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Emanuel Coffee Brings Homespun Charm to the Old Cuco’s Space 

Wednesday, Mar 4 2015
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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 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.

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Pete Kane

Pete Kane

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

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