Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack Moving to El Zocalo Space Up the Street


Miss Emmy Kaplan from the eponymous Spaghetti Shack sent Bernalwood a Priority One Urgent Message last night to share some important news: Emmy’s is moving into a bigger location just up the street on Mission, in the soon-to-be-former El Zocolo space. But as the Emmy’s press release explains, it’s all cool:

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, the beloved San Francisco fixture, is moving two blocks north to 3230 Mission St. this November.

Restauranteur Emmy Kaplan, a native of the neighborhood and a fixture in the local culinary scene since opening her original location 13 years ago, is excited about both expanding the restaurant’s square footage as well as helping preserve the character of the neighborhood by remaining at the juncture of the Mission and Bernal Heights.

“The current location of the Shack is over capacity, the lines are long and we’re constantly turning away large parties,” says Kaplan. “I’m really looking forward to sharing more of what we love with the people who love us with more legroom for our regulars and new friends as well.”

Lauded as a “comfort food standby” and known for its heaping portions of pasta, outsized meatballs and “sassy” service, Emmy’s has long been a regular stop for locals and tourists seeking a truly San Francisco experience. The expanded restaurant takes over a location that was originally founded as El Zocalo in 1965 by owner Victoria Reves’ mother.

“I heard that they were interested in selling their business and thought it would be a golden opportunity to expand the Shack and continue serving our friends and neighbors in the Mission,” says Kaplan. Though she fretted finding a suitable location in the neighborhood in light of the increased corporatization of the area, Kaplan’s timing proved fortuitous.

“I decided that it was time for me to retire,” says Reves, who purchased the El Zocalo from her mother in the 70s. Though Reves entertained other offers, she was taken with the prospect of Kaplan moving her restaurant to the address not least of which because it maintains a tradition of women-owned and -operated restaurants in the location. “It was meant to happen and I’m very happy about it. I liked Emmy immediately. I am really excited about the sale.”

Extra bonus: New Emmy’s will also feature some additions to the menu, a bigger wine list, later hours and more to-go items.

Notice also that with the move to a new space, Emmy’s will complete the emergent Bernal/La Lengua Liminal Zone “Bermuda Triangle of Yum”:


PHOTO: Top, Emmy Kaplan, via Emmy’s

30 thoughts on “Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack Moving to El Zocalo Space Up the Street

  1. Any word on what’s moving in to Emmy’s place? If there was a good burger joint I don’t think I’d ever have to leave.

  2. It is an utter tragedy that a spot serving delicious bone-in chicken soup chock full of veggies up till 3am is closing up shop. I’ll miss you El Zocalo, and overpriced mediocre italian food in your stead isn’t going to help alleviate the pain

    • This is an unnecessarily shitty dig at Emmy’s. It would be somewhat understandable if Emmy’s were pushing El Zocalo out of business, but it’s not.

      • Haters gotta hate. If you don’t like a place, don’t go there. It’s not likes it’s The Stinking Rose.

      • Ragging on absolutely everyone and everything that showed up in town after you did seems to be the favorite pastime of most San Franciscans, if you haven’t noticed. We live in the hater capital of the world here.

  3. I will miss El Zocalo, and wish Victoria Reves a happy retirement. We’ve had many a pupusa from there (as well as from Santaneca and Balompie #3).

    That said, congratulations to Emmy Kaplan! Emmy’s found a perfect niche to be successful. We don’t go very often because of the potential for a long wait. The expanded space will help keep it a local, casual option in the neighborhood.

  4. OMG! I am devastated to hear about El Zocolo! Have been going there for decades for their homemade food, as a single gal, a married woman, than as a mother with a family. Not to mention, an excellent place to get a bite after a night out in the city. Kind of like eating at your mom’s – unpretentious, good food. Well, if your going to go out, go out while you are on top. I wish Dona Reves a wonderful retirement, but I will truly miss El Zocolo.

    • I am absolutely bummed… I have lived in Bernal Heights for 8 years now, and of all the restaurants, El Zocalo was the one I went to most often. What a bummer.

  5. The main reason I moved into Bernal Heights in 1994 was El Zocolo! Seriously. The pupusas and soups were wonderful, especially on those chilly nights, and being open until 3am was a BIG bonus. On the other hand, I went to Emmy’s when it first opened and was confronted by so-so food and a DJ — a DISC JOCKEY! I felt that no Italian style place needed a DJ, so I never went back. Who needs that kind of trendoid stuff? Well, there is still Taqueria Los Ponchos, so that’s something, but I’m still a tried and true Zocolo fan.

    • True, David. Los Panchos is still around, and a pretty good backup for Zocalo, as they also make good pupusas and curtido (the cabbage relish) – most places don’t do both well. Will miss the hearing someone in the household say, “Hey, let’s go to Zocalo!” and knowing that meant good food at a decent price, and a evening out of the kitchen for me!

  6. Great for Emmy’s1 That gem needs more space! Nostalgic tears for El Zocolo–in my hard-drinking youth I went there and to Kerry’s on “Army Street” for a bite after bar closing time.

  7. I always loved El Zocalo, but she’s done with it either way, so Emmy’s will be a welcome fit.
    Plus, I’ll never eat a Popusa again as long as I live thanks to some praying-for-the-sweet-release-of-death food poisoning (not naming names, but it wasn’t from El Zocalo, so… HINT) I got last year.

  8. My mother would get off her shift at St. Lukes late at night and would sometimes crave pupusas and she would bring us home those warm round works of art and it would go down! Going to miss Zocalo!

  9. Hi everyone thx for the good wishes! Emmys will be moving in on October 1 if everything goes according to plan, so make it to el zocalo ASAP! We will all miss it too as we used to go there after work as well for our late night pupusas. I am diligently working hard on making it a quick and painless transition and also very open to discussion on what we do as a new concept in our virginia location as we will retain our month to month lease. Emmys Spaghetti Shacks move into a new and improved space is a necessary step for myself and my employees for many reasons and I look forward to chatting with you all as yes times are changing. I promise to keep everything you love about Emmys going in the new spot with less lines and even some reservations and perks for the neighbors and long time customers. Thanks again for your love and support over the last 14 and a half years! Bernal wood will get the first news and you can keep up to date with all happenings of course on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Xoxo emmy

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