One of San Francisco’s most unique restaurants is spreading its wings: For the past three years, chef Manny Torres Gimenez has serve his one-of-a-kind tasting menu at Francisca’s in the Mission, fusing Venezuelan ingredients and flavors with Italian technique — a generous four-course feast for $39, making it one of the most budget-friendly tasting menu experiences in the city.
Now, the chef, who has run a string of restaurants and pop-ups in the Mission over the past decade, is turning his attention to a new neighborhood. Today, Gimenez and his wife Katerina launched a pop-up incarnation of Francisca’s in Nob Hill at the Early to Rise brunch spot at 1098 Jackson Street. The new Francisca’s will be open for two seatings a day — at 12:30 p.m. for lunch and 7:30 p.m. for dinner — and unlike at the Mission District original, which offers a la carte options, the only thing on the menu will be Gimenez’s $39 tasting menu.
The pop-up will be open Tuesday through Friday every week through at least February 21. But Gimenez says that if it’s successful he’d like to extend the lease one month at a time — potentially even on a permanent basis.
Gimenez first came to prominence when he started doing a similar Venezuelan-inspired prix fixe at Mr. Pollo — just $20 for four courses during its heyday in the late 2000s and 2010s — before he departed from there to open a series of other pop-ups and (mostly short-lived_ restaurants in the Mission. He tells Eater SF that his approach at the new Nob Hill pop-up will be very similar to what he serves at Francisca’s in the Mission.
The four-course menu will start with a porcini potato-leek soup with black truffles, followed by Gimenez’s popular sweet plantain lasagna — made with slices of plantain instead of pasta — which San Francisco Chronicle critic Soleil Ho recently described as “deceptive and very tasty.” The entrée will be a rotating selection — lamb chops on Tuesdays, rotisserie chicken on Wednesdays, pork loin on Thursdays, and grilled quail on Fridays — and a mora (Andean blackberry) panna cotta will close things out for dessert.
But the best deal of all is the one Gimenez is reserving for his Nob Hill takeout customers: In a play to nab the lunchtime business of nearby office workers, he’s offering the entire tasting menu as a to-go option for essentially half price: just $20, plus a nominal fee for the takeout containers.