I’ve been in a little rut lately. I’ve decided to blame it on allergies. I’m constantly tired and I never feel 100%. In truth, that’s probably called parenthood. But for now, it’s allergies, as allergies don’t grow up to need therapists because their mother blamed them for constantly being tired and feeling crappy.
To get me out my rut, I always (always always) use food as my guide. But going out to semi-expensive rustic Italian meals can get old week after week (and this, coming from someone who could eat her weight in pasta), so to spice it up (literally), I have to insert creativity to mealtime. So one blech week, I decided that me and the ball and chain should hit Mamacita for Happy Hour.
Ahhh, let me briefly extol the virtues of Happy Hour. Drinks, half price. Ahhh. I don’t need to to say more, right? (But of course, I will). $2.50 tacos. Ahhh. To boot, Happy Hour is so friggin’ early (I mean, who is drinking and eating at 5pm? Don’t you have a job? Oh wait, I don’t. Ha!) — you can typically beat the crowds that will linger in by 7pm, if you can deal with crying toddlers (I can). But don’t be a sucker and hit TGIF’s for Happy Hour. You gotta go upscale on the Happy Hour to get your money’s worth. And therein lies a place like Mamacita. [Sidenote, when I was a practicing lawyer, Happy Hour for me and my co-workers use to be at 9pm. How sad is that?]
Mamacita offers seasonal Mexican cuisine in a decidedly non-ethnic neighborhood (read: Marina). The food is inspired by authentic Mexican street food and influenced by local and sustainable ingredients. It’s Alice Waters with a poncho. We started with the chips and guacamole. Why? Because my husband ordered it before I had the chance to say “nooooo!!!” Don’t get me wrong, I like chips and guac. But when a restaurant has chilaquiles on their menu, it’s a waste of stomach to order the chips and guac. Nevertheless, here is the gratuitous shot of the gratuitous chips and guac:
I should note here: If you want to be “frugal,” then stay on the Happy Hour menu. These chips and guac costed $8 and to that, I say “foolish husband.”
I (smartly) ordered the tres ceviche shots off the Happy Hour Menu. Three little shot glasses of tricked up ceviches (mahi in tomatillo; shrimp, scallop, and squid in ancho tomato salsa; and ahi tuna crudo with chipotle emulsion), accompanied by tricked up chips. Each of these had a spicy little kick. I loved the tartness lent to the mahi not just by citrus, but by the tangy tomatillo. The shrimp, scallop, and squid ceviche brought that subtle and smoky heat. And for me, ahi is great naked, but even better when dressed with a little chipotle (which is not a froth, as you might think when the menu says “emulsion,” so much as a light compliment). Cost? $6. Dina: 1; Husband: 0.
Husband (who I dearly love and cherish, for those of you who have gotten the wrong picture) ordered the Mahi Borracho tacos, which are corn meal, beer-battered mahi mahi tacos with lime-guajile rouille and red cabbage cilantro slaw. The report from husband? ”Good.” (For those of you who are frequent readers to D&D, you can see that my husband is a man of many words).
For me? The Happy Hour Crispy Dorado Tacos, one carnitas (slow cooked, pulled Niman ranch pork) and one pollo (guajillo chile-braised Fulton Valley farm chicken breast). Hello yum. Crispy, juicy, fresh. Some of the best words to use when describing food (and an apple, for that matter).
I love that I can hit up a restaurant that serves up mouth-watering, locally-influenced inspired food in an easy, relaxed setting for under $20. As ridiculous as it sounds, this seems like a rarity. Might be cheap, but is it inspired by its environs? Might be mouth-watering, but is it cheap? Yeah, unless I’m hitting Off the Grid, it’s hard to get out under $20 these days. But the great thing about Mamacita is that even if you order after Happy Hour is over, you will be well-satisfied and belly-happy despite an escalated price tag.
On the dirt side, I can’t remember a thing that my husband and I talked about that night. So instead, I’ll offer you this funny little story. The other day, my four year old went on a field trip with some school friends and his teachers to a place called Slide Ranch, where you can do all sorts of cool things like make flower crowns, bake bread, milk goats, etc. Something that he definitely cannot do here in San Francisco. Anyway, when he came home, he told us all the things that he did and I was surprised to find out that he milked a goat (only surprised that he actually tried it). Being the ever-so-inquisitive mother, I asked “Where did the milk come from?,” as I really wondered if he knew what he did. Oh, he knew alright. He looked at me, and said — with bravado and confidence — “His penis!” *LOVE MY KID*
Bauer’s two cents here.