Occupation: Wedding Coordinator
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: El Metate
Reviewed El Metate: Sunday, April 18, 2010
We arrived late on a Sunday evening for a quick, casual dinner. There was a line about five people deep but it moved quickly. The restaurant is a self-serve order counter with delivery of your food to your table.
The dining room has a very festive feel with featured local neighborhood art. The last part is especially appropriate because the entire ambience is friendly, warm, and neighborly. The food is prepared fresh daily with local produce. I’ve seen the staff shop for and deliver the ingredients daily. I once asked about this, and the owner replied that it kept their quality high and their costs under control. I should also mention that the owner works in the establishment daily and is very friendly and hospitable. Over the years I’ve learned he was born and raised on the very same block. It’s great to see a local resident realize his dream.
Many others have given this restaurant recognition: Zagat, Fodors, Michael Bauer, and probably every “best of the best” list available in the Bay Area. I am a Latin male, and the food is as good as my grandma’s and my mothers’, but — shhhh — please don’t tell them!
On this particular evening, we ordered the special chicken mole. So many moles are prepared with the cheater’s method of using a base to start. But El Metate’s mole is prepared from scratch with toasted spices, pumpkin, and roasted peanuts and smashed with just the right amount of chocolate. The plate was garnished with guacamole, pico de gallo and Mexican crema. You choose pinto, black, or refried beans, and of course chips accompany any meal you order.
The Chicken Milanese Torta is definitely the best in the city. For $5.95, you get a pounded chicken breast panko-crusted and pan-fried on soft bread with fresh queso fresco, avocado, pickled jalapeno, sweet onion with tomato and lettuce, and a side of house-prepared chicken tortilla soup. The soup is prepared from scratch with fresh cut vegetables and slices of avocado and cilantro with freshly fried tortilla chips. Trust me when I say this is the best sandwich in Northern California, and the best bargain around!!!
The restaurant has an event space, and it’s a great festive environment if you’re looking to host an event with authentic food and atmosphere! Overall if you’re looking for amazing Mexican food with great quality, El Metate is the place to be!! You can also phone ahead and, from what I’ve seen, many people take advantage of this service. Enjoy!
Occupation: Actress and Comedienne
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: CreoLa Bistro
Reviewed El Metate: Monday, April 19, 2010
This restaurant, on Bryant, between 22nd and 23rd, sort of adjacent to the Mission district, is a great place to meet up with your friends; it has that kind of vibe. They feature outside tables, while the interior is comfy and beautifully decorated by a series of brightly colored discs, hanging from the ceiling. The tables are painted in complementary shades into the art.
You order at the register, and your food is brought to you. The air is filled with the scent of chips frying, a definite plus. We had guacamole and pico de gallo to start. While the guacamole had a nice flavor, it suffered from a thin, watery texture. We decided to go with burritos and ordered one steak and one chicken. The flavors were very good; the steak was firm and smoky, the chicken fresh and not heavily spiced. The black beans were both rich and delicious.
For those of us spoiled by huge, moist burritos in The City, the El Metate version is smaller, about half the size of ones found in numerous popular spots. Which is great for light eaters looking for taste and not heft, because El Metate burritos have taste but they are on the dry side, even with the sour cream and salsa. While there’s only one kind of salsa here, there is a shelf in the back of the dining room with many varieties of hot sauce.
What made the trip worth the effort were the horchata cupcakes. With their cinnamon-nutmeg taste, this creamy little spice cake was out of sight. I don’t know if I would pass up my familiar Mission haunts for El Metate, but I would go back for further menu exploration, because I totally loved the ambience. Street parking was fairly easy.
Occupation: Law Student
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Benjarong Thai Cuisine
Reviewed El Metate: Friday, April 16, 2010
When we first drove by the restaurant, we thought it looked fun and cute. We found a parking spot on the same block. The restaurant is divided into two rooms, one where you order/pay and where they make the food, and another room where you sit and eat. There are also outdoor tables. We went on a sunny day and enjoyed eating out on the sidewalk. The indoor dining area was spacious and well-decorated. It makes you feel like you are in a real sit-down restaurant, so you get the best of both worlds with walk-up ordering and getting your food quickly, but being able to enjoy your food in a sit-down restaurant atmosphere.
My friend and I each had a fish taco and then split a chicken burrito. This was plenty of food for both of us and came with some chips and a container of salsa on each plate. Our two fish tacos and burrito with the works added up to $11.50. They have a water jug and cups for customers free of charge. Usually restaurants only offer tiny water cups for customers drinking free water, but these were normal-sized cups, which I appreciated.
We ordered our food, grabbed a table outside, and within a few minutes someone carried our order out to us. I thought the salsa had just the right amount of kick. The piece of battered fish in the fish taco was large and tasted very good. Sometimes battered fish tacos can be oily. This fish was fresh and clean and didn’t have that unhealthy fried feeling. We got the works on the burrito (guacamole, sour cream and cheese), and it was also very good. Sometimes the chicken can be dry in burritos, but this chicken was moist. The burrito was the perfect size, not too thick so that stuff falls out while you’re trying to level it off with multiple bites. The chips were good, but a little on the thick and hard side for my liking.
After we finished, we decided to get one of their cookies, which I can only describe as a dulce de leche sandwich cookie. I’m sure it has a specific name, but there was no sign labeling them. It’s basically two shortbread cookies with a dulce de leche filling in between. It was delicious!! I wanted to buy more and bring them home with me, but I knew I would be in trouble if I did. Each cookie was $1.75.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this place! The food was great and incredibly well-priced. A total deal! We probably missed the lunch rush since we ate a little late, but when we went, it was easy to grab a table inside or outside without waiting for a spot to open, and our food came very quickly. And your meal must be finished off with one of their cookies!
We were both impressed with everything and agreed El Metate should get a very good recommendation. It wasn’t the best Mexican I have had, but it was very, very good. I just wish it was closer to my house!