Mama Testa Taqueria has recently moved to my hood in Mira Mesa and I couldn’t be happier about having new restaurant options! Hooray!
Mama Testa Taqueria (which was previously located in Hillcrest) moved into an old spot that used to be a taco shop called El Maguey. I last wrote about El Maguey back in 2008. While it was good way back when, the quality of the food really dropped in the years that followed. The nail in the coffin for me was when I once had potato tacos at El Maguey that tasted like fish. They shuttered early this year and Mama Testa Taqueria moved in and had their soft opening in the last few weeks.
They’ve expanded the space and now offering patio seating – hooray! Really smart use of space.
It’s quite roomy inside. They cleaned the place up and it looks a lot more modernized inside the restaurant.
Usual drink offerings plus horchata and such. During the lunch time hours, the menu is displayed above the counters on the TV’s. At dinner time, they change the channels to show sports or other TV shows.
[lunch specials menu at mama testa]
During lunch they also offer lunch specials. Other menu items are about $1 less at lunch time than dinner time.
Mama Testa has a full salsa bar with lots of different salsa options. On the far left is the hottest of the salsas (which I did not attempt to try) and the more milder sauces are to the right. There are also extra condiments for the taking (such as limes, grilled onions, hot carrots, jalapeños, radishes, etc).
Salsa bar CLOSEUP!
Every table has these pretty flowers in old glass soda bottles. So cheery!
The really awesome part about Mama Testa is the freshly fried chips they give to every guest. Since I went with a group of co-workers the first time, they gave us three baskets of chips to share. But even if you go in by your lonesome self, you get a basket of chips. The chips are served warm and fresh and I couldn’t STOP EATING THEM. Man they were so good, especially with a few of the salsas! One of my favorites was the tomato & jalapeno salsa (bottom left) and the mango pineapple salsa (top right). There was this crazy salsa with sesame seeds in it (bottom right) that sounded interesting to me but I didn’t really enjoy the flavor of it – they weren’t kidding about the sesame seeds! The sesame seeds were actually all I could taste and I ended up abandoning that salsa pretty quickly.
[rolled tacos special]
One of my co-workers got this pretty plate of rolled tacos.
A few co-workers got these fish tacos served with al pastor sauce, pineapple, onion, cilantro, and red salsa.
[beef taco special / $8]
For me, I went the “safe” route and tried a couple of the crunchy beef tacos with rice and beans. I actually enjoyed the beans, surprisingly enough. They had a nice flavor to them and weren’t too “chunky” (I don’t really like the texture of actual beans). The rice was also delicious with bits of veggies in it (peas and corn).
The tacos themselves are crunchy but not overly crunchy. The shells are flash fried so they are not extra super duper crunchy but they are just crunchy enough. I noticed that the second taco started to lose it’s crunch so it’s better to share or to gobble them up right away and not spend all your time trying every single salsa they have first.
The beef was very flavorful and the taco was surprisingly not very greasy which I really appreciated. These were darn good tacos!
[mama testa dinner menu]
I revisited over the weekend with Jake and we had dinner here. The dinner atmosphere is a bit different! If you say you’re dining in, they’ll have you take a seat for table service. Here are links to the other pages: Dinner Menu Page 2 | Dinner Menu Page 3 | Dinner Menu Page 4 – the prices are slightly higher for dinner.
Jake pretty much liked the same salsas that I did.
[steamed tacos en papa (with potato) / $11]
Since neither of us were super hungry, we decided to just have our complimentary (delicious) chips and salsa along with one item that I was really interested in trying – the steamed tacos.
The steamed tacos were unlike anything else we’ve tried taco-wise before. You get four steamy hot tacos. The tortillas seem to be dipped in a sauce and then filled (in our case, we chose potato) and then steamed. The sauce soaks into the tortilla creating a really flavorful, soft tortilla shell.
The inside potato filling is creamy and crazy good. It’s similar to mashed potatoes in consistency. Paired with the deliciously flavored tortilla shell, this was a real winner for us. I liked that there was a lot of flavor from the sauce without the tacos actually being “saucy” or wet. I assume the steaming process helps seal in those yummy flavors. I highly recommend the steamed tacos!
Mama Testa will definitely be in my rotation – there’s a bunch of other things to try like their catfish tacos (which beat Bobby Flay on a fish taco throwdown).