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Cultures Collide In This SF Tenderloin Restaurant’s Korean Chimichanga

SF’s Tenderloin District has a seedy reputation, but if you pass on it because of that, you’re missing out on a picturesque neighborhood with some pretty unique culinary innovations.

A chief spot to visit is Aria Korean Tapas, where Charlie Kim cranks out kimbap and Korean fried chicken that SF’s foodies flock to.

His fusion of Korean street fare and San Francisco street culture has bridged together in his newest creation: The Big Loco Chimichanga.

big loco chimichanga

Photo: David Black

The Big Loco is crammed with a variety of Korean foods that speak to Kim’s heritage, but also capture the perfect visual appeal to coincide with the Tenderloin.

Inside the chimichangas, you’ll find bulgogi ribeye beef, sesame oil seasoned rice, boneless/skinless non-GMO Korean fried chicken, kimchi, and mozzarella cheese. It is then topped off with their house-made sweet and spicy sauce that normally goes on Aria’s chicken. That sauce consists of ground Korean chilis that have been stir-fried, tons of garlic, brown rice syrup, and chicken stock.

Photo: David Black

The visually poppin’ Big Loco Chimichanga is a welcome addition to Kim’s menu of photogenic Korean favorites. It’s sure to mesh well with the street art scene you’ll find flourishing in the SF Tenderloin.

Kim’s newest creation is also proof that you’re sleeping on the Tenderloin if you’re not checking it out.

There’s loads more restaurants serving up authentic eats here such as Shalimar’s kebabs, and The Chairman’s Asian fusion. While not all have tapped into the Tenderloin’s artistic culture like Aria has, they all offer up delicious food worth the trip to this gritty, yet aesthetically pleasing SF neighborhood.

Aria’s new item is only available through the month of June, and only on specific days of the week. Make sure to stop by between 11:30 am and 3 pm Thursday through Saturday to get ahold of one for yourself.

By Constantine Spyrou

Constantine's life revolves around eating, studying, and talking about food. He's obsessed with eggs, gyros, and the future of food.