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Mi Cuidad

Bright, bold and clean. These are the adjectives that spring to mind when one first enters this new jewel-toned Mexican eatery.

Clean, light and fresh. These are the trio of adjectives which best define the cooking.

My first trek to Mi Cuidad was on a late Saturday afternoon. My expectations were not high as my niece and I sat in a window side table at the brightly painted restaurant.

"Please, please, please let this be better than the last half dozen Mexican restaurants I've frequented," I prayed.

Perusing the menu, my heart began to lighten. From the made-to-order guacamole and chips ($4.25), to the weekend bowls of pozole and menudo, to the crisp and crunchy tortas, sopes ( baked bundles of corn dough filled with spices and savory flavors) and mulitas (a cross between a taco and an quesidilla), it was clear, at least from the menu, that this might not be the typical greasy glop that sometimes passes for "authentic" Mexican food in Southern Oregon.

Personally, I'm OK with this. But here's a "fair warning" notice: Mi Cuidad does not offer complimentary chips and salsa. (gasp)

I know. I know. You're not alone. I suspect many diners may not appreciate the absence of these traditional freebies.

My niece ordered the taquitos combo ($8.25) and received three crispy chicken taquitos, topped with spicy guacamole sauce, lettuce, tomato and cotija cheese, plus rice and bens.

I ordered the Huaraches con Huevos ($8.25). Two oval shaped corn tortilla pancakes topped with spicy red sauce, onions and cotija cheese and two eggs over easy, as promised on the menu.

Both our orders were brought to the table by a friendly waitress soon after our horchata arrived. My niece was initially skeptical of this sweet cinnamon oatmeal beverage. But she became a convert at first sip.

"Ooh! I didn't think I'd like it. But this is delicious," she said, her big blue eyes aglow.

My niece also enjoyed the taquitos. And said she thought the guacamole sauce was more than sufficiently spicy.

As she's not known for her asbestos lips, I gave the sauce a try. Frankly, it's a bit mild for a "spicy" label in my fire-breathing world.

She also liked the pinto beans and rice. I would have preferred the option of black beans, but that's a small quibble.

The next time I visited the place, I had my beau in tow. He's not a big fan of Mexican cuisine. But he's a huge soup fan. And Mi Cuidad serves steaming bowls of menudo, pozole and huaraches on Friday and Saturday.

He's never tasted any of these trio of tummy-fillers. In fact, this corn-loving man had no idea what hominy even was.

I suspected Mi Cuidad's versions of these traditional soups would be delicious and authentic. And I suggested he order a big bowl of the hominy-based chicken pozole. As he gleefully added the accompanying spices, onions, cilantro, and dipped his warm tortillas into the big bowl of salty soup, his eyes rolled up into his head.

"This is really, really good!" he announced in surprise.

But before the pozole arrived, my beau also enjoyed a bowl of made-to-order guacamole. Fresh avocado, onions, cilantro, tomato, lemon juice and jalapeno or serrano peppers on request.

I enjoyed it as well, although I would have added the jalapeno/serrano peppers, had I noticed in time they were available on request.

Sadly, I was too full to fully appreciate my Sampler Plate ($7.25), which featured the aforementioned mulitas and sopes, as well as two corn quesadillas. Happily, there is always the next time.

— Sanne Specht