Bottom line: Come for the tasty meat, stay for the pastry-esque tostada.
Seeking out a new lunch spot whilst hungry can lead to a miniature, fleeting version of the kind of disappointment usually encountered when making poor life choices. Thankfully today was not one of those days. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Street Taco on 9th (b/w Mission and Market) serves up pretty good Mexican, if somewhat unimaginative on the flavor side.
The Food: As I had no idea what to order, I went with the most unfamiliar thing on the menu - a “street bowl” with a choice of meat, beans, cheese, guacamole, lettuce & salsa. The “bowl” was constructed out of a flour tostada and was undoubtedly the standout of the meal. It was basically pastry. Layering was evident, perfectly baked and with a nice, crunchy lightness. The tostada transformed the street bowl into a savory Mexican tart, and I would return just to taste it again.
For my meat I chose the alambres, a concoction of beef, peppers and bacon that I had never tried before. It was very well seasoned and tender. I was immediately struck by the smokiness of the beef and a light flavor of charcoal. The peppers and bacon were probably stewing together for a while beforehand as the peppers retained a lovely saturated fat mouthfeel. The bacon could’ve been a bit more finely diced for my taste, but it didn’t overwhelm the dish - the beef was still the star of the protein show.
Toppings were nice but not stellar. The guacamole was a bit salty but otherwise good. The cheese and lettuce added some nice textural elements. The salsa, ironically, didn’t taste like much even though I ordered the spicy version. It did add just a bit of welcome acidity. I should have asked for a couple lemon wedges. Pickled onions or peppers would have really elevated the dish to something special.
The black beans were the only forgettable part of the meal. They were well cooked and didn’t interfere with the texture of the other ingredients, but they had zero flavor and didn’t seem to add anything other than roughage. They were also a bit out of proportion and had a 1:1 ratio with the meat. They could have reduced the beans by 50% and had a much better dish. On my next visit I’ll go with the refried beans and see if that improves things.
Value: For $11 after tax this was a bargain. The portions were generous and there was plenty of protein. The tostada was excellent and worth a few bucks on its own. It’s more expensive than the neighboring burritos but without the rice it’s not a carb bomb either. This is a nice option if you’re looking to avoid the wan futility of a “burrito bowl.”
I have no idea if the offerings resemble the street food of Mexico City (as advertised), but I thought it was more refined than your average taqueria and certainly worth a quick lunch if you’re in the area.