Into Shelley’s Belly: Avila’s on Maple Avenue

Brisket tacos (photos by Matthew Shelley)

I don’t imagine anyone ever accusing Avila’s Restaurant of being too complicated. That being said, its simplicity embodies the heart that makes this restaurant sing. All of my chakras tingle every time I come here. Tucked away on the bustling Maple Avenue, Avila’s has been serving delicious, authentic Mexican fare for the last 25 years. It’s precious, comforting, and a relaxing experience away from the hustle of this brain crazy city life we stomp through during the work hours.


I was also overjoyed by the accompaniment of my dear friends Will, a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, and his lady of love, Whitney, a philosophically inclined artist with a tiny dog. We were each charmed at the start by the individual mortar bowls for our adequately spicy salsa. Adding a little fresh guacamole to the dip balanced the cool with the hot and we continued discussing the latest fad of kundalini awareness. Will jumped off the high dive and ordered the chicken fajitas. Uncharacteristically silent, he seemed to enjoy them quite well with all of its smoky grilled chicken, fresh flour tortillas and all the typical additions. Like I said, Avila’s doesn’t approach its cuisines with difficulty and flare, just freshly simple classics. Whitney also enjoyed her brisket tacos. The brisket was tender and tasty, and with Mexican rice, refried beans, pico de gallo and a little guacamole – the taco constructed into a perfectly delicious mouthful. I ventured into one of Avila’s renowned dishes, the chili relleno. It was a richly sauced combination of brisket, Monterrey cheese, and pico de gallo stuffed excitingly into a handsomely grilled poblano pepper. We felt at ease in the dining room and talked for several minutes after eating as if in the comforts of our own homes.

Avila’s is a wonderfully simple Mexican dining experience, cooked fresh and ever percolating with the sense of private dining. I love this little home and would gladly offer my hugs to all the staff. Dear Avila, thank for your velvety cashmere sweater of a restaurant, your hospitality, and your lovingly authentic food.

Will & Whitney, my San Francisco compatriots
This is how you find Avila’s
Chicken fajitas