SFReview

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Donaji review image
8.5

Donaji

$$$$

3161 24th Street, San Francisco
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

The mole enchiladas at Donaji pull you in: first with the mesmerizing lines of marbled crema over the top, then with the velvety mole itself—spicy, rich, and nutty flavors linger on your tongue after every bite. 

This fantastic dish isn't the only reason we’d cross town, by pogo stick, just to eat at this walk-in, counter-service Oaxacan spot. The mood-boosting space makes Donaji a place we go to on casual Tuesday nights, for comfort food after a tumultuous breakup, and any time we need to feel better about getting another street sweeping ticket. Also count on the masa-centric food being phenomenal.

The Mission spot is fun and informal. Everyone in the neighborhood seems to know this, because you’ll see tables packed every night and during weekend brunch. There’s a huge hummingbird painted on one of the bright blue walls, faux doors and windows, and papel picado hanging above the bar. Just place your order, find a seat next to the hot sauce bike, and prepare to have your food out in about 10 minutes flat. 

Carly Hackbarth

Donaji review image

You could pick the name of any Donaji dish out of a hat and end up with something you’ll wind up talking about to anyone you encounter over the next week. That’s because fresh masa appears in just about every dish on the menu, and is flawless in all of its forms. The crunchy, vinyl-sized beef tlayudas and hefty tacos are made with house-made tortillas. And the piled-high sopes and carnitas benedict (one of the few brunch-only dishes) are served atop golden-brown discs of fried masa that make a satisfying crunch. Donaji started out as a tamales catering company, so their fluffy, chicken tinga-filled tamales should definitely be on your table. As should everything drenched in that slightly sweet mole, like the crispy-skinned rotisserie chicken or the bowl of totopos finished with queso.

Whether you realize you might need to use the hot sauce bike as a form of transportation until you finally pay off that ticket, or want to drop in for a quick bite on a random weeknight, Donaji is here for you. They’re churning out food that’s as exciting as a spontaneously dropped Beyoncé single. Come for the mole and masa, and stay for literally everything else. Or make your way back again next week.

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Food Rundown

Carly Hackbarth

Donaji review image

Enchiladas De Mole

The feathered drizzles of crema that dress up the rich, dark mole make these the prettiest enchiladas in town. They’re filled with potato and soyrizo, or chicken tinga (our default). We never leave without ordering them, whether we're here for weekend brunch or a quick weeknight dinner.

Carly Hackbarth

Donaji review image

Tlayuda

The 11-inch tlayuda is a colorful stunner, loaded up with refried beans, queso, shredded beef, pickled onions, and avocado slices fanned out in all directions. It’s finished with a salsa verde swirl. The crunchy tortilla is an ideal (and sturdy) vehicle for all of the toppings. Order this.

Carly Hackbarth

Donaji review image

Sopes

Masa is the star at Donaji, and the sopes are one reason why. The fried masa discs are crispy and seem to defy all laws of physics, with a tower of pickled cabbage, guacamole, and soft beef brisket on top.

Tamales

The tamales—filled with either chicken, cochinita pibil, potatoes, or cheese and poblano—are always steamed until perfectly tender. Get at least one on your table.

Pollo Con Mole

Anything drenched in Donaji’s perfect mole negro deserves a standing ovation, and this half-rotisserie chicken is no exception. Every bite is a saucy, flavorful revelation.

Carly Hackbarth

Donaji review image

Tacos

Taco fillings range from fried chicken and fish to a grilled vegetable of the day, and the house-made tortillas soak up all the sauces without getting soggy. Our go-to is the juicy cochinita pibil, which gets a refreshing zing from the pineapple relish topping.

Carnitas Benedict

Fried masa is the base for the heap of tender carnitas, an egg however you like it, and creamy hollandaise. There’s no better way to start a morning.

Carly Hackbarth

Donaji review image

Churro Donut

Usually still warm from the oven and served with a side of decadent chocolate dipping sauce. If you even remotely enjoy eating things covered in cinnamon sugar, you’ll like this.

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