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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jonathan Kauffman: Is Parada 22's Puerto Rican Crossover Convincing?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 10:42 AM

The menu freely edits the Puerto Rican canon. - ARCHIVE VICTOR/FLICKR
Is Alex Jackson the city's new source of restaurant-concept energy? Fresh off a consulting stint at Weird Fish, the chef has tweaked The Corner into a place with a carnivorous American menu as striking as its setting, is plotting to launch Mission gastropub Black Sheep later this summer, and in April, teamed up with one of Cha Cha Cha's owners to open nuevo-Rican eatery Parada 22 at Haight and Shrader.

In today's "Eat," SF Weekly food critic Jonathan Kauffman considers the crossover appeal of a place that makes a play for Boricua cred, even as it picks and chooses from the Puerto Rican canon. [In today's "Eat" Extra, read Jackson's comments about rooting the food in the authentic.] Is Jackson's concept convincing? Will it play in the Mission? Read how Kauffman frames the question in SFoodie's below-the-fold excerpt. Then linger over Kauffman's column at SFWeekly.com.

Where is the arroz con glandules, you'll hear anyone with a grandmother from Guaynabo ask. Where are the pasteles? And where in the hell is the mofongo? For a more thorough taste-through of Puerto Rican standards, you'll have to head to Sol Food in Corte Madera or the Mission's longstanding Frutilandia. And some will raise eyebrows at the sight of mixed baby greens alongside the white rice and deep-fried maduro (ripe) plantains on Parada 22's plates. The restaurant embodies a nostalgia once removed, a New Yorker's love for East Coast restaurants serving emigré food, but not dedication to tradition at all costs. Like most once-removed restaurateurs, Jackson edits his menu heavily, with an eye for what will sell quickly and steadily. He has also hired line cooks who prepare everything carefully and who know what to do with a hot pan and a piece of meat, which makes quite a difference.

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