Carne Asada Nachos, Chile Verde Special Burrito, Roasted Garlic Prawns with Beans and Sauce
Occupation: Media Guru
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Marta's Kitchen in Jay 'N Bee Club
Reviewed Marta's Kitchen in Jay 'N Bee Club: Monday July 16, 2007
We visited this taqueria on a Monday evening and found that it was a linked with a bar. The atmosphere is very casual with a high music volume to compete with. However, there is a jukebox that actually plays your song before you leave. The interior lighting is low, but has windows on two sides that allow natural light to fill in. There is also a patio in back, which offers a great option for sunny warm days.
The server immediately approached us and asked if we would be eating -- as many of the patrons were -- at the bar. We replied yes, and she asked if we wanted to start off with an appetizer. We choose the guacamole and fresh homemade tortilla chips, which took some time, but once it was delivered, it was obvious that the avocados had been freshly cut and mashed. It was fresh and perfect with my draft Tecate and my date's margarita. The margarita was of good proportion, not too much sweet and sour, as is often the case.
I ordered the tampiquena, which is basically a taste of everything; consisting of carne asada, crispy taco, enchilada, and a chile relleno. The taco was crisp, but not greasy as hard shells often come; the sauces were flavorful; and the steak was flavorful and not overcooked. My date ordered their super burrito, which looks more like an oversized enchilada, as it was smothered in the red sauce. The carne asada in her burrito was cooked perfectly -- well spiced and not fatty. The burrito was covered in a red enchilada sauce, then draped in cheese, that was then broiled to melt the cheese perfectly, which was then topped with the Mexican Flag, meaning tomato and salsa, guacamole, and a sour cream dollop.
You needed to eat everything with a fork and knife, so I thought this has to be some of the most authentic Mexican food. This is no Taco Bell! Mind you, this is a bar and not really fine dining, but the local element slash bar, really added to the ambiance.
The outdoor patio really is nice on a summer day, and there can be a wait. Overall, this place just reeks of homemade, small, and authentic. There are just two people in the kitchen, and though it might just take a little bit longer than a normal taqueria, the "pride and love" really comes through in the cooking. There were people playing pool, music playing, and every table was full. I loved it. I felt at home, and was never rushed -- no check dropped, no plates cleared too quick, just good home cooking from Mexico. No tablecloths, no attitude, just decent, really reasonable, and well-cooked food. In a bar. With a patio. Hell, it works for the Ramp and Zeitgeist, but this is smaller and more intimate without the scene of those places. Don't go, and never recommend it to anyone, 'cause the secret will be out, and then we'll have to find another place for this. Sshhh, mum's the word.
Occupation: Primary Educator and Mother
Favorite Restaurant: Central Market
Reviewed Marta's Kitchen in Jay 'N Bee Club: Friday July 13, 2007
First, it was very difficult to find parking. The area is an up-and-coming one, and the streets were somewhat unkempt, but then again, it is San Francisco.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we actually realized quickly that it was really a bar. We were unsure where the restaurant was, where to go, and whom to order from. The bar area was extremely loud, as there was a Giants game on, so we decided to sit in the back area outside.
Although it was obvious the bar was older, we were happy to see that the area was kept very clean, including the bathrooms.
The service was very homey, but not fast by any means. The restaurant was actually called "Marta's Kitchen". The bartender was extremely friendly and went out of his way to make you feel comfortable and like you were in your own neighborhood bar.
We did notice that the chips were actually being cooked fresh, as we entered the back area, and were extremely delicious. The salsa was also very good. The nachos were great, as the homemade beans were definitely the defining ingredient. I ordered the Special Chile Verde burrito and my husband had the combination plate. We were both struck by how authentic the food presentation and taste was, and it reminded us of the food we have eaten in Mexico. My burrito was good, but I have to say that I am more conditioned to the American style of Mexican food. This was a very simple burrito with less fluff. My husband loved and was astounded by how good the food was and thoroughly enjoyed every bite. (We even bought a burrito to go.)
All in all, we probably wouldn't return (My husband might, though!). It is in an area of San Francisco where we do not frequent, parking is difficult, and the environment was essentially a sports bar (noisy).
Marta and the staff were very hospitable and gracious. The food was very good, and we could see how this could be a great spot to grab a bite to eat before going out on the town or to watch a game. We did notice that many of the people in the bar seemed to know each other and were probably locals, and that added to the great environment of the restaurant.
Occupation: Accordian Player and Octogenarian
Location: South San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: West Coast Cafe
Reviewed Marta's Kitchen in Jay 'N Bee Club: Tuesday July 17, 2007
I would call it more a club, where friends meet and hang out, than a restaurant. A bar, pool tables, three or four small tables. With a warm greeting, we were asked if we would like to eat outside, an enclosed area with two tables. Both tables were occupied by two people each. Fortunately, two ladies were just finished and offered the table to us. The table next to us was occupied by two women and a dog, later to be joined by two other women and another dog.
The bartender brought out the ordered beverages and menus. He was quite helpful in placing our order from a family-style menu with quite a selection to choose from.
What was missing: The clean-covered tables and soft seated chairs instead of a metal outdoor table and metal chairs was compensated by excellent food. The four of us were pleased with the quality, quantity, and presentation of the food, served real hot. Good family-style food, a glass of wine, all for a cost of $20.00 each, made up for the few things missing.
Parking can be a large problem, and the location is questionable. Though we had a pleasant evening, I don’t believe we will ever return to the Jay ‘N Bee Club.