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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Aktun, Baby!: Mayan Restaurant Takes Over Former Emmy's Space

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 4:00 PM

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

When Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack vacated its original location on Virginia Avenue in Bernal Heights for a bigger location on Mission Street, it left a big old pile of nothing behind. That’s unfortunate, because the space has a secret passageway via the conservatory from Clue into El Amigo, the unassuming corner bar that just so happens to serve one of San Francisco’s finest margaritas.

And now that space is set to be taken, by a restaurant whose concept comports even better with salted rims than garlic bread does. (No shade at Emmy, whose menu does include a Mayan-style prawn ceviche.) Mayan-Yucatecan Aktun, whose kitchen is currently in the soft-opening phase as the dining room gets built out, is a project by Emmy’s brother Joe Kaplan, who has owned El Amigo since 2011.

It’s a slim menu, meant for noshing in close proximity to the bar and all its tequilas. There’s a plate of fried plantains with butter and cinnamon ($7), a heaping mound of guacamole ($8), and a jicama salad with oranges, spinach, cashews and shallots ($7). The ceviche ($12) is made with petrale sole and the even better crudo ($14) uses Alaskan halibut. If you want something a little meatier, the 4505 hot dog ($7) comes loaded with grilled onions, jalapeños, cilantro, sweet peppers, and a delicious habanero crema. Off-menu, we got to taste some panuchos, re-fried tortillas slathered in meat and vegetables with a healthy amount of avocado on top. Beg for some if necessary.

The atmosphere at El Amigo is the perfect balance between fastidious and relaxed, just like Emmy’s. The drinks are swell, but it’s also the kind of place where the bartender might whip up a blood orange margarita because hey, somebody brought him a big sack of blood oranges just then. And sometimes, serendipity governs the day: SF Weekly didn’t find out about Aktun because some PR person called or because they emailed us a tip. We learned about it while getting drunk on margaritas with friends. Score one for unabashed hedonism!


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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Bio:
Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.

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