Restaurant review: Nick’s Tacos at Underdog, plus your weekend plans! »
Underdog is a sports bar that serves Nick’s Tacos, located in an area of San Francisco I like to refer to as the Mid Sunset. Not quite Outer, not quite Inner. Technically, what is 19th and Irving? I have no clue.
Nick believes in slow food, fast, which I guess I love. I don’t respect the Slow Food movement so much, as it tends to be super meat-heavy/hypocritical. Unless we are talking about cooking dinner in my apartment! My old roommate Vanessa said I am a great cook, but she can’t wait two hours to eat. What?! I like the flavors to meld—and I cook on low so I can check Facebook every two seconds.
I went to Underdog’s on a whim last year with two friends, as one of them knew the bartender and we NEEDED to make it for beer-and-taco happy hour. Taco happy hour, by the way, is only for ‘street-style’ meat tacos, but Nick’s is so inexpensive, you won’t stay too mad about that. Perhaps they will make the street tacos sans meat, I’ve never asked.
Drinking and tacos are two of my FAVORITE THINGS! I could tell I was gonna like the food as soon as our chips and salsa came. SO COLORFUL AND FRESH! I mean, really? In a bar? I was not expecting this.
That first time, I ordered the vegetarian tacos, which come Nick’s Way in a crispy corn tortilla wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. YES AND YES.
The second time I visited UnderNick’s, I had the taco salad. SO AMAZING. The best part is that it is a vegan entree, so I didn’t have to waste time asking for no cheese or sour cream and then stress out it’s going to come with those condiments anyway. Cilantro-lime vinaigrette? Done. Fresh tomatoes and delicious guacamole? Done. The best part, other than how it tastes, is that it doesn’t come in a heavy, fried tortilla shell, the part of the salad I always try to abstain from and then demolish in 30 seconds flat. Instead they decoratively top the salad with tortilla curls!
The first time I went to Underdog’s, my friend informed me of second Underdog up the street (different place of business completely). So after gorging on chips, salsa and tacos, I found room in my stomach for a vegan sausage dog with sauerkraut. And then went home and made seitan (while checking Facebook constantly).
Here’s your itinerary for this weekend (whenever your weekend is. Mine is Mondays and Tuesdays, holla!). Go to Ocean Beach, try to stay warm and work up an nice appetite/beer buzz on the sand, and as you are heading back to the city stop at Nick’s. Scarf down your food so that before your stomach can register it’s full, you can demolish a vegan sausage dog down the street. Sounds like a perfect day to me!
Underdog Sports Bar and Grill is located at 1824 Irving between 19th and 20th Avenues in the Sunset. It can get pretty bro-y on game days, so I’d avoid it at all costs then. Here’s the menu [.pdf]. [Ed.: I’ve heard that on Fridays during happy hour, they have $1 margaritas. Girrrrrrrl…]
How to be a fancy and demanding vegan! »
Sometimes you may think to yourself, “Gosh, is that Megan Rascal fancy!” but there are fancier members of my family: my brother and sister-in-law are like the New York couple—so hip and chic. They love to go to nice restaurants and when they invite me along, they are always really cool and send me the menus beforehand to check if they’re vegan friendly. However, more often than not, the restaurants they seem to choose are like meaty-meat-meats-a-lot. I don’t know why! There are many meat-centric, yet vegan-friendly restaurants in this big city but they don’t seem to like them. So I’m always like, “I guess I can ask for this one salad without bacon?” And they are like, “great!” And I’m like, “great.” But this last time, when they wanted to go to Savoy in Manhattan and I saw that there were possibly zero vegan items on the menu, I put my foot down. Well, sort of. I said, “I can make do with the salads I think! Also we have to try this thing people do, like at nice places, sometimes the chef will make a vegan dish that’s not on the menu just with what they have that day. We should try it! I’m scared. Maybe [your wife] will know how to do it.” See, I’m always telling you, I’m shy! So I’m nervous to bother chefs but my brother is not! He called the restaurant before we got there to see what they could do for me. According to him,
I said something like, “And we have one vegan in our party—do you have options for her?” And she said “Yes, we can accommodate that no problem. I’ll make a note of that on your reservation.” And I said, “OK great! Thank you very much,” and that was it!
Easy peasy! When we got to the restaurant, my brother informed them that he had called earlier and I was the vegan, etc. and the waitress was very nice. She said that two items in the starters could be made vegan and that for the entree, the chef would make something special. I was so happy! I love special stuff. She asked me if there were any vegetables that I didn’t like, but there aren’t really so I told her not to worry about that.
I got a polenta dish without butter for my starter. It was very good. It was kind of like a breakfast cereal, like Cream of Wheat or something. It was good though. But the real excitement came with my entree! The chef made some crazy squash I had never heard of, stuffed with another, mushed-up squash and a bunch of vegetables, topped with a citrus salad and surrounded by kidney beans and these crazy roasted black olive things that were good even though I hate olives. It was AWESOME. And more importantly, it was FANCY! Then I finished with a scoop of chocolate sorbet. AWESOME AND FANCY!
When the waitress came out later and asked me how everything was, I was like, “It’s amazing! Tell the chef it’s great and I really appreciate it.” Damn, I’m classy. You should thank your chef, after all.
So friends, don’t be scared to go into those nice places and make your vegan needs heard! Just make sure you thank them so we keep our good name.
Dream of opening a vegan restaurant in SF? NOW IS THE TIME, SLACKERS! »
According to SF Gate, in 1987, San Francisco banned new restaurants on Noe Valley’s 24th Street because residents felt they were losing local shops to eateries that drove up rents and caused traffic jams. Well bitches, that shit done happened anyway and yet, about 15 storefronts sit vacant (or basically decrepit and filled with extreme right-wing INSANITY) and the babies of Noe Valley demand eateries! NOW HERE’S THE MILLION DOLLAR IDEA. Wait for it.
OPEN A VEGAN RESTAURANT (or 15!) in this
health skinny conscious neighborhood! These fools will fall over backwards for delicious, nutritious vegan food (WITH A KID’S MENU THIS IS KEY) that will satiate their entire family plus maids (if they’re a Benevolent Ruler). And since these fools are all richie riches, you can hike the prices up and perhaps even survive in this hostile environment.
I’ll be real withchu, as a vegan who lived in Noe Valley Of The Dolls, it was HARD TIME for eatin’. There are very few vegan friendly establishments on the street and hardly anywhere tasty period. If you get something good in there, you could attract the locals and perhaps even all the scroungy vegans in the mission who need a classy date spot. Seriously, we’ll love it. Now is the time to get in there and give the babies what they want! You can do it! Please do it! FOR THE LOVE OF BABIES!