Mmm, I had me some goooood carnitas last night! I snuck into Mamacita's with a friend for a dinner that was part business, part pleasure. We snacked on chilaquiles and chili rellenos made with fat jalapeños (I got a hot one, although no one believed me...Nate, one of the owners, accused me of being a wimp. Harumph.) And the tacos? Oh, the tacos. Tender, juicy Niman Ranch pork goes into the carnitas, which is then topped with sweet corn, guacamole and queso fresco. The tortillas are handmade in the morning by genuine señoras (if you've never seen those women pat them out, I suggest a road trip to Santa Barbara.)
A quick chat with Mr. "You-are-a-spice-wimp" Nate revealed that nearly all of the food they source is local and sustainably raised. In fact, they are working on getting fresh veggies from several acres of Sonoma farmland that will soon be dedicated to production for the restaurant. I might get the opportunity to tour it for a new writing assignment I've got. How cool is that?
But back to the nosh. I hear that the spice-rubbed pork chop is divine, though I cannot judge myself, but the churros dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a small cup of Mexican hot chocolate are heavenly, all crunchy and sugary outside, doughy and soft inside. As my dinner companion so elegantly did, drink whatever's left of the hot chocolate. You wouldn't want it to go to waste. (Is it just me, or is Mexican hot chocolate "hot" these days?)
A word on the noise: I had avoided Mamacita because I'd heard that it was louder in there than a WWII air raid, and I hate to shout (a lady never does, did you know that?) But I was pleasantly surprised. There's no denying the din, but S. and I talked easily the entire night, even when the place was at full throttle. I'm not sure if a larger table would have felt the same way, but if you can sneak in at 5:30 when it opens, you're guaranteed at least an hour's peace.
S. and I agreed, upon leaving, that Mamacita does the classics right. The tacos stick to the basics -- carne asada, carnitas, deep-fried mahi and chicken (there isn't an ahi tuna version in sight!) -- but they've updated them with the best ingredients the Bay Area has to offer. My Mamacita margarita was good, if a little sweet for my taste (I prefer fresh-squeezed lemon juice with a twist of lime) but the Argentinian Malbec was trippin'. Yo-lé.