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Paloma’s Mexican Restaurant in Oldtown Salinas


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Paloma’s Mexican Restaurant in Oldtown Salinas

Melanie Wong | Feb 16, 2013 02:38 PM

Paloma’s opened in the fall, taking over the lumpia place’s storefront on Main Street. The sunny interior is decorated with bright colors and papel picado typical of the husband and wife team's native Morelia, Mexico.

Mom and I tried it last week for lunch and liked it so much, we were back again on Wednesday. The menu’s in a state of flux. I noticed differences in dishes and prices among the listing on the overhead board, laminated menu presented at the table, and the take-out menu that can cause some confusion in calculating the bill and accuracy in ordering. Here’s what the laminated menu offers, shown front and back,

Mom tried a couple tamales, ordered ala carte. Fresh out of the steamer, the masa was fluffy and packed with flavor. The pork tamal featured a generous amount of shredded meat in a spicy red sauce. The tamal de elote was slightly sweetened with piloncillo and studded with yellow kernels of imported Mexican corn that is denser and more concentrated in flavor than domestic varieties. She did not use added salsa or crema with hers but they were offered on the side. These tamales seem large in size for the price. While these were wrapped in corn husk, Oaxacan tamales en hoja de platano are also available from time to time, just not this day.

For me, the Mayan green mole, which turned out to be a crazy amount of food for $10. A half-chicken, perfectly cooked to velvety tenderness, was impressive for hitting both the dark meat and the breast exactly on point. The green mole had more of a spicy kick to it than I expected, which was fine with me. A wonderful savory and spicy mélange of cilantro, scallions, serrano chiles, celery, and other secret ingredients go into this mole verde that could not be divulged. The rice on the side was fluffy and fragrant; refritos seemed to be pintos mashed without extra fat. Served with corn tortillas handmade to order, this was not only an outsized serving but far over performs in quality as well.

On our next visit, I ordered a huarache con huevos divorciados. Underneath this yin-yang of green and red sauce lie two eggs over easy on a freshly grilled masa huarache base spread with refritos. All good and a terrific brunch dish, huaraches are also available with meat toppings.

Mom had a bacon and egg breakfast burrito. Only $2.99, the flour tortilla was griddled rather than steamed and filled with bacon scrambled with egg. No beans nor rice, but also missing the potatoes mentioned on the menu. Somewhat dry, I probably wouldn’t order this again. My sister and my friend who joined us both tried tamales and seemed impressed.

The second lunch, we were offered some tortilla chips and a tasty roasted chile salsa. The chips were an odd mix of packaged chips and some house made style in various stages of staleness.

Overall, the heat level was just right for me. Yet I should mention that our first visit the customers at the tables surrounding us complained that the food was too spicy. I’m doing my best to encourage them to stay true to their roots but point the downtown crowd to the less spicy dishes on the menu.

The plan is to also operate a bakery here. We were given some gorgeous examples of handmade gelatinas for coming in the first time.

The wife is in the kitchen preparing her family’s recipes with professional technique learned in years of working for other restaurants. The husband handles the front of the house and seems not quite as experienced at this point. In fact I’m concerned that this restaurant will not make it due to warm but scattered and inefficient service. But if you’re patient, can take the time to over-communicate, and will make the effort to reconfirm every detail of your order, the cooking is worth it.

Paloma’s Mexican Restaurant
330 Main St
Salinas, CA 93901
Open daily
Regular hours not settled yet, opening as early as 10:30am for breakfast

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