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El Molcajete Mexican Grill

The best-tasting food at El Molcajete Mexican Grill may be the sauce derived from the restaurant's name.

"Molcajete" refers to the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle, and it's used to prepare such dishes as salsa, mole and guacamole. El Molcajete uses roasted chiles and other vegetables in its molcajete sauce, giving it a deeper, richer flavor than most fresh salsas.

A basket of warm, salty corn chips and a small dish of the spicy molcajete make a tempting appetizer. Add a side of creamy, refried beans, and you've got a light meal.

El Molcajete recently opened at 1789 W. Stewart Ave., in Medford, in the space formerly occupied by Pomodori Italian Restaurant. Years ago, the dining spot was called Linda's Mexican Food Restaurant.

The menu is pretty much a standard lineup of Mexican dishes. There's the usual burritos, tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, rellenos and such.

There are some specialties. My dining partner tried the pollo asado, grilled chicken breast seasoned with lime juice and ground achiote seeds. It was served with a mound of sauteed onion, some guacamole salad and a bit of sour cream. She opted for flour tortillas and wrapped the ingredients together for burrito-style bites. It looked delicious.

I tried the enchiladas suizas stuffed with shredded chicken and covered with tomatillo sauce, but I wasn't so lucky. The suizas were kind of cold and the filling was on the watery side.

What the restaurant lacks in originality, it makes up for with great service. The wait staff hovered over us through the entire dining experience.

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Call 541-772-1751.

— Laurie Heuston