Martsa on Elm Pleases Many Palates

I hadn’t been to Martsa on Elm in a few years and after my recent visit, I wondered why it took me so long to go back. This Tibetan eatery raises the bar on the Davis Square food scene, providing hungry diners with tasty dishes that don’t break the bank. The food is flavorful, the service prompt and the meal was the right price for a weeknight dinner out.

I heard that Martsa was serving beer and wine now, so my dining companion and I took advantage, ordering a fruity glass of sauvignon blanc and a bold pinot noir. If you’re not in the mood for booze, the Tibetan Tea, Lassis and lime beverages looked very appetizing.

After doing a little research, I knew we had to start with the vegetable momos, steamed dumplings filled with spinach and onions (there is also an omnivore version and a fried option). The dumplings were served with soy sauce as well as two red sauces, one chunkier and less spicy and the other thinner with quite the kick. We both loved the first red sauce and applied it liberally to the dumplings, which were an excellent texture. The thickness of the dumpling played nicely off the delicateness of the vegetables inside. And unlike many appetizers, the momos weren’t too heavy, but in fact properly prepared us for our main course.

The menu at Martsa is extensive, making choosing an entree a bit of a challenge. After eating here, I feel that if you closed your eyes and picked something, it would likely be delicious. With ample options for vegetarians (and vegans) as well as omnivores, there is truly something for everyone on this menu.

We settled on vegetables in a curry sauce with nuts and vegetable fritters with tofu in a broth with a side of brown rice (love that this is an option). Both meals were excellent, with just enough spice to keep your mouth interested and hearty servings of perfectly cooked vegetables. The brown rice portion was just right for two and our meals left us satisfied, not overly stuffed or wanting more.

Beyond the great food, the service was prompt and unintrusive. Our waitress didn’t say much, but she was nice and refilled our water glasses at just the right times, a sign she was paying close attention. Martsa’s diverse meals are also very reasonably priced, making it a great option for weeknight dinners out or for a big group.

I’m not sure why it took me so many years to return to Martsa, but I know I won’t let it go so long again!

Updated 1/7/14: I recently heard that Martsa on Elm revamped its menu and a frigid winter night seemed like the perfect time to tuck into a steaming bowl of curry. I loved Marsta before the menu change, but the update has made it even better. There are a wider variety of options available, so many in fact that it was tough to choose just two for dinner! We devoured the pumpkin curry and the tofu in almond curry, which were both flavorful, filling and had just the right amount of spice. The vegetable pakora basket was a terrific starter and if you’re feeling really adventurous, try the hot fermented drink with egg and cheese (it’s really more like soup). The service was excellent and I can’t wait to return to try more of the new menu. Definitely worth a trip to Davis, even on a bitter cold night.

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