Food & Dining
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Why: Nuestra Mesa, which translates to Our Table, is in its third year of business in downtown Camas. Committed to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and meat and fish from Draper Valley Farms, Cascade Natural, Carlton Farms and Newman’s Fish Co., Nuestra Mesa begins each Mexican dish with the highest quality.
The restaurant is still as attractive and tidy as the day it opened. Though the menu has seen a few items drop off, the replacements are no less impressive.
Atmosphere: The space is somewhat narrow, allowing a walkway down the middle with tables and chairs set for two to four diners flanking the walls. A bright color palette complements an exposed brick wall that has stood the test of time, and also lends a warm, cheerful mood to the restaurant. Attractive art is on the walls, and artifacts impart the foreign substance from which Nuestra Mesa’s cuisine is inspired.
What I tried: To start, my dining companions and I sampled the ceviche, which was made with halibut on the evening of our visit. We also tried the chips and salsa.
I decided on the enchilada entree and a cup of soup, which was a creamy chicken, corn and potato variety. My dining companions had the birria and the chile relleno entrees. For dessert, we had a chocolate chip cookie that is briefly baked in the oven, resulting in a sweet gooey base for a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, which is then garnished with quartered strawberries, and a curl of lime and lemon rind.
The ceviche was an interesting departure from others I’ve tried, which mostly included shrimp as the seafood element, though traditionally the recipe is not restricted to a single type of seafood. It was served in a funnel-shaped dish, which made it a bit difficult to scoop out with the chips. The halibut was generously included and possessed a citrus-marinated character. It was good on the tortilla chips and provided more flavor than the salsa, which was very mild.
The soup blended sweet, creamy and roasted flavors. It could be described as a close cousin to chicken tortilla soup, with a more delicate profile in flavor and composition.
All the entrees were impressive in both presentation and flavor. The birria was the most complex. The slow-roasted pork was lean, tender and juicy. Both the tomatilla-pastilla chile sauce and the orange-habañero sauce that accompanied and surrounded the pork were rich and flavorfully punctuated by cinnamon and cumin. It reminded me of flavors I enjoy during the holidays.
The enchiladas were filled with shredded chicken in adobo sauce for a classic Mexican flavor. The enchiladas were then smothered in an ancho chile cream that was appetizing and, combined with the enchiladas, very filling.
The chile relleno was remarkably large. The chile was dipped in a Pacifico beer batter and fried to a light crunch instead of soft. It was served with salsa roja, cilantro oil, rice and black beans, allowing for a range of accompanying flavors well-matched to the chile.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The Mesa taco salad, made with seasonal greens, black beans, jack cheese, pico de gallo, roasted corn relish, guacamole and crema, sounded delicious, as did any of the eight varieties of tacos.
Other observations: The wait staff is attentive and friendly. The owners, Todd and Tania Moravitz, meet and greet diners regularly, a wonderful practice that sets extraordinary service apart from the ordinary.
It was nice to visit Nuestra Mesa and find the food quality and service just as good as my last visit, if not a bit more refined. The restaurant offers a type of Mexican cuisine not too often found this far north of the border.
Cost: Appetizers are $1.50 to $8. Salads are available as sides or entrees and range from $4.50 to $9 — meat may be added for an additional cost. Tacos are $3.50 and $4.50. Lunch entrées are $14 to $16. Tortas are available at lunch as well and cost $7 to $9. Dinner entrees are $15 to $19.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Where: 228 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas.
Health score: Nuestra Mesa received a score of 7 on April 22. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.