Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen, San Francisco

A Venezuelan arepa from Pica Pica

Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen Restaurant Review

Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen is a casual Venezuelan restaurant in the Mission District that specializes in arepas. Arepas are basically the South American (particularly Venezuela and Colombia) version of a corn tortilla, which is thicker and cut into a pocket and filled with delicious ingredients like meats and cheeses. They’re much thicker than tortillas, however, and can be made with regular or sweet corn for some interesting flavor combinations.

While the menu at Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen Restaurant looks fairly extensive, the dishes are all variations on a few ingredients, like corn, plantains, yuca, and taro, with the meat or tofu of choice.

The food is naturally gluten-free, since they make the arepas with corn, and there are some good vegetarian and vegan options.

The Location

Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen Restaurant is located on Valencia Street in the Mission District, only a few blocks from the 16th Street BART station.

Address:

401 Valencia Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 400-5453

Opening Hours

Friday- Saturday – 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Sunday- Thursday- 11:00 AM- 9:00 PM

The Ambiance

The Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen Restaurant is very casual with limited seating. Order and pay at the counter, and take your number to try to find a seat. The tables are very close together and you end up sitting very close to other patrons and can’t help overhearing their conversations (so I hope you don’t mind listening to strangers chatter on about their coworkers at their new job at Twitter). There are a lot of windows, which were wide open on the sunny afternoon I stopped by. It made the tiny space feel a lot bigger and cooler to have them open but wasn’t great when people decided to stand right outside and smoke.

The Service

We had no issues with the service at all, but it is a partially self-service style restaurant so there wasn’t a whole lot of service needed. The people who took our orders and brought our food were friendly and smiling. They also have delivery or pickup options.

The Price

It was $10 for an arepa, which I think is slightly high for the size of them. However, a plate cost $14.50, so I’d stick with the arepas (or maybe the cachapas). The plate offers a larger portion of meat but it’s basically the same ingredients found in the arepas, without the arepa, but with rice and beans. Sides like yuca fries or plantain and taro chips are $3, as are the desserts, which is a fair price. Frescas run $3 as well, while beer and sangria are $5 a pop.

The Food

The food at Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen Restaurant is essentially a choice of meat or tofu either in an arepa, a cachapa (sweet corn crepes), or a plate (the meat with rice and beans and plantains on the side). Meat choices include beef, pulled pork, chicken, while the vegetarian options are tofu or black beans. The size of the plate was decent, but with the arepas, I’d recommend ordering something in addition, because they’re not very big (maybe 4 inches in diameter).

There are appetizers like ceviche, nachos on taro chips, and empanadas, and sides like yuca fries and plantain and taro chips as well as soups and salads.

I tried the classic (and recommended) dish, the Arepa Pabellón, which is shredded beef. There’s a choice of the classic white corn arepa or the sweet yellow, and I chose the classic for my first try. The arepa came stuffed with the meat, along with some plantains, black beans, and queso fresco, and a side of a shredded cabbage slaw. The filling to corn pocket ratio was off, so it was impossible to pick up and eat (but I’m not complaining about too much filling, though I wish there were more beans).  I liked the combination of the sweet plantains and the savoury beans and meat. I wished there was something like tomato or avocado in there to balance it out. The slaw helped a little. Other arepas on the menu have more going on, so I’d probably try one of the chicken or vegetarian options next time.

The beef asado plate with rice, beans, and sweet plantains

The blackened beef asado plate with rice, beans, and sweet plantains

My friend ordered the blackened beef asado plate, which was disappointing. The meat came in two thick discs, which was very dry and tough to cut through.

There are a few types of sauces on the tables at Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen Restaurant, which I supposed would have helped with the dryness of the meat. I didn’t love any of the sauces (which were unlabeled and unhelpful). One was a spicy ketchup, another was a garlic aioli, and the other was a salsa.

The rice and beans that came with the plate were good, however. The black beans had a delicious, rich flavor, and the rice was coconut rice. And of course, the side of plantains was great and always welcome.

Yuca beignets with dulce de leche sauce

Yuca beignets with dulce de leche sauce

For dessert, we shared an order of the yuca beignets. They weren’t really beignets, more like donut holes but oh man, they were so good, they can call them whatever they want. They came with a side of dulce de leche dipping sauce with was perfect. My friend thought it was too sweet.

I had sangria with my meal, which was weak but had a good flavour, with some boozy fruit at the bottom. They have several fruit frescas that I’d prefer to try if I ever return, including coconut lime, which sounds refreshing.

If I came back to Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen Restaurant, I’d stick to the arepas, choose a chicken or vegetarian filling, and maybe try the sweet yellow corn this time. I’d probably get a side of yuca fries or plantain chips, and I’d definitely get those yuca beignets again.

Website : http://picapica.com/

Phone : +1 415-400-5453

Nearby Tourist Attractions–  Twin Peak, Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz Island

Published On: Friday, March 17th, 2017