Le Voov! Restaurant Review: Cha Cha Cha’s
Cha Cha Cha’s (Tapas & More)
1801 Haight Street, San Francisco 415 386-7670
After visiting the San Francisco Botanical Garden during the annual ‘Flower Piano’ celebration, we headed over to Cha Cha Cha’s to experience incredible cuisine amid the chaos of blaring Latin music, devotional alters, and abundant laughter.
The aromatic Cuban spices hang heavy in the air as the indigo walls of the restaurant envelop one’s senses. The kitchen is bustling with excitement while your stomach and your brain simultaneously define a divine hunger.
We arrived promptly at 4:45PM to be assured a table when they open for dinner at 5PM. As we were seated, Brian wisely ordered a pitcher of Cha Cha Cha’s famous sangria. Sipping the fruity delight was the perfect activity to accompany perusing the extensive, mouth-watering menu options. Plates are served tapas style (small plates) so you can try multiple dishes in a single visit. After much debate and deliberation, here are the amazing dishes we decided upon during our most recent visit.
Warm spinach salad with bacon, mushrooms & green onions tossed in a warm Dijon mustard-sherry wine dressing. We enjoy the rich, tangy Dijon dressing accompanying this salad. It blends perfectly with the crunchy bacon, mushrooms and onions.
Steamed Mussels with garlic, tomatoes & fresh herbs in a saffron broth. The mussels were cooked to perfection, with the precise balance of garlic and herbs to accent their freshness. We always enjoy dipping our bread in the saffron broth to scoop up the rogue garlic and tomatoes. Yummm, good to the last dunk!
Ceviche with white fish, lemon juice, Serrano chilies, onion, red pepper & cilantro over minced greens served with red salsa and thick-cut tortilla chips. Ceviche is a family favorite we enjoy every chance we get, both domestically and internationally. The white fish is tender, and the lemon is sweetly balanced opposite the spicy Serrano peppers. Rough, thick-cut tortilla chips bring all the fresh flavors together in complete harmony.
Camarones Al Ajillo: Jumbo prawns sautéed with garlic, tomatoes & jasmin rice. The bold flavor of the broth is in brilliant juxtaposition with the supple texture and sweetness of the jumbo prawns. This dish was on the nightly special list, but we are hoping the restaurant management will decide to add it to the permanent menu because we think it’s a real keeper! (Hint, hint, hint @cha3!!!)
Chicken Curry Empanada with tossed green salad & black bean sauce. I had intended to photograph the inside of this tasty dish, but alas, we inhaled it before I could snap a pix or two. Needless to say, the pastry was light, the chicken was tender, and the black bean sauce truly rocked!
The sautéed mushrooms with sherry wine, fresh herbs & garlic is one of my favorite dishes on the menu because the flavors are perfectly balanced so you don’t lose the silky, rich flavor of the mushroom itself. The blend of the sauce is also simply amazing to dip your bread into once you’ve devoured the sumptuous mushrooms.
Cha3 Jerk Chicken: Marinated chicken thighs baked with habanero peppers, raisins, garlic & tomatoes served over white rice. Having traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, including the West Indies, we have enjoyed our share of jerk chicken. The complex, earthy flavors vary from place to place, yet are always pleasing to the palate. Cha Cha Cha’s jerk chicken is a true classic, and the chicken is slow cooked, so it literally falls off the bone.
Fried New Potatoes with chili pasilla aioli: The potatoes are crisp with loads of spice and the aioli has a creamy subtle hint of heat that warms the soul.
Every time we dine at Cha Cha Cha’s, we pledge to return for further exploration of their delicious menu! Next time we visit, we plan to try two or three items off their nightly specials list such as:
- BBQ Baby Back Ribs with jasmine rice
- Seared Rare Ahi Tuna with orange glaze & braised white beans
- Grilled New York Steak roasted in tomato-guajillo sauce & mashed potatoes
We also look forward to trying the following off the regular menu:
- Chicken Paillard – Grilled chicken breast strips with Dijon mustard cream sauce
- Seafood Paella on a bed of sautéed spinach with saffron broth, mussels, mixed fish, shrimp, calamari, chicken, andouille sausage and bay scallops
Cha Cha Cha’s in the world-famous Haight-Ashbury District in San Francisco is a destination not to be missed. There is a second location in the Mission District. Both restaurants are ridiculously popular and always packed to the gills. Since they don’t take reservations, get there early and plan to enjoy their lovely bar area, sipping sangria as you pass the time until you get to indulge in the splendor of their delectable cuisine!
Thank you Cha Cha Cha’s on the Haight for another memorable and unique dining experience!