Chowhound Presents: Table Talk with Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh of Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi | Ask Your Questions Now ›

Restaurants & Bars


Mama Testa Report SD


Restaurants & Bars 24

Mama Testa Report SD

kare_raisu | Feb 27, 2007 06:31 PM

I was down in SD for a doctors appointment today so I swung by MT's for the first time. It was a hard decision as I am in the area only so often and because of this lunch is usually reserved for a Super Cocina or Izakaya Sakura pilgrimage.

The restaurant has a nice atmosphere - Mexican decorations (D of D figures etc) and vibrant colors. I like that although you order at the counter -there is table service and real plates and silverware are used.

I had the feeling that the man taking my order at the front was the owner, so I asked if his name was Caesar and indeed it was him. I had read about tacos al vapor/cazuela but had never had them before so I ordered these (4 for $5.49) for an extra dollar I was offered beans and rice as well as a drink - being famished I accepted.

I was also handed some chips and nice grilled cebolittas - something that was my favorite part of eating at 'Baja Fresh' in my high school afternoons until they stopped serving them.

As many people have reported - the salsa bar here is the best in San Diego. All that I sampled were excellent (nice touch w/the little molacajetes). I had eagerly anticipated the tahini and dried morita based escalera which DiningDiva has long reccomended. This and the tomatillo-parmasan 'El Cazo' were my favorites - both complex. It was only with great restraint I managed not to beg Caesar for the recipes. You guys will have to sample them for yourself.

An additional plus of this restaurant is refillable Aguas frescas station beside the sodas. I hadnt had horchata in probably a year at least so it was a real treat with extra ice. I forgot how much I enjoyed this drink, which went well with my meal -which Caesar brought to my table.

He placed a basket on the table which encased the steamed tacos under a veil of a cloth and tin foil. As soon as I lifted this off - a huge cloud of steam arose. The tacos were nicely sweated and lightly doused with an arbol based salsa I believe. The sweating causes the tortillas to adhere together - encasing the taco filling. The accompaning garnish was a molacajete of pickled onions which I found to be a perfect sharp contrast adornment to these tender yielding little guys.

The beans were ok as was the rice. But for some reason I love the lima beans in the mexican rice, other than that pretty basic.

First taco was the rajas and oax cheese - perfect partners.
Second taco- beans and oax. - least favorite
Third taco- mashed potato - Really good belive it or not - super comforting
Forth - the shredded pork - Favorite

I found the arbol to interfere a bit with the mashed potato and carnitas - which i would have prefered to enjoy sans sauce. It did work well against the Oaxacan cheese tacos I found however. But again it was only a slight anointment of the arbol.

Bought myself a shirt and struck up a conversation with Caesar, telling him that I admired his restaurant and its uniqueness in its mission to introduce the true cuisine of Mexico beyond the carne asada fries.

I also enjoyed talking about his hometown of Guanajato -of which I had read about the mummies.
Filled me in on the double-entendres of the menu as well as the original fish taco being from Guerrero rather than baja (sorry Ralph Rubio).
Great individual -as I was leaving he said anytime I want to talk about Mexican history let him know.


Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound