Jaymee likes to cook. Like, a lot. But you already knew that. Turns out, we don’t. Or, more accurately, we’d rather someone else do it for us, if the option’s on the table. But, as official “blog supporters”, the least we could do was pitch in with our favorite “U” related restaurant in the city. That would be The Taco Shop at Underdog’s, a hidden gem buried in the deep outreaches of the Sunset, on the corner of 19th and Irving.
We started coming here a year or so ago, when we heard rumor of insane tacos and a killer happy hour, featuring Margarita Madness, a 30 minute free-for-all every Friday, complete with $1 margaritas, brought to your table in rapid-fire succession by pitcher wielding waitresses ready to offer relief from a sad, lonely, empty glass.
Turns out the tales were true, and then some; not only was the Madness everything it was made out to be (seriously... did you expect anything less?), but the tacos were about as good as you’re going to get in San Francisco. These are the same people responsible for Nick’s Crispy Tacos, for those of you familiar with the Polk Street stalwart. In fact, Underdog’s is the original, and the hybrid taqueria/sports bar is pretty much all anybody could ask for on a cold February winter night.
We showed up on this particular Friday evening right as margarita service was starting, fortunate to snag three seats at a crowed picnic table in the back of the bar. The waitresses were just loading up massive trays with margs on the rocks (no salt), distributing them like doctors prescribing antibiotics to the sick. From there, they circulated with two pitchers; one full of cocktail goodness, the other empty, where you pour your ice in anticipation for the next round.
Because this blog doesn’t advise overindulgence, there’s no reason to document exactly how many times our friendly server stopped by for the pour out/refill dance, but if you’re placing wagers, please take note we are the same characters behind the Suppenkuche adventure during “G Week”. This is probably the appropriate place to inform you that in addition to the $1 Margarita blitzkrieg every Friday, you can always order a $2 Tecate anytime during Happy Hour - which runs from 4:30-6:00 pm.
Regardless, when all was said and done, we were starving, ready to dive in to a taco or four.
Fortunately, we were in the right place. We started with a hearty helping of chips, salsa and guacamole; basically a pile of crispy house-made tortilla chips piled high, generously topped with fresh pico de gallo style salsa and tasty guac.
Next, we hit the tacos full force. Marisa ordered two pollo asado tacos, “Nick’s Way” (more on this below); I did the same, but with grilled mahi mahi substituted for chicken; and Adam selected three “street-style” tacos, one each of the carne asada, pollo asado, and carnitas. The pollo asado is prepared in a tomato mole sauce, and the fish is a rotating selection of fresh white fish (generally mahi mahi or pacific red snapper), with the option of having it grilled or deep fried.
At this point, you’re probably wondering, what’s “Nick’s Way”? Well, it’s the only way to order tacos at Underdog’s, of course. They wrap a soft corn tortilla around a grilled crispy corn tortilla, then fill it all up with monterey jack cheese, pinto beans, pico de gallo and guacamole, plus your meat of choice, and fold it into a mess of tasty goodness.
The street tacos are just like you’d see in Mexico; generous helpings of meat, piled on small corn tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions. The carne asada is marinated and grilled to perfection, and the carnitas is braised and deliciously crispy. Everything is served with homemade hot sauce on the side (rojo and verde), and both are tongue tinglingly fantastic.
There’s only so much you can say about a taco shop (although, we’ve defied the odds and said a lot), but Underdog’s is a pretty safe bet for a great night out with friends. Tasty, plentiful drinks; simple, awesome food; and a great vibe make Underdog’s undefeated.