After scientists revealed UFOs were actually full-grown tortillas, people everywhere filled swimming pools with guac and beans to catch and dissect the floury creatures. Nab a tender, baby disc with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of contemporary Mexican cuisine at Cilantro in the North Shore section of Salem.
Chef Esther Marin's menu explores the rich spectrum of Mexican regional cooking, from appetizers such as rollos cilantro (crispy little flour tortillas stuffed with shredded beef, chorizo, beans, and spicy sauce, $9) to decadent desserts like flan ($3.50). Chef Marin's emphasis on simple ingredients used creatively and strategically like pieces in a game of Battleship Chess results in main courses such as the filete huachinango ($22), a delicately cooked red snapper sautéed with shrimp in a tequila chipotle sauce. A veggie-friendly bowl of spicy crema poblana ($6.50), meanwhile, will melt a frost-burned heart with its creamy mix of poblano peppers, corn, and melted chihuahua cheese. For those who'd rather express their irrational hatred for flightless birds in a socially acceptable manner, the flautas ($16) shred up chicken inside a crispy rolled corn tortilla and crown it with sour cream, pico de gallo, fresh guac, spicy sauce, and cheese.
With its fresh, honest approach to contemporary Mexican fusion cuisine and a soft, inviting atmosphere of brick walls, deep teal, and pretty prints, Cilantro will make it up to angry taste buds for those pizza-flavored burrito burgers you picked up at the truck stop last weekend. Bring along a few friends that can be seen by other people and enjoy a noche of nonpareil noshing at Cilantro.
Boston Magazine named Cilantro the Best New Restaurant in 2002, saying:
- Fresh specialties such as crispy flautas rolled around chicken, pico de gallo, guacamole, and queso fresco are breaths of fresh air after so many ersatz Mexican dishes. Don't miss the creamy flan—a smooth, sweet followup to the often fiery main courses.
- The food is always amazing. The atmosphere is quaint and cozy and the owner is very hands-on and super friendly. – CC2009, TripAdvisor
Back when Cilantro opened in 2002, Boston Magazine praised the eatery for its "authentic, hearty, and diverse Mexican specialties," which they called "breaths of fresh air." More than a decade later, owner and executive chef Esther Marin still aims to keep her lunch, dinner, and dessert menus interesting, creating new recipes that infuse Mediterranean flavors into upscale Mexican dishes. Using only all-natural ingredients, she crafts entrees that range from cheese-stuffed meatballs in chipotle sauce to pork chops crowned with chihuahua cheese and pineapples. A selection of 48 tequilas wash down meals inside a dining room wrapped in exposed brick walls that keep diner’s conversations from escaping the restaurant.
282 Derby St.
Salem, Massachusetts 01970Get Directions