Uptown 21 – Pop-Up Wednesday

Back in familiar haunts, even if they seem a little unfamiliar. As does the burrito that is both a narrow elliptical shape and bursting with red cabbage and kimchi. To be fair, it’s a beef bulgogi burrito and the beef is well-seasoned with a slight sweetness that plays well with the spicier condiments, if it could be more plentiful in quantity.

…in the spirit of honesty, a formative three years of eating Mission burritos may have spoiled me thoroughly, while completely re-aligning how I think about this most wonderful meal option.

IMG_5104So, it’s worth considering the difference in cost and weight between the two with a social lens. This burrito features locally-sourced ingredients: the kimchi sparks with a bright-sour heat and is, I suspect, made nearby if not in-house, and it’s likely that Uptown’s employees are paid a more livable wage than their 24th Street compatriots.

The Uptown 21 space has changed since I visited last, and while I miss the warm red walls and tables piled high with tapas, the re-visioned space is sunny and bright, with upbeat music, some songs with Latin flair nodding to the theme and adding a little verve to the light walls and long harvest tables, half-filled with students, couples, and another woman who writes like I do, burrito in one hand as she types. Most folks wander in and grab the burritos for takeout; one, who comes in for her office order, leaves with an impressive armful of foil-wrapped torpedoes and a huge smile.

With kimchi in the burrito, I’m not sure if a salsa bar along the rail where Nat and her team once slung (fantastic) cocktails is necessary. But. Both food cultures represented in this lunch deal (and at $10 including tax, it’s a good deal) love their side plates and pickles, so perhaps that’s where my longing comes from. Also, although it might be a harder sell than a $3 Wellington Brewery tall can, and with more sunk cost than individually-packaged beverages, it would be really cool to have horchata or an agua fresca to accompany the meal. Maybe these will be future expansions — these Wednesday lunch pop-ups seem to be gaining steam, in addition to the long-running Brown Bag Friday lunches — but either way, it’s great to have this as a lunch option in the Uptown core.

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