Original Joe’s Owners Open Splendid Mexican Restaurant in West Portal

The owners of Original Joe's double-downed on West Portal with a new restaurant.

Restaurant interior
Elena's in West Portal is serving Mexican cuisine with a California twist. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

Original Joe’s owners Elena and John Duggan just doubled down on West Portal earlier this month.

The Duggans opened a Mexican-American restaurant, Elena’s, as an ode to the Mexican heritage of Elena’s daughters, Catherine and Julia Alcantara. The duo also operates Little Original Joe’s a long block down from the new business and took over operations for Zanze’s Cheesecakes last year.

“I grew up near West Portal and have many formative childhood memories here,” Elena Duggan said. “It is very much a 'full circle' moment to be opening this restaurant that has so much meaning to my children in an area that is so special to me.”

The already popular restaurant is equipped with Mexican-made artwork and tableware, rows of deep copper booths, wooden tables, tall trees and plants and a steel wall that divides the bar area. The marble bar countertop lends a view to the fully-stocked bar and frozen drink machine.

“Since this was such a personal project, I spearheaded the design and put every ounce of my heart and soul into actualizing my vision,” Duggan said. “I wanted it to be a place where my daughters could feel “at home” so creating a warm, inviting atmosphere was my biggest priority.”

The menu offers Mexican classics: tamales and tacos with California twists such as Dungeness crab enchiladas which Duggan said was inspired by her daughters’ yearly summer trip to visit their extended family in San Bartolo Morelos, outside of Mexico City.

Other items included crudo, fajitas and more. Food prices range from $8 to $38. They also have special menus reserved for brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks and dessert, which also includes a Mexican-spiced coffee flavor of Zanze’s famous cheesecakes.

Elena's exterior
Elena's features many plants outside its doors. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

Much like their classic chain, Elena’s will lean on the foundation of the Original Joe’s family of restaurants and draw elements like the open kitchen concept, leather booths and photo wall but will operate in its unique way with potential plans to expand in the future.

“We hope Elena’s can become the go-to place to enjoy a memorable night out with friends, celebrate a special occasion or stop in for a family dinner after a late-night practice,” Duggan said. “My hope is that Elena’s brings an exciting new energy to West Portal and the amazing community.”


Address: 255 W Portal Ave.
Hours: Monday to Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Phone: 415-622-4440
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