I wrote this post back on 2/25. As you can see, I've already started my project!
For the first stop in my Mission Street dining adventure, I tried out San Miguel Restaurant last night – a small Guatemalan place with a sliding wooden door. Overall, a pretty great place, and definitely one I'll be returning to.
We tried two orders of tostaditas, which were both very colorful and served on a bed of lettuce. The tostaditas de ceviche were very good – plump, tender shrimp in a tomatoey marinade. Slight hint of ketchup (I personally like this style), but for non-tomato fans, this might be a turn off. Tostadas de salpicon were also good, though perhaps slightly bland – the mild and hot salsas on the table were great remedies for this, though. The salpicon is described on the menu as "chopped beef meat with sour orange, onions, cilantro and mint leaves" so I was expecting really bright flavors, but was slightly disappointed. The portion sizes on the tostaditas were large for the $6.25 price tag.
Next up was an order of Carne Encebollada – strips of steak (slightly tough, but not bad) stir fried in a sauce with mushrooms and onions. This was served on a platter with rice, black beans (very good), and a bit of a cold noodle salad. Tortillas were served on the side (didn't seem to be homemade, but basically unlimited quantity, and served warm). I ended up making myself little tacos with this, and it was quite tasty. Big portion, we were glad to be sharing everything.
We had an order of tamales de chipilin, which were fantastic – the best tamale I've had in years. I had no idea what chipilin leaves were (see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crotalar...) but this tamale was light and fluffy. Served with black bean puree and some thick sour cream, and topped with grated hard cheese. I will probably be back for more of these, and to try their other tamal options, since these were excellent.
A DC ordered some taquitos with guacamole, which I didn't try, but they looked good and he enjoyed them. At the end of the meal, we decided to stick around and ordered some Guatemalan beer (Famosa Lager) to share – we drank this out of wooden cups adorned with the Guatemalan flag. Several other tables were drinking beer too, and adding lime and salt.
This was a great start to my goal of trying every restaurant on Mission St. between Cesar Chavez and Cortland – if every place is as good as this, it's going to be a very happy project.
San Miguel Restaurant
3263 Mission St.
La Lengua Chronicles: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838611