Restaurants & Bars

Finally...good albondigas in the City!...but...(long Mijita report)

susancinsf | Aug 21, 200406:20 PM     18

Well, as promised, my friend Maria and I were down at the Ferry Building right at nine-thirty, planning to be first in line for chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and of course the albondigas at Mijita....

When we got there, it was closed, and the hours were not posted, just a small sign that said only "Cerrado". We could see staff inside setting up tables and working with masa. We eventually got someone's attention and pointed to our watches. The first staffer just shrugged, but eventually someone mouthed 'come back at 11'.

11? as someone else who had come up behind us commented, 11 am is a bit late for a weekend brunch opening. Maria is not a morning person, hadn't even had coffee, and not really a Chowhound besides (though she does know Mexican food), so after a caffiene fix from Peet's, it was all I could do to convince her to stick around (thank God for the kitchen antique store!:-))

So, back at ten to 11: I convinced Maria that we should wait near the door in order to avoid the lines that I would sense were going to form once it did open. She thought I was a touch crazy, especially since we waited a bit more than anticipated: they finally opened about 11:10 or 11:15. By this time I was hungry and cranky. My crankiness was made worse when I asked the gentleman opening the doors what normal hours would be on Saturday, and suggested a sign with hours might help, and was told there was no sign because they didn't yet know what their hours would be. Ok fine, but would it be too much to put up a handwritten sign? And sure enough, within five minutes of opening there was a line out the door.

Next reason to be cranky: no chilaquiles, no huevos rancheros, and I am pretty sure I heard the cashier tell the woman ahead of me in line that there was no Mexican hot chocolate either. There were huevos con chorizo (I am not fond of chorizo unfortunately), and a woman who appeared to be a manager told me 'it would probably be a few weeks' before they had the 'other egg' dishes. I sure hope this was just a figure of speech meaning 'brunch dishes' and that they aren't going to put eggs in the chilaquiles (I am a traditionalist and believe that chilaquiles are meant to be served with or instead of eggs, not scrambled with them).

ok, too cranky: clearly I needed food. We ordered two sopas de albondigas and quesadillas mijitas. I had a Mexican coke. The guesadilla mijita is made of masa, as Pssst mentioned, stuffed with queso fresco, epazote and chilis (though the chilis had no heat at all: for all I know they could have been bell peppers, they sure as heck weren't jalapenos unless some new strain without capsican has been invented)...Anyway, they were pretty good, if a bit bland. However, they were slightly undercooked, and I think needed a minute more on the grill. The quesadilla came with an also bland salsa cruda, (tomatoes, cilantro and a bit of onion: again the jalapeno seemed to be MIA) and guacamole. The guacamole wasn't great: the menu says it has chopped cilantro, diced onion and lime, but all I could taste was avocade and lime, and perhaps even a bit of yogurt to stretch it (?). Not as good as the guacamole I had the other night at Las Mesas, for sure.

I agree with the earlier post about the three salsas on the table,(too sweet, no bite at all) though they also had a Mexican red bottled picante sauce, which added a bit of heat, and I noticed you could get pickled jalapenos on the side with your tacos. Of the three salsas, the salsa verde de tomatillos was the best (typically that isn't a very hot sauce anyway); the chipotle sauce was really yuck, the tomato sauce pretty tasteless....

But I was here for the albondigas. For $4, the albondigas were served in a huge bowl. However, the bowl was only a third full, so it wasn't a huge serving, though I don't think it was a bad value for the price. Unfortunately, we had made the assumption that tortillas would be served with the soup, (for no good reason other than that they would be in Mexico) but no such luck, and by the time we realized our mistake we didn't want to wait in the growing line to get and pay for some (I guess we could have just asked if we could have had one or two gratis, but since since a fairly small basket of chips with a very small amount (a quarter cup maybe) of that same bland salsa cruda is $2 (!) we figured we'd be charged...)

ok, enough griping! The albondigas weren't outstanding, but they were very good! yeay! My only real complaint was that there wasn't much broth relative to other ingredients, but others would argue it is better that way, so I can't say that is a negative. What broth there was was tomatoey and chock full of vegetables including corn,carrots,onions and zuchini, along with tasty crispy fried tortilla strips. Again, not enough heat in the broth. The meatballs themselves were small and tasty, though, yet again, not much heat.....

A few misc comments: yes, the fish tacos are expensive, but otoh, the menu does note that Mijita supports local fisherman 'who produce their food in a sustainable manner', and the fish tacos are made with mahi mahi: a much better but pricier choice than the red snapper typically used at a taco truck. So for that I would pay extra.

Second: you order and pay and then wait for your number. However, if you (like me) are fussy about what should go on a taco, hang out near the pickup table, as that is where all toppings are put on by the line cooks. If, for example, you don't specify to the contrary your carnitas or carne asada taco will have crumbled cheese on them (though the menu doesn't mention this).

also, they had truly lovely cebollitas (grilled green onions) on the grill...apparantly they are for the carne asada tacos, but I would love to have them offered as a side option with anything. For that matter, it would be nice to have a side of tortillas listed....

The interior is pleasant, though the chairs are more like benches, and the tables outside are very nice, though they were almost filled with folks just drinking coffee from Peets.

We were near the front of the line, but it seemed to move rather slowly, particularly given the large number of folks behind the counter (more than ten, maybe even twenty: I didn't observe closely but it was so many that I imagined they couldn't help but get in each other's way rather than be efficient).

Ok, I am finally to the bottom line: since places to get albondigas in this town are few and far between, I will be back. Indeed, when I do go to the farmer's market (which isn't that often), it will probably be my standard post-marketing snack. I also want to try the huevos rancheros if they ever appear (though given the lack of heat in other dishes I have serious doubts about their potential), and ditto for the chilaquiles, assuming they are made eggless. Next time I'll ask for tortillas and maybe a grilled onion and see if I can start a trend to expand the options. I also think I will bring a bit of my own bottled habanero sauce in my purse to pull out and doctor the soup....but other than for the albondigas, however, I doubt if I would be breaking down the doors again any time soon to eat here. If you like fish tacos without guilt, by all means try them here. Otherwise, for carnitas or carne asade I'd say there are better options in a more accomodating atmosphere, even in this neighborhood.

and a ps: those really cute shirts are for sale! I was very tempted....

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