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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Emanuel’s Coffee Might Be the Best Possible Successor to Cuco’s in the Lower Haight

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 10:22 AM

click to enlarge A huge bowl of cochinita perbil. - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • A huge bowl of cochinita perbil.

When the family-owned Cuco’s Burritos closed after interminable squabbles with the landlord, I assumed its replacement would be something hideously slick and corporate. What a relief to be proven dead wrong, smug, know-it-all cynic that I am. I’m still going to miss that plantain burrito for a long while, but Salvadoran Emanuel Coffee is exactly the kind of business that’s becoming a rarity in a neighborhood like the Lower Haight.
If the cochinita perbil is any indication, the prices are low and the portions are big. Basically the Yucatan’s version of carnitas, except cooked with citric acid, it’s a big bowl of deliciousness served with Salvadoran tortillas and pickled onions that cries out for having gone out drinking the night before. I almost couldn’t finish it.

If that doesn’t sound too appetizing, fear not, gringo/a! Breakfast service picks up at 7 a.m. with such fare as bacon and eggs, dulce de leche pancakes, and bagels with cream cheese (as well as some conspicuously nutritious salads). Detouring back to El Salvador, there are plantain empanadas, chicken panuchos, and several kinds of tamales. Pupusas are $2.50 each, which is a bit more than La Santaneca de La Mission, but still a relative bargain.

The remodel opened up the space dramatically, too. I remember Cuco’s being dark and cramped (and, for what it’s worth, on the dirty side) but Emanuel’s is surprisingly full of light. The ceilings are higher and the front windows have been opened up for seating. A space that could easily have become something unspeakably artisanal is instead the best possible successor to its beloved former occupant.

Emanuel Coffee
, 488 Haight, 865-0522

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About The Author

Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

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