Bean There, Eat That

The standout beans at Parada 22

Cook dishes four times a week for a few months and they're bound to be knockouts.

When Philip Bellber was planning his new Puerto Rican restaurant, Parada 22 in the Upper Haight, he knew that a true boricua establishment would thrive (or die) based on its beans. So Bellber's cousin traveled from Puerto Rico to give him a thorough carbohydrate crash course.

The anxiety has paid astonishing dividends. Parada 22's two bean dishes are some of the finest legumes we've eaten in the Bay Area.

For the habichuelas coloradas (red beans, $3.50), a sofrito of onion, garlic, calabaza and Smithfield ham is cooked for two hours. Then the soaked beans are cooked first in a house-made vegetable broth and then in a roasted ham stock. When they're finished, the habichuelas are saturated with flavor and have no trace of the chalkiness that comes from imprudent legume cooking.

The similarly outstanding habichuelas blancas (white beans, $4) are vegan. But when fortified with potato and carrot, you'd be hard-pressed to finger which of the two beans had meat in them if you weren't already aware.

Both habichuelas appear all over Parada 22's menu, as accompaniments to main dishes and as meal-worthy sides. 

Parada 22, 1805 Haight St. (at Shrader St.); 415-750-1111 or parada22.com