Dona Marta

I don’t want to bore you or get too whiney complain-ey, but I guess I should give some explanation as to why I haven’t been around for the last few months.  Part of it was a bit of insecurity;  I was feeling uninspired by my photography and writing and felt like, who I am to be doing this?  Why should I think anyone would care to read my natterings and look at my crappy digicam pics?  Then I got my first (and only) mean comment.  It was short and succinct, but very nasty.  And that really put me off the rails.  But!  I have gotten some really nice comments lately and I’ve licked my wounds and I’m ready to get back in the ring, to mix a few metaphors.  So, here we go.

Another reason that I took my extended break was the restaurant I’m going to talk about in this post, Dona Marta.  It was for sure my most exciting dining experience of last year (yes, last year, sorry, but we are going way back for the next few posts folks) and I couldn’t wait to write about it.  Then, the longer I waited to write this post and the more I thought about how great Dona Marta is, the more weird emotional wall I built up.  It got to where I was panicky about not being able to competently express myself and so I made the most logical decision (obviously) and just didn’t write the thing.  I still don’t feel quite ready, but I’m going to try.  Just for you.

Dona Marta is at the rather sketch south easterly corner of Ellis and Leavenworth (just down the street from Bamboo Pizza!).  Not so bad on this sunny fall day, lucky for me.  Steve and I wandered inside and the place was empty except for the guy behind the counter.  Throughout our meal dudes passed in and out the doors, sometimes eating something, sometimes just chatting with the counter guy in Spanish.  As we sat down the music was switched from Latin hip-hop to romantic Spanish language songs.  It was very considerate, though either choice of tuneage would be acceptable, and was our first sign of what a hospitable place we had chosen for lunch.

I loved the look of Dona Marta.  The leftover diner stools and checked lineoleum with the bright colors of the walls, the absence of artificial light and the homey touches of knick-knacks and houseplants made me feel like I was somewhere closer to the equator.

We went up to get menus and counter-guy ended up describing every. single. item. on the menu to us.  It was great, especially because I am not at all familiar with Yucatan food.  Counter-guy began every description with “this is very good also.”  After our education we ordered and waited with sodas for our food.

Steve ordered carnitas and we were surprised by what came out.  These are not the big hunks of crispy edged pork we’re used to.

Though they were new to us, we found the slightly chewy bits of pork and soft onion to be quite tasty, especially with the soupy black beans and roasted tomato salsa that were served alongside.

I ordered panuchos because they sounded amazing, and they definitely did not disappoint.  They are griddle fried tortillas stuffed with black beans, then topped with whatever you desire.

I loved the poc chuc; with pickled onions and grilled pork it was my kind of taco type thing.  The turkey mole didn’t hit the sweet spot quite as directly, but it was solid.  I’m still not sure exactly what the black slice atop it was, though my best guess is a (blood?) sausage with an egg yolk in the center.  Whatever it was, it tasted real good.  If I were smarter I’d be eating nothing but panuchos, pupusas and tacos for the rest of my life.  One day I’ll let myself be happy…

I really want people to go to Dona Marta because I’m a little worried about it closing.  Also, I am occasionally seeing things that say “there’s a dearth of Yucatan food in San Francisco!” and when good Yucatan places are discussed Dona Marta is never brought up, which is really too bad.  The sweet people running this place should be busier than they are, especially if San Franciscans are clamoring for more food like theirs.

To wrap it up, I leave you with perhaps the best part of the whole Dona Marta experience, their amazing business card.

Ok, I think I got it.

Dona Marta

499 Ellis

Their Yelp page