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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Find Under $5: Papusa Paradise on 16th Street, a Late-Night Lifesaver

Posted By on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Pork papusa - ALEXIS KATSILOMETES
  • Alexis Katsilometes
  • Pork papusa

It's 1 a.m. on Saturday. You stumble bleary-eyed out of the Mission's Elbow Room, seriously questioning your decisions of the previous five hours. As you contemplate whether that fourth gimlet was indeed necessary, one thing is clear: You need something to eat. You want something good, something close, and something that is going to soak up at least a little bit of the gin that is sitting like a kiddie pool in your stomach.

You consider a bacon-wrapped hot dog, but for some reason, the powerful scent wafting through the Mission streets isn't really doing it for you this time. You contemplate Arinell's pizza, but those thin little slices are not quite what you need on a night of this caliber. In a sudden moment of clarity, it hits you: Salvation can be found in the form of papusas at Panchita's #2 on 16th Street. You realize, a bit incredulously at first, that you have only $5 and change after your alcohol assault, but that will be plenty. The restaurant is bustling with people in a similar state as you, but you are fixated on the woman outside, the one grilling the thick, filled, corn tortillas to order; your newly anointed "Papusa Goddess."

Bleary-eyed, you stare at the menu, finally settling on one pork and one filled with beans and cheese. When you are handed the steaming plate, you plop down at only vacant table and settle in. You heap the tangy cabbage slaw onto your plate and pour the piquant sauce generously over your food. You take the first bite, a perfect combination of tender pork, silky corn dough, and spicy sauce, and you immediately know: You're going to make it after all.

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Alexis Katsilometes


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