I was introduced to El Pípila, a catering company that serves authentic Guanajuatan food, for the first time last year at La Cocina's San Francisco Street Food Festival Media Preview. I fell in love with Guadalupe Guerreros' cactus sopes after my first bite. I've been a fan since and was thrilled to hear that El Pípila was opening up at The Hall on 1028 Market Street. If you haven't visited The Hall yet, you're in for a treat. A step inside reveals a comfort food paradise with delicious and affordable food options that will keep you returning week after week.
El Pípila's preview launch party was last Sunday, a day before the official opening, and I attended with my friend Sandy who writes Foodhoe. We had a wonderful time stuffing our faces with some of the best sopes, enchiladas, guacamole and salsa we've ever had. Guadalupe also invited Aztec dancers to "bless" her plates and that was fun to watch while we sipped on wonderfully refreshing housemade piña agua frescas. It was a cheerful celebration with many heartfelt moments.
Michelle Fernandez of La Cocina says, "Guadalupe's Guanajuatan recipes are inspired by her hometown of Acámbaro and her mother. The space at The Hall will give her an opportunity to serve her smoky tomatillo, chicken, and bacon pozole verde, her sopes topped with nopales and picadillo, as well as introduce some new items like tacos de carnitas, enchiladas, tostadas, and even a sope salad. Plus, she gets to share her Guanajuatan food 7 days a week."
EL PÍPILA'S STORY - THE LONG JOURNEY
"When I was working at the taqueria I was supporting my kids. Now that I own my business, I'm working with my kids (Brenda and Alejandra). They're my friends and my business partners and I'm growing this business for them."
It's been a long journey for Guadalupe Guerrero, chef and owner, of El Pípila. Can you imagine leaving behind your two daughters and your entire life in Acámbaro, Mexico in hopes of finding work and a better life to provide for your family? In 1998 Guadalupe ventured off alone to the Bay Area without any knowledge of English and worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week for twelve years at a taqueria in Berkeley. In two years, she was able to earn enough money to send for her children and bring them into the states.
In 2005, she met Alicia Villanueva of Alicia’s Tamales los Mayas, who told Guadalupe about La Cocina. After several years of working for someone else, Guadalupe decided it was time to pursue her dream of opening up her own food business.
Guadalupe started off with nothing and built her business from the ground up with the help of Women’s Initiative and La Cocina, a non-profit food business incubator that provides affordable commercial kitchen space and technical assistance to low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs who are starting, launching or growing food businesses.
"It's hard to think that when I arrived in the U.S. all those years ago I had nothing. I had a hard time believing that I would ever own my own business, much less open a spot where people can come everyday to try my sopes and pozole using my mother’s recipes. It's a dream."
Guadalupe's food embodies her strength, passion and devotion. Her food is packed with bold flavors and spices that is sure to transport you to Mexico.
EL PÍPILA'S LAUNCH PARTY AND fOOD RECAP
Guadalupe's family, friends and supporters came out to celebrate the opening of El Pípila at The Hall. When you combine delicious food with people who love to eat, things can't possibly go wrong.
Holy enchiladas! I've never been a huge fan of enchiladas until now. Each tortilla is filled with shredded chicken and the sauce is made with sauteed onions, tomatillos and cilantro. It was incredibly flavorful; I am completely hooked.
These mini tostadas were very addicting, topped with shredded stewed chicken.
It's so hard to nail down a favorite dish from El Pípila, but if I had to choose it would be the nopales sopes, which are savory corn cakes topped with a cactus salad with chile negro and tomatillo. The thick corn cakes are really nice and the nopales is like a cross between okra and green beans. Very scrumptious!
Pozole is a very popular stew in Mexico. This smokey bacon-chicken-tomatillo pozole recipe belongs to Guadalupe's mother. It's rich, flavorful and super comforting. I loved the intensity of oregano in each bite. I'm personally not a fan of white meat, but aside from that this pozole rocks.
We ended our feast with cucumbers, jicama, and watermelon skewers sprinked with chili powder.
We were mesmerized by the energetic Aztec dancers' outfits, feather hairdresses and dance moves! It was beautiful to watch them bless the place and pay respects to the Ohlone people and mother earth.
Thanks so much for having us, La Cocina and El Pípila! I look forward to eating more Guanajuatan food and seeing your continued success.
VISITING EL PÍPILA at The Hall
1028 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94102