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The crispy duck tacos at Padrecito, photo courtesy of Virginia Miller

Border towns don?t exactly have the best reputations these days. So to get your fill of (elevated) Mexican street food, head to Padrecito, located in Cole Valley right on the border of the Haight.

Brought to us by the owners of Blue Barn, Umami and Mamacita, Padrecito elicited muy high hopes--and we weren?t disappointed.

Executive chef Luis Contreras serves an inventive range of tacos, filled with fried calamari, grilled arctic char or braised bacon. Our favorite is the crispy duck layered over refried black beans and topped with arbol chile-tinged orange marmalade.

The tequila- and mescal-heavy cocktail list stars the restaurant?s namesake drink, a bright rendition of a classic margarita with a hint of mescal and a whisper of smoke. We also highly recommend La Copa Verde, a savory yet refreshing combo of mescal, cilantro and lime doused with chipotle powder.

The cantina-esque space is warm and festive: An open dining room is decked with reclaimed wood and colorful tiles. Indigo walls are lined with vintage Mexican photos.

With all dishes under $20, it?s a downright fiesta.

901 Cole Street; 415-742-5505 or

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