By SHALWAH EVANS

If you’re looking for ambiance and décor, El Majahual is not the restaurant for you.  But if you want cheap and tasty Colombian and Salvadorian food, the long time Valencia Street hole-in-the-wall is the place to go.

Across the street from City College’s Mission Campus,  a 15-inch television set sits in the corner (playing Nicktoons at the time of my meal),  and a few different tables and chairs likely bought at a garage sale,  make El Majahual feel like a comfortable dive.  The Colombia themed art look  like ginger bread houses or the ones I once made with popsicle sticks.  But the food more than made up for the lack of chic and trendy ambiance the Valencia St. corridor boasts.

The pupusas, which cost about $2.00 each, were a perfect appetizer.  The accompanying salsa and cole slaw were fresh; a wonderful compliment to the blend of cheeses inside.  The Platanos Fritos con frijoles y crema ($6.00) was a blend of ripe plantains, cooked to perfection with a side of refried pinto beans and sour cream—-my absolute favorite thing to top food off with.  The waiter warned my friends and I that it would be too much food when we ordered our respective entrees, but we went for it anyway.

El Majahual on Valencia Street serves up tasty Salvadorian and Colombian cuisine.

El Majahual on Valencia Street serves up tasty Salvadorian and Colombian cuisine.

I tried to shy away from getting the carne asada (9.50) because I always do, but my growling stomach and my need for a hearty helping of protein forced me to give in.  And I’m glad I did.  Initially the steak tasted bland, but blended with the rice and beans the dish developed a great balance of seasoning.  Shared with friends, the combination of pupusas, plantains and carne asada with rice and beans was enough food to more than satisfy.  On the waiter’s recommendation, I also ordered a traditional Colombian passion fruit drink.

While the cold fruity drink topped off my dinner (and Negra Modelo) nicely, I quickly regretted it when I had to go through the busy kitchen to get to the cold, dingy bathroom.

Bathroom aside, the service was good (the place is small enough that your waiter can see you at all times), the prices were low (most dishes were below $12) and the food was excellent.  I would definitely return and maybe even order something other than the carne asada……or at least I’ll try.

Verdict: 3 out of 5 Agua Frescas

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El Majahual
1142 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
415-821-7514

All Major Credit Cards Accepted (even Amex!)
Open 7 Days a Week 11a-11p