When Tacolicious opened as a stand at the Ferry Building in 2009, owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran couldn’t have known their business would pop off like it did. Though the business debuted during the Great Recession, Tacolicious became a hot spot for upscale Mexican food. They expanded to the Marina, and in 2012 added an expansive location on Valencia Street, followed by locations and spin-offs throughout the Bay.
Now, the co-owners are set to open a torta destination in Noe Valley in fall 2023. The news was first reported by Tablehopper, who wrote that Noe Valley locals wondered who would take over the former Village Rotisserie location at 4063 24th Street. Both owners have lived in the area for decades, and Hargrave says the time is right to open a business closer to home. “I was a California kid,” Hargrave says. “And a believer in San Francisco, and I grew up eating El Pollo Loco.”
Hargrave says tortas are an ideal food. The Mexican sandwiches allow him, as a diner, to be satiated, and, as a business owner, to fit into the fast-casual movement he’s seeing on the rise. Granted, he points out, plenty of taquerias have done tortas really well in the Mission for years — but less so for the Nopalitos and Tacoliciouses out there. The new as-of-yet-unnamed business will feature local partnerships, one of which is an ongoing relationship with SF Brewing Company. But this will not be a Tacolicious though: There’s no liquor license, and Hargrave says the new restaurant needs to be a mellower spot.
But more about tortas. Hargrave says his own chicken recipes were never up to snuff, but he says his new chef can bring it. The new restaurant will allow food and beverage director Fernando Guzman, an enthusiast of both custardy and fried churros and fine tequila, to flourish. Hargrave says the Guanajuato-born-and-raised chef will bring a powerful bread game, and, down the road, help the business develop the robust tortilla program of which the owners have always dreamed. “He’ll bring the levity and the light touch,” he says. “My attempts were always too heavy.” Hargrave says he’s about two weeks out from having any further details, but he says he is standing his ground on one idea already: Vegetarians too often get the short end of the stick, and they won’t at this new restaurant. “Something that always resonated with me,” Hargrave says, “is the pounded, breaded cutlet with crispy texture. I’m playing with a vegan cutlet.”
As for the location, Hargrave says the neighborhoods that “used to be aren’t,” meaning areas such as North Beach didn’t bring the fans he thought they would. He’d know, as he and Deseran’s delivery-only outfit MF Chicken closed on the north side in 2020. While scouting for a new outpost, Hargrave stopped for lunch at the Village Rotisserie. His friend and owner Priscilla Dosiou, coincidentally, texted him the same day to say she wanted to get out of the game. The rest, as they say, was history. “Noe Valley has some things happening,” Deseran wrote in a text. “It’s been a desert.”
The new torta-driven restaurant from the Tacolicious group is set to open in fall 2023.