

The food: The bad news is that people are complaining about portion size. The good news? They want more of La Urbana's food. "Enjoyed every bite at La Urbana. Tasty menu in fabulous atmosphere," tweeted Alex Mostoufi, and Katie Sweeney says "the pozole was my favorite dish! So complex and flavorful! Second: the fried cheese." "Have the ceviche with Del Maguey Chichicapa," advises Foursquarer Dom V. , and Jena S. put it this way: "I had to stop myself from making mouthgasms. Order the ceviche ... I dare you." But some found the spot's understated flavors a letdown, "The food needed more flavor, most of it was bland and didn't have enough kick," says Theresa H., and Yelper Brandon G. agrees: "I would have liked a little extra pop of flavor for the price."

The drinks: Mezcal is the name of the game at La Urbana, and the house mezcal margarita turned heads. "I will never look down at margaritas again, this Margarita is a grown up libation, no spring breakers here," reports Mauricio A. "Kudos for your creativity with Mezcal - loved the Acapulco Manila," Yelped Juan Carlos V. The gin fizz "was the clear winner of the night. It tasted like biting into the juiciest, most delicious orange," says Carolyn F., but Jena M. was less impressed with her drink: "I ordered a flower margarita. It was ok. I didn't like that it was neon blue though. It cost $12." But taste trumped price for Theresa H.: "I don't even mind paying $11 for a lavender margarita because it was that good!"

The space: La Urbana's rustic buildout garnered lots of praise for ambiance. "The ambiance and décor were vibrant with a very cool eclectic-Mexican vibe," observes Yelper S. J., and G. R. "felt transported to those trendy neighborhoods in Mexico City." "I particularly like the way the street life view is part of the decor" gushed Jennifer R. And how about those stools? "The stools actually weren't that uncomfortable - they look like a tort waiting to happen, but after getting situated, they weren't bad," noted an Eater commenter.

The service: As with all newly opened restaurants, service is off to a mixed start. "We waited 15 mins before we even saw our waiter," complained Yelper Geno E., Matt J. found service at the bar "sluggish" and Jena M. called the service "fully staffed yet chaotic, confused, and VERY slow." "Our waiter was great, you could tell he was knowledgeable about the food," countered Yelper Gabriela M., and S. J. "got phenomenal service by several people, including the hostess who was very attentive." Mauricio A. offers this mysterious tip: "Greet the hostess in Italian for faster seating."

"If you are looking for your carne asada burrito, Corona and taco fix for 15 bucks get on the 14 and get off at 24th," continues Mauricio A. "La Urbana on Divis is the real deal for Mexican food." But Yelper Tim C. had these final words: "Do better, Urbana."

· La Urbana, Mexican Splendor on Divis [~ ESF ~]
· SF's 10 Most Anticipated Fall Restaurants [~ ESF ~]

La Urbana

661 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA 94115 415 440 4500 Visit Website