Cafe Reviews


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The all-English-language menu allays lots of fears. Familiar foods, like hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and even a BLT, are available. And don't worry about imbibing too many potent margaritas, falling into a stupor and getting rolled wandering back to the border in the Nogales night. The margaritas here couldn't make a newborn tipsy. Yet despite the care the restaurant takes to make diners forget they're even in Mexico, some of the dishes can't help reminding them of the country's stimulating fare. The mock turtle soup overflows with flavorful ingredients--beef, avocado, cheese, tortilla strips, swimming in a hard-hitting broth. And the luscious scallop cocktail, bursting with meltingly soft Canadian mollusks, is my idea of scallop heaven. The shrimp Veracruz shows how El Cid perfectly marries Mexican food with American sensibilities. You get ten wonderful shrimp, bathed in a completely unmenacing sauce of green peppers, onion, tomato and celery. And, to make us spud eaters feel even more at home, it comes with thick hunks of roasted potato. And while the Mexican combination plate certainly sounded tame enough--taco, enchilada, chimichanga, rice and beans--it turned out that tame didn't necessarily mean lame. The enchilada was stuffed with white Mexican cheese and moistened with a fragrant achiote sauce; the taco held ample amounts of charred, shredded beef; and the deep-fried chimi had an appealing, almost egg-roll-like crust.

If you're the kind of turista who'd rather be safe than sorry, El Cid offers the right blend of dining security and taste.

For news and notes on dining out, see Second Helpings on page

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Howard Seftel