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Ancient Mayan recipes set this SF restaurant’s menu apart

Las Mestizas serves traditional dishes like panucho, salbutes, tamales, tostadas, chilindrina and empanadas. | Courtesy Fausto May/Las Mestizas

Las Mestizas, a traditional Mayan kitchen on the edge of Bernal Heights, is moving to a new location in the heart of the Marina. Owner Fausto May said he plans to reopen in mid-February at Chestnut and Scott streets. 

He told The Standard the move was prompted by a desire to operate in a bigger space in a neighborhood where Yucatánean cooking is rarer. 

The star of Las Mestizas’ menu is the cochinita pibil, an ancient recipe of slow-roasted pork marinated in Mayan spices and wrapped in a banana leaf. May said that cochinita pibil, which he learned to prepare from his grandparents, is highly labor-intensive, taking five hours to roast the day before serving. 

“Our restaurant is going to be the home of cochinita pibil in the city,” May said.

Las Mestizas, which means people of mixed Indigenous and European heritage, also serves panucho, a tostada-like dish made with a deep-fried handmade tortilla that’s filled with black bean purée and topped with lettuce, shredded chicken, avocado, tomato pickled red onions and cabbage.

May opened his restaurant on Mission and Cortland streets two years ago, and he said he’s eager to see how his cooking lands in the Marina. For him, most Mexican restaurants in the Marina are more Americanized, while his recipes come directly from his home region of the Yucatán Peninsula. 

“I’m excited but nervous at the same time,” he said. “It’s a whole new project for me in a neighborhood I don’t know. But I’m ready for the challenge.” 

Las Mestizas