[Photos: Patricia Chang]
Desperados seeking a place to unwind for a sit-down Mexican meal have a new option in the Castro, as Bandidos opens its doors tonight on the ground floor of new Market apartment building The Century. The restaurant comes from Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim, the minds behind nearby gay-oriented sports bar Hi Tops; as with Hi Tops, the menu was concocted by Top Chef alum Jamie Lauren. It's the latest in a recent hit parade of gussied-up Mexican spots in SF, including Sabrosa, La Urbana, Padrecito, South at SFJAZZ, and next month's Arguello.
Lauren's menu is heavy on the tacos, with nine options that cover the standards (carnitas, carne asada, beer-battered fish) and some new territory (duck mole, prawn-chorizo-goat cheese-arugula, and a puffy taco with al pastor). The standard salsa trio, guacamole, and queso are present and accounted for, along with some other starters like meatballs, street corn, and taquitos. A smattering of larger plates include a Mexican-spiced clam dish that's sort of a take on moules frites, roasted chicken, and of course, fajitas on a sizzling platter. Finish up with some buñuelos or a Mexican chocolate pot de creme. Brunch offers chilaquiles, chicken mole enchiladas, and other comfort-food favorites. Here's the food and cocktail menu, and the brunch menu.
On the booze side, SipCraft is offering a sizable selection of tequila and mezcal, with two-ounce pours served with housemade sangrita and oranges with worm salt, respectively. Cocktails are also agave-centric, with three kinds of margaritas (including a spicy margarita and a pineapple-chile margarita), a mezcal mule, a tamarind sour, and a Negroni made with bacanora. There's also a flaming drink, called the Guns a'Blazin, with gin and green Chartruese. Mexican beer and a half-dozen wines round things out. Here's the booze menu.
The 80-seat restaurant is pretty sizable, with 3,000 square feet of space and a bright, airy feel. The design is courtesy of C Walters, and features some fun elements like a slate bar tiled with a floral pattern and brightly colored stools. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 5-11 pm and Friday, 5 pm-12 am; on Saturday and Sunday, the restaurant will be open straight through from brunch until dinner (11 am-12 am Saturday, 10 am-11 pm Sunday).