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Can a New Mexican Restaurant Make Cole Valley...Hip?

Carolyn Alburger | March 12, 2013 | Story Restaurants

Yesterday, when I popped in for a preview of Padrecito, manager Jordan Dunn and I watched countless neighbors smash their faces against the windows, trying to get a glimpse of the colorful new restaurant that just bloomed where Eos once sat. "We're in the fishbowl," says Dunn. "We've been using that term for the past few months, because people are constantly peering in here."

It's been a long time coming. About 13 months ago, news broke that the team behind the Marina's Mamacita restaurant, Nate Valentine, Styker Scales, Sam Josi and Dunn, would be purchasing the space to open a sister restaurant. On Saturday, this tan-walled ode to the Yucatan snuck open and served 150 diners before anyone could blink.

“The people in this neighborhood are very protective. They’re our first priority,” said Dunn, as he walked me through the impressive remodel. The bar area upstairs has been painted a deep navy, while clusters of mismatched lamps create several focal points in the earth-toned, high-ceilinged main dining area. “If I came in, I’d want to sit up there,” adds Dunn, pointing to the mezzanine. The overall space looks nothing like it did during the Eos years.

Dunn has been asked many times how the menu at Padrecito compares that at Mamacita. His response? It’s loosely inspired by Yucatecan recipes, and very driven by the calendar. “We’ll take what’s seasonal here, and then look to Mexico for inspiration,” he added. Mamacita’s recipes are also more elaborate, with 12 or more ingredients in the mole sauces, while Padrecito aims to keep it simpler. “It’s a bit more like what you’d find on the street in Mexico, versus a fancy restaurant.” Have a look at the full menu here, which also just went live on Padrecito's website.

The restaurant will open with a full liquor license, which means margaritas from day one. David Ruiz has come up with a neatly designed cocktail menu that shows the glass shape for each drink, and lists its four main flavors. Although there’s no margarita listed, the off-menu Mamacita margarita was the most popular drink on Saturday night, with Padrecito’s mescal-spiked marg coming in second place.

You can knock them both back tonight when Padrecito "officially" opens to the public. Hours will be 5:30 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and the bar will stay open until 1 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. Look for Monday service, takeout, and brunch to be added in the coming weeks.

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