Southern Pacific co-founder Anthony LaVia and his wife, Marisol Gonzalez, are in the home stretch of opening a new restaurant on Mission Street between 18th and 19th. It’s called Lupulandia, a restaurant and bar inspired by the emerging food and drink scene in Tijuana.
“In San Francisco there are very few [Mexican] restaurants that aren’t super traditional,” LaVia said, standing in the skeleton of the forthcoming establishment at 2243 Mission St., right now a vast cavern of drywall, construction supplies, and room-sized beer-brewing vats.
Most people, he says, don’t realize that places like Monterey, Tijuana and Guadalajara “are big cities and stuff is super modern there. There are all these young people doing this crazy modern stuff — and nobody up here has any idea what that is.”
Lupulandia, he said, will at least give people a taste. It will come by way of “normal, regular people food” — fideo, menudo and tacos de panza, for example — “just done in a modern way with modern ingredients.”
LaVia and Gonzalez, both of Mexican descent, made their case at a small meeting Tuesday at the future restaurant site, which has been vacant for years following the closure of New Starlight Furniture. At issue was the couple’s desire to feature a rooftop terrace that will stay open until sundown. There will be no lights or heaters, he said.
Proposed rooftop use hasn’t always been well-received in this neighborhood, but the dozen people in attendance, all of whom lived or worked a short distance away, were excited about the project. They begged LaVia at the end of the meeting to reveal an opening date. He said that it hasn’t been determined yet.
LaVia said he will draw about half of his dishes from a project, Tras / Horizonte, he co-founded with sibling restauranteurs Oso and Pablo Campos in Tijuana in 2016. The other half will be remixed American dishes like fried chicken and churros (a take, of course, on fried chicken and waffles).
He said he will be brewing beer on-site and will be serving hard-to-find drinks such as fermented pineapple juice.
Antonio Montesinos, who works at Eagle Jewelry & Loans next door, attended the Tuesday meeting. He said he was skeptical at first, but is now excited. Montesinos said he was reassured when he learned LaVia and Gonzalez would be hiring from within the neighborhood.
“I’m excited about having another open site,” said Montesinos, who said he was born and grew up in the Mission. “It’s gonna be a nice site where people and come, relax and do their thing.”