Mountain View Voice

Eating Out - August 3, 2012

Savoring Mexican-American cuisine

Savor Mexico offers heaping helpings of food geared to North American tastes

by Sheila Himmel

The sign says Savor Mexico Taqueria, and has for many years. Shouldn't it be Sabor? Does the use of English indicate lack of effort, authenticity or both?

Well, no. What it indicates is that I'm putting too much thought into the significance of a restaurant name. Savor Mexico actually says exactly what it is: a taqueria geared to North American tastes. And if you focus on that theme you can get a lot of good food at a very good price. Just look for the gardeners' and construction trucks out front.

Breakfast burritos ($4.99) could easily feed two slightly less-active people. Each contains two scrambled eggs and either fresh ham or Mexican sausage. Call it chorizo if you like, because Savor Mexico goes to the trouble of translating everything.

Also in the morning there is fresh-squeezed orange juice ($2.25 for a "small" 16-ounce mug).

You can fancy it up and spend $6.99 on chilaquiles or huevos rancheros, a crisp corn tortilla topped with two fried eggs, pasilla peppers, onions and tomato sauce. The eggs are fresh and good, the accompanying rice and refried beans, not so much.

No matter what time of day, complimentary chips and salsa arrive quickly. The chips are thick and commercial, but the salsa is fresh and zesty.

My advice is to savor this Mexican-American cuisine at its simplest, least likely to be pre-cooked and most economical.

These include a dozen seafood entrees. They are the priciest items on the menu, $11.99. Camarones al Mojo de Ajo offered ten juicy shrimp, fried but not greasy. Again, too bad about the rice and beans. Instead, take full advantage of the basket of hot corn tortillas.

Tostadas de ceviche ($3.75) offered a good amount of lime-marinated fish, mushed with onions, tomatoes and cilantro.

Among the bargains, tacos are $1.25. A burrito as big as your head is $4.95. And a mug of just-made watermelon juice is $2.25. Horchata, jamaica and many other aguas frescas are always available. In season, do not miss the watermelon.

Savor Mexico's wide-ranging menu has pretensions of grandeur. You can get burned by chile verde ($8.95), a large plate of tangy green sauce smothering potatoes and some very tough bits of pork. The house mole sauce, Mole Maria, can be had on chicken ($9.25) but finds a better venue, in value and taste, on the wet burrito ($6.50).

Ultimately portable, tortas ($5.95) bring in the sandwich fans, particularly for the breaded steak and the elusive Cubana, which features cheese, hot dog, chorizo, ham and egg. The gigantic rolls are slathered with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and avocado.

At a busy intersection, Savor Mexico doesn't put a lot of effort into its presentation to passers-by. Even regular Milk Pail and Safeway shoppers aren't likely to take notice. There are a couple of tables outside, viewing the traffic, but you have to look hard.

Savor Mexico is a hardy survivor, owned by the same family for six years. You can count on a friendly greeting, Univision on the T.V., immediate chips and salsa, and often leaving with leftovers. To pay, get up and talk to the nice cashier.

Savor Mexico

2595 California St., Mountain View.

650-917-1306.

Open daily, 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Reservations: no

Web site: savormexicotaqueria.com

Credit cards: yes

Parking: lot attached

Alcohol: beer

Highchairs: yes

Outdoor dining: yes

Party and banquet facilities: no

Catering: yes

Takeout: yes

Noise level: fine

Bathroom cleanliness: good

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