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El Poblano has an abundant menu with some nice surprises

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The fajita burrito comes with a choice of meat, including steak, at El Poblano in Central Point. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
The mini burrito numbers among four items on the kids’ menu at El Poblano in Central Point. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Beef tongue, left, and pork carnitas are among the half-dozen meat fillings for street-style tacos at El Poblano in Central Point. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Chips and guacamole are available in large and small sizes at El Poblano in Central Point. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Fried durros are a grab-and-go snack at El Poblano in Central Point. Photo by Sarah Lemon.

The pandemic’s precautions, for some businesses, look like sound strategies.

Drive-thru and takeout keeps El Poblano in customers, who also can consume meals on the Central Point eatery’s patio. Formerly a Señor Sam’s outpost, El Poblano retained much of the former’s menu while adding some authentic ingredients. Carnitas, chicharron, tongue and tripe complement shredded chicken, beef and even steak. Several vegetarian items ensure a dish for every appetite.

There’s more to El Poblano for patrons who check out their Facebook page. Specials promoted on social media are seasonal, often posted in Spanish, and include some surprises. For a clue, check out a sign on the restaurant’s front door depicting goats and sheep in profile.

Diners surprised upon arrival by El Poblano’s lack of indoor seating can still walk up to the window, order and take a seat on the nearby covered patio. That’s exactly what my family did on a recent weeknight. Eating on-site is a bare bones affair, however, with a couple of rustic picnic tables and a few mismatched tables and chairs for accommodations.

Abundant by contrast, El Poblano’s menu boasts no fewer than 50 items under the headings burritos, tacos, nachos, salads, quesadillas and “favorites.” There’s also a separate kids menu with meals for $3.95.

Although they’re well-versed in tacos and quesadillas, my two sons surprised me by voting for the mini burrito, which comes with a choice of meat, black or pinto beans and rice. I took the liberty of agreeing to pico de gallo on the boys’ behalf.

A burrito also tempted my partner, who weighed the “big” burrito ($7.95) against the fajita burrito ($8.75). When I expressed ambivalence toward the sautéed onion and bell pepper melange common to fajitas, he took it as license to please himself, ordering steak for good measure. The fajitas theme also extends to a quesadilla served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa for $7.95.

More inclined toward nibbling, I homed in on big Ziploc bags of durros displayed in El Poblano’s front window. I have an inexplicable affection for these deep-fried treats — also known as “duros de harina” — that resemble pasta in their uncooked form. These wheat-flour wheels are readily available raw in many local grocery stores, but I prefer to let a kitchen with a deep fryer handle these on my behalf for a mere $3 per gallon-size bag.

Like most vendors of durros, El Poblano hands over a squeeze bottle of hot sauce with the bag. Customers can squirt as much hot sauce as they want into the bag, shake it up and commence snacking. Some establishments finish sauced durros with lemon juice and chile powder.

But I declined sauce, knowing I’d have plenty of these puffed, crispy morsels to take home and enjoy later. Saucing them on-site would render them hopelessly soggy after an hour or so.

In the sauce’s stead, I favored a large side of guacamole with chips for $4.75. The worker at the window emphasized the price, for which we had no concern. El Poblano evidently has encountered pushback from customers confronted with guacamole’s cost. The small side with chips sets diners back $3.

Staff also clarified that some of the less popular taco fillings — tripe and chicharron — are served only on weekends. Tongue was available, as well as carnitas. I requested two of the former for $1.75 apiece and one of the latter for $1.50. I approved the de rigueur chopped onions and cilantro and asked to try both hot and mild salsas, which are served on the side.

Just a handful of drinks can be had at El Poblano, which does not concoct horchata or aguas frescas, to our disappointment. We contented ourselves with Jarritos sodas in pineapple and strawberry flavors. Bottled water, canned coconut water and some mainstream American sodas are El Poblano’s other options.

My partner and kids had time to munch a few durros and take a few sips of soda before I returned with our bag of food, packaged to go. Gobbling up their burritos in just a few bites, the boys turned up their noses at the guacamole but filched a few chips to punctuate their monopoly of the sodas.

Steak burst from the seams of my partner’s burrito, also stuffed with black beans, rice and pico de gallo, in addition to the sautéed veggies. Smothered in cheese, the burrito was more than he preferred to eat in a sitting, but he made a valiant effort. Oxymorons aside, “junior big” and “mini big” burritos respectively are priced $1 to $2 less than the regular. There’s also a junior version of the veggie burrito with guacamole for $6.25.

Meats cradled in my white corn tortillas were likewise generous. While neither the pork nor the beef tongue was as tender as some versions I’ve tried, they were hearty and tasty, particularly with dollops of El Poblano’s housemade salsas, the hot suggesting roasted habanero. These street-style tacos are simpler and smaller than the menu’s soft taco filled with a choice of meat, cheese, lettuce and salsa for $3.95.

And for fans of Mexican combination plates, El Poblano offers two choices among its meat taco, cheese enchilada, small quesadilla or two taquitos, served with rice, beans and salad for $9.95.

Located at 131 N. Front St., Central Point, El Poblano is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, until 6 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Call 541-664-2352 for takeout.

Tempo Tidbits

A food truck that brings gourmet fare to casual settings is back on track.

Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen resumed operations this month after injury sidelined chef Skyler Golden for much of last year. Golden and partner Shawna Williams serve modern cuisine with an emphasis on locally grown produce and artisan ingredients at Fry Family Farm Store and Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market, both in Medford.

Arrive early at both locations to try the truck’s most popular items, including crabcakes with wild lump crab, saffron-lemon aioli and salad for $9. Playing up its name, Truffle Pig’s recent menu also featured fingerling potatoes with bacon, white truffle aioli and Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue cheese ($8) and a burger with truffle-bacon jam, havarti cheese, arugula and truffle-peppercorn mayonnaise ($13), as well as Nashville hot cauliflower street tacos ($10) and seared ahi over a mixed greens salad with lemon dressing ($12).

Golden and Williams spent their formative years in the industry at Ashland’s Omar’s, previously owned by Williams’ father, chef James Williams. Last spring, a GoFundMe campaign fueled the purchase and refurbishment of a sleek food-service trailer. Golden and Williams operated a stationary stall for about two years at local farmers markets.

Sniff out Truffle Pig from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Friday at Fry Family Farm Store, 2184 Ross Lane, and Thursday at the growers market, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Hawthorne Park.

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A Rogue Valley pizza newcomer is taking the national stage and helping to alleviate hunger.

Clyde’s Corner in Phoenix is a participant in the New York Pizza Festival’s virtual event Saturday and Sunday. The annual pizza celebration’s At Home Edition features exclusive videos showcasing leading pizza personalities, trends, producers, cultures and histories; live broadcast interviews and chats with industry leaders via social media; demonstrations with pizza masters; email newsletters with information, updates and special offers; and pizza takeout and delivery from more than 250 artisanal pizzerias. The lineup raises money for Slice Out Hunger.

Register, donate and read more about how to participate at nycpizzafestival.com. Nonprofit efforts to combat hunger through pizza-themed events are detailed at sliceouthunger.org

Open since last summer, Clyde’s Corner is at 4495 S. Pacific Highway, suite 580. See clydescornerphoenix.com or call 541-897-0625.

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An exclusive estate tour with free wine and culinary tastings and a magnum-sized bottle is up for grabs on a Talent winery’s social media.

Facebook and Instagram followers of Naumes Suncrest Winery and Naumes Crush and Fermentation have until May 9 to comment and tag friends for a chance to win a tour of Naumes’ vineyards and winemaking facilities, followed by a barrel tour and tasting with the label’s award-winning winemaker Chris Graves.

Go to facebook.com/NaumesSuncrestWinery and facebook.com/NaumesCrush, as well as @naumessuncrestwinery and @naumes_crush on Instagram for more information and to enter.

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole. dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.