Martha’s Fusion Kitchen dishes up top-notch Mexican eats
Get your birria fix in myriad forms at this excellent newcomer
The leading contender for 2021’s best new Mexican restaurant will likely defy expectations that many diners have about good local Mexican restaurants.
This business, which lies near the intersection of Oakland Park Avenue and Maize Road in Linden, doesn’t offer quick service or margaritas, and it doesn’t provide chips and salsa when you sit down. In fact, there’s almost nowhere to sit in the humble little takeout-oriented place.
Additionally, red-and-yellow signage advertising food that isn’t actually available has festooned the eatery’s facade for several months (and was still there when I last visited a couple weeks ago). This can be confusing to customers who enter the place bearing expectations based on said signage declaring that the restaurant is named “Bella Pizza.” (I saw this happen.)
But people clued in to the truth — like you — will know to ignore any pizzeria messages in lieu of the up-to-date information imparted by a recently erected overhead sign at the edge of the nearby parking lot. This reports that the business is now named Martha’s Fusion Kitchen, and it serves “authentic Mexican food.”
So look elsewhere for your stromboli, because Martha’s Fusion Kitchen does indeed cook authentic Mexican food and Mexican-influenced fusion fare. And a lot of it is top-notch.
In a possible attempt to cash in on a trend, birria is featured so much that I thought of a scene in “Forrest Gump” where the Bubba character ticks off a dizzying stream of shrimp dishes. Similarly, at Martha’s, you can buy: birria fries, birria quesadillas, birria burritos, birria bowls and birria with ramen noodles.
Yet another item starring Martha’s birria (think wonderful pot roast) will make my year-end list of don’t-miss dishes: the Guanajuato Pizzadilla ($18.99; served with superior “consome,” aka beef soup). Words can’t really do this stunning thing justice.
Since that's never slowed me down before, here goes: Martha’s Pizzadilla, an inspired creation so massive that it might require a forklift to transport, is essentially a feeds-an-entire-family quesadilla presented like a meat-and-cheese-heavy stuffed pizza with a crispy exterior that’s attractively decorated with serious guacamole.
Feeling less ambitious? Ordering Martha’s birria in taco form ($10.99) brings three oversized, consome-dipped corn tortillas skillfully griddle-crisped and generously filled with juicy beef, molten cheese, plus cilantro and onion garnishes. Dunk those beauties in the provided consome and you have the Mexican answer to a French dip sandwich.
Good, warm, soft corn tortillas garnished with onions and cilantro are the foundation for other tacos with delicious, generously portioned fillings. These include flavor-bomb if fatty carnitas ($6 for three); tangy and addictive pork pastor ($6 for three); and excellent grilled-shrimp ($9 for three), whose bonus garnishes of lettuce, pico de gallo, queso fresco and a mayo-based sauce combined to evoke a warm shrimp salad.
Martha’s lengthy menu isn’t the easiest to navigate. If you’re looking for an entree, I strongly suggest you steer toward Dona Martha Enchiladas ($13.99), a mammoth platter that comes with the best Mexican rice I’ve had in town for a long time, plus cut-above beans. The main players are three enchiladas of tinga-style stewed chicken rolled in flavorful corn tortillas and topped with spicy salsa verde, queso fresco plus — get this — carne asada steak and eggs.
Tortas ($9.99) are offered, but so is a highly recommended, rare-around-these-parts sandwich extravaganza called a pambazo ($12). It’s basically a torta with a potato-and-chorizo hash, beans, all the expected fixings and a special twist: The bun is dipped in a mild guajillo-chile sauce and griddled until crunchy.
Churros are likely something you would expect from a good Mexican restaurant. But you probably wouldn’t expect them to be as good or as inexpensive ($2.99) as the plateful you’ll get at Martha’s.
Martha's Fusion Kitchen
3331 Maize Rd., North Linden
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday.