The quesadilla has become a staple of late night drunken consumption. Frat boys the nation over have staved off the gnarliest of hangovers with hunks of cheese, possibly smothered in Sriracha, sandwiched between two crisply grilled circles of tortilla.
It's a simple, filling staple of Tex-Mex cuisine, one you might have gotten used to ignoring on menus with a more dynamic set of dishes. Papito's, the Mexican little brother of the Chez Papa/Chez Maman family, has married the classic finesse present in so many of their traditionally French-tinged dishes to this lowest common denominator of chow. The result is rather special.
The tiny, brightly lit space on Potrero Hill offers up a wide variety of quesadillas to dig in to. For first-time diners, we suggest the three hefty triangles of the Pollo Empanizado. From its arrival at your copper-topped table, the quesadilla outdoes its traditional brethren. There's no greasy, floppy cheese pancake here. Instead, its three wedges of La Palma's tortilla, grilled to a flaky crisp, stuffed to bursting with ample chunks of deeply fried chicken, vibrant purple cabbage slaw, the requisite amount of gooey cheese, and a thick smudge of guacamole.
Papito's quesadillas, with their strapping girth and thin lines of criss-crossed sour cream, might seem reminiscent of something you'd find at a Chevy's. What hits the palette first is the more common strains of the quesadilla -- the melted cheese, the flat fattiness of the guacamole, the salty crunch of the fried chicken -- but as these flavors depart, Chez Papa's subtle mastery becomes clear. The slaw, striking in color, imparts a gentle, almost floral tang that melds with the deeper, smokier flavors of the chipotle remoulade, rounding out the heavier aspects of the dish and leaving your mouth somewhere geographically between Mexico City and Paris.
It is, to say the least, a filling dish, one equal in its ability to soak up the rogue alcohol of the worst of hangovers like its less gastronomically pleasing, more collegiate cousin.
Also recommended: The smorgasbord of pickle, mint and tamarind that is the Carnitos de Pato.