Donna's Financial DistrictOMR: 6.91
Ferry Building Plaza
cross street: The Embarcadero
Map Visits: 2
Donna’s friendly namesake-proprietor presents her handheld scuds each Tuesday (and Tuesday only) between 10AM–2PM, so it’s best to make sure it’s not one of the other six days that ends in y
before heading over to this all-organic burrito/tamale/pupusa foodstand at Ferry Building Plaza. All items are prepared early that same morning at her San Rafael kitchen, then kept piping hot until the moment of truth. Ingredient substitutions aren’t available, but breakfast is, as are a few tables behind the tent underneath the Ferry Building’s overhang. Cash only.
Will My Health Be Violated?
Swish: temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); vegetables (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); beans (7); cheese (7); sauciness (7); rice (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: size (5); spiciness (2)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)
It’s almost unfair to lump Donna’s in with San Francisco’s celebrated, meat-foisting, tuba pop-spinning taquerias and burrito trucks. But since the menu at Donna’s is Mexican-centric, and since it does serve semi-traditional burritos in San Francisco one day each week, it’s our duty to check in every few years, even if the burritos aren’t akin to the city’s Mission-style specialty. And frankly, this was a sad-looking little number, all shrunken and shriveled (although the hand-tied string around its mid section was a nice touch). But holy smokes was it hot to the touch; construction was equally exceptional. Other than these unassailable elements and the clever vegetable ensemble — tomato-heavy ranchero sauce, diced onion, shredded carrot, stray cabbage bits — nothing else knocked us out. The whole wheat tortilla was OK but less than notable, while the red beans were sufficiently tasty and provided this particular sentence with an unexpected New Orleans angle. The flavor-deficient brown rice’s reading, however, landed a little lower on our mustache meter. Spice was almost a complete rumor and the ingredient mix fell prey to side-taking partisanship. Finally, Donna’s cheese merits a special mention, as we could have been easily duped into believing our lunch included ricotta rather than sharp white cheddar, given its taste and texture. So we were that close to scooping the world’s first write-up of a lasagna burrito. But no.
Dimensional puniness notwithstanding, Donna’s fine breakfast burrito demonstrated a solid grasp of fundamentals on its way to a very respectable seat on the San Francisco taqueria bus: flawless construction, scorching top-to-bottom temperatures, and a brilliantly laid-out ingredient mix that showcased an array of roasted vegetables and irrepressible cheese. We certainly weren’t expecting a macho-man slab from the city’s most ephemeral burrito stand, so we just assigned five mustaches to Donna’s wee, dozen-bites-and-gone sizing and moved on. Our sole other misgiving here was the disappointing absence of any spice-providing element – some of their ranchero sauce would have been a welcome add-in. Otherwise, success reigned all around. The tasty whole wheat tortilla cradled a whole host of star-quality vegetables, including mushrooms, long-chopped yellow onion, and humble chunks of potato. Despite the lack of sauce on hand, no ingredients came off dryly. And as for all the plentifully melted jack lining the inner tortilla, any comparison (other than perhaps to the local cheese-kings at Taq. El Castillito
) would be unfair; let’s just preface all references to Donna’s classy cheesework with “fabled,” and leave it at that. The finely diced eggs weren’t exactly big ‘n’ fluffy, but like everything else here, they tasted real good to us. And that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? Yes. Yes, it is.