Any El Calderon fans who don’t already know this may be interested to learn that the new owner of the 699 Calderon Ave. restaurant property (a vegetarian, according to staff there) re-opened the restaurant two weeks ago, with remodeled and updated interior, but maintaining El Calderon staff and menu, except that meat dishes have gone vegetarian. The new restaurant is called Yam Leaf. Check it out!
Former meat specialties are now available with creative vegetable adaptations and/or vegetable-based “meat analog” substitutes. El Calderon’s Salvadorean menu was already partly vegetarian, and the cook remains the same. I see one or two new items, including a vegetarian take on the Reuben sandwich.
El Calderon was a beloved institution for 44 years. A neighborhood party in its honor marked the June closure. Local publicity (link below) drew comments about past days, Herb Caen kudos from San Francisco, the Milk Pail founder’s memories there. The new menu explicitly honors Angelita Lopez of El Calderon, naming the signature pupusas for her. There’s talk of menu expansion to some Chinese specialties later, but for now it’s essentially El Calderon, updated.
It seems Yam Leaf’s owner wisely grafted the new vine of vegetarianism onto the existing rootstock of El Calderon’s reputation and customer base. Although the server told me, when I stopped there, that she has seen many turnarounds: customers who approach but depart, on seeing it isn’t El C any longer — without bothering to notice that in some important ways actually it is.
Voice May-31 story on El Calderon’s legacy: