Mission near 19th. This place is just a few doors down from Cha Cha Cha and serves small plates with a Cuban theme. They don’t have a liquor license, so there are no mojitos, but there is sangria, which is just fine. It’s hard to get a table here — the place is small and there’s usually a wait, but I’ve never found it to be ridiculous. It’s got that typical Mission blend of dressed down and pricey food, but the flavors here are more robust.
I said it’s small plates but it’s more accurate to call them medium plates. The price reflects the increased size. It was a while ago, so I don’t remember everything, but we did have a delicious garlic soup and a very tasty medium-rare steak (Niman Ranch, I think). As a warning, the shrimp are almost always cooked and served in the shell — while the former improves the flavor, or so I hear, the latter results in a big mess that invariably rubs off some of the flavor from the food. A good bed every time are the fried plantains (maduros) and the frijoles negros. That’s some tasty home-cookin’.
I’d recommend Charanga if you want to have light-to-medium dinner in a fun Mission spot. Of the similar places in the Mission, I’d have to say the food there has been the best, but I know people who would disagree.