HOME > Chowhound > California >

Discussion

Mama Testa redux

Wound up back at Mama Testa's last night after a longish hiatus from eating there. In the time in between this and my previous visit, I've drastically changed my eating habits. Now that I am eating smaller (some might say "normal") portion sizes at mealtimes, one of the most frequent criticism I've seen of MTs (portion size) seems more a reflection of our skewed American sense of how large portions should be than objective reality.

My friend and I each had a two taco plate, with rice and beans, and chips brought to the table. We split the first basket of chips, didn't eat very many from the second, and ate our entire meals. At the end, we were stuffed, and very happy with our meals.

I had the tacos filled with nopales, oaxaca cheese, and dressed with a red ancho chile sauce. These are easily one of my favorites on their menu. My friend had the shrimp tacos with Mexican cole slaw, and said they were great.

Things have changed there somewhat of late. There was a new guy working, who had us sit at a table and took our orders. Apparently they are changing to table service in the evening, and menu modifications are on the way.

The salsas were as great as ever - especially the one made with morita chiles. I could eat that stuff with a spoon.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. "Now that I am eating smaller (some might say "normal") portion sizes at mealtimes, one of the most frequent criticism I've seen of MTs (portion size) seems more a reflection of our skewed American sense of how large portions should be than objective reality."

    I couldn't agree more. The portion size at MT is absolute sufficient for a good dinner/lunch. Similar to The Linkery, Cafe Chloe I hope to see in more restaurants a stronger trend to focus more on quality than on quantity. I can't remember to have ever needed a doggy bag in a restaurant in Europe where meal sizes reflect more a healthy amount of daily calorie intake.

    14 Replies
    1. re: honkman

      yes, I also agree that Mama Testa's serves "normal" or "appropriate portion" sizes! Visually, it looks small, but thanks to Claim Jumper, Cheesecake Factory and other "super-sized" portions, we all got skewed in what is a single-serving size.

      honkman, Bottega Italiana is opening a storefront in La Jolla. they didn't say where but it's on their website.

      1. re: honkman

        Why dont you initiate a topic re. portion sizes on gen. topics? It seems to be a sensitive subject for you. Its great that in Europe there are smaller portion sizes. We could discuss it there.

        1. re: kare_raisu

          By doing this I would feel like Don Quixote and the windmill.

          1. re: honkman

            dont slice too much manchego though!

            1. re: honkman

              Let me tilt this back towards the California Chowhound board (pun intended)...

              Do you feel any of the people that post to San Diego Chowhounds, in particular those that tend to post quite a few reviews, get influenced by portion size? It's a good rant in general, but I've not seen too many complaints about size at the decent restaurants. Sure, we've seen plenty of "their portion sizes are generous" comments (especially for a breakfast place in south Hillcrest, and I'll leave it at that :) ), but I've not seen too many good restaurants get ripped for "small" portions. But maybe I tend to glean over those posts, though.

              1. re: RB Hound

                I've seen MT get ripped for portion size on numerous occasions, particularly in the "San Diego Restaurants are Overrated" thread.

                1. re: Josh

                  "I've seen MT get ripped for portion size on numerous occasions, particularly in the 'San Diego Restaurants are Overrated' thread."

                  By people comparing them to Roberto's, the JV Taco Shop, etc. It should not have gotten past your low-pass filter. :)

                2. re: RB Hound

                  I have seen comments for Mama Testa, Asia Vous, The Linkery etc. and their "lack" of portion size on this board and also in multiple discussions with people I met in SD. I know I shouldn't care too much but this issue drives me some times nuts because I find it frustrating that often restaurants don't do good business because they focus on quality and not on quantity. I have often heard comments from colleagues how they like Chili's or Cheesecake Factory in SD because there they get "real" food instead of those small portions in some "fancy" restaurants. Some people eat to live, other live to eat.

                  1. re: honkman

                    >Some people eat to live, other live to eat.>

                    And then there are the folks (and there are a lot of 'em) who equate value and quality with the amount of food on the plate.

                    1. re: honkman

                      "Some people eat to live, other live to eat."

                      If people think the Super Size Me experiment turned out poorly... can you imagine what the result would be if someone ate lunch & dinner for 30 days at the Cheesecakes & Claim Jumpers of the world... and they finished all the food served?

                      Wait... I guess the experiment need not be done... you just have to do some people watching in the Plains states where some suburbs have nothing but dispicable chains like that.

                      I wouldn't rush to call that "living"

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Plains states?!?!?!????

                        Just visit any local Home Town Buffet or Soup Plantation in the state of California and you'll see the consequences of super sizing. We're in the middle of a major kitchen remodel. Last week we went to Soup Plantation for dinner. My aversion to anything remotely resembling a buffet is pretty well entrenched and well known among my friends. It was quite an education watching what people ate and how many trips they made to the various stations. Many people had 5 or 6 plates stacked in front of their place setting and were still going back for more.

                        Even more telling, or really appalling IMNSHO, was the sort of civilized positioning, pushing and shoving that went on when new trays of bread, pasta or dessert were brought out. People just kind of hovered and then desended upon the new trays like they'd never seen food before, and it's not like this was fabulous stuff, it was ordinary and run-of-the-mill.

                        Over eating and gluttony are not limited to the plains states, it's everywhere.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          Yup you are absolutely right... I was trying not to insult the Irvine, Brea & Woodland Hills' etc., of California. I also tend to pick on the plains states... because well it was in Omaha that I first experienced a town where the vast majority of eateries seem to be in the buffet format.

                        2. re: Eat_Nopal

                          If you ever want to be shocked, check out the nutrition info (when available) for any of the big chains. Some of that food has an astounding amount of calories, fat, and sodium. So not only are you getting absurdly huge portions, but you could well consume more than a day's worth of calories in one sitting.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Oh.... I've been shocked. Of course even finer foods can have an astounding amount of calories, fat & sodium... a few months back I was picking up some delicious seemingly non-creamy organic wild mushroom soup from the local gourmet shop... and was shocked to read the label.... 400 calories in a pint.

                            Not that much on its own... but then again Soup is suppossed to be one of the least caloric, healthiest part of the meals!