Guadalupe Guerrero and her daughter shed tears of joy after the Aztec dancers blessed the family’s new street food booth, El Pípila at The Hall, with Lupe serving wonderful Guanajuato favorites for the opening and hall founder Ted on hand. Three female Aztec dancers performed while their husbands held the babies in their arms, including the drummer who held his baby swaddled on his chest as he drummed. The lead dancer of the three told of how the dances were about Mother Earth who gives us life with the elements, water, fire, air. The dancers paid homage to the natives with a prayer dance, recognizing the Ohlone, those who came before.
Guanajuato has been a Mexican state and a mining town in north central Mexico since the 16th century with Spain extracting silver until the time of hero El Pípila. El Pípila became historic not just for his freckles and laugh but for his courage in fighting for Mexican independence. Guadalupe, or Lupe and El Pípila with this modest family kitchen will help revitalize Civic Center and the Tenderloin. Meanwhile, El Pípila sets up at Off the Grid at Fort Mason on Friday nights and operates at La Cocina’s Kitchen on Folsom.
Related: Off the Grid food trucks and market opens the season at Fort Mason
The Hall, 1028 Market Street at Civic Center below a former billiards hall
The Hall stands at Civic Center where a porn shop once stood and billiard balls clacked on the floor above, the original signage still out front. It almost makes the new hall an underground establishment for the trendy, being clean and safe inside. It’s just food porn these days as young Hispanic parents in t-shirts and jeans and with babies and toddlers in their arms enjoyed a relaxed opening night of the latest booth,El Pípila. It felt like a family, a big multigenerational extended family, picnic. Yet, it remained sheltered from the gritty Civic Center surroundings, indoors in an open and airy hall with strings of lights dangling from the rafters. The Hall brings color and life family style to a once-gritty place that remained vacant for six or seven years. The current owner of the building owns Under Armour, an athletic and sportswear line.
Tingas, Nopales, Sopes, Pozole Verde, housemade and seasonal Agua Fresca
Guadalupe and her family kept the bite size versions of her menu coming with a smile for three hours. The tingas went immediately, mini tostadas of round tortilla chips with a dollop of chicken, spices and queso fresco. Another favorite seemed to be the mini chicken enchiladas with a tomatillo sauce. It’s a saute of onion and garlic in oil, then blended and topped off with cilantro. El Pípila made of nopales filling with cactus, chile negro, tomatillo, onion and cilantro.
The pozoles verde tasted lovely and light, with flavorful chicken broth filled with tender hominy, serrano chilis and cilantro then topped fragrantly with a thin radish slice, onion, cabbage, lime and oregano. The beautiful agua fresca of pineapple is the result of putting a pineapple in the blender, then adding water and sugar. The house made agua fresca goes into the classic glass barrel to be ladled into cups.
Ted and his corgi, founders of The Hall
Ted came from the food & beverage world in New York to San Francisco. He founded The Hall attended and gave his own blessing to Guadalupe and El Pipila, his corgi sometimes on Ted’s lap and sometimes lolling on it’s back on the cement floor. Ted says he spent a year and a half at the Hall each day. He runs the street food booth Fine & Rare with a partner. Fine & Rare offers essentially New Orleans classics with Po’ Boys and crab rolls and bread pudding but with a northeastern upgrade. It’s less gritty. The Po’ Boys come on brioche.
Other tantalizing booths of street food in the Hall were quiet that night and the El Pípila entourage enjoyed the full run of the place. However, one could peruse a booth with Moroccan and Peruvian fusion street food, Indian, sandwiches, burgers with various kinds of meat, a cafe and a long bar with a contract from Anchor Steam. A warm and brightly painted nook held one big feast or family style table. The restrooms gleamed with chartreuse octopi on gleaming white. So one would say, when using the facilities, the restroom is octopied.
Next time you go through Civic Center BART, pop your head in the door at 1028 Market Street between Sixth and Seventh, on the side of the street with the Orpheum Theater. The mayor supports the revitalization project which will eventually be high rise housing, attracting San Franciscans with this local food and local musicians. It’s a communal and inviting setting all built around the glories of street food. Here’s a video of what this abandoned and forsaken building at 1028 used to look like before some young artists took it on. The Hall video.
Related: SF Chocolate Salon innovative
For more information: El Pípila San Francisco, FineAndRareSF, Michelle Edmunds Photography, The Hall