Without a doubt, we all need a vacation right about now.
The days are short, traffic's especially bad, frustration levels are high, and to-do lists grow long. What we all need is an escape, and if going away is not possible, we can still travel upwards. El Techo de Lolinda gets you five stories up -- enough distance above the hustle and toil at ground level to get away, even if only for the length of time it takes to drink a glass (or pitcher) of Piña Colada ($10 or $36 pitcher, El Techo rum blend, coconut cream, pineapple, cinnamon, crushed ice) and get some sun.
Maybe it's by association that the piña colada tastes like a warm beach holiday even on a foggy evening, but sitting on the rooftop patio looking at the thatch of buildings downtown feels like an escape.
The house cocktail mix uses equal proportions of coconut milk and coconut cream, lending a flavor of roasted coconut to the tropical drink. The blend of three different rums (Denizen, El Dorado 12 Year, and Appleton 12 Year) from three different countries (Trinadad, Guyana, and Jamaica) helps fortify against the cold and bolster the tropical flavors of the drink. Complete with a little umbrella, the rooftop drink is a vacation in a glass.
The Chilcano ($10, Huamani Pisco, lime, passion fruit, ginger, bitters) is also a good choice, especially if you get there early enough to soak up some sun. Bright and lighter than the piña colada, but with the same prescription-strength tropical fruit flavors.
Since you're on vacation, you might as well get an order of the Chicharrones de Carne ($13 a half-pound, $19 a pound, $29 a pound and a half; roasted and fried chunks of pork-shoulder, beans, tortillas, lime, escabeche), which are really more like Mexican carnitas than cracklings. Served with handmade tortillas and mashed black beans and some fantastic spicy pickled veggies, it quickly becomes a taco fiesta. The chunks are nice and fatty, and a half-pound is enough to share between two people; but why worry about the diet? You're on an Indian Summer vacation.
El Techo de Lolinda, 2518 Mission (at 21st), 550-6970