photo credit: Sarah Felker
Prubechu’s patio has all the elements of an ideal backyard get-together. Someone’s car might be randomly stationed in the corner. Tropical greens reach out from planters, string lights twinkle, and reggae beats pump from the speakers. The patio is also the only option (the interior is a separate snack and wine bar), so everyone is in it together. If you feel the urge to do groovy things with your body with a punch-colored cocktail in hand, it wouldn’t be weird if you stood to do so—there’s plenty of elbow room.
Prubechu isn’t just any backyard hang. You won't find finger food platters, bowls of Kettle Chips, or Casa Sanchez salsa by the tub. This Guamanian spot in the Mission serves knockout Chamorro dishes. Between the floral tablecloths and the occasional pig roast, Prubechu is an island party.
This is the only restaurant in San Francisco spotlighting the cuisine of the indigenous peoples of Guam and the Marianas Islands, and combines familiar flavors and others that San Francisco has never tasted before at a restaurant. The food is a mix of traditional Chamorro dishes with Spanish, Japanese, and American colonial influences. Whether you order a la carte or go for the $85 fiesta table, food is served family-style. Fluffy achiote-seasoned red rice and spinach braised in coconut milk are served alongside crispy empanadas, fried egg topped tamales, and lemon-marinated chicken wrapped in coconut flatbread. Creamy tinaktak brings sweet coconut-braised beef and homemade egg noodles together with earthy mushrooms and tanginess from halved cherry tomatoes. The plump ko’ko’ wings coated in a secret blend of salts and spices come with a small ramekin of lemon-vinegar fina’denne’ sauce. Your lips will pucker from the acidity.
Clearly, there’s an incredible range of dishes on Prubechu’s menu. Given the lack of Guamanian restaurants in the Bay Area, you might be overwhelmed and not know what to order. Like our therapist says, get resourceful. The easy solution here is to assemble as many friends as can fit around a picnic table, and go order-happy. Keep passing those plates and bowls around like a 30-year-old Bordeaux. This is a fiesta, after all.
The only thing missing at this hang is, possibly, a pool, and the friend who usually arrives two hours late. Prubechu doesn’t need them. Plus, everything you need for a laid-back meal is already here. Just show up—with a reservation, ideally. Dinnertime gets packed. The host will have the rest covered.
If it’s your first time here, stick to a la carte. That way you won’t regret missing out on the ko’ko’ wings, tinaktak, and other Prubechu highlights—this tasting experience is mainly new dishes, like oysters with fina’denne’, chicken sausage covered in coconut milk, chalakiles (rice porridge) with an incredible soft boiled egg that’s then battered and fried egg, and sizzling grilled lamb. It’s a great way to see what else Prubechu can do with comforting and creative Guamanian food—once you’ve mastered the main menu. The fiesta table is $85 dollars per person for eight courses, including rice, and dessert. It’s mostly served family-style.
Eat these juicy chicken wings once and you’ll probably find any excuse to drop them in casual conversations randomly—they are the GOAT of wings, thanks to the sweet and salty spice blend they’re coated in.
BBQ Pork Ribs
Prubechu used to serve barbecued plates with red rice and vegetables, but now the barbecue is a la carte. A minor inconvenience, but one that doesn’t deter us from ordering the pork ribs (chicken skewers, brisket, chicken kelaguen are also options). They are fall-off-the-bone tender. And the sweet sauce is sticky and slightly crunchy from the sesame seeds. We only wish the portions were bigger, for the price (roughly five small pieces for $22).
Chicken Kelaguen & Coconut Titiyas
Prubechu’s version of tacos, and just two per order. The base is a Chamorro-style coconut flatbread, which is topped with shredded barbecued chicken marinated in lemon juice. Finely grated coconut and a creamy aioli-like sauce round it out. We like this dish, but prefer to order the full bowl of just the chicken kelaguen because it’s easier to share.
What we want after an over-stimulated day of toggling between eight different screens. This bowl of homemade egg noodles is the comfort food equivalent of Bob Ross’s voice. Cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, green beans, and coconut-braised beef complete this creamy concoction we always get.
Fina’denne’ is a Chamorro vinegar-based sauce used primarily to add flavor to BBQ, but the condiment can go over rice and anything you want to have a zesty touch. There are two here: Black fina’denne’ (soy sauce, onion, and vinegar), and white (lemon juice, scallions, vinegar). We always transform into a mother lion protecting her cub if the server tries to prematurely take the sauces away—we love them so much. Order a few for the table.
Spicy Hot Tamale Gisu
The star, as it should be, is the super soft and tender masa steamed in a banana leaf. We don’t know many places that serve tamales with a fried egg on top. Get this. Like the ribs, this is now served by itself.
Roasted Japanese Yams
The many subtle textures and flavors here makes our minds go haywire. The roasted yams are huge and have a crunchy outer later. Each one sits atop some creamy golai hagon suni, and is finished with charred scallions and caramelized soy sauce. This starchy dish also goes for presentation: All four pieces arrive like a present on a round wooden board.
Chamorro Potato Salad
If you like potato salad, you will like this version with olives, bell peppers, and nori powder. It comes in a very small bowl, so “shareable” here means needing a few orders if you’re with more than two people.
‘Bunelos Aga’ Banana Donuts
When presented with dessert, banana donuts all the way. The draw here—aside from the puffy sugar and cinnamon coated fried dough—is the super airy whipped cream infused with roasted banana.