When you’re craving authentic Mexican cuisine in the Bay Area, you don’t have to travel very far. Chances are there will be a taqueria within a mile from where you stand.
So I’m always looking for a Mexican restaurant that offers a unique twist to the cuisine.
I really enjoyed the tortillas used for the tacos at Cocina Central in Mountain View. The tortillas tasted like soft, thick pillows and filled me up fast despite their small size.
Dish of Choice
I chose the 3 Piggy’s Tacos, three tacos topped with carnitas (shredded pork), bacon and chicharon (pork rinds), along with avocado sauce, pico de gallo and cheese. The tacos came with a side of brown rice and beans served with cilantro lime and cojita, a cheese that reminded me of a taste and texture similar to parmesan.
I also ordered the Margarita Central, made with blanco tequila, lime, agave and sea salt. I split complimentary chips and salsa with my parents. My portion of the meal came out to about $23 before tax.
Despite being traditionally salty meats, the bacon and pork rinds did not overdo it on the sodium front. The bacon was cooked at that well-balanced point between crispy and tender, the pork rinds added a unique texture and crunch, and they both complemented the shredded pork. The cheese melted perfectly on the tortilla, creating a thick layer that stretched out to the edges.
The look of the chips threw me off because they looked like Doritos. They tasted nothing like Doritos, however. They tasted fresh and crisp, coated in a smoky, peppery seasoning. The restaurant gave us a small bowl of chips at a time, but they gave us a refill when we asked. The salsa had a good helping of cilantro and a subtle heat that gradually grew as I ate.
I could definitely taste the tequila in the margarita, which was a good thing. I hate it when you get a drink and all you taste is the syrup and mix. It wasn’t a heavy drink and was quite refreshing for a hot, summer day.
I was satisfied with the meal, but the service at Cocina Central was lacking that night. They brought us to a dirty table, so we had to wait awkwardly in the aisle while someone cleaned it off. We had to ask for silverware and water a few times, and a gentleman (who I assumed was the manager) brought the check before we finished our meal. What if we wanted dessert? The service was a bit slow, despite not being a full house.
However, what the staff lacked in service, they made up for in friendliness. They were not rude at all. They just seemed a bit overwhelmed. I’m thinking they must have had a rush of customers before we got there. I think once they work out the kinks in the service, Cocina Central could be a great restaurant on all fronts.
Cocina Central is located at 2590 W. El Camino Real, Suite 13 in Mountain View. For more information, call (650) 397-5996 or visit www.cocinacentral.co.