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Pacifico enters San Francisco’s pop-up scene with a bang on January 30.
Pacifico

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Ambitious Colombian Fusion Fine Dining Pop-Up Debuts in San Francisco

Hailing from La Mar and La Cocina, Daniel Morales Vallejo’s Pacifico looks to bring pork belly ceviche and ceviche de camarones to the city

Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

San Francisco’s newest pop-up launches today in Hayes Valley from a Colombian chef with fine dining chops. Pacifico is set to debut on January 30, at Andina on Franklin Street in Hayes Valley from 5 to 9 p.m. The a la carte menu features five dishes with nods to founder Daniel Morales Vallejo’s lived experiences including his upbringing in Colombia, his culinary school years in Peru, and time spent in San Francisco — think pork belly ceviche and halibut tiradito with creamy coconut leche de tigre. Beer, wine, and cocktails including the Cuba Libre will be available thanks to Andina.

Pacifico comes after years of cooking and ideation through nonprofit incubator La Cocina. He’s part-way through the program, ready for diners to try his dishes. He came to the States cooking at La Mar by Gastón Acurio in Miami and ended up as a sous chef at the Embarcadero location. He’s been in the city since 2017, shining a bright light on Peruvian cuisine on the waterfront for five years. “I’ve been building my own cooking style,” Morales Vallejo says. “I don’t want to be just Colombian. We’re in San Francisco, and I want to take advantage of the great seafood and the greatest produce ever.”

Food at Pacifico. Pacifico
Food at Pacifico. Pacifico

It was at La Cocina where he met Victoria Lozano of Andina. The two hit it off and she encouraged him to come to her new outpost in Hayes Valley for his first pop-up. With Pacifico, he wants to add to San Francisco’s culinary fusion, weaving Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese ingredients and approaches into his Colombian background. Patacones, a kind of plantains prepared like tostones, and ceviche de camarones will star on the menu alongside pork belly ceviche, an example of Thai and Colombian fusion thanks to green papaya, basil, and fish sauce in the dish. Grilled octopus comes served alongside fingerling potatoes, guayaba, and Peruvian-style corn.

It’s fitting that Morales Vallejo takes his calls while in the kitchen, prepping hogao and frying yuca chips. He’s cooked in South and North America, in restaurant kitchens and catering operations, upscale outfits and everything in between. He sees a bright future for himself, his wife, and his young daughter here in San Francisco. Further, he finds inspiration from chef Victoriano Lopez from La Mar in San Francisco, his mentor and former boss, but also Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions and the Progress, highlighting not only his cooking but also his commitment to top-tier hospitality. Still, he’s focusing on the pop-up for now, just the next thing down the road. He finished the first major stage of La Cocina’s incubator program in October 2023, and he’s applied for the next step of the nonprofit’s program, which includes market access and support. “Finally we’ve got everything together, after all this,” Morales Vallejo says. “I want to take seasonal product, local product, then respect the product, and enjoy.”

Pacifico debuts Tuesday, January 30 at Andina (205 Franklin Street) from 5 to 9 p.m.

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