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SALEM: Emilio's and Chula Vista...

Nick | Oct 22, 200402:12 AM

Stopped in Salem to try some Mexican on my way home today from Eugene. Just got off the interstate and drove up Lancaster until I saw something that looked interesting. Between two porn stores (does Salem really need *two* porn stores within 100 yards of each other?) was Chula Vista with a sign proclaiming: "Homemade Tortillas". That was enough to make it worth a stop.

It's at 3935 State St. The menu is an interesting mix of Mexican-American standards and more traditional Mexican dishes. eg:

* Nachos, chile poppers, taco salads, fajitas, burritos, combo platters

* Molcajetes, albondigas, 7 mares, mole verde

They have an extensive list of mariscos. It's probably the biggest section of their menu. They give you chips and salsa, which are pretty mediocre. With the chips and salsa, they also give refried beans and a Mexican cole slaw.

I ordered their puerco con nopales, pork in a green sauce with cactus paddle strips. It came with beans, rice, and tortillas. It was decent. The pork was nicely stewed and tender, not too fatty. I would guess that the sauce and nopales were from a jar, but I don't know it. The nopales just didn't have the toothiness that they normally have when made fresh. And the sauce, while decent, seemed a lot like a mole verde from a jar that had been refreshed and enhanced. It was still tasty, though. The beans and rice were both tasty, though typical.

I tried both their flour and corn tortillas, both of which are housemade. Both were decent. Certainly better than commercial versions, though I've definitely had better of each. Prices were fair, but not cheap. My dinner was $10.


Right next door is a panaderia that's open surprisingly late called Emilio's. They have a small, but excellent selection of pan dulces. They looked really well-made (and only 40 cents each). So I bought two different ones. Didn't eat them til I got home and they were still quite good. I got two things, a triangle shaped pastry filled with coconut cream and a braided bread with sesame seeds on top. Both had a nice crisp, glossy crust. The former was a flaky pastry and the coconut cream inside was excellent. Normally you expect this sort of thing to be very....Hostess-y at best. This was really nice, though, with real coconut shreds inside and not overly sweet. The second was a slightly sweet, slightly anise-y (I think) bread with a very nice texture.

Based on these two items, I would definitely like to try them again. They seem to do an excellent job. btw, all the equipment is on-site and takes up most of the building. These might be the best quality panes dulces in Oregon I've tried so far. Very good quality. TRY THEM!

btw, on my way down, I tried a couple taco trucks on the south of the metropolis of Hubbard on 99E. I drove by them a week or two ago when I drove 99 from Salem to Portland. There are actually three trucks all in the same spot (next to a produce market), but the third, and most interesting one to me, was closed. That one advertises tacos al carbon and BBQ and has a couple grills/smokers. Anyone tried this place?

Of the other two, one was a typical taco truck with pretty mediocre to bad tacos, while the second was all mariscos. I had a tostada de ceviche y camarones there that was pretty decent. The camarones were obviously not pre-cooked, but truly made by marinating raw shrimp. I don't know how bright it is with a gringo digestive system to eat such a thing. I'll tell you in a few days, I guess. But it was pretty decent. (They had about 15 items.)


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