I love Mexican food of most varieties, from the standard chips/salsa on the table and every dish topped with guacamole and sour cream, to the more traditional hole-in-the-wall burrito shops with no fancy sauces on the top … and it’s always nice to find something different. Nuestra Cocina fits mostly into the tex-mex variety in my book, but it offers a unique twist on the regular Mexican dishes. My friend Pam came with me this time. We started off with a couple of drinks – she got a lime drop – a little ‘twist’ off the lemon drop (pun totally intended) and I had a mojito – which is really a Cuban drink I believe but who’s keeping track? The drinks were excellent – mine was light and refreshing, and mixed perfectly so there was no overwhelmingly strong taste that sometimes is a problem for me with the sweeter drinks.
Instead of the typical chips that are set down in many other places, we had warm tortillas with a brown sauce to roll up inside, which was a pleasant change, although I’m so very fond of tortilla chips (my worst weakness) I almost asked for some anyway. However I wanted to save room for dessert since I knew I’d be blogging, see the sacrifices I make for my art?
We decided to share a couple of dishes – the chicken enchilada with tomatillo and jalapeno sauce with cotija cheese was the first. See what I mean about different? I don’t even know what cotija cheese IS – but it’s not the normal kind of cheese I’ve ever had with an enchilada before and it was delicious. The jalepeno sauce was spicy, which is rare for something to be spicy ENOUGH to really make you think a bit before each bite, but I like that. We ordered a side of rice to make sure we had something to diffuse any burn.
The second dish was Mexican prawn marinated in tamarind. I know tamarind is a plant, and there’s a wonderful town in Costa Rica called Tamarindo because those trees grow there… beyond that, you got me. Whatever it is, the prawns were yummy and came with a sauce even spicier than the jalapeno. And they still had their little legs on them. Pam said some people eat the shell and the legs. Not me, but if you go, try it and let me know how that works out!
Our order was just the perfect amount of food, because we’re both light eaters. Both our dishes were appetizers and under $10, with the entrees under $20 and including the rice and beans (we ordered ours ala carte). If you’re a big eater, you’d want to order a main course for certain. However, our culinary strategy allowed us to save a little room for dessert, and shared a lemon empanada – a perfect choice, warm and lemony saucy and light. Other offerings included traditional flan, a chocolate pound cake and crepes which featured fried bananas, but we stuck with just one dessert – this time – and it was a good choice.
I would definitely recommend trying this place out (I know I’m probably the last one to have “discovered” it, eh?) it’s not quite the comfort Mexican I would seek out if I really wanted to feast on large portions and the standards I mentioned above – but for atmosphere and trying out new Mexican style food that’s kind of fancy, it’s perfect. The service was great – we did wait a bit after we were both seated to get our orders taken, but after that we were never neglected. The restaurant is a little bit loud and can feel crowded inside – there is outside seating but it was full when we arrived at six- and as it filled up inside we did find conversation becoming difficult to hear. But the energy and feel of the restaurant made it seem festive to me, rather than intrusive, just not a place for a quiet conversation.