This recent addition to Arlington Center is a sleek dark room w/ a banquette strip along one wall, feeling much more like an EVOO or Rendezvous than a Mexican spot. But it is a handsome and comfortable space, and is conducive to conversation, with festive Latin music in the background. The chef is from Puebla; the menu offers a number of seafood, vegetarian and meat options with varied sauces. Enchiladas, tacos and burritos are not the fare here.
The red sangria was, I am thrilled to say, very good ;and once the accompanying fruit wedges had been squeezed into it, it was really darn delicious. $20 bought a very generous pitcher of it (4 large glasses); quite the bargain both in quantity and flavor. Typically bad sangria(too sweet and/or fizzy and/or watery) is one of my pet peeves, so this sangria set us off on a positive note.Our dinner began with an excellent guac. picante(tomatoes, a little onion, cilantro and jalapenos); a very generous portion that became delicious after we added our necessary lime juice.
We chose our entrees based on the quality of their sauces. Because Mexican moles/sauces are labor intensive, they are generally prep'ed in advance and added to a (typically sauteed, grilled or roasted entree) at plating or just before. Having tasted mostly bad or mediocre Mexican food throughout the years in Boston (and elsewhere), i began by asking for a small taste of five moles. Good thing ,because 3 were very good and 2 were dreadful. (The latter 2 were the dark brown poblana, containing a bit of chocolate, and the mole verde - both of which tasted predominantly of cheap powdered chile powder. Quite off-putting. I just cannot figure out how a chef could put those out; that's how bad they were to us. The mole verde would have accompanied a huitlacoche filled chicken breast, but Acitron uses canned huitlacoche (way inferior to frozen huitlacoche, which is the only good year -round option for N E chefs, as huitlacoche is only fresh in the fall and is very difficult to source even then) so with a bad sauce and a bad filling, i would advise against ordering that dish at Acitron.
We ended up with the Salmon w/ a sauce of piquin pepper and lemon , and Shrimp w/ 2 sauces (the chef indulged our request)- tamarind mole and chipotle chevre cream. My 6 large shrimp were tender, moist and just cooked through, exactly perfect for me. And the 2 sauces were complementary while very different, the one tangy and slightly sweet, the other creamy smoky. The tomato rice was simple, moist and flavorful ; the corn cob with cheese, pimenton and lime was very good (but so much better when grilled, at Toro or La Verdad); and the refried black beans were stellar. The salmon was as dense and overdone as canned salmon, but i'm sure the kitchen would respond to requests for rare(we forgot to ask.)
Service was friendly and helpful but very very slow; hopefully it will come to keep pace with the predicted future crowds. Arlington needs attractive medium priced spots like this. If the chef decides to source chiles instead of powders for his moles, the food will greatly improve i think, and good patron choices will greatly expand.
1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118
350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143
1 Lansdowne St, Boston, MA 02215
Acitrón Mexican Bistro
473 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02474