Dining Out: La Solera gets the seasonings, comfort right

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Why: If you're looking for Mexican cuisine but want to avoid large gatherings of those on the same quest, La Solera offers a clean, quaint alternative. The restaurant is among the family owned and operated Clark County casual restaurants tending to smaller crowds.

The menu's range will suit a diverse array of appetites — from stuffed prawns and scallops wrapped with ham and bacon simmered in a creamy orange sauce to a spinach casserole made with chicken and a mix of vegetables served over rice, topped with jack cheese and accompanied by garlic bread. You're sure to find something among the family recipes to excite your taste buds.

Atmosphere: The strip-mall location is modestly decorated with uncomplicated elements. Tables and chairs along the walls allow for intimate conversation and minimal interface with other diners. Large-screen televisions at the front and back of the restaurant are viewable from all seats.

What I tried: I settled on the puerco verde burrito and my dining companion had the chicken bowl. Pre-meal chips were served with two different salsas — one mild and one spicy. We also tried the flan for dessert.

Chips at La Solera are light, crisp and free of excess oil. The first batch we received was room temperature, the second appetizingly warm. Both salsas were well puréed without being excessively watery. The spicy salsa's robust character lingered without becoming hotter in the mouth. The mild salsa had a fresh onion and tomato flavor that delivered a quick snap of flavor.

The puerco verde burrito comprises chunks of pork with rice, whole beans and cheese wrapped in a large tortilla and topped with green sauce and melted cheese. It's a plate-sized burrito, enough for a hearty appetite. The well-balanced ingredients provide a nice variety of texture. Although many chunks of pork had to be cut in half or thirds for a reasonably sized bite, I enjoyed the dish and found the green sauce well suited to the burrito.

The chicken bowl begins with a mixture of rice and beans topped with tender pieces of shredded flavorful chicken. Romaine lettuce and tomato slices top off the bowl. It is a mixture of hot and cold with a bit more distinction between the two temperatures than in a tostada. The chicken, too, needed to be cut to bite-size, but it was well-seasoned with a delicious Southwest flavor.

Flan at La Solera is served chilled with a dollop of whipped cream topped with a maraschino cherry. The custard is smooth and there is enough caramel to last throughout the portion.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Tino's Enchiladas, filled with a mixture of sautéed shrimp, crab meat, tomatoes, onions and pepper in garlic butter, sounded intriguing.

In addition to Mexican cuisine, the menu offers such dishes as burgers, steak, pasta and pizza.

Other observations: The wait staff is friendly and very attentive, and ticket turnaround is fast.

Cash is the only accepted method of payment. If you carry plastic, there is an ATM on hand.

If you're in the neighborhood, La Solera offers a comfortable seat and satisfying recharge.

Cost: Menu items do not exceed $15, with most in the $10 to $15 range. Lunch Picks are available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $6.50. The Lunch Pick selection provides one main item such as a taco, enchilada, tostada, etc., served with rice and refried beans. À la carte items cost $1.75 to $4.25. Desserts are $2.50 to $7.50. A child can eat free with each adult meal from noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Telephone: 360-687-4500.

Online:http://lasolera.com.

Where: 2210 W. Main St., Suite 109, Battle Ground.

Health score: La Solera received a perfect score of 0 on Aug. 1. Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.