Those in the Sunset District are well aware of how clutch it is to eat a Nick’s Way taco, which sports a fried corn tortilla inside a soft corn tortilla, at Underdogs, two pitchers of beer into a game, whether it be the San Jose Sharks or Golden State Warriors. Now, owner Doug Marschke has welcome news: the good vibes and dank food aren’t just for San Francisco’s westside residents anymore. Underdogs has opened a new outpost in South Beach, Underdogs Cantina, and Marschke wants the new spot to be all about community. “I’ve been looking [for a new neighborhood] for a long time,” Marschke says. “This is a neighborhood that was hard hit by COVID.”
For the uninitiated, Marschke took ownership of the first Underdogs in 2008 and with him came a taco-centric menu designed by Nick Fasanella; think a sports bar with a robust Californian Mexican menu with burritos running about $12. The lease at 128 King Street, just across the street from Oracle Park, was available late last year, and Marschke moved the Underdogs team in by early April. This new location was formerly a bar and restaurant Peet’s Tavern and Marschke says the ambiance may invoke some of the prior tenant’s energy. The long bar is still intact but the front area has been blown out, and is now more expansive with an upstairs mezzanine featuring an arcade full of Skee-Ball and NASCAR pinball machine. “There’s not a lot of family-friendly places,” Marschke says, referring specifically to places to hang before Giants games. “There are a lot of places to pregame, but where do you go when you have your kids?”
Even on the days sans baseball, Marschke hopes people find a reason to walk through South Beach as they do any other neighborhood. To cultivate that draw, he plans to bring in musicians, DJs, and entertainers of all kinds. Regular themed music nights are on the vision board, as are block parties and bar crawls. Now that permitting is all done, he’s hoping neighbors will drop by with ideas — he’s currently in search of a trivia host.
Food and drink is as big time as ever. Queso fundido is one of the location’s signature items, a gooey temple of cheese and chip (with an optional wagyu beef add-on), and new wings and burrito bowl options are on deck. A breakfast menu is in the works for football season, too. But really, Marschke wants the area around Oracle Park to be as nuts as the madhouse around Wrigley Field, his hometown ballpark. He shows love to MoMo’s and Lucky Strike as examples of the reputation he’d like Underdogs to have in the area. “I’m from Chicago, and I’m trying to create that same energy around Oracle,” Marschkle says. “There are a lot of awesome places around there I think people have yet to discover.”
Underdogs Cantina (128 King Street) is open from 10:30 a.m. to midnight every day of the week.
Update: July 27, 2022 1:31 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect that the previous tenant at 128 King Street was Peet’s Tavern.