'Elena's' restaurant pays homage to family roots through Mexican-Californian cuisine

ByJanel Andronico Localish logo
Monday, March 11, 2024
'Elena's' restaurant pays homage to family roots through cuisine
The new San Francisco restaurant "Elena's" pays homage to family roots through a combination of authentic Mexican cuisine and California-inspired elements.Authentic Mexican cuisine and California-inspired elements come together at this brand new family-owned restaurant.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Located in San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood, family roots and tradition run deep at the new San Francisco restaurant Elena's.

The family behind the brand new spot includes the third generation co-owner of the iconic Original Joe's and Little Original Joe's. Elena Duggan, together with her brother and business partner John Duggan, opened Elena's Mexican-American restaurant inspired by her daughters' Mexican heritage.

"We really wanted to pay homage to my two oldest daughters, Catherine and Julia's Mexican heritage, they're both half Mexican," expressed Elena Duggan. "I just thought this would be a great way to kind of pay homage to them and their history, and their father's side of the family."

Authentic Mexican cuisine and California-inspired elements come together on a menu that's influenced by Catherine and Julia's yearly summer trips to visit their extended family in San Bartolo Morelos, outside of Mexico City.

It was there where they learned from their abuelita to appreciate the beauty of a freshly made tortilla and tamale. Those classic recipes are at the heart of the menu.

"We have pork tamales and rojas tamales, and we make them every morning," described Duggan. "It's a combination of classic California Mexican-American comfort cuisine."

Whether you order the Fresh Crudo and Dungeness Crab Enchiladas (a nod to San Francisco's seafood scene) or house-made guacamole the way Catherine and Julia like to make it, there's something for everyone on the bountiful menu.

"My daughters had a lot to do with the menu creation, they had some very distinct opinions about what should and should not be on the menu," expressed Duggan. "It was great to see."

The restaurant space beckons visitors to take a seat in the home-y space that highlights the elegance of Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende.

"I work with my brother, and we love what we do, so I couldn't imagine doing anything else," shared Duggan. "And to see, you know, the fourth generation start to have interest and work with us is just amazing...I feel very fortunate."

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