Dona Tere’s Market in The Mission: Humble and Delicious
Dona Tere’s Market
Dona Tere’s Market has existed on the northeast corner of 21st and Florida for a little over a decade, a respectable age for any restaurant, but it feels ancient and worn beyond its years, like an old bristlecone pine tree bearing silent witness to San Francisco springing up around it over 160-odd years. It’s run by a very nice old couple from Jalisco, who fulfill almost every function around the place except holding up it’s foundation, Atlas-style. The picture above says it all: this is a family joint run by a family who cares deeply about family, about being rooted in a place and having a familial relationship with those who frequent their establishment. They had never seen me in there before, but were warm and curious all the same, graciously answering my intrusive inquiries about their provenance and the longevity of their restaurant/market.
It bears a resemblance to one other place previously covered in my column, called La Palma Mexicatessen, only it’s much more humbly scaled in terms of kitchen space and workforce. The menu, too, is more compact; burritos, tacos, and pupusas form the core, plus a selection of weekend-only soups (birria, menudo and posole) and mexican breakfast. Dona Tere’s, like La Palma, doubles as a convenience store hawking an assortment of snacks and gimcracks, some familiar, some alien. The food itself, while not the best I’ve had, is not at all bad, and very cheap. Where the food doesn’t stupefy the senses, the atmosphere compensates. I shared a long wooden table set out front and coated in flaking red paint with a trio of voluble, gender-ambiguous latinas (os?) gossiping, perhaps, about a mutual friend’s recent operation, while pouring red and green hot sauce from big tubs over their tostadas. They and their Chewbacca-in-miniature canine made for good company while I ate two tacos (carne asada) and two pupusas (the innards of which were hard to identify but nonetheless delicious) for ten bucks. Solid stuff, and no doubt I’ll be back to try the posole one of these weekends.
Dona Tere’s Market
2780 21st Street @ Florida