Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Food I'm Eating: El Molino Central--a Mexican gem (July 10, 2013)

On a fairly random drive to Sonoma the other day, I found myself hungry just as I was passing El Molino Central, on Highway 12, heading south and east toward Sonoma from Santa Rosa (11 Central Avenue, Sonoma, 95476, (707) 939-1010).

I'm sure the place has been there for years, but I've never been inspired to stop before. What was different this time? I don't know. Perhaps it was the 4th of July bunting, the recently repainted building, or the outdoor patio area with new umbrellas. Mostly, however, I think it was the large number of people in the outdoor dining area. I figured there had to be a reason. I happened to see a convenient parking spot, so I pulled over for lunch. I'm glad I did.

The long line at the counter and the appetizing descriptions of the food on the menu board were both good signs. This place appears to serve truly authentic Mexican fare with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. I had a delicious pair of Swiss chard enchiladas. The man next to me on the patio let me taste the mole sauce on his tamales--complex and with rich chocolate flavor, but not too sweet--and spicy enough to make you sit up and notice. Next time, I look forward to trying the beer-battered fish tacos or the chile relleno de elote con crema (poblano chiles stuffed with corn cream and cheese, with cherry tomato salsa, refried beans and tortillas), or the salmon ceviche with avocado. The tortillas at El Molino Central are made from organic Nebraska-grown corn, stone ground daily on the premises. According to the restaurant's website, the public is welcome to come watch the grinding "any morning around 11:00AM." A real find. I'll be back.

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