Pica Pica should be one of your go-to restaurants if you live in San Francisco. It’s a bright and colorful storefront, filled with traditional Venezuelan recipes and tons of charm. The owner, who is Venezuelan herself, brought food and culture to San Francisco through her grandmother’s tasty recipes. Don’t let the restaurant’s small size deter you – they’ve been getting big publicity, including a feature on the Food Network’s, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. Thankfully for us NOBREAD-ers, all the key ingredients of Venezuelan food, such as corn, yucca, taro and plantains, are naturally gluten-free. Therefore, the recipes remain authentic and do not need to be compromised to be made gluten-free! Everything from the empanadas, to the arepas, and sweet corn crepes can be eaten without worrying…
Since the menu is entirely GF and free of possible cross contamination, I opted to try the most popular items on the menu. The restaurant specializes in arepas, a South American sandwich made entirely of corn and is naturally GF. If you’ve never tried an arepa, you’re missing out! To start I ordered the Pabellon Arepa, which is filled with shredded beef, plantains, black beans and salty queso fresco. The other popular filling options are the pork and chicken. I also got the garlic yucca fries and a vegetarian crepe. If you like garlic, I would highly recommend the fries. They are made with yucca, which is a tuber similar to potatoes. The crepe, called a Cachapas, is an enormous sweet corn crepe filled with any ingredients you choose. I got the Vegetarian, which was overflowing with grilled tofu, avocado, plantains, black beans and aioli. It was sweet and savory at the same time but definitely an item to share.
I spotted some desserts on the menu, all gluten-free, and will definitely be trying them on my next visit. Pica Pica is a great bet for almost any casual occasion. Due to its convenient spot in the Mission, the food can be a perfect accompaniment for a park day at Dolores or a quick bite with friends.