New family-run Mexican restaurant Underdogs Cantina is now open near Oracle Park

Those in the Sunset District know well how hard it is to eat a Nick’s Way taco, which sports a fried corn tortilla inside a soft corn tortilla, at Underdogs, two pitchers of beer in a game, be it the San Jose Sharks or Golden State Warriors. Now owner Doug Marschke has good news: good vibes and great food aren’t just for West San Francisco residents anymore. Underdogs has opened a new outpost in South Beach, Underdogs Cantina, and Marschke wants the new location to be entirely community-focused. ” I sought [for a new neighborhood] for a long time,” says Marschke. “This is a neighborhood that has been hit hard by COVID.”

For the uninitiated, Marschke took ownership of the first Underdogs in 2008 and with it came a taco-centric menu designed by Nick Fasanella; think a sports bar with a robust California Mexican menu with burritos around $12. The lease at 128 King Street, directly across from Oracle Park, was available late last year, and Marschke moved the Underdogs team in early April. This new location used to be a Peet’s Coffee, and while no lattes linger, Marschke says the vibe can invoke some of this cafe’s energy. The long bar, where espressos were once served, is still intact but the front area has been blown out and is now larger with an upstairs mezzanine with an arcade full of Skee-Ball and NASCAR pinball machines. “There aren’t a lot of family-friendly places,” Marschke says, referring specifically to places to hang out before Giants games. “There are a lot of places for the pre-game, but where do you go when you have your kids?”

Skee-Ball, pinball and live music are some of the attractions of the new Underdogs.
Underdogs

Even on non-baseball days, Marschke hopes people will find a reason to stroll through South Beach like they do in any other neighborhood. To cultivate this appeal, he plans to bring in musicians, DJs and artists of any kind. Regular themed music nights are on the vision board, as are block parties and pub crawls. Now that the permits are up, he hopes the neighbors will come by with ideas – he’s currently looking for a quiz host.

Food and drink are more important than ever. Queso fundido is one of the standouts here, a gooey shrine of cheese and fries (with optional extra wagyu beef), and new wing options and burrito bowls are on deck. A breakfast menu is also in preparation for the football season. But really, Marschke wants the area around Oracle Park to be as crazy as the madhouse around Wrigley Field, his hometown baseball stadium. He shows love for MoMo’s and Lucky Strike as examples of the reputation he would like the Underdogs to have in the area. “I’m from Chicago and I’m trying to create that same energy around Oracle,” Marschkle says. “There are a lot of great places around that I think people haven’t discovered yet.”

A photo of a carne asada taco.

The carne asada taco has been a draw at Underdogs since 2008.
Genesis Vallejo Photography

A picture of nachos.

Nachos aren’t new to the menu, though burrito bowls and queso fundido are additions to the list.
Genesis Vallejo Photography

Underdogs Canteen (128 King Street) is open from 10:30 a.m. to midnight every day of the week.

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