Li'l Smoky

A stylish taqueria with a fondness for chipotle

Cole Valley has already discovered Padrecito.

The new restaurant from the Mamacita team opened less than a month ago, but reservations are already scarce and the room is thick with two-year-olds. The metamorphosis of the former Eos space–now with burnished brass lights, thick wood tables and a mezzanine–is astonishing.

Like Mamacita, Padrecito styles itself a neighborhood taqueria. But these are no street tacos, spare and fiery. Each is heaped high with meats and multiple toppings, a few bites shy of a main course.

The chefs shade more than a few dishes with smoke. Smoked chiles appear in the creamy dressing on a Little Gem-and-beet salad ($10), as well as in the chayote-carrot slaw crowning buttermilk-battered squid tacos ($11). Chipotles enhance the mole coating a mountain of duck chilaquiles ($14). Triangular chips, shreds of duck carnitas (aka confit) and fava leaves are all wrapped in its smoky, buzzy embrace.

There's smoke in the cocktails, too. Mezcal plays a role in many, including the Copa Verde ($10), in which the rustic spirit is alloyed with puréed cilantro, lime juice and chipotle powder.

The best way to air out your palate? Strawberry-hibiscus paletas ($4) for dessert, vividly magenta and vibrantly fruity.