Mexican Smackdown

Wrestling with the good, the bad, and the trendy

The heart-of-the-bustling-Marina location of Mamacita, plus the fact that we couldn't get a reservation ("But we save half our tables for walk-ins"), made Peter and me a little nervous, but a staffer estimated the wait at only half an hour. We spent it pleasantly at the bar, sipping well-made margaritas (I went for the chichi pomegranate version, figuring I could use the antioxidants) and admiring both the chic décor ("Do you know how they hung that huge mirror?" I said to Peter, who bit: "Very carefully!"), which included beautiful clusters of star-shaped light fixtures and contemporary photographs, and the not typically Marina crowd, which included customers older (than us, even) and younger (cute kids wearing spelunking headlights) than we expected.

Hot Mama: The heart-of-the-Marina 
Mamacita hosts a not typically Marina 
James Sanders
Hot Mama: The heart-of-the-Marina Mamacita hosts a not typically Marina crowd.

Location Info



303 Second St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: South of Market



Sopa de elote $8

Halibut totec $22.50


Chilaquiles $9

Yucatecan panuchos $9


Calamari mixto $12

Enchiladas $15

Maya, 303 Second St. (at Harrison), 543-2928. Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for dinner Sunday and Monday from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday until 10 p.m. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: difficult. Muni: 10, 12, 15. Noise level: high.

Primavera, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Ferry Building, Market & Embarcadero. No phone. Open for brunch Saturday only from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. No reservations. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: difficult. Muni: 2, 7, 14, 21, 66, 71, F, J, K, L, M, N. Noise level: moderate.

Mamacita, 2317 Chestnut (at Scott), 346-8494. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. (bar open until midnight). Closed Monday. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: difficult. Muni: 28, 30, 43, 76. Noise level: high.

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We enjoyed everything that issued from the tiny semiopen kitchen: guacamole al don, with its jalapeños, cilantro, lime, and dusting of queso fresco happily evident; calamari mixto, tiny rounds of cornmeal-crusted local calamari and even smaller discs of jalapeño, nicely fried and served with a too-sweet chipotle-agave sauce; lovely house-made tamales, the good masa stuffed with moist adobo chicken, then anointed with squiggles of tart red mole (I could have used more of it, but we'd finished them off before I could request it) and crema; wonderful little carnitas-stuffed tacos, the trio dressed with grilled corn, avocado, salsa verde, and an arbol chili sauce; soothing chicken enchiladas, fancily named rojas sencillas but tasting very Betty Crocker (and I mean that in a good way); and my favorite, elote chino, white corn sautéed with garlic, scallions, and red mole. There was only one dessert on offer, but it was a good one: sopapillas, the puffed pastries served in honey-drenched shards topped with Ciao Bella dulce de leche ice cream. I wish I'd taken Suvir and Charlie here.

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