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Mar 30, 2007 07:59 PM

SF - El Maya Yucatan Cuisine – Torta de Cochinita & happy hour

This is sandwich simplicity at its best. A crusty roll, slightly toasted in the oven filled with thick chunks of meltingly tender pork with the slightest bit of fat for flavor and juices soaking into the roll.

That was it … roll … pork … nothing else was needed. $3.50.

The roll was nothing special, but did the job of absorbing the juice without getting soggy or falling apart. I am guessing that this was conchinita pipil filling the roll. I’m not familiar enough with that dish to know if that was a good version or not. I do know pork though. This was porcine perfection.

The cheese empanada ($1.75) hot from the grease was good with an oozy cheese center. A seven on the lard-o-meter.

I didn’t like the panucho though. The fried tortilla was a little too lard-laden and chewy. It was spread with a smear of beans, topped with shredded pork that wasn’t as flavorful as the pork in the torta. The chopped onion was just chopped red onion and not pickled. Some shredded cabbage, a slice of supermarket tomato and a dot of avocado topped it - $1.75.

Squeeze bottles of a VERY hot green sauce are on the table. Be warned. This is not your mild tomatillo salsa. I don’t think it is habenero, but whatever it was it was searing. Nice pepper smell to it too.

A cup of thick-ish red tomato sauce came with the empanada. Not sure if I liked it or not. There was almost a note of fish sauce to it.

Pictures of dishes are at the front counter. Some dishes I’d like to try based on the pictures

- Puchero – a soup with chunks of veggies. More about puchero on the General Board

- Rellneo Negro – This was a very black soupy dish

- Torta de Poc-Chuck – It just looked really good

There is a pretty simple menu. There are pollo and carnitas tortas. Other items
- tostada con pollo ($3.50
)- Yucatan tamales ($1.75)
- Salbutes – ($1.75)
- Mondongo ($7)
- Cochinita Pibil ($7)
- Carnitas ($7)
- Poc-Chuc ($7.50)
- Pollo Azado ($7)

There were four specials today … sopa de mariscos ($10), carne azada ($11), Pollo con papas ($7), something con Puerco.

It is a clean and serviceable restaurant in colors of yellow, orange and blue with a Mayan mural on one wall. Simple wood tables with café chairs.

This reminded me of nothing special restaurants in Mexico city that just had good if not fancy food. They only take cash and speak mainly Spanish.

Located on Mission & 16th one store down from the BART station.

Thanks to Melanie who spotted the place and asked about it.

From the business card …

Phat V. Ma
Hung Ly
Santo Bacza

A hand-written sign in the window announced a ‘happy hour’ from 7pm to 10 pm when there was a 10% discount on food. No alcohol sold though.

El Maya Yucatan Cuisine
2022 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110


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  1. Sounds very interesting.... was the bread a bolillo or more of a Vietnamese roll. I ask because at least one of the people on the business card seems Vietnamese... could be a bit of fusion?

    Another thing.... fish sauce with the empanada? Bacza sounds like it could be a Mayan name.... wondering what part of the Yucatan he is from because when I had Coconut Shrimp in the town Valladolid... there was a definite use of fish sauce (which apparently goes back to Ancient Mayab times):

    13 Replies
    1. re: Eat_Nopal

      I'd say more crusty like a Vietnamese roll. I thought the names were interesting. If there is a Vietnamese influence, it is not as pronouced as Yucatasia up the street.

      No it was a tomato sauce, but there was a fish sauce note to it.

      1. re: rworange

        Tomato sauce with fishy flavors... that is either scary or deliberate, other than using fish sauce... they may have used Worcestire, Maggi or Knorr Camaron as short cut, perhaps?

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Could be one of the others. It tasted deliberate rather than off. I just couldn't identify it. It wasn't a really strong flavor either.

      2. re: Eat_Nopal

        Bacza is polish, now we are really confused. The Yucatan food is Mayan and European Influence, now Vietnamese might be an interesting twist.

        I would be interested in trying the Cochinita Pibil to see if has annatto in it, and made with bitter oranges.. this dates back as a pre-Conquest Mayan cooking. Most of the food I had in Merida and other towns always had that mix of sweet and savory flavors, did you get that from this place?

        I have been meaning to try it.. thanks for the reminder.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I thought that was Baza which I have been to.

            1. re: Lori SF

              Sorry, yes, you're right. I was keyed in on the surname "de Bacza" relating back to this town, and apparently that's an old spelling.

          2. re: Lori SF

            Dunno, the first name sounds Lationo ... Santos ... .miixed marriage?

            We are definately not talking Mi Lindo Yucatan here. This is a workingman's place so don't know how fancy they get. Rick Steves had a segment on public tv today about the Yucatan. I forgot to puck up some annatto today. I was going to see if that was the odd flavor in that sauce ... though he didn't say anything about fishy. He had his fancy-dancy version of relleno negro and I'm really interested in trying this next at really any of the Yucatan places.

            A little about the dish on Chowhound, though this doesn't have the egg in it.

            1. re: rworange

              Achiote (annatto) is more of an earthy flavor... think Paprika.

              1. re: rworange

                Annatto is pretty mild, but like Eat Nopal says it has an earthy taste. It can be most noticeable by its red orange color, but this can be faked. There is no need to fake it because if places don't make it from scratch with annatto seeds, they will use paste from a store, which I guess could also have some food coloring in it. Even bad cochinita is most likely going to be good to someone who likes pork. Slow cooked, seasoned, falling apart, meltingly good pork. If you can get to that point, my mouth would take a wide range of seasonings.

                1. re: rworange

                  Annatto is quite mild. One of its uses is to add color to Velveeta.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    It definitely is a subtle spice... not just Velveeta all orange Cheddar has annatto in it. Its not an expensive spice by any means, so I am not sure there is fake achiote paste on the market. In any case, fresh ground makes a huge difference (as would be expected). In addition to the earthiness... when it is combined with fresh Seville Orange juice... it brings out all the floral & fruity characteristics... that is what can make Cochinita uncommonly intriguing.

                    In terms of its mildness.... a little bit of it goes along way in terms of food coloring... hence its use in a wide range of foods.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      It's used in Chinese herbal medicine too though I don't know what it's healing claims might be. Gives a bright yellow glow to the decoction.

            2. Walked by here Tuesday after having lunch at Chichen Itza. A sign in the window promotes Chinese fast food and there's a full steam table set up and signs on the wall near the entrance. However, no food. I asked at the counter and was told they're not doing it now. Peeking into the kitchen, I was tickled to see a Chinese man at the grill turning out antojitos.

              1. Just a link. No updates. Anyone been here lately?

                El Maya Yucatan
                2022 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1 Reply
                1. re: rworange

                  I'm late to the party, but I can say:
                  --Steam table up front wasn't in use at all on Sunday
                  --I loved the panucho. I thought the hand-made tortilla base was the right amount of crisp/chewy and not too lardy. I ordered mine with chicken, which was a nice shredded dark meat with caramelized bits that was similar to their pork cochinita. Reminded me of stuff Primavera puts out sometimes at the Farmer's market, just 1/3 the price.
                  --Torta cochinita was very simple - just well seasoned meat, with a ramekin of pickled red onion relish on the side, but that's really all it needed with a little of the hot salsa from the dish on the table. The juices soaking into the bread turned it a rich golden color, which would have scared me if I didn't remember that achiote is supposed to be in cochinita.
                  --Torta poc chuc was a bit more exuberant with lots of poc chuc meat but also plenty of veggies in almost a bahn mi style

                  Neither torta had mayo - they let the rich juices from the meat do most of the moistening. We'll definitely be back to try out more of the menu, especially the more complex specialties.