I tried two relatively new "upscale" Mexican places for lunch near downtown this week - Maya (Next Door) and Mijita - and thought they should be put up for comparison.
Maya (Next Door) is the take-out counter for the restaurant, Maya, which as you may have guessed is next door. It's located on 2nd between Folsom and Harrison, which is a little bit of a walk for FiDi workers - though totally doable. I had time to leisurely explore several dead-end alleys on the way (what can I say? I'm a weirdo), eat, and walk back in under an hour.
Mijita just opened recently in the Ferry Building with windows on the boardwalk.
I arrived at Maya (Next Door) just after noon and expected a long line. There was only one person in line when I arrived and there were perhaps at most two people in line at a time during the lunch hour. Often, no one was even in line. There are only three tables inside (which were easy to snag less so later), and several more outside. There is plenty of room for more tables inside, so I hope they add more. I don't like sitting in the sun because I burn easily, and in the winter I don't want to sit outside for obvious reasons.
My wait at Mijita was 20 MINUTES LONG - and I arrived at 11:50 just before the lunch rush to try to avoid a line. Part of the reason for the wait is the fact they have one cash register and no counter space for another one even if they want it. There are many shared communal tables inside and despite the line, it was easy to snag a seat. It might be more difficult with a larger party.
Edge: Maya (Next Door)
At Maya (Next Door) I ordered the fish adobado taco (2 for $5.25) which included tomatoes, onion, cilantro, cabbage, and chipotle salsa. It was the best fish taco I've ever had - mostly because they used such a light hand with the chipotle salsa, which often overpowers the fish. The tacos were very light (not fried), the fish tasted fresh, and it was enough food that I barely finished both tacos. Chips appear to be included with orders, but you have to request salsa (which is also free). Medium salsa didn't have much kick to it, but the chips and salsa tasted good though were nothing spectacular.
The SF Bay Guardian reviewed Maya last week, and recommended the previously mentioned fish tacos as well as the $4.95 (tacos or burritos) shredded chicken tinga in a chile de arbol salsa with crema fresca & sesame seeds (the review said "pumpkin seeds" which apparently is incorrect). Soups (tortilla soup with chopped avocado & queso fresco, and frijoles rancheros - whole pinto bean soup for $2.95) sound yummy as well.
Mijita's menu is noticeably smaller and consists of carnitas, carne asada, and veggie tacos, a quesadilla, albondigas, and some sides. The website mentions the Oaxacan Chicken Tamales, but they werent on the menu. I ordered the quesadilla, which is composed of masa enclosing cheese and peppers, and is topped by guacamole and pico de gallo for $4.50, and the frijoles - a small bowl of pinto beans topped with queso fresco for $3. The quesadilla was very good and the pico de gallo accompaniment really added to the flavor. The beans were no revelation, but made competently with the queso freso a nice touch.
While in the super long line at Mijita you can look at other diner's dishes and get a feel for the portion size. It is *much* smaller here (Id say on the order of Tacubaya). That means that it will take two items to create one lunch (especially since the taco price is for one taco - not two as at Maya). Also, chips and salsa aren't free (one of my pet peeves). If I were to purchase them in addition to the food I already ordered, it would be easy to spend $11 here.
EDGE (food taste): Tie
EDGE (food cost): Maya (Next Door)
Maya (Next Door)
303 2nd St. (between Harrison & Folsom)
Lunch weekly 11:30-2
(also, complimentary botanas in the restaurant bar during happy hour)
Ferry Building Marketplace
Daily 11:00 a.m. on